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Gaff-Headed Sloop KATHLEEN by lili.marlene3945 (Kareen Healey) - Scale 1:35 - First ship built on Bulkhead

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Hello everyone, 


I will describe the building of my little boat, but before, here is a short (euh... ¬†ok, everybody has not the same concept of what is "short" ūüėú -- mine is like a rubber band ! ūüėā) story of the KATHLEEN. ¬†I will come back to describe the building and put some photos¬†very soon.


I have begun it in July, and it was following my fifth failure upon other boats‚Äô projects that were too ambitious for the ‚Äúrookie‚ÄĚ I was in ship building.


I put aside my pride¬†ūüėā¬†and decided to get involved with an easier project : the shoal-draft centerboard Sloop named¬†KATHLEEN¬†which has been built on North-Beach in 1904-1905 by the immigrant boat builder S.O Pasquinucci for Frank Raymond, a grocer that named her for his daughter, born in 1903.¬†¬†The Sloop has been used both for cruising and racing, until the First World War, in 1914.

Rendered obsolete by changes in racing boat rules and designs, the boat has been altered into a yawl with ballasted keel in 1930 and was then used for recreation for seven decades.  She had many owners after Raymond who killed himself on February 27, 1913 with a shotgun after some business troubles.  He was then 36.


The Sloop is an example of the national yacht type that dominated most American yachting centers from the 1850 to about 1885.¬†¬†These Sloops developed from beamy craft with lofty, single-mast rigs that the Dutch used on the shallow waters and transplanted to New-Amsterdam in the XVIIth Century.¬†¬†New-Amsterdam was to become New-York more than a Century after.¬†¬†The first centerboard (generally 15 to 24 feet in length at the waterline) arrived in San Francisco about to 1850.¬†¬†They were intended as workboats for fishing and freighting, but they doubled as some of the bay‚Äôs earliest recreational racing boats.¬†¬†An interest in amateur racing spread among people of moderate means, such as clerks and attorneys who owned and maintained their boats with volunteer crews.¬†¬†They then formed yacht clubs whose name incorporated the term ‚ÄúCorinthian‚Ä̬†for their amateur status and reliance on unpaid crews.


The KATHLEEN broke her mast on her very first time out in April 1905 and had to have a new mast stepped.  It was replaced in March 1906 by a shorter one, and the gaff was lengthened by 8 feet to carry a high-peaked mainsail.  A new centerboard was fitted and the cabin overhauled at the same time.  In February 1908 owner Frank Raymond had the 1906 mast replaced with one six feet taller to accommodate a new set of sails for the coming season.


In 1931 the owner Edward E. Shea, also member of the Corinthian Yacht Club as Raymond was, installed the first auxiliary engine.  The power rating is unknown.  To do so, the companionway was repositioned to starboard.


Edward C. Thoits, a well-known civic leader purchased KATHLEEN in 1932 and changed her name to ISLANDER.  He owned her until his death in 1951.


In 1992, Stephen Canright, a curator at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park (SAFR) noticed the boat in Paradise Cay Yacht Harbor and recognized it as an example of an historic yacht type that was almost extinct in San Francisco Bay.  Canright created a syndicate for the boat’s preservation.  Harry Smith, the owner of KATHLEEN who bought her in 1960’s, supported Canright’s view and help him out.  However, the syndicate was loosely organized which weakened preservation efforts.  In 1996 a substantial leak developed when a garboard seam opened up during a trip.  The boat was repaired but extensive cruising in her was given up before 2005.  Smith donated her to SAFR in 2011.


The Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) is a long-range program that documents and interprets historically significant engineering sites and structures throughout the USA.  HAER is part of Heritage Documentation Programs, a division of the National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior.  The Sloop KATHLEEN Recording Project was sponsored by the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park (SAFR).  Documentation for HAER was directed by Todd Croteau, HAER staff architect, Washington DC, under a cooperative agreement with the Council of American Maritime Museums.


That was the story of the KATHLEEN, and how I have found her plans on the Library of Congress’ archives 




By the way, if someone is living in San Francisco and could go at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park to take some photos of the restored KATHLEEN, and send those to me, I would appreciated it a lot for the photo they have taken are not so detailed.


The building of the KATHLEEN : 



I began my project with the preparation of a board to build my boat with keel upside down.  Then I have cut my Half Breadth Plan out and pasted it on to the board.  Upon every line that embodying a frame, I pasted battens that I have used to tie every frame upon it.  The photograph I put here will show you what I mean.  My board is kind of muddled (i.e : borders are not very straight ; I have written on it, etc.) but the main purpose is reached.  However, it was important to trace the middle line of the boat for laying the keel in a further step.



