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Fiesta (Three-Sail Bateau)

Status

Updated 1 July 2019:
After spending years in a warehouse in Havre de Grace, Maryland, Fiesta was acquired in 2015 by a new private owner and was brought down to Cambridge, Maryland, for restoration. She was built as a two-mast, three-sail bateau, a recreational vessel, but her new owner planned to convert her to a skipjack rig and put her to work dredging. She was sold again in 2016 and moved from Cambridge back up the Bay to Northeast, Maryland. The new owner says they have begun a complete rebuild, and have full intentions on dredging when she's back in shape. They also are planning to keep Fiesta's original two-mast configuration. Since she never had been considered a "skipjack" per se, her status on this site continues to be under consideration. If she ends up dredging as a skipjack under Department of Natural Resources rules, we likely will move her into one of the skipjacks categories.

Fiesta, 13 August 2015

More Photos

Background

Fiesta's full background story has yet to be written, but we thank Stan Davis for submitting the following information on her design and construction:

"The Fiesta project actually began circa 1955. The boat was built by the famous Dorchester County shipwright Jim Richardson, who, like so many skipjack builders, designed mainly by half models and 'rack of eye.' Jim rarely used plans or engineering drawings, etc., to create his boats, but Fiesta is an exception. She was a one-off special job for a customer with some very particular requirements, requirements that would not have been answered by any of Jim's models to date.

"Jim was concerned about what specific changes to his normal bateau would be required and how the boat would look when finished. He asked my father, Cambridge boat designer and artist Owen Davis, to give him some ideas. Jim and my father were particular friends, and my mother Margaret Richardson Davis and Jim were distant cousins. So Owen became involved in the project to figure out how these special requirements could be met in a 30-some-foot hull.

"Basically, the customer wanted standing headroom throughout the cabin, plenty of light and air below, lots of storage in the cockpit/near the helm and a spacious engine room (plenty of room to work on the 'mill.') Owen drew up a set of plans for Jim to use, which unfortunately have been lost.

"The resultant boat was beamier and characterized by greater than normal freeboard in order to provide super-spacious accommodations below despite her relatively short LOA. Jim was so very concerned about the proportions of this boat's hull that one mid-construction day he said to Owen, 'But she just doesn't feel right! I feel like I'm building a small barn, not a boat!' Owen replied, 'Jim, you build 'em; I draw 'em. Believe me, she's gonna look OK.'

"Parenthetically, I thought of Fiesta's significantly greater freeboard aft when I read about the [latest] owner's intention to use her as a dredge boat. It's evident in the 2015 photos of her.

"Owen was a graduate of what is now called UARTS, basically an industrial design school created to support the 1876 Centennial International Exhibition, the first official World's Fair held in the US. The principal design trick that Fiesta's owner and Mr. Jim so greatly admired was how, using his industrial design skills, Owen disguised the boat's chubbiness and answered the other requirements with cabin shape, height and length, long cabin lights, prominent stem-to-stern and other longitudinal moldings, a VERY carefully proportioned long head and a bunch of other horizontals. The long, graceful cockpit coamings terminated in sizeable storage boxes on either side of the helm. Jim used these features again and again in his later creations.

"Owen also created/modeled a wonderful figurehead for Fiesta. Instead of the traditional eagle, he drew up a Mexican-looking donkey with his ears laid back, laughing eyes and a buck-tooth smile. Where that's gone, I don't know. The boat actually DID prove to be dry and a really good sailer!"

Stan Davis went on to mention that his father, Owen, was a VP at Oxford Boatyard Co. and primary illustrator of the Chesapeake Skipper magazine, major features and continuing article heads. Alas, Owen died of a stroke at age 40 in 1958. In 2018, Stan gave a large collection of Owen's works to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, including a photo of Fiesta sailing on her maiden voyage circa 1956-57, showing her original rig and configuation.

 

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