Lloyd Hann: Building the Arrowhead, the first speedboat.

Having the agency for Red Wing Thorobred marine engines, and having sold and installed several Red Wings in various boats, mostly heavy utility type, I decided I should have a speedboat capable of making 30 to 40 mph, to be used for demonstration purposes and making fast service calls around the coast.  I decided on a boat about 20 feet overall and made a model of the boat I had in mind.

I used to subscribe to the magazine Power Boating, which had interesting articles relating to boats and engines.  There was also a service department giving information to subscribers.  I decided to send the model to their engineering department for their professional opinion and recommendations regarding the power required to obtain a speed of up to 30 mph, and performance of the boat at various speeds, etc.

In due time I received their reply.  Their naval architects and designers condemned every feature of the boat I was planning to build from the model.

First, they stated that the method of building a boat from a model was outdated many years before.  The right way to build would be from a blueprint designed and drawn by a naval architect.  All the characteristics of the boat would be shown and details given re speed and performance with engines of different horsepowers.

They stated that no doubt the boat I had planned to build would be well-built and strong, but the model did not show the CB, or centre of buoyancy, which was an important factor.  They figured the boat would be wet at speeds above 10 mph.  They also noted that I had an outside keel on the model, which would make the boat very dangerous in turning at speeds above 10 to 12 mph.  There was not enough flare on the bows, and no tumblehome aft.

 [tumblehome: an inward curvature of a boat’s topsides]. 

After considering all their points and recommendations I decided to send for a blueprint and build a speedboat that would be entirely different from conventional boats that were built around this coast.  I contacted a naval architect in the US and ordered a set of plans for a speedboat 21 feet overall, with a seven foot beam and V bottom design, which would be capable of speeds of 40 to 50 mph with the right size inboard Red Wing engine.

After receiving the blueprint I studied it carefully and scaled to full size the exact shape of each frame on sheathing paper and numbered each one according to the plan.  The blueprint showed everything in detail, and care would have to be taken to ensure that all frames were properly located and fitted.

I engaged Clarence Hann to assist me in building the boat.  Clarence was a first-class carpenter, having worked with his father, my great-uncle Charlie, who was a master carpenter and boatbuilder.

First, materials for building the boat had to be obtained.  There happened to be sufficient planking in the store loft, left over from previous boatbuilding.  It was juniper, dressed one inch thickness, and well seasoned.  The keel was shaped from a birch stick 20 feet long and dressed up 2 1/2 x 5 inches.  This was done with a ripsaw, axe and adz.  Next were the stem, stern post and transom knee.  We cut these from natural curve juniper plank.  As the boat was going to be V bottom design, most all framing was cut from straight stock, except on the flared bows and the tumblehome aft.

When everything was on hand, we started in to build it in the store loft, where we had plenty of space, heat and light.  An Onan diesel lighting plant was used for lighting and operation of tools.

This boat was going to be entirely different from the conventional type of boat that was around and was used by fishermen.  We didn’t want any other boatbuilder to tell us how to do it.  I was bound that it would be built according to the blueprint, so I said, “When we’re ready to start building we’ll lock the store doors and allow no one to enter.”  Clarence agreed, “Yes, old man, that’s what we’ll do, allow no b****r in.”  So that is what we did.  No one was allowed in until the boat was almost completed.

It was to be V bottom design with no outside keel and no deadwood outside bottom planking.  The frames would be in two pieces, the bottom and top side frames fastened at the chine.  The joint where bottom and side frames met would be fastened with juniper knees of the required shape, and the chine would be fitted to the outside of the knee and fastened to it.  When planking, the bottom and side plank would fit snugly against the inside chine, and when planking was finished an outside chine would be fitted, completing the job.

[chine:  a keel-like stringer running from stem to stern on either side]

The bottom frames and floor timbers would be fastened to the inside keel and keelson fastened fore and aft inside the length of the boat.  There would be only one inch of keel outside of the bottom planking.  This was to ensure that the boat would be highly manouverable at high speed.  The keel would be faired on each side, making a smooth contour.  There would be no skeg.

[keelson:  a timber or girder fastened above and parallel to the keel of a boat for additional strength]

[skeg:  a timber that connects the keel and sternpost of a ship]

The propeller shaft would be directly through the keel at an angle of 12 to 15 degrees and fastened near the propeller end by a bronze adjustable strut with suitable bearings.  Inside there would be a bronze shaftlog with a flexible connection between the stuffing box and the log.

