letter to the editor

Let’s save Whistler

Mon, 07/08/2019 - 3:45pm

Dear Editor:

In 1939, naval architect Geerd Hendel (1903-1998) was awarded by the Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club the design for the much admired 21' Boothbay Harbor One Design. Hendel was a resident of Boothbay Harbor at the time and was employed by Bath Iron Works. For the prior five years, he had been assigned by BIW as a draftsman and design associate to the renowned naval architect W. Starling Burgess. Burgess was then developing the plans for Ranger, the winner of the 1939 America’s Cup races and for other innovative design projects for BIW, especially those using aluminum alloy.

Hendel designed Whistler, which was the first all-aluminum pleasure yacht built in the United States for saltwater use and had her constructed in 1939-40 at the Rice Brothers Corporation in East Boothbay with aluminum donated by ALCOA. Hendel sailed the sloop for more than 35 years, selling her in 1974 when he was 71 years old.

Whistler displaces 5,250 pounds, is 26' length-over-all, has a beam of 9', and draws 8'. All the hull, deck, and cabin trunk parts are aluminum. The framing, stiffeners, and rail are shaped aluminum; cleats, chocks, running lights and port light frames are cast aluminum; and the fuel and water tanks are welded sheet aluminum. The 35' 6" aluminum mast, built by ALCOA in Pittsburgh, is a single-piece aluminum alloy extrusion, tapered at the top. The keel is hard pine with a 2,300-pound lead shoe.

Historically important to the Boothbay region and the nation’s nautical legacy, the 80-year-old Whistler merits saving from potential placement on the scrap heap. She’s located in Midcoast Maine in a condition of some neglect, but a recent marine survey shows her aluminum alloy hull, cockpit, and cabin to be sound.

More information about her can be obtained from Roger Moody (who’s writing a biography of Geerd Hendel) at 236-9058 or rogerallenmoody@gmail.com


Roger Moody