Current Exhibit

In Twentieth Century Boats and Boatbuilding

The IYRS Maritime Library is pleased to announce its new exhibit; Innovation in Twentieth Century Boats and Boatbuilding. The exhibit is open to the public and is on view in the fourth-floor exhibition space of the Aquidneck Mill Building, Wednesday-Friday, 12-4pm, and Saturday, 1-5pm.

The exhibit is an overview of select innovations in the area of hull design, materials, sail types, engines, safety, and more. Using hand-drawn plans, blueprints, promotional brochures, photographs, as well as articles from period publications such as Motor Boating and The Rudder, the exhibit aims to highlight innovations that have had an enduring effect, as well as others that, for one reason or another, are far less well-known today.

A pen and ink plan circa 1915 for a cruiser, Yvonne II [fig.1], shows the early influence of William H. Hand’s development of the vee-bottom hull around 1900, and the widespread effect this had on design, and speed. A further step in hull design is shown in a group of printed material published by the Sea Sled company, promoting their inverted-vee hull boats [fig.2], which had been used by the US Navy in World War I and were still being promoted by the company after World War II, although widespread adoption of the idea was not to come until a tweak of the design, by Dick Fisher and Ray Hunt in the late 1950s, resulted in the Boston Whaler.

The early years of hydrofoil development are discussed in an article from 1933 by the young naval architect Philip Rhodes, showing Alexander Graham Bell’s hydrodrome and later developments of these ideas that were worked on in the 1930s by Casey Baldwin and Rhodes himself. Post-war development of hydrofoil designs are illustrated in a 1950s brochure for Baker Manufacturing’s boats, as well as other publications from this period [fig.3].

Multihull designs in the exhibit range from Robert B. Harris’s 1953 printed plans for “The L.P. 15 – The World’s First Fibre-Glass Catamaran”, through articles on Arthur Piver’s early boats in the late 1950s, to annotated plans by Dick Newick for trimarans commissioned by Phil Weld, winner of the 1980 OSTAR, and end with two large plans for a prototype by Gino Morrelli from 1986/87 that was never built [fig.4].

Development in the use of materials appears in Skaneateles Boat’s promotional brochure for a dinghy designed by Sparkman and Stephens and produced, in 1941, using an early heated glue and wood veneer process [fig.5]. A 1940 blueprint sail plan for Ray Hunt’s International 110 highlights the use of plywood in making affordable and fast boats [fig.6], and various publications discuss early or newly designed uses for balsa wood, aluminum and plastics.

A group of plans and photographs by the designer Garry Hoyt - covering his design of the Freedom 40 yachts, the self-propelled Waterbug vessels, and the Escape dinghy, amongst others [fig.7] – shine a light on some relatively recent, forward-thinking design innovations, and perhaps also reveal developments still possible.


Speed records  "Bluebird II", 1948

Planesails, c1990

Lirakis Safety Harness, 1970s

Garry Hoyt "Duet", 1997

1. Yvonne II

2. Sea Sled

3. Baker Manufacturing's Hydrofoil brochure

4. Gino Morrelli, 1986/87

5. "Skaneateles Hydrolite", 1941

6. Ray Hunt 110, 1940


7. Garry Hoyt "Escape", 1994-95