Bringing the Block Island Double-Ender Home
John Puckett, a graduate of the wooden boatbuilding and restoration program at the International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS) in Newport, RI, has set out to create a replica of a historical Block Island double-ender sailboat. He plans to restore the boat to historically accurate conditions with help from the Block Island Historical Society.
Block Island double-enders were the main method of transportation for Block Islanders in the 18th and 19th centuries, until schooners and catboats became more popular. Double-enders were designed and built on the island and have been considered one of the most seaworthy open boats ever built.
The unique boat design was key for maintaining the fishing and agricultural lifestyles of the early Block Islanders. The pointed ends were ideal for the rolling waves that consistently crash on Block Island’s shores. A light and strong hull design allowed fishermen access to shore without a harbor and the ability to pull boats onto the beach with ease. The rig provided an array of options for sail area in the ever-changing New England weather.
Puckett said only two double-enders were reported lost in their 150 years of heavy use; one hit a rock and sunk, and the other was resolved as lost at sea.
In 1942, the Block Island Historical Society made a new logo that featured a double-ender. The image also became part of the Town of New Shoreham Coat of Arms. There is even a Double Ender Committee that takes the lead on Block’s annual July 4 parade.
According to Puckett, original double-enders have become extinct and very few replicas exist nationwide. He dreams of having a full-size replica in the place where the quirky boats originated, Block Island.