Archive for the ‘History of Boating’ Category

Boating and The Star Spangled Banner

As you read through online boat listings, you hopefully get a good sense of the condition that a boat is in and  learn the basics about its make and model. What cannot be conveyed when a person sells a boat online is a vessel’s memories and history.

For example, a boat played a significant part in the writing of the Star Spangled Banner and it is possible that this boat passed form one owner to the other with little thought of its connection to that event.

The Fourth of July celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of independence and as you know probably know, America’s journey to true independence from Britain was just getting started on that day. Even after the Revolutionary War ended, we once again fought the British during the War of 1812 (which lasted into 1814).

It was during this war that Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner while watching the ramparts from a boat in 1814. Key was a lawyer and he had been asked to help obtain the release of a civilian from British custody. Along with John S. Skinner, a U.S. government agent, Key was able to et the British to release the civilian, however he a Skinner were kept aboard a truce ship while a battle raged on because the British were afraid the two would tell what they had learned (that The British were going to attack Baltimore).

Radio Yachts

According to the Great Lakes Advocate out of New South Wales:

“The building and racing of scaled down racing yachts has a long history with records showing such yachts being sailed in England as far back as the early 1800’s. In Australia, racing model yachts occurred as early as 1868 when several early clubs raced on Sydney Harbour and on lakes in Centennial Park.”

With time the materials used to build radio yachts have changed, making the boats sturdier and faster. Now radio yachts are made with glass fiber, carbon fiber, epoxy resins and mylar film. However, the joy people find in this pastime remains. Maybe it is even more fun now, since so many people are used to more sedentary activities: the opportunity to work on something with your hands and compete with others is something many people miss.

The Forster-Tuncurry Radio Yacht Club on New South Wales meets on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Saturdays each month and welcomes newcomers to join in the fun. They are happy to supply with boats and to assist as needed.

If you think you want to try your hand at sailing an actual yacht of your own, check out the yacht listings on


Brazilian Delegation to the 1932 Olympics Traveled By Boat

Boats have long been used as instruments of both transport and commerce. More often than not these functions have been combined.  Many people bought passage aboard ships that were also being used to send goods from one place to another. Before people could fly, they had to maximize boats for overseas shipping.

One interesting story about how a boat was used for both from days past is that of the 1932 Brazilian delegation to the Olympics.

Brazil really wanted to send a team to compete in Los Angeles, but they did not have the funds to do so. So they decided to pack a boat with athletes and coffee. The athletes were to sell the coffee as they traveled to Los Angeles so that when they arrived they could use the proceeds they’d earned to pay for the entry fees to participate in that year’s Olympic Games. The rules and regulations about who could sell what and to whom they could sell it were different then.

So how did the story end? In this case, the results were mixed. They athletes did arrive and they did sell some coffee, but unfortunately, they hadn’t sold enough to cover the costs of entry for all of the potential competitors their country had sent.

Ice Yachting

Winter is a time when many bodies of water are frozen over with ice. Even the ice cannot stop true boating enthusiasts, though.

The winter activities enjoyed by member of the New Hamburg Ice Yacht Club of Poughkeepsie, NY represent one of those slices of history that kind of gets buried and overlooked, but it offers an interesting glimpse into boating activities of the past.

Although ice yacht racing itself was something that was limited to the well-to-do and adventurous boat owners in the 19th century,  people of all walks of life were able to watch the activity from the shore. Boat owners with large boats would sometimes pay people one dollar to help out as ballasts.

The club’s activities declined in part because freighters and other ships got bulky enough to break up the ice on the river. Another reason for the decline was the outbreak of World War II, a time when many boaters had to leave home to fight. However, decline did not mean demise; the club is still in existence to this day.

Even if you do not feel daring enough to go ice yachting, you can be glad to know that when you buy a yacht, you can use it no matter what the season.

Ferry Boats Keep Pacific Northwest Connected

Ferry boats are the lifeline that connects hundreds of islands in the Pacific Northwest to each other and to essential supplies and services on the mainland. Accessible only by boat and sometimes by small planes, strings of rocky archipelagoes crowd the Pacific Coast from Washington State, north along the Canadian coast, to Alaska, all connected by the most extensive ferry service in North America.

A recent electrical fire gutted one of the ferry industry’s oldest workhorses, the iconic MV Kirkland Ferry. Operated by Argosy Cruises and berthed near Seattle, the MV Kirkland had been plying Pacific coastal waters since 1924. Placed on the Washington Heritage Register in 1997, the historic 108-foot, wood-hulled boat has a storied past.

From early settlement through the introduction of steam boats in the 1870’s, sail and oar-powered rafts provided limited connection between the mainland and outlying islands. Steam power was replaced by diesel engines in the early 1900s, and car ferries made their debut. The MV Kirkland made its maiden run in 1924, ferrying people and cars between Astoria and Illwaco, Washington. Powered by a 320 horsepower diesel engine and having a gross tonnage of 95, the 36-foot wide vessel could carry 155 passengers and 20 cars.

Commandeered by the army in 12941, the MV Kirkland did as stint as a military craft, laying mines in the Columbia River and ferrying men and supplies between Fort Canby and Fort Stevens. After the war, she returned to ferry service, a hallmark of the Pacific Northwest.