Sunday, February 19, 2012

Yet another Moth Boat restoration web site

Bill Boyle, our fearless Fletcher-Cates rehaber, is also attempting to bring back a very neglected Abbott-design Moth that Bob Patterson found abandoned behind a warehouse in Chestertown, Maryland.  How an Abbott Moth wound up there is anyone's guess but Bob muckled onto her and in turn passed her over to Bill, figuring Bill could use a bit of wet firewood. The poor neglected Abbott has sat in Bill's shed over the last couple of years and now has finally moved to the top of the project list.  If you thought that old Moth Nr 264 looked pretty hopless at the onset, just wait until you get a load of this baby .

(cut and paste this link if the one above doesn't work:  )

A little history: Fran Abbott opened a small boat yard at 200 West Ave. in Ocean City, New Jersey just after returning to civilian life at the end of World War II.  I bought my first Moth boat from Fran in the summer of '59--a nail sick old Ventnor which he was selling under consignment.  I still have the bill of sale somewhere.  Anyway, along with servicing various big boats for members of the Ocean City Yacht Club and selling small boats on consignment, Fran built a couple dozen Moths of his own design.  Fran was strongly influenced by not only the Ventnor and Dorr Willey Moths which were current in those days but also he developed a rather strong opinion about the faster, lighter boats coming up from Florida!  Fran didn't like tippy, flimsy boats and so build his boats strong (read heavy) and stable.  Although he realized that the Moth was a development racing class he still pitched his boats more towards stability rather than ultimate speed.  In Moth boating, as in most things, speed comes at the expense of stability and longevity.  Fran over-built his boats to be able to take the abuse that beginner kids generally dish out.  These were the days before Sunfish or Optimist dinghies--the boats that currently make up the beginner fleets (I've seen inexperienced kids ram dock pilings at full till in a Sunfish and just bounce off with no or minimal damage--an Abbott could to a degree do that as well).  Having said all that, an Abbott Moth in the hands of a talented sailor was competitive against the best designs of those times.  Most Abbott Moths however went to rookies rather than the top sailors in the fleet and so didn't often figure in podium spots at the end of a regatta.  Be that as it may, I think a well sorted Abbott will be a VERY competitive addition to the CMBA's current Vintage division and look forward to racing against this boat when she's finished.  Sadly, Fran passed away a few years ago and so won't be able to comment on this attempt to breathe life back into one of his boats.   In the next few days I'll dig through my photo files and post a pix or two of what an Abbott Moth in race worthy condition looks like so that you'll have an idea of what Bill is shooting for.  In the meantime, settle in for the ride at the URL above.

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