Teen’s Herreshoff replica draws a crowd - Soundings Online

Teen’s Herreshoff replica draws a crowd

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One of the featured exhibitors at the 16th annual WoodenBoat Show in Mystic, Conn., 18-year-old Schleiff recreated a reputable replica of Nathanael Herreshoff’s 1889 cat-ketch Coquina.

Boatbuilding may seem an unlikely hobby for a boy growing up in the mountains of West Virginia, but that wasn’t about to stop someone like Timm Schleiff.

Read the other story in this package: WoodenBoat Show draws varied fleet

One of the featured exhibitors at the 16th annual WoodenBoat Show in Mystic, Conn., 18-year-old Schleiff recreated a reputable replica of Nathanael Herreshoff’s 1889 cat-ketch Coquina.

“I put a little over 700 hours into it,” Schleiff says of his 17-foot boat that he started building in January.

Schleiff says he considers himself extremely lucky to have been highlighted on the WoodenBoat Show’s Web site — especially since this is his first show and first boat built from scratch.

“I was very impressed by [the show], and the best part was definitely the people I got to meet,” says Schleiff. “It was great seeing people with boats they built from Texas all the way through Maine. And the local boatbuilders in the area were unique and friendly people.”

Herreshoff, best known for his America’s Cup racing yacht, designed Coquina for his own personal use. After her launch in May of 1889, Herreshoff used her for more than a decade until she was “made awkward by rheumatism,” as he lovingly put it. Though the original design was destroyed in the New England hurricane of 1938, her transom is displayed at the HerreshoffMarineMuseum in Bristol, R.I., and has been faithfully recreated by a number of boatbuilders over the years.

“I decided on the Coquina because everybody knows Herreshoff. I mean, he’s the Wizard of Bristol,” says Schleiff. “He’s so reputable, and I knew the design had to be something great, so I figured I’d give it a try.”

The son of an architect, Schleiff is no stranger to building. However, it was his friend Stanley Woodward, who lives on Chesapeake Bay, who helped him catch the boating bug when he was 14.

“We decided to renovate a Bolger sailboat for use,” says Schleiff. “I had done woodworking stuff on houses, so this was just a little change in direction for me.”

Working on his friend’s property, together they restored a 26-foot Phil Bolger Chebacco cat-yawl, one of the biggest of its kind.

“We still sail it as much as possible,” says Schleiff. “I’ve been lucky — while my dad would like me to build houses, he does support my boat interest.”

After the first success, Schleiff wanted to find a school to further his boatbuilding skills, but after talking to a number of people in the business, he decided to just get started.

“I traveled up the East Coast and was very impressed with what was out there, but then I realized I already knew most of what they were teaching,” says Schleiff. “Then after a few people saw my portfolio; I was advised to just start building boats. I gathered up materials and started on Coquina.”

Schleiff spent about $8,000 on materials for the Coquina, rendering it almost exact to the original, with only one diversion: a glued sappelli plywood lapstrake construction.

“The original was made with Atlantic cedar and riveted, but it’s a lot of work to create and maintain,” says Schleiff. “It was difficult figuring out how to get the shape of the plywood right and gluing it rather than it being riveted.”

The boat is for sale for $30,000, although it drew quite a bit of attention at the show. The next project he plans on tackling is a 19-foot inboard diesel engine launch.

“The greatest thing for me is when the boat hits the water,” says Schleiff. “When it comes out perfect, that’s really satisfying.”

For more information on Schleiff and his Coquina, e-mail

schleiffboats@hotmail.com or call (304) 667-1090.