The Crotch Island Pinky needs – and gets – its own post

On our prior post regarding the Chewonki Institute’s Solar Sail program, our friend Ben Harris was kind enough to provide some great commentary and point out his favorite Chewonki boat, the Crotch Island Pinky. We are posting a photo, the source of which is DoryMan. I hope everyone is happy for us to better share this boat, as she is a beauty.

Crotch Island Pinky

This is a classic Maine fishing craft for sure, so I expect Ben’s description of her, “she was… nimbler to weather, dry, and easy to handle,” stems from some ample development in practice over the years. Thanks for sharing, Ben!

29 Comments for “The Crotch Island Pinky needs – and gets – its own post”

Kirk Gresham

says:

The picture above is of me and my boat, “Tradition” We live in Port Townsend.

The Crotch Island Pinky was one of the most appreciated designs of many recorded by Chapelle in the years after WWII. The lines of his 21 ft. version were said to to be taken from one built by John Walker of Crotch Island, Maine, in 1895. At that time, these boats were used for near shore fisheries, off the beach, and included lobstering, as well as hauling three of these boats aboard larger schooners to fish offshore on the Grand Banks. They were designed to do well in a following sea, stay on coarse with no one at the helm, and carry up to 2000 lbs of fish after the stone ballast was cast overboard.

My “Tradition” was built of hand-laid fiberglass in 1963 by Peter VanDyne, in Annapolis, Maryland. Currently, we think she may be the oldest remaining of the dozen or so of this model that he built in the 60s and 70s. She’s the only known VanDyne CIP on the west coast, and could possibly be his first prototype. I first found her in a cow pasture in 1993. Bought her for $2300, restored her, cruised her across the Strait of Juan De Fuca to the San Juans, was married aboard her, and was later asked to bury the minister who performed the wedding from her off the eastern shore of Marrowstone Island. I sold her for $5500 in 1995 to buy a Vertue Class Sloop. I loved that boat too but always yearned to get that wonderful pinky back again. About 2007, I started looking for a smaller beach cruiser again and tried in vain to discover her whereabouts. Then in 2013, a friend Marty Loken, called me to say someone had given him a boat that was sitting out in the woods and looking pretty forlorn. Soon others he showed her to said, they thought she might have been my old boat. He asked if I’d come check her out… Sure enough, she was my old friend, “Tradition”! $1800 later and a bit of leg pulling and he was convinced to sell her back to me. She was a bit hogged, and every piece of wood in her, other than her spars was so rotten it felt like foam rubber. Last winter I replaced much of the wood and repainted her, so she’s more beautiful now than she was in your picture above.

Last Fall, in fact Josh Colvin of Small Craft Advisor magazine asked if he could sail and review her. We did so and he impressed everyone (Pictures available) She was so fast and pointed so well, in fact, that the San Juan 23 photography chase boat, was unable to keep up with us on all points of sail! In the next three months, I’m hoping next to move her into my shop and build a small cabin forward, just large enough for a V-berth and stove, with room for a folding dodger just ahead of the mizzen (in an east coast pinky, this aft mast is usually referred to as the main, even though she’s a cat ketch). Hoping then to cruise her more in the San Juans and BC islands north. Also have dreams of trailering her south next winter to cruise Baja! She only ways 850 lbs empty now and draws only 18 inches all the way aft near the attached rudder, with her steel centerplate raised. She’ll surf on a broad reach at eight knots and often touches 5-6 with ease. Obviously, I love her. I’ve owned around twenty boats in 50 plus years of sailing, and she’s my favorite.

If you can let me know how to send you pictures I can send you a bunch. Also, I suspect Small Craft Advisor might well be willing to send you the article and or their very professional photos and artwork. Thanks for your appreciation of our “Tradition.”

