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San Juan Archipelago, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 650, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

16 July 2017


Flattie sailing in 1931, Seattle, WA.
Roy W. Corbett at the helm.

Click to enlarge.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
FLATTIES (Geary-18s)

The flattie was originally not a one-design class but rather a boat that kids built to sail. These little floaters were all cross-planked on the bottom and all flat bottomed, thus the name. They were gaff-rigged and had bowsprits. Ted Geary designed the first one-designed flattie in 1927. It carried a jib that added sail power forward, as well as a Marconi main, an improvement of the balance over the jibless catboat.
      In January 1928 leading spirits among members of the Seattle Yacht Club realized the need for an inexpensive sailing class to create interest on the part of the younger generation in yachting. A city-wide meeting was called at the Clubhouse with a request for plans and suggestions. Over seventy young folks and their parents attended. After much discussion of at least a dozen different plans, the flattie, as designed by Ted Geary, was accepted and orders for five were placed that evening. N. J. Blanchard promised to deliver the first ten at a cost of $150 each. After that the cost would be $200.
      The Royal Vancouver Yacht Club also began assembling a fleet of flatties in 1928. Newspaper headlines right after the above meeting said "Here's a Flattie––unsinkable sailboat provided for junior yachtsmen this year." The sail plan of the flattie was prominently pictured with comments: "Fourteen youthful enthusiasts, one of these a girl, announced their intention of securing the flattie as designed L. E. Ted Geary." They were Mary Helen Corbett, Douglas Stansbury, Dan Trefethen, Jr., Chester Dawson, Al Peterson, Jim Wilson, Roy Tierlon, Swift Baker, Bert Davis, James F. Griffiths, Fenton Radford, Fred Harley, Potter Strong Harley, and Norman Blanchard, Jr. 

Text by C. Fred Harley, Binnacle, Dec. 1962.
      Seattle newspapers generously provided coverage of flattie events, as did Pacific Motor Boat, predecessor to Sea Magazine. The SYC sponsored and supported the flattie racing fraternity all through the early years. Printed programs of these days show the flattie activities in full detail.
      Geary and others quickly introduced the flattie to the South Pacific Coast, Lake Arrowhead, Los Angeles Harbor, Balboa, and Acapulco. Portland and Astoria had flattie owners interested in sailing and racing on an organized basis.

Racing flatties on Lake Washington
Seattle, 6 October 1935.
Click to enlarge.
Original photo signed by photographer A.N. Nickols
from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"It was in the year of 1935, after flatties from all over the Northwest had been sailing at Pacific International Yachting Assoc. regattas, that Sid and Phil Miller of Vancouver, BC with others there, challenged Seattle skippers to a series of three boat team races on Lake WA.
      On 22 Oct 1935, at the SYC, Fred Harley as chairman pro-tem, Sidney Miller, Dick Griffiths, met to form the International Flattie Yacht Racing Assoc. Fred Harley was chosen commodore.
      In the days around 1935––we had an active flattie fleet of about 15 boats, all sailing under the SYC burgee, and racing regularly. We either sailed or paddled to races on Lake WA, but for salt water events needed a tow. The Coast Guard in those days worked on a more liberal budget, I guess, as they provided tows through the canal and locks and to destinations in the Sound. They also gave us tows to the PIYA Regattas––long trips to Victoria and Vancouver.
      The Harley Cup, presented by Clinton S. Harley and Laura Potter Harley "emblematic of the flattie championship of the junior members of SYC" was the first flattie trophy presented anywhere in the world. The Sunde and d'Evers Co also provided a trophy in 1928. Ted Geary had a trophy in mind and provided $30 for an International Championship Cup to bear his name.
      A most spectacular trophy than one $30 could buy was needed so we borrowed a scale model of Bob and Otis Lamson's flattie and took it to the foundry where we cast an aluminum hull, using the model as a pattern. Barbara Nettleton molded some clay waves from which we cast the sea supporting the hull. Dick Griffiths and his uncle machined the sails, mast, rigging, tiller and trim. N. J. Blanchard Boat Co contributed a mahogany base, and so from all of this came the famous L.E. (Ted) Geary International Flattie Championship Trophy."
 C. Fred Harley, Binncale, SYC. 1962.
Flatties are still used today as Geary––18s. The newer models are made of fiberglass.
Warren, James R. Seattle Yacht Club, 1892-1992.

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