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The Early Years

1926 The voyage begins!

1926 The Beginning

Designed by the now famous John G. Alden, Curlew is design # 273 B, built at Fred F. Pendleton’s shipyard in Wiscasset, Maine, for Charles Lee Andrews, member in good standing of the of the New York Yacht Club ( Member # 830, elected January 21, 1909). Her Home Port was listed as Pt. Washington Long Island in the 1927 Lloyd’s Register of American Yachts. Charles was also a member of the North American Yacht Racing Union. N.A.Y.R.U. Mark Andrews, great-grandson of Charles tells us that it was really his grandfather, Richard “Snowden” Andrews who sailed and raced her. According to Mark, Curlew was built strictly to cruise after selling the racing one-design New York 40 Pampero, but ended up entering many a long distance race as well.  Charles sat in the cockpit in a coat and tie and enjoyed the ride while Snowden sailed her

The Lloyd’s Register also confirms her launch date of 1926, official number of 225594, net and gross tonnage of 23/27. This Register interestingly lists Curlew as having a 4 cylinder, 4 cycle, gas engine built by Kermath. Buzz words, such as “Overhead Cam,” “4 Valves Per Cylinder; Hemi-Head,” “Dual Ignition,” and “Dry Sump Oil System” are all contemporary terms for high performance engines. The Kermath “Sea Wolf” and “Sea Raider” Marine Engines began production with the above features in 1926! It started back in 1904 when the Morton Engine Company of Detroit, Michigan, began building 4 cycle marine engines. Curlew’s call letters are listed as MGDR.

In the 1930’s Curlew raced in the New York Yacht Club’s ocean cruising class, competing often in the Newport to Bermuda race, right along side several other notable schooners including Teragram, Nina, and Mistral.

Curlew 1926

Photo Courtesy of the Alden Design Group.
Shows Curlew as originally designed with a gaffed Fores’l.

1937 saw Curlew sold to William Jay Schieffelin Jr., great grandson of the late William H Vanderbilt and the CEO of the W. H. Schieffelin & Co, a Pharmaceutical company founded by his great grandfather in 1794, and a member of the NY Yacht club. Bill contracted Alden to redesign Curlew’s sailing rig to a staysail schooner, then in vogue by competitive racers. The Lloyd’s Register of 1938 reveals her new Home Port to be Ashville, ME, with new sails made by Ratsey, an abbreviation of Ratsey & Lapthorn, and new call letters of KLSB. Given Schieffelin’s pedigree background, it’s not surprising he switched to Ratsey & Lapthorn. The history of Ratsey & Lapthorn is synonymous with that of yachting. The firms first sail loft preceded the establishment of yachting and for over two hundred years the world’s leading yachts have set the firm’s canvas. From its origins in Cowes and early involvement with the Royal Yacht Squadron, the firm grew to establish lofts on the British mainland and in the USA. For a hundred years Ratsey & Lapthorn were the sail makers of choice for yachts competing for the America’s Cup.