The keel, stem and stern knee were duly scarfed, and stations where the frames, etc., would be fastened were carefully marked and numbered according to the blueprint.  The keel was set up on a level floor baseboard where all measurements could be checked.  The size and shape of the frames were drafted on large sheets of sheathing paper.  All frames were numbered and fastened to the corresponding numbered stations on the keel.

[scarf joint:  a lapped joint between two pieces of timber made by notching or grooving the ends and strapping, bolting, or gluing the two pieces together]

Flexible battens were fastened on the outside of the frames from stem to stern.  This helped hold them rigidly in place.  When all frames were in place and battens fastened around, we were very pleased and somewhat surprised to see that everything so far fitted exactly as it should, as this was our first time ever building by blueprint.

There was one occasion when we had a problem fastening the garboard plank near the stem, as there was considerable twist involved.  We broke a couple of plank while trying to get a good fit.

[garboard plank – the first wale laid next to the keel of a wooden boat]

I said to Clarence, “We’ll have to get your father (Uncle Charlie).  He’s the only one I know who can fit that plank and make a good fit.”  “Yes,” Clarence said, “The old man will fit it.”

So we humbled ourselves and called on Uncle Charlie.  He came, and I can picture him now:  He sat down, put on his glasses, sized up the situation and said, “I’ll fortify ‘en so ‘e won’t break when I fits ‘en.”  So he took the adz, dubbed a bit here and there, fitted the plank, fastened supporting blocks in strategic places, and fitted the plank in place without trouble.

There was no blueprint that could tell Uncle Charlie how to make a good fit when it came to boat-building or woodworking of any kind.  He could turn his hand at most anything.  I often heard it said that Skipper Charlie Hann could plane with an adz, meaning that he could dub, or finish, a piece of wood with an adz as smooth as if it was finished with a plane.

After Uncle Charlie finished fitting the garboard plank to the stem he took some time to size up the work we had done, which he considered fairly good.  But he didn’t altogether like the shape.

We had beams and stringers and we now had the garboard planks and two stop strakes fitted, and we continued on fitting the remainder of the planking.  The only problem we had was planking around the bow section, the bow having quite a flare.

[strake:  a single continuous line of planking extending on a vessel’s hull from stem to stern]

Clarence was an expert when it came to fitting plank.  He used the “spiling board” method.  This he had learned from watching and working with his father, building many boats.  I also considered myself very good using a spiling board.  You could make a plank “fit like a shirt”.  There was only one fault (and I suppose it was a good one) that I had with Clarence.  He was sometimes too particular and wanted a fit too perfect, that took too much time; but you could depend on any job he did with wood.

All planking was beveled to make a good caulking seam, the inside edge of each plank fitting together and the outside edge slightly beveled to make a good seam for caulking, that would ensure a water- tight boat.  The boat was now nearing completion.  The next important thing was caulking.  There were found in every place men who specialized in this type of work.  Many could do it but there was usually one who was an expert; so I decided no one but an expert would do the caulking, because this boat would be subjected to high speed and stress, especially in choppy waters.

Lewis Carter, known as Uncle Lewis to most, was the man recommended for caulking.  He came, bringing his caulking mallet and caulking irons with him.  I supplied the oakum, etc., and he did the job in a craftsmanlike manner with a guarantee that she would be as tight as an iron pot, which she proved to be when launched.  [Note: this was Gordon Carter’s grandfather]

After the caulking and all the woodwork was finished we sanded the boat with an electric sander from stem to stern.  She was then painted with copper paint on the bottom and gray topside, with white boottop two inches wide from stem to stern about three inches above the designed waterline.

[boottopping:   daubing a vessel’s bottom near the surface of the water with a mixture of tallow, sulphur, and resin, as a temporary protection against worms]

The boat was now ready for inspection and launching.  The store doors were opened for whoever may come, and there were many, including many critics, and about the only thing remarked on favourably was the good planking job.

