pulchritudinous [ puhl-kri-tood-n-uh s, –tyood– ]
physically beautiful; comely.
Years ago, in writing back and forth with Dave Zeiger about his Triloboats designs, he used the above term, which sent me running for my dictionary. “Pulchritudinously challenged” was how he described his Triloboats designs; I thought it was just stunning of him to get right out in front of that touchy issue. The boats can be an acquired taste, visually, and it took some time for my eye to adjust. However, form follows function, and I am nothing if not smitten by good, capable function.
My new boat, GREAT AUK, is a variation on Dave’s SHANTY Triloboat design ( http://www.triloboats.com ). I made some adjustments, to suit my particular wish list. Mainly, the cabin is shortened, providing substantial outdoor deck space, and the entire deck, inside and out, is all on the same level. The giant tabernacle forward provides for low stress raising and lowering of the mast, which is raked forward for ease of sailing with its junk rig.
All of this, as far as I’m concerned, is funny-looking. I went crazy with the paint scheme partly just to have some fun, and partly because no matter how it was painted, there is no way this boat was going to blend into the background and be unnoticeable. Since one of my highest priorities is also avoiding getting run over by large traffic, bright colors provided for some additional safety too, following on the original theme.
Basically, this boat is a mobility-accessible party/houseboat, a bit more seaworthy than those nice flat-decked pontoon party boats, and capable of a certain amount of sailing. It’s arranged for its occupants to be able to get out of the weather, at the same time as enjoying all the beautiful scenery, having good visibility from inside when underway, and warming up on cool days in the northern sun.
Triloboats are designed for easy building, and for taking the bottom – going aground when the tide goes out – in comfort and safety. The copper sheathing means no bottom painting, and extra protection if one goes down on a bit of a rock where one was hoping for flat mud or sand. The straight sides are less complicated to build, and use construction materials more efficiently, than curvier shapes, with the trade-off being the loss of a certain amount of gracefulness of line.
As Dave said, it is indeed pulchritudinously challenged. But cute, in its own way, and functional enough to make up for all of it. In case anybody was wondering, and might have been afraid to bring up that touchy subject.
[Drawing: Christopher Lariviere]
All of this is of course now carrying on in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Maine is on lockdown, with the roads gone eerily quiet and our usual nice visits with friends and neighbors shut down. So boats carry on. I was recently quite sick, and am better now – no official test, but it’s possible that it was the real thing. An antibody development opportunity. Wishing everybody, around the world, all the very, very best as we move through this time.
Martin Roberts said:
So glad to hear from you. Was thinking of you and Phil Bolgers widow today wondering how you were. I absolutely love the boat. Instantly grinned inanly and chuckled.
Hope you get a chance of a sail.
Great to hear from you! I haven’t been in touch with Susanne for quite some time – hoping she’s doing well.
Thanks for the wonderful feedback about the boat! We’ll see how things go – possibilities are simmering :-)
Nice boat, with a good useable functional design! Hey, that reminds me of the “peep hen”
I’m glad to hear you are doing well.
Best Wishes, Brian. Fat Cat / Hensnest
Hi Brian! Yup, so many similarities to the Peep Hen ;-)
Hope all’s very well with you – sailing season approaching!
Take good care,
To be honest, I don’t entirely buy into the form follows function ethos. It distresses me how many things we have created in the past hundred years are simply ugly, compared with those created in the preceding ten (or so!) centuries, even though they function well. However, far more to the point is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Particularly where boats are concerned, most people have an acquired and unconsidered aesthetic. It amazes me how many people look at a 64 ft, bland, plastic boat and say “Isn’t it beautiful?”, when what they are really saying is that they wish they had enough money to buy something similar. My own aesthetic is ‘limited and underfed’. I only really like wooden boats; I have little interest in boats much over 32 ft; I like them to have a sturdy and workmanlike feel; I have no time for pointy rigs or white plastic boats. No-one can accuse me of being open-minded, unprejudiced or generous in my judgements. But I love your GREAT AUK: I think she is so appealing and the colours are brilliant, particularly for an area where the natural palette is subdued.
