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The Center for Wooden Boats Collection Grows by One

April 14, 2014

Monday, April 14th was sunny in Seattle with a gentle breeze out of the South.  In other words, perfect weather for The Center for Wooden Boats Fleet & Collection Manager Kyle Hunter to take off for the Eastside of Lake Washington and sail back to CWB on Lake Union with the newest member of the fleet, a Blanchard Junior Knockabout that is being donated to the museum.

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“Sailing the Biglow family’s Blanchard Jr “Footloose” to CWB”

This boat, christened “Footloose” is being donated by Nancy and Lucius Biglow. They have owned the boat since shortly after the moved to Seattle in the 1950’s. Since they bought the 20-foot sailboat they’ve cared for her, taught their kids and extended families to love the water, to love to sail, and to love the skill that went into the building of a Seattle designed classic.  For all those years they’ve kept the boat at their Medina home, enjoying day sailing, dinner picnic cruises with friends, and even the occasional extended trip. They always sent Footloose across the lake to Jensen’s Boatshop near the University of Washington for loving care and maintenance.

But as they’ve gotten older, the Biglows decided that the boat should belong not just to them, but to the city where it was built.  After touring CWB’s Northlake Workshop and seeing how carefully CWB cares for the Blanchard boats already in it’s collection, the family make the call to donate the boat to CWB.  Nancy and Lucius know that their kids will still be able to sail their boat, and by having her on the docks at CWB many more people will get to enjoy the boat as they have for so many decades.

Prior to receiving Footloose CWB had a collection of 7 Blanchard Juniors.   The museum keeps one boats, the historical archive Blanchard Junior, permanently pulled out of the water and kept safe in storage. It serves as the “Artifact” reference boat that is preserved to show how just how these boats they were built and how they arrived from the Blanchard shop on Lake Union

The rest of the Blanchard Juniors are the backbone of the CWB sailboat rental fleet. The historic boats are restored and maintained so that people can still learn to sail, and rent, this historic example of a NW designed and built boat. Last year 5,500 got out on boats in the CWB rental fleet.

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“With that many people using our historic wooden boats, some are always in the shop being refreshed….so keeping enough boats in the water is always a concern,” said CWB’s Hunter. “Adding the Biglow’s boat to the fleet will help insure that when people come down to the docks to learn to sail, or just to rent, that a boat will be here for them.”

This new Blanchard, along with the rest of the Knockabouts in CWB’s fleet, was built at the Blanchard Boat Company which for many decades operated on the Northeast shore of Lake Union just below the Eastlake neighborhood.

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The Blanchard Boat Company founder, N.J. Blanchard, had been commercially building yachts for the wealthy since 1900. During the depression Blanchard realized that to keep his shop busy and crews working he needed to come up with smaller boats that the middle class could afford.

In 1932 N.J. designed a classic little 26’ cruising sloop with a small cabin and and a 20’ open sloop that was scaled down from the 26’ boat.  The 26’ cabin cruiser was called the Blanchard Senior Knockabout (BJK) and the 20’ version was the Blanchard Junior Knockabout (BJK).

About the Blanchard Jr. Knockabout

Type: Sailboat
Designed By N.J. BLanchard & Ben Seaborn
Built by:  Blanchard Boat Co.
Year: 1933-1947
Length Overall x Beam x Draft: 19’8″ x 6’2″ x 3′
Hull Type: Daysailer, Round bottom, raked transom, open cockpit, fin keel.
Rig Type: Fractional sloop
Construction Details:The hull of a Blanchard Junior Knockabout (BJK) is carvel planked western red cedar over steam bent white oak frames. The cast iron keel is approximately 500 lbs. The cost with the sails in the 1940’s was $1195.

When you look at the picture of the Blanchard Boat Company back in its heyday, and then look at the design Seattle’s  Olson Kundig Architects  have developed for the new Wagner Education Center to be built at CWB you can see the hint of Seattle’s past.  Lead Architect Tom Kundig has said the elements of the Blanchard building, along with other places where boats were built in the Northwest, were always in the back of their minds as they were designing the new building that CWB will build in Lake Union Park.  Construction of the new building at CWB is expected to begin later this year.

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You can find out more about the Blanchard Junior Knockabout and many of the other boats in the collection on the CWB website at http://cwb.org/exhibits

And even with the addition of this beautiful boat to the CWB collection, the museum remains on the lookout for additional Blanchard Jr Knockabouts to add to the collection.

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