Uncle Charlie sized her up and asked, “What kind of a shear are you going to have on her, Llyde Garge?”  (That was what he always called me.)  I said, “That’s the finished shear you see on her now.”  “My God,” he said, “I wouldn’t go clear of the wharf with a shear like that.  She’s hogged.”  I said, “That’s right, Uncle Charlie, she’s got what is called a hogged shear, typical of a real speedboat.”

Another question that was asked many times was how the propeller and shaft were going to be fitted, since there was no keel or deadwood for the shaft or stuffing box.  When I explained how the shaft would go through the inside keel at an angle of 12 to 15 degrees and the stuffing box would be inside, there were many raised eyebrows and doubts about it.  They asked how I was going to launch and haul up the boat if the propeller and shaft were down through the bottom and no keel or skeg under.  Well, I explained that the boat would be launched in a cradle specially made to suit.

Skipper Hedley Brenton, the sailmaker/shiprigger, also sized the boat up in the store.  His negative comment was on the shear and freeboard aft, and the boottop, waterline, he called it, that was painted around the sides of the boat’s designed waterline.  He said, “You want the waterline raised four inches or more aft because the one you have painted will be under water when the boat is launched.”

I laughed and told him the boottop was painted according to the plans and should be okay.  He didn’t think so.  He was telling me how much the boat would draw aft, etc., and when I told him it would draw about three times as much forward, he laughed.

The boat was set up in the cradle and the propeller and shaft installed.  When it was launched the boottop waterline was exactly parallel with the water, which proved that the blueprint and our measurements were correct.

The rudder was the balanced type, cut from 1/4 inch steel plate and mounted through the stern knee with a sleeve, stuffing box and quadrant, all of which I made up in the machine shop.  The rudder was suspended from the top of the rudder post, with no skeg underneath.  That was one disadvantage about the design, there was no protection for the propeller shaft or rudder.  If I happened to run into shoal water or cross a net or line, there was always a danger of damaging or fouling the underwater gear.  However, I was lucky that after travelling thousands of miles there was only once that I had the misfortune to damage the propeller.  That happened near Brookfield and I managed to get home, one mile, under my own power.

The first engine installed in the Arrowhead was a Red Wing high speed 40 hp.  It was hoisted on board as soon as the boat was launched and the cradle removed.  The bedding had already been installed according to the blueprint.  With the help of Father and Clarence, the engine was installed, aligned, coupled to the propeller shaft and fastened down.  The two inch exhaust pipe was coupled to the engine with flexible exhaust hose, and cooling water discharged through the exhaust pipe.  The starting battery, electrical control panel and fuel tank were installed, and the boat was ready for a trial run within an hour.

There were a number of bystanders on the wharf; and when ready, I just couldn’t wait any longer.  I said, “Come on, Clarence, cast off and we’ll soon see what she can do.”

First starting, I let the engine idle awhile and checked the oil pressure, temperature, etc.  The boat was moving along at about six or seven mph and running with level or with head down, which was normal trim when stopped.  After checking that everything was okay I decided to give her the gun, and I opened the throttle.

We were standing in the rear cockpit and leaning a bit forward over the engine cowling.  It’s lucky we were, because the boat just seemed to leap forward so fast that if we had been standing upright we would probably have been thrown over the stern.  The bow rose out of the water and the boat quickly came on plane, with a wing of water flying from each side.  We kept a straight course for about half a mile; then, slowly at first, we began to swing from port to starboard to get the feel of the steering in response to the angles of the rudder.  Very little effort was required to steer.  This was no doubt due to the balanced rudder and the design of the boat.

It is putting it mildly to say that we were extremely pleased with the performance on our first trial run.  Father, Uncle Charlie and others who saw the first run were amazed at the remarkable performance.  Over a one mile course she was clocked at 26 mph, about four times faster than the average boat.  She was later powered by a more powerful Red Wing engine giving a speed of 40 mph.

The Arrowhead in Wesleyville harbour

We then settled down to work on the inside, installing seats, lockers and provisions for canvas awning that could be used in stormy weather or for overnight stays on long trips (which would turn out to be many).  The boat was like Uncle Lewis had said she would be, as tight as an iron pot.

I had the Arrowhead built for many things that I had in mind, first for promoting sales and service of Red Wing Thorobred marine engines and Onan electric plants, for which I had the Newfoundland agency.  Secondly, I always had an interest in speedboats and engines, having followed all speedboat races by Gar Wood, who was many times world champion in his Miss America, and Kay Don, I think it was, in the British challenger Miss England in the Harmsworth trophy races (1930).

