The sloop yacht Kathleen sailing on San Francisco Bay in 1910. NPS Photo P83-019a.882g.
By Stephen Canright, Park Curator, Maritime History
The Park has recently accepted the donation of the forty-foot sloop Kathleen, built as a yacht near Fisherman's Wharf by Salvatore Pasquinucci in 1904. She is believed to be the second oldest yacht on San Francisco Bay. Owned initially by Corinthian Yacht Club member Frank Raymond, the Kathleen has spent 107 years as a pleasure boat on the Bay. She was owned since the 1960s by the Smith Family of Mill Valley, California, and was donated to the Park by Hap Smith.
Although built in the early 20th century, the Kathleen is a classic example of the 19th century American national yacht type. This type of centerboard sloop yacht was developed in New York City in the 1840s, the design evolving from local fishing boats noted for their speed under sail. As this class of boat was developed for racing and cruising, its popularity spread throughout the nation.
The design was characterized by a wide and shallow hull. Introduced to San Francisco Bay in the 1850s, the sloops worked well on the shallow waters of the Bay and Delta. The popularity of the sloop grew, as more prosperous urban yachtsmen cruised and raced the craft.
The most radical design of this type, seen mostly in New York, were called "sandbaggers." In their quest to go faster and win the race these boats flew enormous areas of sail on the relatively small and light hulls. Even in light winds, crews had to shift sandbags from one side to the other to keep the boat from capsizing.
The San Francisco Yacht Club was established in the late 1860s and many of those yachtsmen cruised and raced this class of boat. The Kathleen was connected with several local yacht clubs over the years, including the Vallejo and Palo Alto clubs.
In the 1930s an engine was installed and a ballast keel replaced the centerboard. Around 1960, her aging hull was sheathed in thin plywood and fiberglass. The original hull has thus been hidden away, untouched, for more than fifty years.
The sloop has recently been hauled out of the water and carefully cradled to retain the shape of the hull. The sheathing will be removed and the condition of her hull documented and assessed, and depending on the findings, the hull will be restored or replicated. In the future we anticipate that some of the restoration work will take place in the Small Craft shed area on Hyde Street Pier, and hope to coordinate this effort with the America's Cup race coming to San Francisco Bay in 2013.