There she was, Miss April in the 2015 Calendar of Wooden Boats. Benjamin Mendlowitz had photographed her at the golden hour, at anchor, with the water around her ever so slightly rippling. That was the first time I saw BELLE.After 35 years of racing on Chesapeake Bay, I was looking to downsize from my 26′ racing and cruising sloop. My crew had grown older, and none of us were willing to do the foredeck duties while careening around the marks. I was looking for something a bit more manageable for one or two people. I always liked the lines of some classic gaff-rigged daysailers such as the Herreshoff 12-1/2 and its relatives, but I wanted something that was lighter and trailerable. At 16′— and with those looks—BELLE seemed to fit the bill.After I saw the photograph in the calendar, I searched up BELLE and found that Dan Gonneau, the designer/builder, had written a blog post that was a stream-of-consciousness diary about his inspiration for exactly the kind of small boat I was looking for. It sketched out the big decisions, the tiny details, and the material choices that went into the boat, and the craftsmanship that infused her every plank, frame, and joint. Classic lines with a modern aesthetic—I was hooked!

Read this article now for free!

Sign up here (No credit card required) to finish reading your article now.

— OR —

Subscribe now for $29.99 a year! You'll have access to our new issues as they are published, and access to our entire archive of back issues, starting with our inaugural issue in September 2014. Subscribers can also post unlimited classified ads. This is an extraordinary value!