Daniel B. MacNaughton


Rowing Home to Spar Hawk


            Daniel MacNaughton is Tom MacNaughton’s younger brother, and in 1955 was born into a family already pretty much obsessed with boats. After his first year he spent all summer, every summer cruising and living aboard the family boats, first on their Winslow 28-footer and later the Alden Malabar Sr. that their father owned until he died.

            Starting at age 16 Dan taught sailing at the Bucks Harbor Yacht Club on Eggemoggin Reach in Maine. His first boat was a Crowninshield-designed Dark Harbor 12 (12 ’ on the waterline) named Jinker, one of a number of 12’s and 17’s that were raced as local One Design fleets. A competitive racer, he won every series in which he sailed, partly from voracious study of tactics, partly from improving on local notions of sail trim and boat handling, and partly from a lot of time spend smoothing up the boat’s bottom.

            His next boat was Ketlin, a 23’11” Cy Hamlin design that is considered the prototype of the Amphibi-ette class designed by Hamlin and Farnham Butler. Unlike the wider, more open, and shoal-draft Amphibi-ette, she was designed as a mini ocean racer, one of the first to be drawn to the then-new MORC rule, when 24’ was the maximum length allowed. He lived aboard her for a couple of summers, and cruised in Penobscot Bay with friends. During this time he was in High School at Hampden Academy, where he benefited from the combination of an experimental English program and several gifted teachers, who helped steer him toward writing as a career option. He attended the University of Maine for two years and then took a job for purposes of sampling the non-academic life.

            Somewhere in there came Jonica, a Laurent Giles designed Vertue cutter that he acquired for a very low price and used and lived aboard in the summer. He had begun restoring her when, at the age of 23, and attending College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, he was hired as WoodenBoat Magazine’s first Associate Editor. Not understanding the ways of finance, he sold Jonica after a couple of years in order to pursue a good deal on a house, a move he has regretted ever since. To ease the pain he bought a Winslow-designed Mount Desert Island class daysailer named Anda.

            Working at WoodenBoat, Dan helped with article acquisition, ran the design section, helped write a regular column on One Designs, edited copy, wrote captions, and wrote a number of articles. After a few years he returned to College of the Atlantic briefly, and then took a job at the Brooklin Boat Yard.

            At that yard he painted and varnished, did rigging work, and generally prepared wooden yachts for their owners each spring.

            Soon thereafter he sold Anda and bought an Amphibi-Con, which he named Yes. After a season sailing her locally he trailered her to South Carolina and moved aboard, working first at a local yard building cold-molded sportfishing powerboats, and later, after that yard closed, worked on his own with two partners and various part time helpers performing maintenance and repair on yachts at the local marinas. He considers Yes to have been, in many ways, the most practical and enjoyable boat he has owned to date.

            But soon he and a partner purchased the much larger and offshore-capable gaff rigged double ended ketch Eric, a well-known William Atkin design that he moved aboard and which became their permanent residence for several years.

            Eventually they moved back to Maine, where Dan worked at Bass Harbor Marine, on Mt. Desert Island, and later returned to the Brooklin Boat Yard. Soon, however, MacNaughton Associates purchased a boat yard in Eastport, Maine, and the whole extended MacNaughton family moved there and ran that yard for ten years before abandoning the effort as unprofitable.

            At the yard, Dan was Operations Manager, running most aspects of the yard’s day to day activities. After the yard closed, he worked at a local factory for a couple of years and then accepted an offer to work at Rockport Marine as a Project Manager, a position he held for a number of years before deciding to run the design business and Yacht Design School central offices and publishing endeavors, while doing writing for marine publications as well.

            Recently, Dan and Lucia Del Sol Knight completed a long-term research and writing effort resulting in The Encyclopedia of Yacht Designers, a reference work published by W.W. Norton.

            Dan and his partner Greg Pugh recently purchased an Amphibi-ette—the former Mar Claro which was much written about by Yachting editor Bill Robinson in the 50’s and 60’s. While Eric undergoes a gradual restoration, the new boat (re-named Spar Hawk) is expected to serve admirably as an ultra-practical, shoal-draft, trailerable coastal cruiser. If all goes as expected, some articles about Spar Hawk and her exploits should appear before long, and will be noted on this web site.

            In his writing, Dan is dedicated to the idea that the best boat to own is the smallest one that will do the job, that simplicity in structure and equipment maximizes enjoyment and minimizes cost, that the best reasons to go sailing are a love of nature and people, and that protection of the marine environment is a moral obligation.