While I had this boat I installed different Red Wing engines up to 150 hp, just for speed, experience and testing purposes, using different sized propellers for speed, efficiency and economy.

I used to read in boating magazines about water skiing while being towed by a speedboat, but I  never saw it performed.  Many of the boys around home were good swimmers, and I tried to interest them in trying water skiing.

It so happened that around that time a young fellow by the name of Bill Pound came around our area selling magazines.  I bought some from him and we got to talking boats, etc., as most all travel then was done by boat.

At the time, I was making an aquaplane, or surfboard, 16 by 54 inches, to be towed by a speedboat.  None of the boys had ever tried, but Bill said, “I’ll do it; I’ve done it before.”  So we fastened about ten fathoms of tow rope to the board, and my brother Herb and friend Gerald Hill and Bill Pound started off in the speedboat from our wharf.  Bill tried it first, and we made many runs around Wesleyville Harbour.  Herb tried it next, and after a spill or two he was riding the board like a kite.  Gerald tried it next, with the same success.

Well, after that we would be water skiing every day and doing tricks.  The boys would ride the board holding the rope in their teeth, riding piggy-back, sitting and kneeling and doing all kinds of acrobatics.  We kept making the board smaller as our skills increased, until I believe the boys could almost ride barefoot at high speed.  I would take my turn on the board and Herb would run the boat.  Many of the boys engaged in the sport, and also some of the girls.

Herb Hann on aquaplane 1938

I remember one calm, sunny day in July the Fishery Products boat, the MV Zebrula, was loading lobsters for the Providence and Boston markets.  The pool where the lobsters were kept was on the south side of the harbour and the Zebrula was docked on the north side, and lobsters were ferried across by motor boats.  Skipper Sam Roberts, employed by Fishery Products, was in charge of loading, with 50 to 60 men employed.

It so happened that I had just passed down through the harbour in the Arrowhead and tied up at our wharf, when who should come on the wharf but a registered nurse from Brookfield Hospital , who was a good athlete and a strong swimmer.  She said, “I saw you towing someone around on skis the other day.  I’d like to try it, what about taking me out?”  I asked her if she had tried it before.  She said, “No, but if the boys can do it I can, just give me a chance to try.”

Claude Spurrell was working with me at that time.  He was very experienced and reliable in the operation of boats, etc.,  So without further delay we prepared to take the nurse water skiing.  We knew she was a good swimmer and shouldn’t have any problem.  In the privacy of the boat cabin she donned swimming attire and was ready.  She jumped in the water, leisurely swam around the boat a few times, then picked up the tow line, and from then on the fun started.

She tried a couple or three times before she managed to stay on the board.  We went up through the reach and past the Zebrula where the men were loading lobsters.  We turned around up in the bight and came back down through the harbour at full speed, with the nurse so far riding high.  We turned and went up through the reach again, and this time the nurse was doing some maneuvers, cutting from side to side across the boat’s wake.  Well, this brought everything to a standstill aboard the Zebrula.  Winches stopped hoisting, and men just stood and watched. 

Just then, when swinging to cross the wake, the nurse flipped over and disappeared.  I immediately turned the boat around, and was very much relieved to see her rise up in the water and wave her hand.  She swam alongside and wanted to continue on, but I decided not to push luck too far, and we took her on board over the side, two feet high, which was no easy job without a boarding ladder.

Skipper Sam Roberts said to me later, “If you hadn’t stopped towing that nurse around in the speedboat, we would never have got the Zebrula loaded.”

After that, many of the boys from around Wesleyville and Brookfield would come around in the evening for rides around the harbour.  Many of them became experts in riding a single ski.  We would go from one end of Wesleyville Harbour to the other and many times up across the bight and around Brookfield Harbour.  Most everyone would know when Lloyd Hann’s speedboat would be towing water skiers, and you’d see people old and young gathered on the hills and wharves, watching.

I still had the speedboat in 1938 and would often make trips around the bay, usually alone.  I felt very confident and safe and never had a worry or problem in finding my way.  Occasionally I would take a trip alone directly across the bay 30 miles to Bonavista, and many times up around Cape Bonavista to Elliston, where I knew a very pretty and charming person who later became my wife.  I met many interesting people in my travels and enjoyed listening to yarns from the old sea dogs who had spent a lifetime at sea.  They were sincere, godfearing people, who respected the hazards of the sea.

