Why I Sail A 100-Year Old Boat

Submitted by Don McLagan from President H12 Association

Why I Sail A 100-Year Old Boat 


Today when twin hulls foil on top 

Why splash through waves that slow and stop?  

With carbon-fiber’s proven use 

Why still a mast of sitka spruce? 

When titanium’s in demand 

Why lay-up fiberglass by hand? 

And as I stop to think of it 

A GPS would help a bit. 


The boat I sail’s a century old 

At least in its design and mold. 

When Princip shot Duke Ferdinand  

That year when World War I began, 

When Charlie Chaplin’s on-screen vamp 

Introduced The Little Tramp, 

Then Cap’n Nat got Emmons’ note 

And made by hand the H12 boat. 


He had a goal for ease of sail 

So kids could learn in Buzzard’s gale, 

Though it’s not hard to make her go, 

The trick is not to sail her slow. 

The gaff-rigged main can be perverse 

The peak-set is the devil’s curse: 

Stretch it, loose it, lower to lee, 

Forget to raise – a tragedy! 


There’re more mistakes that can occur 

When putting up the spinnaker. 

I’ve made them all and here’s my list –  

It starts with getting a forestay-twist; 

I’ve had it doused into the sea 

Which slowed my pace considerably; 

Other times it’s up too long 

And I jibe the mark completely wrong. 


This H12 boat can separate 

The best, from sailors not-so-great 

Because it tests their seamanship 

Instead of high tech brinkmanship. 

So when it’s a comparison 

Of Cap’n Nat and Ellison, 

I’m proud to sail, when I cast off, 

The boat that’s named for Herreshoff. 



— Don McLagan, 2014 

     President H12 Association 


NC-4 Transatlantic Route

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