“…This exceptional Yankee was built circa 1953 by John Linderman and Jack Earhorn, specifically for Lester Stone, the owner of Stone Boatyard in Alemedia, CA. This was the fourth Yankee built by these two master boatwrights, and because it was commissioned by the owner of the boatyard for his private use, the highest quality materials were used (unlike Y36 Venture, which Linderman built with boatyard scrap material in 1949).
Y39 was originally named Yankee Doodle, and the boat raced weekly for decades in the San Francisco Bay. Then in the 1980’s it was shipped to Seattle along with Y36 Venture and Y38 Clipper in an effort to expand the Pacific Northwest fleet. Fifteen years later, Y39 left Seattle on a truck amid rumours of a massive restoration. The boat’s current owner fills in the gaps in its fascinating history:
I purchased Y39 from Lang Washburn’s estate. Lang passed away at 92 and kept this particular Yankee on the Vineyard where he had a summer home. He had a small inboard engine installed so he could maneuver to his slip. I had the engine removed.
Lang was married 3 times and one of his wives had a summer home on Nantucket, which is where he purchased his first Yankee, Y33 Lot’s Wife. As you may know the YOD fleet was fairly robust at one time on the island and there are many old timers (and less old timers) who owned YODs and/or crewed on one during the Saturday buoy racing at Nantucket Yacht Club.
Well, Lang moved on to another life with another woman and left Nantucket, and Y33 Lot’s Wife passed out of his hands. A number of years later – when he started going to the Vineyard – he sought out the owner of the original Lot’s Wife in an attempt to buy her back. That owner didn’t want to sell her as he thought he would complete a restoration himself. I come by this knowledge as I hunted down the then owner of Y33 Lot’s Wife, spoke with him by phone and he recalled someone calling him about buying the boat.
As far as I know the original Lot’s Wife (Y33) never made it back into the water and various parts were offered to other YOD owners.
The next part of the story comes from the boat yard owner who helped Lang procure Y39 Yankee Doodle.
Lang, desirous of procuring a YOD, found one at the Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle. He purchased it and had it shipped back east (it was only after I bought the boat and found life jackets and fenders with Yankee Doodle was I able to make the linkage back to the original boat). According to the boat yard owner who helped Lang buy the boat, it was put on a flatbed truck and driven back east uncovered. Well, when it landed on the Vineyard the boat was totally dried out. Somewhat reluctantly, Lang agreed to a pretty total rebuild of the boat which was completed around 1998-2000 time frame.
Lang then had Y39 renamed Lot’s Wife, fulfilling a longtime desire, according to his daughter, to get back “Lot’s Wife.”
So, that’s the history as I know it. I have had a summer home on Nantucket for a number of years and am now semi-retired. I haven’t had the boat in the water for a couple of years – long story – but she has been on the Vineyard and well cared for.
Aside from casual day sails I raced her in two Panarei Opera House Cup classic wooden boat races. These are non-spinnaker races sailed to the Classic Yacht formula yielding a rating which is not very kind to her. I occasionally did a couple of Wednesday night phrf beer can races.
She’s a fun boat to sail. Definitely designed for the chop of Nantucket Sound/Buzzard’s Bay. She can’t sail the harbor waters (too shallow) but she is just fine on the Sound. Her long water line makes her a dry boat to sail in our typical 12-15 SW breezes. It’s also fun to sail through the anchorage and have visiting sailors recognize the design as we sail past and make comments.
W. Starling Burgess designed this class of racing boats in 1937. About 40 Yankees have been built, always out of wood. They’ve raced and sailed on both of America’s coasts, the Great Lakes, Chesepeake Bay, New Zealand, France, and Australia.
Contact: GANNON & BENJAMIN INC.