Saturday, June 21, 2008


'Bullfrog' Delivery Trip From Canada To Los Angeles USA - circa 1947 - Note the bouquet of flowers on the fore stay.

I say that any man who doesn't fall in love with this salty little packet has got baggy wrinkle in his brain. All cruising sailors know that you put baggy wrinkle on your rigging to stop the sails from chafing but you never let it interfere with true love. Just look at her clear decks, nicely proportioned deck house stopping short of the mast, her offset bowsprit and her jaunty 'can do' looks. She's got a more traditional work boat look than the look of a gold plated gin palace. Things of substance are often like that - unassuming, understated and often underestimated.
Now there are yacht designers who are competent designers and then there are yacht designers who are artists. William Garden is an artist. This little yacht enchanted my father so much that he bought a set of plans. Well 'blue prints' as they were called in those days. The blue prints are in my possession now and many a voyage has been planned in winter months while wistfully looking at the curvaceous body of this enticing little ship.
This photograph (above), the blue prints and letters were all sent to my father when he purchased the plans before I was born. One of the letters makes for interesting reading, describing the delivery trip through the Juan De Fuca Straits from Seattle and down the coast to Los Angeles. Here is what he said about her qualities,
"After building her here we sailed her down to Los Angeles to the owner and had a wonderful cruise. Fishermen and yachtsmen alike had nothing but praise for her. I beat out of the straits of Juan De Fuca with her and her power and drive quite won our hearts with the way she would go. I hated to leave her!" Now that's a man a bit besotted wouldn't you say?
The Bullfrog is based on the designs of the Norwegian yacht designer Colin Archer who developed this double ended type for rugged search and rescue patrols around the coast of Norway. The Bullfrog is a much smaller version with the lines drawings modified for better sailing performance and motion in a seaway.
Her vital statistics are 30 feet overall length (not including the bowsprit) 26 feet on the waterline with 10 foot beam and a draft of 5 foot 9 inches. Her sail area is 560 square feet in a gaff headed mainsail a staysail and jib.
My father has passed on but William Garden is still alive! I think he is in his nineties and his longevity is a testament to a life lived doing something that he loved - designing, building and sailing small yachts.


Robert McAlister said...

My William Garden 'Bullfrog', EXODUS was launched in Bremerton, Washington in 1962. She sailed to the east coast of USA in 1970. Her present, 2010 homeport is Georgetown, South Carolina. She is one of the only 'Bullfrog' designs on the east coast. EXODUS recently won the best sailboat in the show award at the very popular Georgetown Wooden Boat Show. She is a sturdy craft and a beautiful piece of sculpture. In 2009 I wrote to William Garden and enclosed a photograph of EXODUS. He gratiously responded from his home on an island in western Canada.
Robert McAlister

Anonymous said...

I suspect your EXODUS may have been on Long Island, NY, in the 80's and 90's, owned by Robert Wieser. During some of that time I was first mate. Did ALOT of deck work. I certainly loved 'EXEY' in Mt. Sinai. - Pat

Alden Smith said...

Thanks Robert and Anonymous for your comments - For some reason I have not been able to find any sisterships to Bullfrog so I am obliged to you for your comments : > )