Herreshoff H28 Association of Australia Inc

Designing the H28

The Designer

L. Francis Herreshoff was born in 1890, the son of an already established yacht designer; Captain Nathaniel Herreshoff. Francis had a natural artistic genius, — a skill he considered far more important than knowledge of mechanical precision.

His main criteria in yacht design were, grace of line, stability and sea kindliness, sound construction principles and economy achieved by straightforward simplicity and good materials. There is no doubt that his many designs, (he produced more than 100 in the period 1920 - 1960), exhibit these qualities admirably, and none more so than the H28.

The Design

Herreshoff designed the original H28 in 1943 as an auxiliary cruising ketch for the man who has only a limited time to sail, and who "must report to the office without fail on Monday morning."  He recognised the need for a boat that could be rigged quickly for a summer evening sail, that could coast along in light breezes, as well as stand up to anything.  He also realised that many of his customers would want to cruise in relatively shallow waters, and anchor in quiet, picturesque bays without having to row a mile to the shore.  Further more, the boat would need to be simple to build, but strong and long lasting, and Herreshoff insisted on producing maximum useable room for the cost.

Many of these objectives appear to be contradictory.  To try to incorporate them all in one design might be thought impossible or, at best, result in a vessel that is a mediocre compromise.  Such was the genius of L. Francis Herreshoff, however, that he achieved the ultimate, and his graceful little ketch looked good from the start.  She was a pleasure to sail and the plans sold like hot cakes from the time they were first published in the American magazine 'The Rudder'.

To use the designer's own words:

"If you love and cherish her, you can learn to draw sweet melodies from her and she will carry you through all gales and calms, for she is based on well-proven principles.  She will lay-to well into wind, under the mizzen, or steer well in a following sea and coast along in light weather."

Design Variations

Herreshoff had very firm ideas on boat building, and he was not afraid to express them. He had an aversion to motors, ("which cause noise, smell, drag, added cost, extra weight, dirty bilges..."), flashy gadgetry, {"which lines the pockets of manufacturers and advertisers, while doing little for sailing performance...."}, ice boxes, and any unnecessary holes below the waterline.  He was an outspoken exponent of timber construction, and the use of a cedar bucket for the toilet.

He was also quite uncompromising when it came to any modification to the design of his H28.  In his 1943 description of the boat plans in 'The Rudder' he wrote; "If H28's design is only slightly changed, the whole balance may be thrown out. If you equip her with deadeyes, build her with sawn frames, or fill her virgin bilge with ballast, the birds will no longer carol over her, nor will the odors arising from the cabin make poetry, nor will your soul be fortified against the world of war lords, politicians, and fakers.

(C) 2012, 2013 Herreshoff H28 Association of Australia, Inc - Registration Number: A0040053W

Herreshoff H28 Association of Australia Inc

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