Then I have used the Body Plan of which I have made 11 photocopies and I cut every shape of the frames (there is 2 midship frames for the KATHLEEN) which I glued onto a plywood with double faced tape, and I have cut it with my scroll saw then tie it upon the battens with tie wrap : I did not want to glue it because I wanted to be able to take it off if needed.


The third step was the building of the keel.¬†¬†It was not an easy thing, especially if it slips from your grasp and the trailing end broke at the point of you are not able to recognize the parts !ūüė≠

But once more, I did not let myself being discouraged and I have built another one ‚Äď which is far better than the first one !


I have used my Half Breadth Plan and cut the shape of the keel out of that plan five times and like the frames, I glued it altogether and cut it with the scroll saw before sanding it to have the right shape.  I let a hole for the stern propeller (which I will installed when hull will be finished).  Unlikely the former keel, I did not planked it, preferring doing that with the hull later


The fourth step was to groove the rabbet to put each fram in the keel (I mean not the one used for the garboard ‚Äď I should admit that I forgot it¬†ūüė≥) and this too I have had to do it again for it was not aligned the right way.¬†¬†I patched the rabbet up using Plastic Wood that I mixed with white glue for prevent it from disintegrate the very first moment my file would have touched it.¬†¬†My idea was a good one : it was cement-like and new rabbets were right and aligned.¬†¬†I would have thought that it should have been much more difficult, but it was the most easiest thing I did with that boat !¬†

The keel was mounted in a perfect way when I have tried it that I did not dare to touch it and I decided to glued it without take it off in case of I would not have been able to put it right another time.  Therefore, I have asked my dentist to give me a syringe with its needle for being able to put glue in the little cracks between frames and keel.  There too my guess had worked.

1772862269_Anciennequille.thumb.png.502fe00e4a180d97fd92f048db8693a7.png(Photograph : the former keel)


The next step will be the planking, but however I have a little problem for which I hope you will be able to help me out with your experience: the last frame at the aft end is not the end of the KATHLEEN for she has a round stern which has an angle if you look at the plan.  I know that I must do that before planking but I have not a ghost of an idea how to do it.  Of course, I thought of some solution, but none had worked (the holes into the last frame can express it) and it’s been 2 weeks now that I racked my brains.




Edited by lili.marlene3945
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  • 6 months later...


Here is an update, after so many months.  


When I started it, I intended to build the "Kathleen" ..  or "a boat" if it doesn't happened to be this.  And guess what ?  It is 50% the Kathleen and 50% "a boat".   The planking was troublesome, and for I had hard time with the bow, I had to fix it with the cutting of some of the fore planks.  Another layer of planking was needed because it was not possible to put only a piece of planks whereabouts where I cut those for it was not long enough to allow the glue to do its job in a efficient way.  


Here is some photos of my work : 


Next time I will come here, the layout will be done, although I don't know how to proceed for now : cutting the frames ?  Doing the deck over it ?...  A lot of questions and no answers !  If someone has an idea, please don't hesitate to tell me.

Bateau coque terminée 2.png

Bateau coque terminée mai 2020.png

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Your story resonated with me on several points: 1. I am a descendant of Nieuw Amsterdam immigrants. 2. I am a native of Northern California -- like the REAL Northern California, not like the Northern Southern California town of San Francisco. ūüėȬ† 3. My youngest daughter is a Kathleen.


Good luck with your project!

Chris Coyle
Greer, South Carolina

When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk.
- Tuco

Current builds: Brigantine Phoenix

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1 hour ago, Roger Pellett said:

 I am also a dependent of Nieuw Amsterdam Immigrants,  grandson via many generations of Hendrick Jansen Spiers.

Sorry -- no Spiers in the family tree. Mine were Hegemans, arrived in 1654.

