Heritage Boatworks volunteers at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum have completed a replica of a 1760 yawl wooden sailing vessel. The commission for HMS Bellisarius, a re-enactment group, was handcrafted for near three years.
“Using plans from 1760, the boat builders have constructed a working yawl. These boats were adopted by the British Navy in 1701 as the smallest class of boats aboard a warship. They would have been a common sight on the St Augustine waterfront during the time of British control, from 1763 to 1783,” said John Clarke, maritime activities coordinator at the nonprofit museum.
This British yawl, dating to 1760, was a standard type used by the Royal Navy as a ship's boat. That type of vessel originally came from Norway, where it was known as a "yole" and was clinker-planked, with plank edges overlapping, double-ended and highly seaworthy.
The yawl spread through Ireland and England and in 1701 it was officially adopted by the British Navy. Naval yawls were the smallest class of boats on board a warship. They continued to evolve over the course 18th century. Planking transitioned from clinker to carvel, the sternpost was straightened, transoms were somewhat widened and overall size increased. Yawls were highly regarded by naval officers who frequently requested them in place of longboats.
Museum guests can watch the boatbuilders at work from 9 a.m.-noon Tuesday through Thursday in the Heritage Boatworks tent on the museum grounds.
The team of more than 30 volunteers are also creating a small Penobscot rowboat and a wooden strip kayak. The museum hosts an annual drawing for a chance to win one of the boats.
“I started volunteering with Heritage Boatworks about four years ago. I was drawn to the history, boats and building and I’ve been here three morning a week ever since,” said volunteer Jim Millette.
For more information, visit staugustinelighthouse.org or call (904) 829-0745.
Photos by Kristin Flanagan