I once received a telegram from Mr. Baxter W. Kean of Brookfield, a prominent businessman, to meet him at Gambo.  He was coming by train from St. John’s and would arrive at Gambo in the wee hours of the next morning.  I got the Arrowhead ready and left for Gambo around 5:00 p.m.  It was the 8th of May.  The wind was southeast with a light breeze, and the sky looked heavy.  I had a good run up the bay, arriving at Gambo shortly after 6:00, and I tied up to the wharf heading out.  The wind started to breeze from the east, with heavy wet snow.  I put on the pot and kettle and cooked a scoff, which I now had plenty of time and appetite for, and then settled down for a nap.  The wind did not increase, but it snowed all night.

The train was delayed and didn’t arrive until 5:00 a.m.  Baxter arrived with a suitcase and a couple of packages.

Now, during the night considerable slob had formed from snow that had fallen, and there wasn’t a hole of water to be seen anywhere in Gambo Brook and for half a mile out to Northern Bar (Noder Bar).  Baxter said, “Lloyd, boy, we’ll never get out through the slob ice.”  I said, “Don’t worry, we have lots of power, and if the cooling water intake doesn’t choke with slob, we’ll make it.”

In the meantime, I had provided for such a situation.  I had a ten gallon container to use for engine cooling in case the intake should plug.  It was only a matter of switching the intake hose to the container and circulating the cooling water from the container through the engine and back to the container, like a closed cooling system.

We had breakfast and left at daybreak for home.  We had no problem getting out through the slob ice to the open water.  The boat, being shallow draft and V type bottom, practically flat aft, actually slid over the slob.

Just before we left, two men came on the wharf, having just arrived from Gander on the eastbound train, and asked for passage to Shambler’s Cove, or Port Nelson (Greenspond Tickle).  “Well,” I said, “We don’t have room in the cabin, but if you don’t mind staying in the after cockpit (where I usually steer when it’s stormy), you’re welcome to get aboard.  They didn’t hesitate and lost no time getting on board.

In the meantime the wind had increased quite a bit, but the snow was clearing up.  We had fair time down Freshwater Bay, nine miles, then cut in towards Hare Bay and down past Pinchard’s Tickles, in through Trinity Gut, down through the “long and hungry” run, and in to Paul’s Island harbour, near Fair Island.  We tied up to Capt. Malcolm Rogers’ wharf.

Skipper Malcolm came down to the wharf and said, “Well, where did you come from on a morning like this?  ‘Tis not fit for a bawk to be out.”  I said that we had come from Gambo and were on our way to Wesleyville.  He asked us up to his house for a cup of tea and a good warming.  We accepted his offer and enjoyed very much his generous hospitality.

Due to the high wind and lop, the trip from Gambo had taken us much longer than usual, and I thought it wise to top up the gas tank.  I said, “Skipper Malcolm, we’ll need gasoline before we leave.”  He said, “You can have gas, but you know you’re not leaving to go home in this weather!  There’s not a boat in Fair Island that can go down around Shoe Cove Point with the wind and lop like it is now, let alone that one you have there.”  “Well,”, I said to him, “That boat will go around Shoe Cove Point if we can stay in her and not get thrown out.”

We filled the gas tank, paid Skipper Malcolm and thanked him for his courtesy, and left, heading for Puffin Island.  That would take us well out from Shoe Cove Point.  When Pond Tickle was brought open I headed her in, and we now had waves on the quarter.  We were running before a big lop, most dangerous, and had to watch carefully, as the speedboat had a tendency to yaw when running with waves coming from astern.  Speed had to be reduced many times in order to hold a reasonably steady course.  Once we entered Pond Tickle we had smoother water, and the worst stretch was past.

When we had left Fair Island Tickle I told the two men who were with me in the stern cockpit to sit on the floor for less wind resistance, and cover themselves with the canvas awning.  I stood leaning forward over the engine cover, where I had good visibility, with engine and steering controls handy.

I landed the two men at Shambler’s Cove and proceeded on down the inside run through Middle Tickle and on to Wesleyville, where they were all surprised to see us.  They had figured it was too stormy for the boat to come around Shoe Cove Point.  Baxter said, “Good trip, but I never thought we’d get home today.”

