Friday, June 10, 2011

Note from Steven Smith about Douglas and McLeod Int. 14's

Received this note from Steven Smith of California, who is looking for a Douglas and McLeod International 14 to restore.

"I've been trying to research the Fourteens of the 1940's and 1950's, those my Dad refers to as the Douglass one-design 14. I would just love to find one of Douglass' molded plywood 14's to restore and sail.

I grew up sailing the Thistle, crewing with my Dad starting at age 8. I sailed with him until I finished college and my sister took over my spot on the boat. We did plenty of restoration work on the old woodie Thistle, of course also built by D&M, including new rails and re-fitting the centerboard trunk. Its still one of the fastest Thistles around. Now at age 54, I find myself back in the middle spot on the Thistle again. I love the way the boat sails, but for my own boat, I can't muster a crew of 3, and the Thistle is just a tad too big and heavy to fit in my side yard.

So, my mind wanders to how wonderful it would be to have one of the old molded plywood 14's, perfect for me and my wife in light to medium air, and with a big friend in heavier wind. In a perfect world there would be enough of these beautiful old boats around to race each other, but I would be content with just the delight of an afternoon sail. Actually, I suspect the local Thistle fleet would be happy to have me race with them.

As I understand, D&M made 175 molded-hull 14's (?). They are no doubt mostly rotting under canvas tarps in barns -what a shame. I'll bring one back to life if I can find one. Do you have any ideas at all on where one could be found? How to even look? The current class seems so far removed from those boats that they hardly seem aware of them, and certainly don't appreciate them. What they call a 'classic' is still a modern fire-breathing beast compared to the non-trapeze boats. The vintage wood boat movement in the UK seems to do better, but of course they would not
have any of Douglass' boats.

Also, there is a book from England that is referenced but I can't find a hard copy, T.J. Vaughan's "History of the Fourteens, 1923-2003" or something like that. Any chance you might know where or how to get a copy of the book? The text is online, but apparently the book has pictures, drawings, figures.

I'm on the west coast, San Jose, CA. but I wouldn't mind traveling east if I needed to find a boat. Anyone local in the west you know of with a classic that I could meet and chat with?

Any help or suggestions you may have would be appreciated."

If you can help Steve, leave a comment to this post, or email me at the address found over in the "About Me" section