Quoddy Light





There were two strains of peapods built downeast along the coast of Maine. The first, and arguably most common, were for inshore lobstering. A man or boy, often an old man or a young boy, would tend a few traps in among the rocks and ledges too close in for the larger sailing lobstermen to risk. It was a modest living, but that it could be a living at all is a sign of both how much more abundant life there was in those seas not that long ago as well as how little in the way of cash one needed to get by.

The other type, the one this design reflects, was used by lighthouse keepers to get to and from their craggy outposts. Some were built by the Lighthouse service itself. Some, I’m sure were put together by local builders when the chance arose.

These boats differed from the lobstering peapods. Mostly because they had more of a need to go some distance and therefore sailing qualities were more important. A lobsterman needed to be able to row in and out of little indentations in the rocks. A symmetrical, canoe-like hull that went just as well one way as the other was preferred. Sailing home downwind was welcome, but secondary. And, sailing downwind is not that demanding on hull-form.

The lighthouse keeper’s boats needed to be able to go to windward. In a boat like a peapod, where ultimate simplicity was a principal, even an ethos, doing without a centerboard case was considered worth the additional wetted surface of a shoal plank keel. This added drag does affect rowing, but if you’re ready to sail whenever you can, and want to keep the boat simple, its interior clean, its worth it.

Again, the attitude of the time and place enters into it. Complication costs money. Effort only costs sweat. An easy trade-off.

I’ve long been drawn to peapods and especially to the bow-and-stern ones like this one. Ever since Eric Dow took me with him to measure an old fifteen-footer in a barn on Deer Isle back around 1976. We built a few peapods based on it back then. Ever since I’ve always felt that a sailing double-ender needs a bow and a stern. Each has its own requirements and canoe-symmetry just doesn’t cut it!

Eric Dow & Mitch Ryerson, 1974
Eric’s shop a year before I arrived. That’s Eric and Mitch Ryerson building Mitch’s Kingston Lobster boat.


The lighthouse keeper peapods were like very small pinkies. Or, one of a handful of double-enders from Maine and the Canadian Maritimes.

Here’s a Tancook Whaler, Vernon Langille:


A Crotch Island Pinky:


A 17′ Pinky designed by Roger Long:


A double ended Hampton Boat replica:


Quoddy Light is smaller than these boats. Even smaller than Harrier:


Harrier developed from Marsh Hawk:


Of all my designs, Harrier, and Marsh Hawk, are most like this peapod. Quoddy Light is more basic. No centerboard case. No high performance rig. Traditional construction of steam-bent Oak ribs over White Cedar planking.

Quoddy Light is not intended as a Camp Cruiser like those other two. Quoddy Light is a tender designed for a proposed schooner, Peregrine.

Here’s Quoddy Light on deck. Peregrine could also carry a 14′ dory to starboard. The two share tremendous seaworthiness for their size and partake of that ethos of simplicity. They could tow engine-less Peregrine in a calm. Quoddy Light could explore a winding channel too shallow for the mother vessel. Or cross a busy harbor after provisions and return to Peregrine’s anchorage on the dying Southwest breeze. Quoddy Light could even act as a proper lifeboat, if the need arose….


I’ve been working on a suite of designs this Autumn. Quoddy Light is an opening volley. I should be posting the rest of this fleet soon. Keep an eye out! And, yes, Peregrine is one of them!

The deep routine of drawing and re-drawing and honing a design while contemplating the intended boat’s usage and how it would perform is a kind of meditation. A Lines Plan, a form of Mandala….


There’s a dynamic from a first yearning after a boat to launching day. Working on a boat’s drawings provides a useful friction at the point between our unformed speculations and the intractable reality of a boat on the ways. A design at this stage brings our questions into sharp focus while we’re not yet committed to any particular course of action. We begin to see where such a boat might take us. What we might do with it. How it differs from what we might have expected and how it invites us to bring its form into being….









5 thoughts on “Quoddy Light

    1. Sure.

      The keel is cut away to remove some wetted surface and make the boat a little easier in stays. This portion of any keel has a minimal affect on lateral plane since it’s in deeply turbulent flow. We can do without it.

      The bit of skeg all the way aft helps protect the rudder. I’ve used this profile frequently. Not on the larger traditional schooners since it complicates their backbone structure and their rig is so powerful. They can handle a bit more tracking steadiness since they have such a long, low sail plan.

      Does that answer your question?

  1. Interesting, thanks. I see the wetted surface advantage. And, by easier in stays … you mean it will ease tacking as compared to the fuller keel. I hope to see this in wood and afloat some day! It’s a beautiful design.

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