The Arrowheadwas an exceptionally good sea boat for its size.  I tried her out under all conditions to find out just how she would handle in fair and stormy weather, and I got to know just what to expect from her and governed myself accordingly.

Another time I was en route to Gambo alone to meet a passenger coming by train.  It was a clear, sunny day with no wind.  The surface of the bay was like a mirror, and the Arrowhead was clipping along.  I passed a few boats and waved to them.  When I turned the Point of Bay (Freshwater) I saw directly ahead, just about abeam of Benford’s Island, a large motor boat coming down the bay.  It was carrying a smaller boat hauled directly across amidships.  I could not see anyone on board because the boat she was carrying prevented me from seeing anyone in the stern.

Now, the channel between Benford’s Island and Mussel Bar is narrow, and I had to pass the other boat fairly closely.  The Arrowhead was planing along at about 30 mph, throwing a wing of water about ten feet from either side.  There were two men in the motor boat, both sitting in the stern and cruising along at about six to seven mph, the average speed of “one lunger” boats.  They had good visibility on either side and no doubt knew their way, but they could not see directly ahead.    [one lunger boat:  powered by a one cylinder engine]

You can imagine their surprise and fright when a speedboat suddenly appeared out of nowhere and flashed past, throwing spray across their boat.  Both men jumped up and they stopped their engine.  When I looked back both were still standing, and their boat was still stopped and had turned broad- side.  My speedboat was probably the first they had ever seen, because there was no other in the bay at at time.

On many occasions I would take the doctor from Brookfield on emergency calls to places around the bay.  Once, en route to St. Brendan’s with the doctor, the wind was two points on the bow, about 25 mph and building up choppy waves, and the boat was taking a bit of a pounding.  There was one particular hard slap, as if the boat had hit a rock, and the doctor gave me a concerned look.  I said, quoting Longfellow, “Fear not each sudden sound or shock, ‘tis of the wave and not the rock.”  The doctor then felt more relieved and he settled down.

We arrived at St.Brendan’s okay, and the doctor attended his patient and made other visits.  We were ready for the return trip just after dark, and we arrived home without any problem.

Another time I made a similar trip with another doctor on a call to Pinchard’s Island.  A strong south- east wind was blowing and building up quite a lop.  The doctor had a massive head of hair and never wore a cap.  He insisted on staying out in the open, and I offered him a Cape Ann because there was considerable spray flying.  He laughed and said, “Thanks, but I don’t need it, my head doesn’t leak.”   He enjoyed the trip.

I had been planning for some time to make a trip to Elliston, Trinity Bay, to visit my fiancee Ruth Porter, a very fine, charming young lady whom I had the pleasure of meeting when she came to Wesleyville in 1937 as a teacher.  She became my wife in 1941.

Since I had been using the Arrowhead on trips to various parts of the bay, one day in July, 1940 I decided to take a trip directly across the bay and up around Cape Bonavista to Elliston, her home town. From Wesleyville to Cape Bonavista was a distance of 30 miles due south.  The Arrowhead was in good running condition.  I took on extra gas and oil, checked the running gear, etc., and was ready for takeoff early the next morning.  I was up and had breakfast before dawn and left the wharf just at sunrise.  There was a moderate breeze blowing from the southwest, and I had a feeling that it would rise with the sun, which it did.

Shortly after leaving I noticed an increase in the wind, so I steered farther to the west to keep farther in the bay, and also to allow for the leeway drift that the Arrowhead had a tendency to do with the wind partially on the beam.  After about 10 miles the wind had increased considerably, and I was forced to take the lops on the bow, and to compensate for leeway I would be heading many times south-southwest to southwest-by-south.

There was at that time a big fire somewhere around Southern Bay causing heavy smoke, and visibility was down to a quarter mile at times.  Apart from that, the weather was fine.

The Arrowhead was handling well, but speed had to be reduced considerably for safety and easier going.  If the boat were driven at full speed with the waves that were running, there would be many times that it would jump clean out of the water and consequently take a severe beating.  As it was, everything was going well, and I hoped it would keep that way.

