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LITTLE GLORIANA

I knew it was a mistake to show my ten year old son, Willi, a picture of the 18' 9" cutter GALENA. As soon as he saw her, it was apparent that I had created really serious trouble for myself.

The GALENA, ex-FOX, ex-COCKLE, is a lovely little plumb stemmed cutter reminiscent of the English plank on edge cutters which plagued the shallower American centerboard racing models of the last years of the 19th Century. GALENA is part of the collection at Mystic Seaport Museum. She was designed in 1913 by James Purdon and built by James E. Graves of Marblehead.

GALENA is just about the cockiest, shippiest looking little thing one could imagine. I have had her plans for close to twenty-five years and can never pull them out with out thinking how much fun it would be to build her. The greatest endorsement of this design, however is that Starling Burgess purchased her for his son. With her long bow sprit, gaff rig with topsail, fore staysail, jib and jib topsail, GALENA would be all romance and adventure for young boys and girls. The Swallows and the Amazons would have died of envy of the young Burgess child.

Willi was joined in his interest, by his sister Isabelle. Soon the pressure became intense. It began to look as though the GALENA might actually have to be built. But as the prospect of building the GALENA began to look serious, so did the temptation to improve her model.

Together with yacht designer Daniel Skira, we looked at the most competitive class of GALENA's era, the 40 Raters. Clearly one of the loveliest and fastest yachts in that class was the William Fife Jr. designed MINERVA. Francis Herreshoff wrote of MINERVA, "Now, the MINERVA was the prettiest thing I had ever seen..."

MINERVA came to the US and raced during the season of 1889. She was the first command of legendary yacht captain Charlie Barr and cleaned up in the 40 Rater class that summer. While one would acknowledge that the magician is more important than the wand, and that Charlie Barr was indeed a magician, MINERVA was an extraordinary wand. So we began to think of a small version of MINERVA with the same waterline length as the GALENA, but with a longer length on deck.

But if one was to consider MINERVA, then why not the boat designed to beat the Fife boat at the time when the cry among American yachtsmen was "Anything to beat MINERVA". This boat was GOSSOON from the board of Boston's designer of three successful Cup defenders, Edward Burgess shortly before he died. It's tempting to say that GOSSOON was designed when Edward Burgess was at the peak of his powers, but no one knows what the peak of his powers could have been since he died at the callow age of 43.

The lines of GOSSOON are certainly graceful, but it would be difficult to say they are more graceful than MINERVA's. They represent a compromise between the deep sections of the Scottish MIN-ERVA and the shallower American boats.

The best GOSSOON could do was to match MINERVA. Sailing GOSSOON was another magician the equal of Charlie Barr. He was GOSSOON's owner, considered by some to have been America's greatest amateur helmsman, Charles Francis Adams.

But Daniel and I finally decided that if we were to consider such boats as MINERVA and GOSSOON, then why not the great break through yacht of the era, the design that made all others obsolete? By this time situation was getting serious. The roles had become reversed. This was no longer an exercise to create a grown up style yacht for children, but a matter of the adults stealing the children's toys for themselves.

The yacht, as you have guessed, is the great GLORIANA, N. G. Herreshoff's revolutionary design of 1891 to the 46 foot class. GLORIANA won the first eight races she entered and was then with-drawn from racing for the rest of the season in a sportsmanlike gesture by her owner, E. D. Morgan.

Daniel Skira's LITTLE GLORIANA is 28' 4" overall from the tip of her bowsprit to the after end of her boom, 22' 9" on deck, and 15' 3" on the waterline, with a beam of 4" 9" and drawing 4' 3". Her displacement light is 2553 lb., 57% of which is in the external lead ballast keel. With four or five young sailors in the cockpit, or with two or three adults, LITTLE GLORIANA is expected to displace 2994 lb. making the ballast 49% of the displacement.


This design is not simply a scaled down GLORIANA. The lines of the original 701 GLORIANA would not work well at this size. Daniel's aims were to create a hull with plenty of stability to make a safe platform for young members of the afterguard and young deck hands. It was also deemed desirable for LITTLE GLORIANA to be easily driven for light airs.

Like the GALENA, the LITTLE GLORIANA must have lots of lines to pull with plenty of sails to set and hand. With her main and fore staysail alone, Daniel feels LITTLE GLORIANA should stand up to a pretty good blow. The jib would go up next followed by the jackyard main topsail and jib top-sail.

The jib and the jib topsail would be set flying to eliminate the necessity of going out on the bowsprit, although Willi can't understand why anyone would not want to climb out there. There is also the possibility of reefing the jib tack in from the end of the bow sprit by means of a ring around the bow sprit. The forestaysail would be self-tacking.

All the lines would lead aft to the cockpit, so LITTLE GLORIANA's crew could remain there secure and comfortable. The cockpit is about six feet long with a small sliding hatch just aft of the mast leading to the interior where LITTLE GLORIANA's many sails could be stowed. There might even be cramped quarters enough for a couple of Swallows, Amazons or members of the Coot Club.

The cockpit is water tight, but not deep enough to be entirely self-bailing. Instead the fore and aft bulkheads would have large scuppers to quickly drain the cockpit down to a safe level, the remaining water to be pumped by hand.

Daniel went to considerable pains to make LITTLE GLORIANA as easy as possible to build. The siding of the stem, sternpost, and horntimber are constant saving construction time. The ballast keel is straight sided in section so the mold can be easily built from plywood with the bottom corners shaped with fillets. The rest of the construction is fairly standard traditional plank on frame con-struction. To minimize maintenance, a simple version of LITTLE GLORIANA would have a deck of dynel over mahogany marine plywood. A fancy model might have laid, sheared, and nibbed cedar decks finished with varnish.

The spars would be of spruce with traditionally styled bronze hardware throughout.

Some of these boats may be commissioned for young yachtsmen by their doting parents. It may be in the end that the parents and their friends end up using the LITTLE GLORIANAs more often than the younger set, for she will make a fast and fun daysailer for any age and any sailing back ground.

-William B. Cannell
       Camden, Maine 1997


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Wm. Cannell Boatbuilding Co., Inc.
American Boat House
15 Atlantic Avenue, P.O. Box 900
Camden, Maine 04843
Tel: 208-720-3312 or 207-236-2383
Fax: 207-236-2711
Email: wbc@cannellclassicboats.com