You are currently browsing the daily archive for January 26, 2009.

… a sandbagger, or oysterbagger, or waterbagger; plaything for summertime practitioners of Phillipe Petit physics.  Fotos compliments of Richard Dorfman, circa 2002.  If you know him, you’ll recognize him crewing this sandbagger, a vessel type once almost as common as geese in New York Bay;  certainly more common than puffins here.

Note the bowsprit length is about 2/3s the length of the hull.     If I read the documentation correctly, the bowsprit projects 12′ and the boom extends up to 8′ aft of the stern; i.e., actual loa is more than double the vessel waterline loa of 18.’  The mast  tops at 28.’  Initally, the shallow draft hull design allowed sandbaggers to get to the oyster beds; then the tremendous sail area got the bagged oysters quickly to market to fetch the highest price.  Ballast then was bags filled with oysters.


To paraphrase Richard, no sand filled the bags in Puffin for this race, but water. Water bags are easier to toss, don’t sink when you capsize, hurt less when your shipmate tosses one on your foot, etc.  “Switlik makes water bags for the Bull and the Bear and they lent us some of their old bags.  We had at least 10 bags.”


Quoting more Richard, “This was 2002. The shots of us racing were taken by Capt. Steve Cobb, captain of Wavertree in July 2000. The other photos show details of the boat just before she was towed to DeRouville’s boatshop in NJ for a refit, and the in-water shots were taken at the marina nearby where we rigged her and did a shakedown.”


Anyone know of sandbagger races near the sixth boro or anywhere else?  Looks like beamy fun.


Coincidentally, I saw Puffin in a now-closed (at least it was when last I saw it) Freeport maritime education center seven or eight years ago.  Anyone know if Puffin‘s been afloat more recently?  Thanks to Richard for all these pics.

Here’s an informative historical page on these “things of small body and great wings” along the Hudson.  Last time I looked a puffin in the eye, I saw great body and whirring wings.  Maybe this vessel would be better called mollymawk.


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January 2009