Harper's Young People, August 24, 1880 An Illustrated Weekly

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Excerpt SOME QUEER RACING-CRAFT. The illustrations on this page are of two varieties of sail-boats that are very common in the vicinity of New York, and quite rare in other parts of the country. They are boats built expressly for speed, and are used almost entirely for racing. The upper of the two pictures represents a regatta of swift sailing craft that, as can be readily seen, would be totally unfit for a cruise of any length, nor would they be of much use in ordinary pleasure-sailing. They are very light of draught, have no cabin, are apparently very much oversparred, and carry sails out of all proportion to their size. Most of them are sloop-rigged, and the main-booms are so long that, in order to control the sail at all, the main-sheet is trimmed from the end of a platform that overhangs the stern of the boat. Out on this is seated a skillful boatman, whose whole attention is given to the main-sheet. These boats have very large centre-boards, and in races carry crews of from twelve to twenty men, whose duty it is to shift from side to side the many sand-bags that are carried as ballast. Extraordinary speed is made by these boats, and thousands of dollars are often wagered on races between two or more of them. Some of them have become so famous for speed that their names are seen in the papers almost as often as those of noted race-horses. Among these famous boats are the Susie S., Brown, Nettle, Martha M., Dare-Devil, Silence, and many others, the names of which might be mentioned if they could be recalled. The Susie S. and Brown are now known as the Albertina and Lady Emma. Quite a different-looking craft is that shown in the second picture on the same page. It is a catamaran—a style of boat that has only been known in New York waters during the past four years, and which is still so rare as to excite much curiosity. A catamaran consists of two long, narrow, canoe-like hulls, connected by strong wooden cross pieces, which are fastened at the ends with ball-and-socket joints, so that each hull moves up and down with the motion of the waves, independent of the other. These hulls are air-tight as well as water-tight, and so buoyant that they draw but a few inches of water. Upon the cross pieces connecting them is built a light platform, surrounded by a wash-board. This is deck and below-decks all in one, as it affords the only accommodation for the crew that a catamaran can furnish: so you see that it is not a very comfortable cruising boat either, though, to be sure, a small tent might be carried, and raised over the deck when the boat came to anchor for the night. The speed attained by catamarans, with the wind free, is marvellous, and with a good breeze many of them can beat the fastest steamers. A catamaran has such a breadth of beam, on account of the distance between the hulls, that it is almost impossible for it to capsize as ordinary boats do, but it sometimes—though very rarely—turns a somersault, or "pitch poles"; that is, buries its bows in the water, and upsets head-foremost....
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