Appendix: More About "Yakaboo" and the
Alone in the Caribbean went through at
least 3 printings. I've seen copies dated 1917, 1940, and
1958. The 1917 edition has more photos than the later
editions. All the photos are included here.
About Yakaboo's Builder
[Pages 128-129 ] in Sailing
Craft, by Schoettle, ed.
From the chapter "Canoeing Under Sail" by Maurice
Another very successful builder of splendid canoes was
W. F. Stevens. Mr. Stevens was a waterman from his early
youth. He built for himself a small sailboat when he was
sixteen years old. Later he built racing shells, and
rowed them too. While engaged in this business at Lowell,
Mass., about 1890 he came under the notice of Paul
Butler. From then on the names of Butler and Stevens
became coupled among canoeists. Stevens built all the
Butler designed and owned canoes, Wasp,
Fly, Bee, Bug, etc., all wonders of
design and workmanship and all successful racers.
In 1898 he located in Bath, Maine, where he built
several of his most successful canoes. In 1906 he went to
Marblehead, Mass., and became associated with W. Starling
Burgess, well-known naval architect and sportsman. In
1910 he retired from business and went to live at
Boothbay Harbor, Maine.
In 1913, however, he consented to build, from his own
design, what was probably his most famous canoe,
Mermaid, owned by Leo Friede and sailed by the
latter in all his races. Damosel, another Stevens
canoe, built about 1896, owned and sailed by James
Newman, twice defeated Friede in important races on
Charles River Basin, Boston, once in 1913 and again in
1919. Stevens also built Uncle Sam, in which H.
Dudley Murphy unsuccessfully competed in England for the
British Royal Canoe Club Challenge Cup in 1901, and he
designed and built Yakaboo, a cruising canoe, in
which Frederick A. Fenger cruised 800 miles in the
Caribbean Sea from Grenada to the Virgin Islands, in
1907. Yakaboo was 17 feet long, 39 inches beam,
and weighed 147 pounds. She had no rudder, being steered
entirely by trimming the sheets, and by shifting the
centreboard forward or aft as necessary. Her rig was a
small jib and two hoisting batswing sails, that could
also be reefed.
The last canoe built by Stevens was Doris III,
built in 1918 for Mr. Yngve Froling of Gothenburg,
Sweden. Doris III is 17 feet long and 40 inches
beam, an able cruising canoe. Stevens died at his farm at
Boothbay Harbor in 1922 or 1923. A splendid type of down
east Yankee waterman.
Approximate dimensions. You have to
love these batwing sails.
Sail plan, after John Leather in
Sail and Oar.
Open seasonally: the original Yakaboo is
there. They still haven't gotten the word about
Yakaboo's actual builder.
Mystic Seaport Museum
In the manuscript collections at the Blunt Library you
can see assorted documents from Fenger's trip, the
manuscript version of Yakaboo's log, and a typescript of the
logbook. There is much other Fenger material but it seems to
be all related to his later experiments in hull shape and
sail rig. Nevertheless it's interesting to read over the
Joe Youcha's Replica and Further Reading
Joe's replica at sunset.
From WoodenBoat #119, starting on page
Joe is associated with theAlexandria
Seaport Foundation. A Bequia whaleboat is under
restoration at ASF, too.
WoodenBoat #82, page 5: (letter about
Yakaboo by John Martsolf).
Sail and Oar by John Leather: one chapter
discusses rudderless boats including Yakaboo.
Items I have not seen:
Yachting Monthly (UK) - July 1921.
Yachting (USA) - July 1914 and July
Nor the original Outing series.
West Indian Beach Punt
From Élisée Reclus, The
Earth and its Inhabitants, North America / edited by
A.H. Keane. New York : D. Appleton, 1890-1893. A drawing
of the same type punt appears in American Small
Sailing Craft by Chapelle. Fenger does not mention
this type of boat, but it's unusual and apparently not
well documented. The original volumes in French date from
1880-85 or so.
From Down the Islands by Wm. A.
Paton, an account of a trip through the Caribbean in a
steamer in the 1880s. Not very interesting once you've
read Fenger but a few nice illustrations. Princeton
University holds a collection of Paton's artwork and
From Reclus, above. See also Fragment
of a Voyage to Louisiana, where Reclus writes of
sailing through the Caribbean in about 1852.