Cangarda, the touchscreen steam yacht

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

18 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    wow! what a beauty!

  2. William Loe says:

    There is at least one other steam yacht, “Mascot” built by William Holland of D’Iberville Mississippi for private owners in Louisiana.
    It was heavily damaged in Katrina and has been restored to beautiful condition. It similarly has computerized systems to run an antique steam engine drive.
    The owners are steam fans and have a Navy Admirals launch they plan to restore next.

  3. Adam says:

    When Steve D. of Passagemaker fame surveyed our boat he recommended to me the book The Sand Pebbles, which combines detailed passages about the care and feeding of a 1930s marine steam power plant with China-on-the-verge-of-revolution adventure. It was great fun.

  4. Bill Bishop says:

    What fun Ben, I am truly envious. I would love to see another view from you while the vessel is underway in the spring.

  5. Oceanplanet says:

    Wow…this is just about the coolest thing ever. How long is the boat in Camden? At Wayfarer or Yachting Solutions?

  6. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Cangarda will spend the winter inside a big shed at Wayfarer Marine, and I’ll surely be lobbying for a ride next Spring 😉
    By the way, this is not only classic yacht that Bob McNeil has restored. Check out the 1911, 58′ Herreshoff P-Class racing sloop Joyant, also overhauled (to say the least) at Rutherford’s in California. She has no engine, which is brave, and now races in New England, sometimes with Cangarda as mother ship:
    McNeil and Rutherford are also involved in restoring the 1885, 133′ schooner yacht Coronet on the IYRS campus in Newport, RI:
    Thanks for keeping these boats alive, Bob!

  7. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Adam. Since I’m also inclined to take advice from Steve D’Antonio, I checked out The Sand Pebbles at Amazon and found a nice surprise. For some reason the Kindle edition (which can also be read fine on an iPad, iPhone, or Android device) is only $4. No brainer!

  8. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    There’s some interesting Cangarda material — including Bob McNeil’s log of the first long ocean leg — on a great blog written by Andy Davis, who served as naval architect for the restoration:
    McNeil, incidentally, calls her “the last American Edwardian steam yacht” as opposed to Wikipedia’s “last surviving US-built steam yacht in the US, and one of only three left in the world.”

  9. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Wow, just realized that Andy Davis’s company, Tri-Coastal Marine, has a superb section on Cangarda, both history and restoration:

  10. Adam says:

    Ben, I think it’s out of copyright. I’m sure you’ll like it. While some of the technical bits escaped me, it’s well-written and I understood the key “fix” (you’ll see).
    Definitely more accessible than the Patrick O’Brian books. I’ve read all 21 of them thrice and I still don’t know what cross-catharpins, Bentinck shrouds, or a dumb-chalder is.

  11. David Evans says:

    Hi Bill, Have a look at this website, it has some great shots of Cangarda in a race with Medea, another steamyacht.

  12. Anonymous says:

    If you are interested in following such things, some discussion of the Cangarda restoration was also reported in the Classic Yacht Symposium proceedings published by the Herreshoff Museum in Bristol, RI.

  13. Steve says:

    Ben. Thanks for a fine article.
    It seems that every rare or historic vessel has some sort of superlative attached to it: oldest, most original, last etc. Cangarda is no exception. Here’s an explanation.
    Of the 600 (perhaps twice that) steam yachts built in America and Great Britain during the ‘Gilded Age’ (1880-1914), only a precious few (3) still exist. Cangarda is the only remaining American built example.
    Cangarda, Medea and Ena are of a type: steam powered, tall stack, clipper bow, long counter stern and narrow beam with a vestigial sailing rig. There are a few others of that type in existence but they were built later and are much larger: Nahlin, Savarona, and Haida come to mind but all are diesel. Delphine is still steam but looks nothing like the others; a much more “modern” design.
    It has been said (by them what knows) that the classic steam yachts were the ultimate reach of marine design and engineering; the perfect combination of art and science and the most beautiful power yachts ever built. spc

  14. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Humorous aside: Where Steve and I live, we get to share the Bays with not only the “the oldest active commercial schooner in the United States”:
    but also “the oldest documented sailing vessel in continuous service in the United States”:
    Both were built in 1871, and both are great operations today.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Nice yacht – well done Steve.
    But like the first post says, there are more than 3 steam yachts left.
    Carola in Scotland:

  16. Mike Thompson says:

    It is worth looking up
    She was built by Camper and Nicholson in 1909 as a steam yacht, then converted.
    She is being painstakingly restored in Sharpness, England
    She has the most beautiful straight stem and counter stern

  17. Eugene Porter says:

    I was a deckhand on the Vernon Langille with Katy Green and Steve Bailey on your first voyage as skipper. I was a volunteer at the Apprenticeshop in summer of 1982, the kid from California! I left and went Oyster Dredging with Ed Farley and Gino Scalzo.
    In the spring of 2009 I got a service call to help start up the oil burners on Cangarda. They were built by a former employer and the model was my specialty. Steve was and Bob were glad I showed up because I was the first person to really make the burners operate with a clear stack and no flame outs. I helped them straighten out quite a few combustion related problems, set up the burners so the touch screen could control them, made the fist sea trails, took the boat to LA and helped race against Madea.
    Lots of good memories of it all. Glad to see you involved and have the opportunity to connect.
    Eugene Porter, Tiburon, CA

  18. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Small world, Eugene, and so glad you came by!
    Steve Cobb is no longer on Cangarda, and I’ve heard the vessel has been laid up with mechanical issues quite a bit, but Steve is now running the beautiful Atlantide:
    Of course he wishes she were steam but he’s excited about possible voyages of exploration, perhaps as far as the Med.
    Meanwhile, the Vernon Langille is back in the area and was using my mooring float when we went cruising in July. She has an engine now but here are recent photos showing how she still sails:
    For the unfamiliar the Langille is fine-ended 35-foot Tancook Schooner that is almost entirely open and was originally built without an engine but with amazing Egyptian Cotton sails, including a killer club-footed fore topsail.
    When I started running her with Eugene and other Apprentices the seamanship training program was to sail/row about a cord and half of firewood that we’d piled into the midships area from Bath to Monhegan. That meant dealing either with the capricious winds and whirling currents of the Kennebec River OR the even more capricious winds and whirling tides the Sasanoa/Sheepscot shortcut.
    I think we charged about $150 for the firewood hand delivered up onto the pier, though the round trip sometimes took four days or so. It was one of the most ridiculous and challenging things I’ve ever done in a boat, and most of the time it was wicked fun.
    The Vernon Langille could sometimes pass similar size modern sailboats, even on the wind, and could maneuver almost as well as a spade rudder boat, though four strong people on big oars could only make about 3 knots max in a calm. I ran the boat for several seasons, and she’s what got me involved in WoodenBoat School as they leased her after the A-Shop went through some hard times. She’s been sunk twice, the first time rather famously (there was a damn photo boat right behind her), but she’s kept on keepin on:,4240866

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