The 33' L. Francis Herreshoff Clipper Bowed Ketch ARAMINTA
Perhaps the design whose building I have most enjoyed was an L. Francis Herreshoff 33' Clipper bowed ketch of the ARAMINTA design. I have been told by old friends of Mr. Herreshoff that the ARAMINTA was LFH's favorite among his own designs. She is the smallest of his clipper bowed series.to have been built. This lineage began with JOANN while he was still with Burgess, Swasey, and Paine in 1924 and includes the renowned TICONDEROGA. One might call the ARAMINTA a "toy TI." Yet the ARAMINTA, designed between 1949 and 1954, has lines that are sleeker and more refined than TI's. The ARAMINTA is an extremely fast design. At classic yacht regattas one often sees one or more of ARAMINTA's sisterships way up at the head of the fleet keeping up with far larger boats.
L. Francis Herreshoff was the son of Nat Herreshoff, the Wizard of Bristol. He had his father's aptitude, but also had a strong portion of the artist in him to offset his Olympian father's pure engineer's personality. L. Francis was not nearly as prolific as his father, but every one of his works was a pearl. He was a solitary, eccentric genius who was responsible for breakthroughs in design and engineering every bit as important as his father's.
L. Francis never worked for his famous father. Instead he went to agricultural school. When the disease of boats became too strong to resist, L. Francis went to work for W. Starling Burgess, an eccentric kindred spirit and the giant of yacht design who followed Nat Herreshoff and preceded Olin Stephens in the chronological order of yacht designing giants. Eventually L. Francis opened his own office, out of which came such fabulously lovely creations as the 72' TICONDEROGA and the 87' Universal rule "M" class yacht ISTALENA. TICONDEROGA built in the 1930's, set more ocean racing course records than any other yacht. She was winning important races up to the 1970's. ISTALENA was a dead serious monster of classic racing machine. In typical Francis Herreshoff style, she has a dismal racing record her first season until the fall NYYC cruise. Then she started winning, brutally dominating the "M" class thereafter.
The 33' ARAMINTA is a small version of TICONDEROGA. She well illustrates L. Francis' philosophy of design, construction and aesthetics. This design is extraordinarily fast. Some say the ARAMINTA's lines are even more graceful than those of her much larger progenitor, TICONDEROGA.
In laying down the ARAMINTA's lines one finds the usual Francis Herreshoff precision. The batten lies sweetly through every offset point. The only errors are those that can occasionally be found in many of Mr. Herreshoff's tables of offsets. They are errors of whole inches and whole feet, but the eighths and sixteenths are spot on.
ARAMINTA's construction plan includes one of my favorite Francis Herreshoff details. It is a rabbeted lead keel with no structural wood keel. Mr. Herreshoff successfully used this construction detail on yachts as large as the 87' ISTALENA. LFH specifies that a little antimony be added to the lead to stiffen it up. Indeed, when so treated the lead almost rings when stricken rather than the dull thud yielded by pure lead. With antimony, lead taps and machines very satisfactorily. The rabbet can easily be machines with a router and a batten. It works well as a construction technique, and promises to eliminate many long term maintenance problems.
On WHITE CAP, the ARAMINTA we built, we committed the unthinkable, faithless heretics that we are. We altered some of Mr. Herreshoff's details. No doubt we will go up to Hell, or is it down to Heaven? The weak point of the ARAMINTA's design was her cockpit. Besides being too shallow for comfort, with seats installed, there were only about four inches between the seat edges and the mizzen mast. We sought to give WHITE CAP the gemutlich comfort of the ROZINANTE cockpit. In order to do so, we deepened the cockpit sole and slightly widened the coamings and the house. By widening both, besides the extra room in the cockpit, we were able to make the house sides and the coamings one continuous piece, eliminating the troublesome joint between the house and the coaming. Luckily we were able to find one long teak plank thick enough to split so that the grain inside the house and the coamings showed as book matched. This alteration actually had the effect of making the house appear lower, because by maintaining the original centerline height of the house and continuing the crown down to the new width, the top of the house side was actually lower.
The ARAMINTA is just big enough to install enough interior to ruin her. Kept simple, she may be the ultimate in fast daysailers and pocket cruisers. It would certainly be hard to imagine a lovelier one.