Classic Wooden Boats

An excerpt from a new book by the former America’s Cup sailor and Vineyard photographer and gallery owner Louisa Gould.

I don’t remember my first time on a boat; it seems as if it’s been forever. I also don’t recall learning to sail; it seems so natural to roll with the waves. I never consciously think about boats being beautiful; I just know it.

Such was my summer life, growing up on Martha’s Vineyard with two lovers of boats and the sea. My parents met sailing in the Edgartown regatta, and I still sail on one of the family’s wooden boats on the Vineyard – Skrap is a John Alden design, built at Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard. Here, I’d like to share some of the beautiful wooden boats of Martha’s Vineyard; some have graced Island waters my whole life, while others have come and gone.

The boats included in this book represent some of yachting’s great designers: N.G. Herreshoff, John Alden, Concordia Company, and Sparkman and Stephens, among many more. These boats have been built in Europe or the United States, with many built on Martha’s Vineyard at Gannon and Benjamin Marine Railway. The breadth of yacht classes spans from 12 meters, 6 meters, Herreshoff 12 1/2’s, and Buzzards Bay 25’s, to New York 30’s and the Island’s own Vineyard 15’s and Bellas.

My favorite New England boat tradition is when the Vineyard community gathers for the launching of new boats at Gannon and Benjamin’s boat yard. To me, this is truly a quintessential time when humans gather to christen the birth of a new addition to our waters, hearts, and minds. Please celebrate these boats, along with those who build and maintain and sail them all for current and future generations, continuing a long New England tradition.

I am grateful my life brings me back here to photograph these handsome boats that grace our Vineyard harbors. It is my hope that this book will serve to celebrate our traditional wooden boats, preserve their history, and remind us of those timeless days sailing the Vineyard waters.