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Design & Build

Knee Deep in ShavingsFor the early history of the Barnacle, we are fortunate to have the account of Norm Blanchard, son of N.J. Blanchard owner of the Blanchard Boat Company. This is detailed in the book “Knee-Deep in Shavings” by Norman C. Blanchard with Stephen Wilen (Horsdal & Schubart Publishers, Victoria, B.C., Canada, 1999, page 137-9).

As well, the son of Joe Patten, Harry Patton, is still alive and recalls vividly the events leading up to the building of the boat in the Blanchard yard and its early cruising history.

Joe Patton, for whom the boat was built, was the owner and operator of the Seattle Marine Equipment Company located at the foot of Marion Street in Seattle. He handled Sterling and Kermath gas engines for cruisers and tugs as well as Superior (Buda?) diesel engines.

Motor Boating Magazine Article from 1929In 1929-30 the great depression had commenced and boat owners were not buying marine engines. As Harry Patton recalls, “…it was tuff”. The Blanchard Boat Company, which was buying engines from Joe Patton, was also experiencing a significant decline in business as the result of the depression. As told in Knee Deep in Shavings by Norm Blanchard, Joe Patton had approached “NJ” Blanchard with a design published in 1929 in the magazine Motor Boating by noted naval architect William Atkin. The design appears to have been called “Mister Simms” and can be found at It was described as “a 36’ trunk-cabin cruiser”.

At the Blanchard yard, modifications were made in the design of the boat by Ed Monk, the noted Seattle naval architect and friend of both Joe Patton and N.J. Blanchard. This included lengthening the boat by 2 feet and changes in the cabin design among other things (See a side-by-side comparisson of the two designs here).

Barnacle SternIn 1930, Norm Sr., usually called “NJ”, told Joe Patton that he could commence building the Barnacle as there was plenty of room on the empty ways at the Blanchard Boat Company. According to his son Harry, Joe Patton would go down to the Blanchard yard on Saturdays and Sundays to work on the boat taking his young son along to play in the very dark boatyard. Joe Patton had several engines that he could not sell because of the depression, so he traded them for planking and other materials needed for the construction of the boat (See the detailed construction log and prices here).

When the boat was finished Norm Jr. asked Joe Patton if he could put the name on the Barnacle. Patton’s response was “Yes, if you want to try, but I can’t pay you”. As a result Norm Jr. put the name Barnacle on the varnished teak transom where it remains now 74 years later.

Launch in 1932The boat was launched in 1932. The launching as pictured in Knee Deep in Shavings (to right) shows a young man standing on the prow. This was Norm Jr., age 21, sitting behind him on the forward cabin was the Harry Patton, then about 10 years old.


Harry Patton recalls the launch of Barnacle:

"A story passed down to me from my mom and dad:

Launching was in 1932. Prohibition was still in effect, so, no place to buy a bottle of champagne for the event. What to do? NJ's good rumrunning friend, Roy Olmstead, heard about the problem, and soon a bottle of champagne magically appeared!

Norm C., NJ's son, 21, offered to have the bottle sewed into a beautiful array of bright red, white and blue silk ribbons, and to be hung from the bow, for christening (see photo). He either prepared it himself, or had someone do it.

My mother, Georgia Belle Patton, a strong good-looking redhead, was selected (naturally), to do the christening. As all of the onlookers watched, she said, "I christen thee Barnacle.......may you sail in safety!!" Then flung the bottle with all of her might, and broke it on the bow!

Norm Jr, was on board and ready to cast a line when the boat had reached the outside dock. I recall one of the workers saying 'If Norm misses the throw, you’ll end up in Japan!' The yardworkers, using huge sledge hammers, knocked the restraining blocks from behind the vessel, and we slithered rapidly down the greasy ways splashing into Lake Union, with me holding on for dear life!

The remains of the bottle, encased in its finery, hung on the wall of my bedroom for many years, until my mother made it disappear.

- Harry Patton

Maiden Voyage 1932On its maiden voyage the Barnacle flew the burgee of the Queen City Yacht Club of Seattle, which Joe Patton served as Commodore. As originally designed and built the Barnacle did not have a covered cabin aft. The exact date this modification was made and by whom is not presently known. The Olympia, Washington Yacht Club Annual for 1937 does show a picture of the Barnacle with this modification in place.

The Barnacle Family Tree
Compare the Blanchard Design with the Atkin Design
Barnacle Construction Log
The possible genesis of the Barnacle design and possibly her family tree. A side by side comparison of Blanchard's design of the Barnacle and Atkin's design of Mr Simms. Barnacle's construction and cost inventory. A fascinating list of every item that went into the building of Barnacle, and its cost.

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