But about 20 miles across the bay, the engine started to slow down and speed up occasionally; and soon after, it slowed down and stopped.  I knew by the way it acted that it was a gas problem, probably a plugged filter.  It was surely not out of gas, because the tank had enough fuel for 10 hours running.  I checked for gas at the carburetor; there was none.  Then I checked the gas line at the tank; there was no gas flowing.  I removed the shutoff valve from the tank and found it blocked with a piece of paper that somehow had got into the tank.  After I cleared the valve the engine started and operated okay.

In the meantime the boat had been drifting like a paper bag on the water.  There was still no land visible due to heavy smoke from the forest fire.  However, as I got farther across the bay towards Cape Bonavista I ran out of the smoke, and the Cape was in sunshine.

I had been steering and controlling the engine from the aft cockpit and was battened down with rubber clothes and Cape Ann.  After rounding Cape Bonavista I was in comparatively smooth water from there to Elliston, and I hove to and took off my rubber clothes.  It was a beautiful sunny morning with a balmy southwest wind blowing off the land when I entered Elliston.  Luckily for me, the water was smooth, because Elliston is not a sheltered harbour and the sea can get pretty rough.

I first took a leisurely run around the shoreline, watching out for nets or buoys, then swung and headed for the government wharf at about 40 mph.  There were several people on the wharf, and when they saw a speedboat heading towards them at high speed, many of them moved from the wharf.  Being a bit reckless, and showing the boat off, I suppose, I did not slack my speed until I was about a couple of boatlengths from the wharf.  Knowing the characteristics of the boat, I knew that as soon as the throttle was closed the boat’s head would suddenly drop and she would come to a complete stop within a couple of boatlengths.  This was due to the fact that when travelling at full speed it is on plane with 2/3 of the boat out of water, and as soon as the power is cut the boat drops and its bow acts as a very efficient brake to quickly slow the boat, and then with a quick touch in reverse, she comes to a stop.

Quite a crowd had gathered on the wharf.  I knew some of them and received a cordial and hearty welcome.  One fellow asked, “Where are you from, Skipper?”  “Oh,” I said, “From across the bay – Wesleyville.”  “Oh,” said another fellow, “You fellows from over there would cross the bay in anything, but I wouldn’t cross the harbour in that you got there.”  Another fellow said he would like to have a run in her to see what she was like.  The questions, remarks and opinions were many. 

One fellow asked, “Are you the fellow that takes out Gar Porter’s daughter, Ruth?”  “That’s right,” I said.  “Well, you’re some lucky fellow to have a girl like Ruth,” he said.  “Yes,” I said, “I realize that.”

After mooring the boat I visited the Porter home and enjoyed a good breakfast, then visited other friends.  Elliston was a very busy place at that time of year.  The trap fishing was good and everyone was working.  After the day’s fish was put away, I took Skipper Garland, Ruth’s father, and her Uncle Kador out for a spin in the speedboat.  They enjoyed the run but said they felt safer in their 32 foot trap boat with 8 hp.

Some fellows said they wouldn’t go out in “that one” for any money, yet others were anxious to get a ride.  There was one fellow, I remember, who was boasting, “I don’t care how fast the boat can go, nothing will make me afraid.”  Well, I took that fellow out for a spin with the intention of putting the boat through hairpin maneuvers and wave jumping, but nothing  that I knew she wouldn’t do safely.  After running at high speed on a straight course and jumping a few waves, I suddenly put the helm hard aport.  The boat spun around so fast that it took the fellow who was standing in the aft cockpit off his feet and into the stern locker.  Before he had time to recover, I was on a straight course to gain speed and put the helm hard to starboard.  By this time the fellow was grasping the handrail and wishing he had never come.  I then went back to the wharf and moored the boat for the day. 

Ruth and I spent a pleasant evening riding around Elliston and Bonavista on bike.  The next morning the weather was still fine, and after a few spins around the harbour I left for home, after a very interesting visit to Elliston and friends.  After rounding Cape Bonavista I headed in the bay and stopped at Eastport, Flat Island and St. Brendan’s to pay courtesy visits to some of my Red Wing engine customers, then home to Wesleyville.

On another occasion I made a trip to Eastport to service a diesel generating plant.  Clarence Hann went along with me.  I also took my twin BSA motorcycle in the boat, as I planned to ride from there to visit customers in other places.  The trip to Eastport was made running at 25 knots.  The wharf we landed to was high, and the water was low, and we had to hoist the motorcycle up.

