Meet Buster!

Buster is a twenty foot electric auxiliary Hampton Boat.

There’s some confusion about the name Hampton Boat. Sometimes it’s spelled Hampden. Chappelle has it both ways.

17' Hampton Boat

Here’s the 17′ “Hampden Boat in his Boatbuilding. Ask me why I fell in love with the traditional craft of New England? Here’s (one) answer!

Buster has roots in this type. He’s also a new kind of motorsailer with an electric motor and six used Cell-tower-lead-acid-batteries. He’s intended to act as a tender to a fleet of small boats – more on that in a while….


Buster is larger than the 17′ Hampden. More like this boat in Mystic Seaport’s collection.


And here under sail.

Double-ended Hampton Boat

This contemporary replica of a double-ended Hampton Boat gives a sense of Buster‘s rig and what he’ll look like out on the water.

38' Sloop Boat, Helen with Yawl Boat

Buster started out as a Yawl Boat. Here’s the first cartoon alongside the Sloop Boat Helen.

The first idea was for Buster to be a Yawl Boat. There won’t be a boat in the fleet large enough to carry him in stern davits. Buster will need to fend for himself. It would also be better if Buster didn’t have to run the engine all the time. These concerns led to the motorsailer concept.


BitterSweet Annapolis art

Using an electric auxiliary worked well in BitterSweet.

Photo: Antonio Dias

BitterSweet Sail Plan

There’s a lot of this design in Buster!

The challenge with an electric powered boat is placing the batteries. Lead-acid batteries are heavy, Buster‘s weigh 132 pounds each. But compared with lead bars, they aren’t that compact. The hull needs to be able to get along with the mass-equivalent of internal stone ballast.

BitterSweet has a large, deep lead/steel centerboard. Half her ballast is below the hull while under sail. Buster needs to be simpler. No centerboard – the motor can provide a boost to point higher going to windward. The large prop does add drag so we need to accept that Buster won’t have ideal windward capabilities.

Compared to a traditional Hampton Boat Buster is heavier and more robust – on the larger size too. A motorsailer with other boats under his care – as well as the need to be a stable filming platform: Buster could be thought of as part Tugboat.

Buster‘s interior layout is constrained by the needs of his propulsion system. The batteries lie amidships and right above the floor-timbers in two banks of three. Enclosed in a glassed, plywood box insulated from the hull by rubber washers. Acid and stray electrical current are not welcome bunk-mates! The motor is attached to a belt drive.

This allows us to reduce the RPMs and use a prop that can throw a lot of water. It will also help to electrically isolate the motor from the shaft. This position keeps the motor higher in the boat than if it were in-line with the shaft. Above the battery compartment is what looks like the engine box on a launch or yawl boat. This will be secure dry storage. The battery compartment will ventilate fumes over the side and be isolated from this storage space.

These arrangements, along with the sprit-ketch rig, create a steering station aft of the thwart. There’s a deeper standing well forward. We stand two feet down inside the boat aft. Forward we’re three feet down. Secure and ready to work over the side or do whatever needs to be done. Under the foredeck is anther storage area. It can also be a shelter for two or three people in a pinch. Buster‘s normal crew will be two or three. But acting as a tender, Buster can hold six to eight.

Now some of you might be wondering where you’ve seen Buster‘s sail emblem before. Buster….

Yes, Buster is named after Buster Keaton!This clip of Buster Keaton doing what only Buster Keaton could do so well should show what we have in mind!

Buster Keaton’s character was intrepid! We hope our Buster can meet any challenge with his aplomb!



LBP:      20′ – 0″

LWL:     19′ – 4″

Beam:   7″ – 3″

Draft:    2′ – 6″


Sail Area:

Main:        136 sq. ft.

Mizzen:     59.5 sq. ft.

Total:        195.5 sq. ft.


Buster‘s Project page






Published by Antonio Dias

My work is centered on attending to the intersection of perception and creativity. Complexity cannot be reduced to any given certainty. Learning is Central: Sharing our gifts, Working together, Teaching and learning in reciprocity. Entering into shared Inquiry, Maintaining these practices as a way of life. Let’s work together to build practices, strengthen dialogue, and discover and develop community. Let me know how we might work together.

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