The Light Displacement Controversy
Daniel B. MacNaughton

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The "Controversy" designs produced by E. Farnham Butler and Cyrus Hamlin at Mount Desert Yacht Yard introduced the concept that stock glued wood boats of light displacement would be inexpensive enough so that just about anyone could find a way to own one.  If they couldn't afford a completed boat, kits were also available.  These boats originated after World War II and were very popular with a passionate following until fiberglass, which at that time was an economical building material due to low oil prices, displaced wood as a preferred material for a number of years.  Now of course the pendulum is swinging back with fiberglass stock boats often built so light to keep the price down that people are beginning to be suspicious of fiberglass boats.  Unfairly assuming that it is the fault of the material rather than the poor construction.  Of course there are builders building really excellent fiberglass boats on well built stock hulls one by one for clients to very high standards but many people do not know that.

In any case for those reasons and because of the structural and aesthetic values of wood there are now plenty of boat builders who could build you one of these fine coastal cruisers described in this article.

By using a combination of simple strip planked glued construction, light displacement, and reverse sheer the designers have produced a series of vessels from 24' to 37' which are inexpensive to build, have a great deal of interior space for their size and are quite ideal for coastal cruising for families.

The smaller ones have always been associated in your reviewer's mind with young families and are trailerable.  They are ideal for the small family of modest means.  The largest version would be ideal for a larger family or for a family more financially secure in life than a younger family is likely to be.  The author of this article has owned several of these boats and now cruises on a 34' vessel constructed quite similarly to the the "Controversy" line and designed by Cyrus Hamlin.  So he knows whereof he speaks.

This article is an excellent introduction to these vessels and even if you don't end up building one you will learn a lot about what makes a really good vessel for coastal cruising by a family in craft which are very happy boats indeed.  (17 pages) (tm)  $10.00

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