Chris Coyle
Greer, South Carolina

When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk.
- Tuco

Current builds: Brigantine Phoenix

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My goodness! I missed this build log the first time around and just noticed it now. I know Islander, nee Kathleen, quite well, having crewed for her owner, Harry Smith, in a Master Mariner's Benevolent Association classic yacht race back in the early 1970's. She was a sorry old bucket back then, but Harry and his family loved her and nursed her along in her old age. Despite a prior owner covering her in plywood and fiberglass resin, she still maintained the respect due her age. I was a young guy working for a yacht brokerage that specialized in wooden classic yachts back then when very few people had any interest in wooden boats. Harry invited me to crew in the race because my own gaff rigged ketch was hauled out and he needed crew for the race, an annual regatta of the top wooden classics on the West Coast. I have to say Islander's sailing abilities weren't improved by hanging a ballast keel on her, nor by covering her in an inch or two of plywood and fiberglass, but we had plenty of fun watching the fleet pass us by one by one on the course and the lunch Harry's wife packed was great! :D She berthed in Paradise Cay Yacht Harbor in Tiburon, which is somewhat off the beaten path, but whenever I'd have occasion to be there, I'd check her out. I had no idea she'd gone to the Hyde Street Pier. Nothing makes a sailor feel old like seeing a boat he's sailed end up in a maritime museum!  It would be wonderful if they found a way to restore her to her original state. She's probably the last of her kind now.  Fact is, though, she was well past being a candidate for restoration fifty years ago. The HAER documentation is great and makes it possible for someone to build a replica from the ground up for far less expense and labor than trying to restore the original.


Kathleen, as she's now called again, was one of three surviving "pumpkin seeds" on the Bay up to the mid-seventies. The "pumpkin seed" was a San Francisco Bay and Delta centerboard hull which evolved to handle the heavy winds, short chop, and shallow waters of much of the Bay and Delta. They were called so because their shallow draft centerboard hulls resembled a pumpkin seed.  Harry Smith had Islander (Kathleen,) my good friend, Bill Vaughn, had Billikin, quite similar to Kathleen, unrestored, but still shipshape and in her original centerboard yawl configuration, and another fellow I knew, Bob Porteous, had Polaris, a nice pumpkin seed sloop he'd owned forever. I was in my early twenties back then and all of those guys were much older than I was. I'm sure they've all gone to their rewards by now. Bill Vaughn passed away a few years ago, into his eighties. Billikin was broken up long ago. I'm not sure if Polaris is still around. Last I saw her was maybe ten or fifteen years ago. Today, there are fewer and fewer of us "old timers" (never thought i'd be calling myself that!) who as young kids were taught and mentored by masters of the "pre-fibergalss" "wooden ships and iron men" sailing fraternity and learned our seamanship and maritime trade crafts from mentors who worked in wood, handed cotton canvas sails, and spliced hemp line.  Now wooden boats are like classic cars and have a following again, but the game is a lot like the Civil War re-enactors, they're trying to recreate the past but there was a break in the continuity of the craft.


While they provide modelers with honest and worthwhile enjoyment, God knows there are far more than enough Victory and Constitution models around. Models like you're attempting here with Kathleen are really far more valuable contributions to the historical record and, IMHO, their uniqueness makes them much more satisfying to build. Neither do you have to add a room to your house to display them when they are done. I encourage modelers to model these types of near-extinct watercraft. Twenty-five or fifty years from now, if you are still around, you will be proud to have built a "contemporary model" which may be the only reliable model of an extinct craft. The HAER collection, its indexing weaknesses notwithstanding, is a goldmine full of plans for modelers who are willing to do a bit of pick and shovel work finding what's in there. Better still, the plans are wonderfully detailed, complete, and professionally researched, and best of all, absolutely free. (Our tax dollars at work!) The TIFF format plans can be enlarged easily without loss of definition or widening of lines, which is a boon to modelers.


So, as for your model, it does seem to be, as you have described it, "50% the Kathleen and 50% a boat."  Actually, Islander could be accurately described as "50% Kathleen and 50% Islander," given the unfortunate modifications imposed upon her during her long life. Now, the model you've built so far will always be your first and you should always cherish it, but you may want to consider a new start on a model that is 100% Kathleen. Take the HAER plans and eliminate that abortion of a concrete ballast keel and deadwood. Replace the rudder with the "barn door" rudder she likely had. (And if you are lucky, one of the many photos that are part of the HAER collection, but not scanned, may show that original rudder in a photo of her hauled out.)  In her original centerboard configuration, she'd make a beautiful model. (Now that I've discovered her plans, I've put her in my own modeling "on deck circle," in fact.) It would be a challenge, perhaps, but if you take it slowly with a lot of attention to detail and rely on the resources of the MSW forum, you can do it.  I wouldn't bother with a plank on bulkhead hull approach. (It's more difficult to plank, I think.)  I'd suggest you either go with a solid "bread and butter" hull or full-out plank on frame. (Or consider card stock if that interests you.) This model would also be suitable for building with bent frames, as real small craft often are. (The frames are bent inside a "basket" of battens fastened over a few bulkheads which are then removed.) Take a look at the available tutorials and be ruthlessly attentive to detail. Start a build log and ask questions when they arise. You can do it!  

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