After finishing my work at Eastport I rode to Happy Adventure for a short visit with a customer.  From there I went to Glovertown, where I paid courtesy calls on several customers, had dinner at Caleb Ackerman’s hotel, and then went back to Eastport, where Clarence had a good meal prepared in the cabin of the Arrowhead.  We then took the motorcycle on board and left for home.

In the meantime quite a strong breeze had sprung up from the south.  From Eastport to Flat Island-St. Brendan’s-Bragg’s Island the going was smooth and sheltered, but as we neared Shoe Cove Point-Pond Tickle we encountered quite a lop that we had to run before.  Running before a big lop was the most dangerous way for a speedboat, as there was a danger of broaching if not handled properly, and the helm and throttle had to be constantly adjusted to meet the

wave conditions.  However, we made it without incident.  As we advanced through Pond Tickle and down along by the Candle Cove Rocks and down through Middle Tickle the water became

smoother until we rounded Hermit Cove Point and were entering Wesleyville, where a strong southerly wind had built up another lop.  However, we arrived home without incident.

Another trip I made was to Coward’s Island, one of the Flat Island group, to check on a Red Wing engine I had installed the year before in the schooner Reasonable for Capt. Ned Morgan.  Clarence was with me again.  Now, Flat Island, I would say, could be listed as the home of good boats and boatbuilders.  I’ve heard it said that there was a boat of some size for every man, woman and child on Flat Island, and they always kept their boats in good condition.

I had been there before in the speedboat, and it had aroused much interest and inspection.  They hadn’t seen a boat of that size and shape before, more especially one that would rise more than halfway out of the water when travelling at full speed of 40 mph.  The men on Coward’s Island, all good boatmen, had heard about my speedboat and were looking forward to seeing it.  I happened to know this, and I went in and around the harbour at full speed, showing the boat off, you might say.  I passed Captain Morgan’s schooner at full speed, and all those who saw or heard the Arrowhead coming were watching.

After circling the harbour I tied up alongside the Reasonable.  Well, you can imagine the interest and excitement.  Some men were inspecting the boat, others the engine, and the comments were many and varied.  The shape of the boat was entirely different from the conventional.  One of the older men expressed his opinion and said, “You’d better watch out what you’re doing in that boat when turning, because if you turn too quick she’ll capsize.”  I said, “Skipper, you won’t capsize that boat when turning, because she’ll skid around like a slide on ice when you give her hard port or starboard helm.”

Before leaving I took some of the fellows for a spin, which they enjoyed immensely.  When I was ready to leave for home, one of them again reminded me to be careful in turning.  I said, “You watch when I go out, and I’ll show you what she can do.”

Clarence and I were standing in the aft cockpit, a position I preferred for easy handling and good visibility.  We first cruised around slowly and then opened up to full throttle.  The boat seemed to leap ahead and quickly rose about 2/3 out of the water.  When we were abreast of the Reasonable and out in the centre of the harbour, I quickly put the helm hard aport.

Well, I don’t know who got the biggest surprise, the men watching or me, because the boat turned so quickly that I was swept off my feet and lost my cap.  I managed to reach the throttle and slow the engine down and look for my cap.  It was floating behind the boat.  Those watching had seen me disappear when the boat turned, and next they saw my cap floating on the water.  They figured I was thrown overboard, until they saw me rise up from the stern locker.  Needless to say, whenever I made a fast turn afterwards I made sure I had a firm grip on something.  It never happened again.

I made many trips in the Arrowhead speedboat and experienced smooth and rough times.  There were times when it wasn’t fit to be on the water and more times when it would be a pleasure.  Having heard my grandfather and old seafarers tell rousing tales about their daring

exploits and adventures, I suppose I must have inherited some of it; because when I look back and recall some of the things I did and chances I took travelling in the boat alone, I consider myself lucky.

These are just a few of the exciting, and probably foolish, things I used to do.  Now, when I look back I consider I must have been born under a lucky star.  I certainly wouldn’t do now the things I used to do.  When younger, fear never entered my mind.  I always had complete confidence in myself and my equipment.  I never did expect or ask anyone I employed to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.

Lloyd Hann aboard the Arrowhead


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