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The Decked Canoe Archives

Assembled by Tim Gittins

Theo Smith and Sailing Canoes

A Theo Smith Canoe Yawl

Photo: A Theo Smith Canoe Yawl, possibly Mnemopete.

I received correspondance from a Julie Sajous and along with it was attached this photo. I include for you the message she wrote. If anyone is able to provide more assistance please let me know.

Dear Tim,

I found your site by chance as we were looking for links to Theo Smith from the Isle of Wight, England. He was my great grandfather and had been working as a boatbuilder first in Oxford building punts and similar boats (also inventing all kinds of things - wave-powered engines, flying machines etc.) After a move to the Isle of Wight the boatyard in Yarmouth continued for two more generations, still known as Theo Smith and Co. Later my father's step brothers, Stan and Colin Smith sailed from Canada to England in 1949 in their small boat, Nova Espero.

I am sending you a photo from our family album of a sailing canoe....could this be similar to the Shadow. I believe from what my father, Gerald told me that there was an extremely fast boat still in their yard called Menemopete (?) and on seeing this photo wondered if this is indeed she. I remember bits of strange looking boats in corners of the yard and hate to say that many of them must have gone up our chimney over the winters as the trend for fibreglass had started by then. Sadly my father died in 1983 and the yard was destroyed including nearly all the items in it, photos, letters, plans etc.

If you have any more information about Theo Smith or can tell me how you found this I would love to hear from you. I still own a boat built by my father and my Grandfather (Stan) and will send this picture too. She is called Delight and is similar to the Nova Espero. Sorry this message is a bit garbled but hope some of it may be of interest to you. Regards - Julie Sajous(Smith)

The 'Shadow' Julie mentions can be found on this page. In my reply to Julie I sent her a copy of the original letter Theo. Smith wrote to the Model Yachtsman and Canoeist, gave her some further leads to follow and made the following few remarks ...

Certainly the boat in the photo (Menemopete) you sent could very well be an evolution of the "Shadow". In the article on the Shadow it mentions how it was evolving. The Menemopete has a rudder under the body vs. hung from the stern and the cockpit is larger. The sail plan is a gaff-rigged sloop - more prominant post-1900's though that depends largely on the local trends. The Menemopete seems sharper in the bow and fatter in the stern. It's not possible to tell whether it is a sharpie. None-the-less a great photo of a canoe-yawl.

Tim Gittins

Update, November 2015

I don't generally update Tim Gittins' IC Life website, but the following has come to light.
Firstly Theo Smith was a *very* significant figure. His design 'Snake' appears to be the first documented planing boat. See the IC 19thC History pagesfor more. There's also more about Theo Smith here. On the Isle of Wight he seems to have been a significant designer and builder and his West Wight Scow design and/or derivatives are still sailed.

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