Dameron MIdgett

says:

I enjoyed hearing about Tradition. I have a 21′ Van Dyne CIP here in NH I call “Savasana”. I fully restored her over three years. The result is very satisfying. I’d love to see detailled photos of Kirks… Especially the cuddy and v berth ideas come to fruit. They really are a stunningly beautiful hull and are so easily driven.
I’m planning to relocate later in the year and I have too many boats to move. Planning ahead, I just listed my Pinky on Craigs List … A part of me hopes she doesn’t find a new owner. There’s great photos here:
http://maine.craigslist.org/boa/4967787411.html
Dameron

Midshipman

says:

I am reading all this sailing points stuff on the pinkies I have a Peter VanDine 21 pinkie with MB10 A Volvo inboard built here in Annapolis and still being run on the Severn River & the Chesapeake Bay where some other pinkies live I believe Peter only built Two with the inboard people love it there is a CIP name Tom Swift with cabin ect all sail on the Severn River don’t see her much any more owner was a older man who sail it alone have not seen him in a few years but Tom Swift was something under sail

Kirk Gresham

says:

Midshipman,
All tolled, that sounds now like five others besides Tradition I know about now. Can you please send me any photos or other information about any of the other boats or CIP’s or their owners so I can get in touch with them. Or you could just post all that here. It’d be great if this helped us establish a network of CIP owners so we can advise each other about sailing characteristics, rebuilds, variations, etc. My email is earthtogresham@gmail.com. Also, I’m especially interested in seeing any pictures of Tom Swift, with the cabin. Please see if you can chase that down for me. Unfortunately, we were hit by two deaths in our family over the last 8 months, which understandably derailed my plans to move Tradition into my shop for the cabin redesign. Good news however, is that I launched her last week for some much needed R & R. Sailed about 15 miles round trip to a small boat rendezvous at the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building. When I arrived they surprised the heck out of me with a troop off Tahitian dancer wanta be’s performing , in full costume on the beach! Thought for a moment I was hallucinating when I heard the drums, music and shouting from still a ways to leeward. Thought I’d sailed into a black hole or something and ended up landing on a beach in Tahiti! Never seen anything like this in our neck of the woods. Great fun all after noon inviting friends and visiting tourists out for a sail in the pinky. Beautiful 3 hour sail alone to windward in the evening, ghosting along, playing very light wind shifts, back toward PT with the sun setting over the mountains west of our waterfront. When I first left the boat school beach I saw only one other boat heading back too under sail about a half a mile to windward. But Tradition very steadily and easily crept up on her, eventually passing her to leeward and out pointing her at that, about 90 minutes later. The other boat was a fiberglass sloop, 80’s or 90s vintage, about 28 ft !! The guy was scratching his head and asked me how I did that. I told him what I tell others. “It’s not me. It’s this boat. That fisherman, J. Walker, from Crotch Island, Maine, in 1895, who designed her, certainly knew what he was about!”

Greg Reardon

says:

We are restoring a Van Dine Pinky, the boat is now in Alabama. I have study “Tradition” at length and now having “Savasana” I realize I have much to do to catch up. Both of you gentlemen should be very proud to save such a classic design.

We have had the boat out for short sails, looking forward to some steady wind. I can not understand why so few were built. Greg

James C. Miller

says:

