Monday, January 14, 2013

Elizabeth, initial survey part II

Let's step the mast.  Like most vintage era Moths, the Ventnor has a hollow mast with an internal halyard.  The heel of the mast has a "clothespin" notch which slips over a similar one in the keelson.

The standing rigging is a simple three stay configuration.  The bow stay has retained its Ventnor Boat Works-made pelican hook.  The hook has a home made "keeper" made from a copper hog ring.  The original keeper was made from copper tubing.  Both side shrouds have lost their pelican hooks.  Someone replaced them with screen door quality turnbuckles.  The turnbuckles were missing their bottom eyes.  Fortunately those eyes are the ones with right-hand threads and so I was able to come up with enough bits and pieces to kluge the rig together for the purpose of rigging the boat in my front lawn.

The stay wire is rusty, brittle 1/4" galvanized wire that is full of "meat hooks" and has long since lost its zinc coating.  I'll replace them with 1 x 19, 3/32" stainless steel braid.  Hopefully I'll be able to source a proper sized threaded eye to replace the swagged terminal.  I have a couple of period correct pelican hooks in my hardware collection for the side stays.

At the other end of the mast, the hounds are a scant 21" from the tip!  I wonder how much this mast will bend?  The mast on Bill Boyle's Ventnor has the hounds set at 28" from the tip.  Another difference between supposedly "production" boats.

Before stepping the mast, the tail of the halyard must first be fed through the deck partner.  Note the nice "streamlined" boss that protects the deck at the partner.

How does one retrieve the tail of the halyard from the far reaches under the bow deck?  Why with a "Higgins Stick" of course!

A Higgins Stick is nothing more than a coffee cup holder screwed into a piece of dowel.  Chuck Higgins, a member of the founding generation of Moth Boaters showed me this little trick before he passed away.

The mast stepped.

The sail up for perhaps the first time in many years.  Not a bad looking sail considering it's Egyptian cotton and is as old, if not older, than I am.  Two of the sewn-in battens are broken and will need replacing.  This boat was probably purchased with day sailing in mind and was probably never raced since the sail doesn't have the Circle-M class insignia.  Boats of this era often did not have numbers on the sails.  The identifying numbers were instead painted on the bow deck.

Merv Wescoat's sister worked in the sail loft at VBW.  I wonder if she stitched together this sail?

Rigged up; port side view.

Rigged up; starboard bow.

Rigged up; stern view.

I think that handy, but heavy bronze Herreshoff bow cleat will have to go.

The trigger on that little bronze hook has a bad case of arthritis.

I'll let it "rest" for a few weeks in this penetrating oil bath and see if it loosens up.

 With cold weather closing in I'll probably work on getting that red rudder to fit and then wait for spring.  Hopefully I'll get this boat back on the race course this summer.  In the meantime, I've been supplied with contact information for an elderly previous owner and hope to learn some of the boat's history.  I've been told that the boat was named after his first wife.


  1. Nicely done. Looks like she is race ready!!!

    ps, I got an extra pelican hook somewhere in my junk pile.

  2. Thanks. Looks are deceiving. The deck and trunk will need much love before this yacht hits the race course. She is nice and light however! Hopefully I can keep her from gaining too much weight during the repair process.

  3. Hi, George.
    Do you happen to know when this boat was originally built? We were recently cleaning out the attic of my family's house in Seaside Park, NJ and found what I am pretty sure is the original boom and sail for one of these moths. The sail is pretty torn up but the boom seems to be in great shape. Trying to find out as much information as possible. It's a bit of a mystery since no one in the family has any memory of this boat's existence. It has probably been in the attic since at least the 40's. It has all original hardware and ropes attached as well.

  4. Hi Jennifer: Since this particular boat was never registered with the Moth Class I can only make an educated guess of the exact year she was built. Back in the late 1950s I had two similar Ventnor Moth Boats and know that they were both built in 1946. Those boats had the later plywood decking so I'm guessing that this particular example with the cedar strip deck was probably built a year earlier in 1945. Ventnor moved from strip plank decking to all plywood construction as a cost saving strategy. Pre-War Ventnor Moths and the handful which were built during the war also had cedar strip decks but had a distinctively different bow shape.

    Does your sail have a number and the Moth class insignia (red block letter "M" surrounded by a dark blue circle)? If so, I may be able to date it. Do you have the boat as well or just the sail and boom?

    1. Hi, George.
      Unfortunately, the only markings on the sail are the same, "Made by Ventnor Boatworks..." stamp that are on your sail, so I assume that this boat was never registered as well. No, we don't have the boat only the sail and boom.
      Thanks for your help.

  5. What are your plans for the boom and sail?

  6. I think I'd like to sell it. Do you know anyone who would be interested?

  7. Jennifer: Compose a small ad with the details (condition, asking price), a contact e-address and attach a few jpeg photos in an email to (the email contact address for the Classic Moth Boat Association). I for one, but also possibly other club members would be interested in the boom and perhaps the sail.


  8. That sounds great. I'd love to sell it to someone that would put it to good use, however, I'm not sure how to price it. What would be a fair price for a solid antique Moth boom and sail?
    -Jennifer (