A peek at Butcher Boy’s restoration at Spanish Landing.

All sorts of wood can be found under the North Harbor Drive Bridge, where the historic boat Butcher Boy is undergoing a thorough restoration.
All sorts of wood can be found under the North Harbor Drive Bridge, where the historic boat Butcher Boy is undergoing a thorough restoration.

This morning, as I drove up Harbor Drive toward Point Loma, I suddenly remembered that the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s turn-of-the-century racing sloop Butcher Boy is being restored at Spanish Landing, where the galleon San Salvador was built a few years back. Work on the much smaller Butcher Boy is being carried out in a sheltered place under the North Harbor Drive Bridge.

Even though I’m no expert when it comes to sloops–or nautical stuff in general–I do love to look at boats and ships that sail. There seems to be something about white sails, sunlight on water, and wind-lashed voyages across rolling expanses that appeals deeply to the human spirit.

So, anyway, I decided to pull into the nearby parking lot to see what progress has been made in restoring Butcher Boy to its former glory.

I was able to take a few photos.

Even though no museum volunteers were at work in the early morning, and the large ship saw was covered with a tarp, a nearby sign provided some interesting information about these unique saws used by shipwrights. The angle of a ship saw blade can be changed as a cut is being made, so that compound curves can be created with a single cut.

An internet wooden boat forum that I found has some fascinating info about the history of Butcher Boy, including:

“Butcher Boy, which had similarly named counterparts up and down the West Coast, was conceived by Charles S. Hardy, owner of the Bay City Market on Fifth and Broadway downtown.

‘Boss Hardy,’ as he was known, needed a boat sturdy enough to handle any weather and fast enough to beat competitors out to the big ships anchored offshore, off what was commonly known as Spanish Bight and Dutch Flats.

Hardy turned to boatyard owner Manuel Goularte, a native of the Portuguese Azores. The model was the double-ended salmon boat sailed so successfully on the Sacramento and Columbia rivers.

A boat-building style that originated in Italy and the Mediterranean can also be seen in Butcher Boy, said Ashley, a style then favored by first-generation Italian fishermen in San Francisco Bay.

‘The gaff rig originated with the 15th-century Dutch,’ Ashley said. ‘Even though she was built as a work boat, she was beautiful, really special even in her own time.’

‘Everybody around the bay stops to look at her now. It’s like she’s sailing out of a Winslow Homer painting.’

Framed in oak and planked in cedar, Butcher Boy is 29 feet, 11 inches long, with an 81/2-foot beam. The mainsail and jib carry 604 square feet of sail.”

If you are curious, and want to see historical photos of Butcher Boy under sail, and a detailed description of the restoration work now being done, please read the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s blog by clicking here.

A sign that describes a ship saw, recalling how this one was used to help build the Spanish galleon replica San Salvador.
A sign that describes a ship saw, recalling how this particular one was used to build the Spanish galleon replica San Salvador.
Lots of lumber!
Lots of lumber!
I took this photo of the unrestored Butcher Boy two and a half years ago for another blog post. At the time it was on display on the barge behind the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s steam ferry Berkeley.
Photo of the Butcher Boy's restoration in progress, taken one August 2018 morning at San Diego's Spanish Landing.
Photo of the Butcher Boy’s restoration in progress, taken one August 2018 morning at San Diego’s Spanish Landing.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

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Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

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