My friends call me Jim and I worked for Peter Van Dine back in the early ’70s. He may have started his business in 1969 and had the Pinky mold and a small sloop mold and compleated a 32′ foam cored cutter when I joined him in ’71. He had made one pinky from the mold and I got into the 2nd. I think I built 6 or 7 more over the years while we built about 9 custom one off traditional sailboats while I was with his company. Peter always said that the Pinky was his best design and I sure have had my share of wonderful sails in Jim Schriver’s Pinky and he has sailed it a lot here on the Bay. More on that in another post but I just wanted to stoke the comaraderie of one very esoteric group of boat owners. First I would like to say that Peter Van Dine was a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design and all of his boats were designed from scratch. They were all exceptionally light and performed very well under sail. The lines of his Pinky were all his own though inspired by the one in Howard Chapelle’s “American Small Sailing Craft” page 151 which is 25’4″. Fortunately I have the Lines and Sail Plan and would like to make them available to owners, suitable for framing for sure. Also I would like to make the half model at 1′-1″ and the whole model at 1 1/2″-1′ (30″). Heck, why not a 19 footer. Just right for a solo sailor. And mold them all. But I’m 71 years old, I should live so long. I am working on my Tancook Whaler now hoping to get it in this season. Then there’s the 26′ Hawaiian cruising canoe by Dick Newic, also for production. So, the Pinky was right at 200 pounds lifted from the mold by two guys and took about a day and a half to lay up with two laminators. I don’t know how many hours it took to finish but I will be going through the archives before long. There are 5 sailing Pinkys in this area and two damn stink pot launches. So keep your snotters up and your zig zaged lacing loose enough for the sail to suck into the lee. Practice taking the sail down in a storm and stepping the main (mizzen) in the foward CB trunk hole. Works good. Let the main luff a little going to weather. Learn to surf on a run and sit on the deck amid ship leaving the helm alone. Lean foward and back with your toes under the CB cap, It should stear good enough. Make love on the floors in light air. More later.

Kirk Gresham

says:

Jim
Thanks so much for all you shared. I have sailed he alone to wndard sitting on the rail amidships, at greatest beam, a reef in the “fore” and no one but prrhap’s dear Peter’s spirit at her helm. Steering perfectly with the foresheet only. Sheet in to fall off a smidge and accelerate in a lull. Easy the sheet a tad in a gust and she heads up just enough to feather the puff and climb to weather. Like a dream… And with only graceful, predictable, motion. In 35 knot winds, Have sailed her also alone and to weather, with the fore dropped and bagged and the main carried forward to the step afore the . Again perfectly balanced. Best boat I ever sailed, and Ive owned 12 other sailboats in 45 years of sailing. Do you know anything about “Tom Swft” ? Been told she had a cabin. Can you see if you can locate any pictures or perhaps even sketch her lines if you ever saw her? I’m fixin to design and build an enclosed cuddy forward on Tradition. Bon Voyages to you and all the others
Kirk Gresham

Jethro eisenstein

says:

I have owned a Crotch Island Pinky since 1989. She is a wonderful boat, sails very dry, great for little kids. My problem is she will not sail to windward, I don’t know whether it is the rig or me. Any suggestions as to how to set the sails would be deeply appreciated.

Dameron MIdgett

says:

Jethro, are you saying your pinky one of the 21′ Van Dyne models? If not, could you share a photo of her underwater profile (I assume she also has a centerboard, that extends fully) and a photo of her sails to see the type rig (spritsail, gaff, etc.) I’ll review and see if anything you could try comes to mind. Your hull/sailplan information would help me understand the underwater resistance (three blade prop, etc.) and the sail plan balance. I’m very happy with my pinkys windward performance… it’s not as good as a high aspect marconi rig, but none the less quite nice. I look forward to learning more about your pinky and helping out if I can. -Dameron MIdgett

Jethro eisenstein

says:

Yes it’s a Peter Van Dine 21″ with centerboard and sprit rigged. Main sail hangs from a mast up where a catboat mast would be and is loose-footed. Mizzen sail has a boom and is basically self-tending. I think this is the same sail configuration they all came with — certainly all I’ve ever seen. There is now a trolling motor built into the rudder with two-bladed prop but the problem I am describing dates from before I got a motor — in fact I added the motor because I couldn’t get back where we started from if it meant sailing to windward and my wife was about to murder me.

