Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print

November/December Issue 244: A ferrocement schooner

Nov 1, 2017
The ferrocement schooner Rachel and Ebenezer in the Caribbean in 1981.

The ferrocement schooner Rachel and Ebenezer in the Caribbean in 1981.

C.A. Hill

Rachel and Ebenezer, possibly the first ferrocement coasting schooner working in the schooner travel business, began as an idea in the mind of an engineer at Bath Iron Works in Maine. The idea was to gather a group of workers at the shipyard to finance, design and build a ferrocement schooner that could be enjoyed among them all or put to work in Camden, carrying passengers in the burgeoning passenger schooner trade.

The idea of a ferrocement hull was not a novel idea, as ferrocement boats had been originally built by the French as early as 1848. The framework of a vessel of this type consists of a shape, usually a rounded bilge boat, formed of rebar and covered with wire mesh, tightly bound together to conform to the vessel’s hull and subdivisions. The building was done at the Long Reach Shipyard in Bath, which launched Rachel and Ebenezer in 1975.

Captain Fritz Williams, an original investor, bought out the other interests and started in the windjammer trade from Camden, Maine. After one season, Captain Williams sold Rachel and Ebenezer to Dan and Sue Hallock, who had an interest in schooners to daysail out of Greenport, N.Y. The Hallocks ran Rachel and Ebenezer for a few years until about 1984, when Eben Whitcomb — a prime mover in the building and sailing of the schooner Harvey Gamage — purchased Rachel and Ebenezer from the Hallocks.

Whitcomb operated first from St. Thomas, then from Key West in the winter and from Greenport in the summer. As an aside, I sailed on Rachel and Ebenezer from Greenport and was so impressed with the village that I moved there permanently in 1994.

The schooner’s time in Greenport was eventful. In 1985, it was on a mooring during Hurricane Gloria and broke its mooring lines, coming ashore on Shelter Island with only minimal damage, to land in a sandy spot where it was dug out by heavy equipment and towed free. At the end of the second season in Key West, Whitcomb and his group sold Rachel and Ebenezer and the vessel was moved to Grand Traverse Bay in Michigan to do day cruises under the name of Malabar. After a few years, the vessel was sold again and worked in the Florida Keys as an adjunct to a Boy Scouts sailing program. As of this writing, the vessel has lost its Coast Guard certificate and is in sad shape, neglected at the Key Largo Yacht Basin.

Let’s join Captain Ken Hamilton, master mariner, on a passage going north to Greenport from Bermuda. It’s May. Captain Hamilton, being a minimalist, relied on his noon sites and advancing lines of position.

We are doing an upper limb shot of the sun at Local Apparent Noon. Height of eye is 10 feet. We, of course, will be using the 2017 Nautical Almanac. The day is May 15, the DR is at 38° 15’ N by 65° 20’ W. We need to calculate the time of LAN for our noon sight. At the time of the sight the Hs is 71° 05’.

A. What is the Ho? 
B. What time in GMT is LAN at DR?
C. What is the latitude?

A. Ho is 70° 45.7’
B. Time of LAN is 16:16:01 GMT
C. Latitude is 38° 17.1’ N

Edit Module

Old to new | New to old
Nov 17, 2017 06:01 pm
 Posted by  Jack

I get LAN as 16-17-20 and L 38 15.3.
DR position is 5 20' W of 60 which is 21m20s later than meridian passage of 1156, thus 12-17-20. ZD+4

D is 19-01.0. L= 90 - Ho + 19-01.0 = 38 15.3

Anyone else get this or where am I off?


Nov 26, 2017 08:50 pm
 Posted by  Rudi

D is 19-01.0. L= 90 - Ho + 19-01.0 = 38 15.3

Nov 26, 2017 09:24 pm
 Posted by  Rudi

Arc to time of 5°20' W is 21 minutes and 20 seconds. Add this to a meridian passage of 11:56:20 and you will get 16:17:40

As for the Ho, Hs is 71° 05’, Height of eye of 10ft give a correction of -3’.1. That makes the apparent altitude Ha=71°01.9’ The SD correction for the Sun, upper limb on May 15, 2017 is -15.8’ Add that to Ha and Ho=70°46.1’ Declination at 1600GMT is 19°08’N Additional 17 minutes with a d=+.6’ is +.2’ So Declination at 1617GMT is 19°08.2’N
Zenith distance Zd=90-Ho=19°13.9’ Latitude = Zd + Declination = 19°08.2’ + 19°13.9’ = 38°22.1’

Nov 28, 2017 09:22 pm
 Posted by  Jack

I agree precise LAN is 16:17:40 when equation of time is used. The 20 second difference doesn't affect the outcome.

Check your declination on 15 May. NA has 19d 00.8' ( not 19 08) at 1600. Additional 17 minutes adds 0.2'.
Thus 19-01.0 at 1617.

Whatever - neither of us can see how the author gets his answers.

Add your comment: