Tecumseh – tə-KUM-see Tecumseh an iconic folk hero in American, Aboriginal and Canadian history.
May 14 – 2017 David Frid, Len Hilton and yours truly left Toronto GTA at 9am to take the Tecumseh (Friendship Sloop) Canada’s oldest registered sailboat (1902) to Gananoque across Lake Ontario. The journey took 33 hours. The only snafu we ran into from the get go was the Alternator was not producing any power. This left us without the use of Autopilot and let’s just say it got vicious cold at night. Imagine two pirates (David and Len) spooning to keep warm…actually don’t do that. It’s not a pretty site.
Back on land it was warm and in the high teens celsius but let me tell you out on the lake it felt more like zero. Ran into a couple of strong squalls where we had to take the sails down, but for the most part we sailed the whole time. She did great!
Who Built What?
by Carlton Simmons
Thanks to the organizing of the Friendship Sloop Society there has been an unbelievable revival of the interest in the classic Friendship Sloop. After the first year’s race many old sloops where traced, some still in good enough condition so that by replacing a few pieces of rotten wood here and there, given a couple of coats of paint, they where sailing again.
Since then, many new Sloops have been and still are being built. Not only locally, but in boating centers on the South and West coast as well.
With the revival of interest, it follows that questions have been asked as to how they were built, who built them etc. There are several detailed plans available for those who want them. As to who built the Sloops, there are no records, so we have to rely on word of mouth.
The first boat we know about was built at Bremen, Maine. She was a seventeen-footer, built primarily for rowing to which a mast and a sail was added. The mast was removable and was unshipped to stow when not in use. We all know it is easier to sail than to row, as they found out, so the next step was a permanent mast for the next boat built. And to improve sailing qualities a center board was added. Centerboards are difficult to keep tight, especially in a wood boat, and also in this case, was taking up valuable cockpit space. To eliminate these problems the next step was to add a deep keel, and thus the prototype of what we now call the Friendship Sloop was born.
Models were made, more boats built, each with an eye to improvement according to the ideas of the builder of which there were many. Sailing qualities were not only in the shape of the hull, but other factors entered into the picture, too. Such as the proper placement of the ballast, the cut of the sails, and last but not least, the man at the tiller. As to the man at the tiller, Elliot Prior had the reputation of being tops. He seemed to have the uncanny ability to carry full sail in a breeze when others were tucking in one or two reefs.
When Wilbur Morse opened his shop at Friendship Harbor he set up what may have been the first assembly line. He built six boats at once, each workman having a certain job to do and moving from one boat to the next as work progressed. Building this many boats, Wilbers name soon was known along the coast and it was at this time his boats became known as Friendship Sloops for the very simple reason they were built at Friendship.
So, who built the first “Friendship Sloop?” You just have to give Wilbur credit.
As to who built the first “Sloop?” Who knows? Undoubtedly it was one of the Carters or McClain’s at Bremen, Maine.
Carlton Morse has a beautiful half model and photos of a Sloop built by Warren Morse at Morse Island way back when. This was a yacht by the way.