Silent Maid: Loud Statement
This 33-foot catboat, the reincarnation of a storied Barnegat Bay racer, is the latest success of a former Wall Streeter devoted to bringing classic wooden sailboats back to life. Yacht Style from our December 2012 issue.
|Sporting a straw boater, Silent Maid owner Peter Kellogg helms during the Padanaram Catboat Rendezvous. Photo by Peter Corbin.
During the summer of 2010, Kellogg and his crew took Silent Maid on a goodwill tour of boat shows, regattas, and yacht-club events along the U.S. East Coast. At the famed Eggemoggin Reach Regatta in Brooklin, Maine, Silent Maid placed first overall out of 92 boats, a victory that gained her a wealth of attention.
Knowing this, and then seeing her out on the water, I couldn’t resist hinting to Kellogg at the Opera House party that it would be fun to sail her some time. About six months later, a brief email arrived, inviting me to the Squan Tri-Sail Regatta in New Jersey at the end of July 2011. I was available—and eager. Before the regatta, I unearthed the history of this and some other marine masterpieces.
The original Silent Maid was commissioned in 1924 by Edwin Schoettle. A worshiper of catboats who was a famous sailor and author from Island Heights, New Jersey, Schoettle in 1928 published and edited an anthology called Sailing Craft, for which he also wrote a chapter—devoted to catboats, of course. It’s one of the most important books on American small yachts ever published. Schoettle also owned a powerboat to tow his catboat to regattas, which he playfully named Noisy Lady. Schoettle’s boat names set me to wondering about the inspiration for the complementary names of his sailboat and his powerboat.
From Cargo Carriers to Cup Winners
The catboats of Barnegat Bay were used in the middle of the 19th century to move cargo and people around before there were many roads in the surrounding area. Inspired by the America’s Cup races that took place in New York Harbor in 1870, a group of Barnegat Bay sailors started their own race in catboats the following summer. The group commissioned Tiffany & Co. in New York City to create a suitable trophy for the race, then called it the Toms River Challenge Cup. The cost of the silver cup at the time was $175; today, it would cost more than $3,000.
That trophy is still in play today, and Kellogg had told me that the original Silent Maid was built to race for it. Schoettle’s naval architect of choice for the project was Francis Sweisguth, who, a few years earlier, had designed the race-winning catboat Scat II for him.
During her early years, Silent Maid raced under a time-allowance rating against the other catboats on Barnegat Bay. She won the B Cat Barnegat Championship in 1925, 1926, and 1927, but she never won the Challenge Cup. According to the record books, the A Cats won each year in the 1920s.