Dameron MIdgett

says:

Based on sailing my Van Dyne pinky, here’s a list off the top of my head of windward ability factors I’d want to check out:
Sail Factors:
Are the sails the right original ones matching the boat?
Can the sails be set with a nice smooth foil shape… ie., were they cut correctly by the sailmaker?
If so, Is the sprit pole snotter set tight enough to get the wrinkles out of the sail belly when closehauled? Are the sprits the right length in the first place to allow a good set?
Is the fairlead of the port and stbd mainsail sheets placed far enough aft to flatten the sail when going to windward? (This is particularly important for the mainsail because it is loose footed… rigging an extra turning block can increase the mechanical pulling advantage making it easier to haul the sail in flat… basically the sheet fairlead should bisect the angle formed by the sails foot and leach.)
When sailing, make sure the mainsail is not back winding the mizzen.
Hull Factors:
Does the centerboard go down as it should?
Do you have the crew and ballast placed for waterline balance,? Do you have have enough ballast?… I have about 500 lbs under the floorboards.
Have you made an index mark on your propshaft to let you align the blade vertically with the sternpost to minimize resistance under sail?

Where are you located? I’m in NH. If you were close, I’d gladly come check it out with you or take you for a sail on mine to let you see how yours compares.-Dameron

says:

I thought I should pass along some tips from Jim Schriver on going to weather in the Pinky. He sailed his a lot back in ’75 to ’80, but he could really make it work. He never carried more than 400# in the bilge and kept it well forward by the CB trunk. This helped keep the bow from pounding. The early trunks were not too snug on the board to keep it strait with the hull. If the boards trailing edge leaked the asbestos sheet would swell up and the leading edge could tack if it wasn’t shimmed. OK if you have a foil like in a racing dinghy but not a flat plate. This with a bit of lateral slide makes the board stall and drag big time. The flat plate board should bear against the whole length of the slot even if it flops from side to side. some. Don’t point higher than 50 degrees……. Don’t lace the sails on with spiral lacing, instead try zig zaging around the front of the mast from top grommet as you hoist the sail. Don’t cinch the lacing up too tight, try to let the leading edge back 2 or 3 inches from the mast. This process gives you equal number vortex generators on each tack and gets the sail effectivly wider. Also it hoist and falls far easier. I like 1/8 line or smaller……Have a good jam cleat on the sprit pole. I like a quad rolling hitch in the snotter, get it wet and tight. I’ll get back to you on the height. Do not over sheet the main (mizzen) it will just force you up. Best to let it luff some as you pinch. I never needed pullys on the fore sheet, preferring the single line going through a hardwood grommet, that’s a lizard. Maybe as I get closer to 90 I’ll change. We use to push and pull the lizard of the foresail sheet to consider moving the cleat and hole in coaming but never did it…… I would try to get a larger prop in a two blade. You need diameter when there’s so much attached flow on the hull, and drag is minimal when it’s lined up…….I wrote a long story about building a cabin in the Van Dine way but I’ll have to try again as I’m rather lame on the computer and it didn’t go through.

greg

says:

Just found a crotch island pinky in a barn in Nova Scotia. Purchased June 8,1976 from Peter D.Van Dine. If anyone has any pics they would like to share with me I would be happy to see the rigging etc, Plan on having her in the water May or June 2016

JimMiller

says:

First let me explain in Peter’s interest that he was a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design and all of the boats we built were original. The Crotch Island Pinky (Casco Bay double ender) and Tancook Whaler were inspired by those covered in Howard Chapelle’s “American Small Sailing Craft” but designed from scratch. I have an original copy of the lines for both as well as the sail plans. Also I have the interior of the 25’6″ Tancook which may be of help for building a cabin on the Pinky. One might set the sail while seated on the cabin top. I am building up a list of owners from this blog and would like to get y’alls mailing addresses if you want the lines and sail plans. The father of a local sail maker had a Pinky built which he sailed down the inland water way to Florida. Heard it said he rowed maybe 50 miles in the whole trip. Will get in touch with Larry Leonard the sail maker so I can add it to the list. Mr Gresham, if your boat is dated from 1968, it may be the first out of the mold. My good friend Alan Cady took my advice and found a Van Dine Pinky in Pittsburgh, Pa, which he restored very nicely. Maybe I can get him to join the blog. George Sergent, who you know, built one in the shop and later sold it. Later he found and restored another that he brings to St Michaels every year for the small craft gathering in October. Another one belonged to Hawkeye Stork and it sat upside down in view of Peter’s house on Mill Creek for years, ironic. Looking forward to sailing with Alan Cady this Fall. I have usually kept my Tancook in the water untill the first ice thaws. Cheers, Jim

