Having been raised on fine wood sailboats and being a lover of L. Francis Herreshoff’s designs, I was on the lookout for a wood boat in 1984. When I found this modified* L. Francis “Wagon Box”, I immediately fell in love with her even knowing I was in for a major rebuilding project. She was originally launched in 1977, but the decks made of ½” Iroko laminated over ½” plywood did not last. In fact, every square inch of the plywood was rotted causing many of the deck beams to rot also. The other negative was the trim that was all oak and had not been properly maintained and looked awful.
Here she was, pictured below, on the hard in Mattapoisett, MA.
*Author’s Note: The original 1956 L. Francis Herreshoff Wagon Box design was ketch-rigged and without a bow sprit. Since Lily is a sloop (cutter-rigged) with bowsprit, she is a modified Wagon Box.
So, next to the house that I had at the time, I went to work destroying and removing nearly all of the boat leaving nothing much more than the hull.
With the help of a graduate of The Apprentice Shop, Rockport, ME, I replaced many of the rotten deck beams and the entire deck with 1-1/4” thick teak (no plywood!).
Then came the cabin houses, cockpit coaming, tow rail, etc. all in teak:
Finally, after five years, she’s ready to launch. With her original solid fir mast, Lily was a bit tender…
So, I decided to build a Herreshoff “box” mast of sitka spruce:
In 1992 when I moved from the house with porch and barn, I needed to find a new home for Lily and came upon an unfinished house that I bought and modified into Lily’s House:
I cut out the second floor on the left and installed my shop on the right side, so I can walk from my shop to the deck of the boat.
By 2018 the outside of Lily (at least from the hull up) was done, but I had hardly touched the hull. A chronic leak forced me to address that, so I asked my old friend and expert boatwright, Bruce Dyson, to look into it for me. He willingly and eagerly took on the challenge which resulted in replacement of floor timbers and garboard planks plus the adjacent five planks. Here is documentation of his fine skill and expertise in traditional wood boat construction:
With her now stiffened and strengthened hull, and once swelled up, she is leak-tight, and ready to sail:
For the past 37 years Lily has given me much joy and there’s still much more to do. You could say Lily is my life’s project. The rebuilding and seasonal maintenance are well worth the rewards of setting sail or just soaking in her beauty. She is a fine version of one of L. Francis Herreshoff’s beautiful creations.
Author’s note: The original 1956 L. Francis Herreshoff Wagon Box shown here, Belfast, ME:
Check it out
Click the gallery below for more photos and more information on Lily’s profile!