I can think of no better incentive to getting back to full health than the anticipation of the happy hours to come, aboard this delightful boat!
Sturdy and workmanlike – I think we’ve got that covered with this boat! And I love your thought about the colors and how they fit in this area.
Lauren "Joe" Welch said:
Wonderful hearing from you, Shemaya! Had wondered over the past few weeks how you were doing and am relieved all is well, especially in view of your perhaps having suffered the virus. Thank you for posting the above. It addresses my first impression months ago regarding GREAT AUK. At that time I was reminded of a phase I once heard through the grapevine that a friend of mine had used to describe my (then-under-construction Badger when he saw it): Butt-Ass Ugly. My friend, who works at a well known boatyard near you on the Maine coast, is a professional boatbuilder, trained in traditional wooden boat construction. I believe even he acknowledged Badger’s beautiful lines when he saw pictures of the finished product following launch. To nuance what Annie wrote above, it seems to me the role of function grows more paramount over form in the face of changes in necessity. Age, infirmity, changes in economic circumstances—any of these can reshape our perception, our judgement of what’s beautiful and what’s ugly. In GREAT AUK, you’ve sacrificed speed. You and I have moved faster but maybe we no longer need to. You’ve painted her brilliant colors: you and I may now more fully appreciate the infinite shades of color we see in Mother Nature. And on and on. Again, thank you for posting! You’ve helped me reassess my initial aesthetic judgement of your new and practical GREAT AUK. She is BEAUTIFUL! Blessings to you, Shemaya.
A well-known yacht broker, who had sold my previous, Starling Burgess designed, 6 metre, referred to Badger as a “shoebox”. But she was a shoebox that went to both the Arctic and Antarctic, which very few, if any, Burgess designs ever did!
Now isn’t that the true test, the Arctic *and* the Antarctic!
That’s a lovely collection of thoughts – thank you so much. I love the progression of your assessment of the boat, and am so glad that this post helped. Isn’t that funny, about your friend and his opinion of your Badger. And a boat builder no less, who one would think could look at the unfinished project and have a vision of what it would become! I’m glad that he came around, once ELAINE-ELIZABETH was on the water :-)
Chubba Kane said:
Shemaya, I have seen some boats that looked absolutely gorgeous, until you really looked. Appearances can be deceiving. They may have great lines, but not so much on function. And all boats are a compromise, especially when built for more specific purpose. A Hinckley Picnic boat is to most gorgeous. Great if you have unlimited funds and sole purpose is short cruise up Somes Sound. An expensive way to travel, and most of us have to go for more practical, simple, and economical. Your new craft will do just that, and then some. I am anxious to catch a ride, and really enjoy places that you would never dare cruise a jet drive Hinckley, or even one of their electric designs. Can you picture one of theirs sitting in the mud in Joy Cove?! But Great Auk will be right at home.
It will be especially fun to sit in the shallows and watch wildlife, sneak past shallow islands and catch a front row siting of a school of fish, or landing on a beach for a chance to get wet on a hot day. All done with a nice quiet sail, or kicked home by a solar powered prop. That is this crafts true beauty, and what it is intended to do.
I watched a video of a shanty boat on a Southern river. It was an old modified barge that many would never step aboard. But it was pushed nicely around with a small engine, provided living quarters, had a full kitchen with smoker and barbaque, and had a fishing access inside for when raining. The guys traveling on it were having the time of their lives! Its called simple elegance, and that is what you have achieved.
Keep smiling, and happy sailing!
I’ll look forward to many rides together – that’s why this one is a party boat! And these bays are so very perfect for it.
I think I’ve seen that video, of the shanty boat with the indoor fishing. What an impression that made. I like looking at those pretty boats over on MDI, but I sure do like the prospect of what can be done with this one, for something to work with over time. As Annie often says, it’s horses for courses… I’m looking forward to starting to try this one out.
Thanks so much for all your thoughts!