More on Duster. Lifted from Boatdesign.
What a delightful thread! Some comments on Duster and Zarifa/Zarefa.
Duster: There is indeed precious little published material about Duster. What there is all seems to cover the fall of 1894, leading me to believe that W. L. Oliver's photos also date from around that time and not from the late 1870s as is commonly assumed. Note also, that the dry plate which was a requisite for making photos on the water
was not yet common in the 1870s, which lends further support to the notion that the Duster photos date from the 1890s or the 1880s.
Duster was invited to participate in a regatta
on Oakland Creek on September 16, 1894:
"The Oakland Navy's regular monthly race
went off yesterday [September 16, 1894] with the usual amount of excitement. The start was made at 2 p.m., with twelve at the line, three in the red class and nine in the white. ... In the white class the Fredie was the first to get off, crossing 35 seconds after the gun, followed by the Duster at 37 seconds, the Dreamer at 50 seconds, Flash at 53 seconds, Dan at 1 minute, the Whirlwind at 1 minute and 25 seconds, and the Myth at 1 minute and 35 seconds. ... The Duster led this class all the way around on the first half, and went to the front of the fleet on the work home, winning by over five minutes. She is the catamaran that has been seen in these waters lately, and if pushed yesterday could have done much better. This craft is not one of the regular entries in the navy
, but went over the course by courtesy of the committee. The regular winner was the Flash, which won by over two minutes from the Nemesis, with the Dan third. ..." (Source: Anon. "The Navy
Race. An Exciting Regatta
On Oakland Creek Yesterday." San Francisco
Morning Call, September 17, 1894, p. 8.)
The next weekend Duster was present at the regatta of the San Francisco
Yacht Club off Sausalito. She capsized before the start and was immediately righted again and continued to sail, but did not race:
"... One of the most peculiar accidents ever witnessed occurred shortly after noon. The catamaran Duster was cavorting about the harbor having a real enjoyable time when a squall struck her opposite Hurricane
gulch and turned her over. The captain
who is a rare sport was out on the leeward boat with a friend of his and their united weight made the craft topheavy and over she went. The funniest part of the accident
was that the men
on board did not even get their feet wet. As the catamaran turned they walked up and were on the bottom when the Duster settled down wrong side up with care. A number of boats put out to the scene of disaster and the Rover's dingy was first to reach the inverted Duster. It only required a few minutes to right the catamaran and her sporty skipper
was soon wiling away as if nothing had happened. ..." (Source: Anon. "A Great Race and The Wind
Played All Sorts of Tricks. Catamaran Capsized and the Grade Turned Over." San Francisco Chronicle, September 24, 1894, p. 8.)
Now to Zarifa/Zarefa: She is the real McCoy! Zarifa (sometimes called Zarefa) is one of the four catamarans built by N. G. Herreshoff's catamaran company in 1878! Originally intended for himself for racing
in the 1877 New York
Bay Regatta, he sold her to Robert Hall of Howe & Hall, a loan brokerage company in San Francisco. Zarifa was shipped to the West Coast
on the Abner I. Benyon which left New York
on August 16, 1878 and arrived at San Francisco on January 6, 1879, making her the first modern catamaran to round Cape Horn...
Zarifa quickly began sailing on San Francisco Bay (she was skippered by one of the Stofen brothers) and her great speed soon made her well known. In April 1879 she participated in the San Francisco Yacht Club's cruise
from Sausalito to Vallejo, but had to be run aground off Point Pissol when her centerboard
case started leaking. Watertight bulkheads were put in and she was soon repaired. But, built for more gentle Long Island
conditions, Zarifa was clearly overpowered for sailing in the boisterous summer conditions on San Francisco Bay. On June 8, 1879 she broke her mast
when returning from Martinez and had to be towed home where she was repaired again. Meanwhile club members continued to puzzle how to class her and came up with the wise solution of putting her in her own catamaran class. Which lead to her "winning" her class in the August 9, 1879 regatta of the San Francisco Yacht Club ... where she was the only competitor! After this regatta Zarifa dropped out of the public limelight.
Wouldn't it be interesting to go through the records of the San Francisco Yacht Club and see if there is more material concerning Zarifa/Zarefa?