Dameron MIdgett

says:

HI Jim, Thank you for your willingness to share the original lines and sail plan. I’d love to have a copy. Please contact me directly at dameron1111@gmail.com and I’ll reply with my mailing address. Thank you. Dameron Midgett

Kirk Gresham

says:

So exciting to have so many guys rallying round the Van Dyne pinkies! Jim or Dameron, sorry, can’t remember which, had worked for Van Dyne, and by describing details to him of Tradition, he believed she was built for the Sea Scouts in 1978 rather than 68, as the registration said. I just attended our Annual Wooden boat festival (on foot, though I got asked to skipper a Gilmer Blue Moon in the final parade, for a new owner who was a bit anxious about taking her out in about 18 kt winds with so many historic vessels in close quarters. Quite an honor for me and I’d always wanted to sail one of those gorgeous gaff yawls.
Writing now though because I got a chance to ask Josh Colvin, publisher od Small Craft Adisor Magazine, if it’d be OK to send you guys some of the pics his professional photographer took of my Tradition for his cover and five page article a few months back. He said, absolutely! But just encourage them to contact our website for back copies of the article and be sure to credit the photographer. She is his Mom, Debra Colvin and she has her own website. I was told she has some fame as a photographer for Surf Magazine as well! Don’t know how to attach them here so I’ll try to dig up Tim Shaw’s email and send them to him. Also, by the way, I suddenly had an opportunity to pick up a Pacific Seacraft “Flicka” at a good price withfull cruising gear and standing headroom ( in 20 ft) so I’ve solved my desire for greater cruing comforts without risking messing up my CIP by trying to modify her with a cabin. So looks like I’ll be a proud owner of two beautiful boats for awhile, as I can’t stand the thought of letting Tradition sail away without me again. Who knows, maybe I’ll find a partner to share her with or donate her to one of the childrens sailing programs near PT in the future, so I can still sail her when ever I need to get a hit of “sailing perfection”? I’m sure you’love seeing the pics.
Kirk

Jeremy Smith

says:

Hi everyone! I just found your thread, I own a Van Dine Pinky by the name of “Puck”. I have had her almost 10 years, she is currently in my shop near Salisbury, md. I will post pics soon if anyone is still active here, let me know if you are.

Dameron Midgett

says:

HI Jeremy, Thanks for telling us about your Van Dine Pinky.I hope you do post some photos. Health changes are causing me to sell mine (it can currently be seen on the Annapolis MD, Craigs List)

Andy Teeling

says:

Hi Dameron, Ive had a cip for several years . I can fill in the details re age and no. soon. I just discovered your post and need to turn in for the night. I am a friend of Alan Cady, George Surgent and lived on Mill Creek across from Peter for a couple of years. The cip upturned on the Davidson Farm across from Peter was my brother Pete’s boat that he sold to a friend of Hawkeye’s who abandoned her. Her name was the We’re Here. That’s all for now.

Dameron Midgett

says:

I moved south to North Carolina this year and brought my Van Dine CIP to Wilmington, NC. I have her posted for sale on the Wilmington, NC Craigs List- Key word “Pinky” in the Boat section search box will bring up my ad with some nice photos of her restoration. My health makes it necessary to find her a new family for summer fun.

Calliope Rigos

says:

I have this dear boat. believe its 21ft Peter van Dine. It is in a state of terrible neglect as far as the interior of the boat. Mast and sails were stored and okay. It has a good trailer. Passed down from 2 stepfathers that have passed away I am unsure where paperwork is. Would need someone to rebuild the interior seats and frames. Any thoughts or help ? I live in City Island, NY

Andy Teeling

says:

Hi Calliope, I can do the job if you bring the boat to me on the Eastern Shore of Virginia where I operate a cabinetmakers shop and keep my Van Dine CIP. Call me at

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