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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: MHT File Photo, Undated Photo
THE ELF (yacht)
Inventory No.: CE-1290
Date Listed: 3/26/1980
Location: George Street, Earleville, Cecil County
Category: Object
Period/Date of Construction: 1888
Architect/Builder: Builder: Lawley and Sons, South Boston
Description: The ELF was designed for racing by George F. Lawley and still maintains her original 1888 hull design. She was designed for the thirty footer class, carrying a large high gaff main with a club top sail above it that was housed along the starboard bow edge of the main mast when not in use. She carried three headsails when the top mast was up and the bow sprit fully extended. The sail inventory was as follows: a club topsail, sprit topsail, working topsail, balloon jib, number two jib topsail, baby jib topsail, big storm jib, fore staysail, balloon staysail, mainsail, and storm trysail. The hull of ELF is a deep draft wineglass type ballasted with iron on the exterior. Her bow is a cutter bow with an almost knife sharp entry. The planking is of white cedar on white oak ribs and is fastened with hot dipped galvanized, rose head, cut nails. The hull measurements were as follows: L.O.A. 35.8', L.W.L. 28.1', Draft 6.5', Beam 11', tons net 7.83, tons gross 8.24. The deck was a flush deck with a small watertight cockpit. The decking was teak or black locust laid in strips. There was a small companionway hatch and a skylight amidship. Forward there was a round brass hatch between the mast and bow sprit. There was another brass hatch aft of the helm. She was steered with a seven foot tiller. ELF stayed basically the same until 1897 when her rig was changed to a yawl with gaff sails. This change was most likely made to give the vessel a more competitive racing rating. Another significant change was the addition of a Lathrop 1912 gas engine. It was a two-stroke, two-cycle engine that measured 6.5' by 6.5'. At the time the engine was added the cabin layout was changed. Internal ballast was added in the bow. These changes increased the boat's weight, which increased the water line length. The 1935 Lloyd's Register listed ELF as having a 1934 Buda gas engine. This engine was a four-cycle, four-cylinder machine of 3.75' x 4.5'. The 1937 Lloyd's Register identified ELF being changed from a yawl to a cutter. She remained a cutter until sometime after 1955, when she was again changed to the yawl rig which she now carries. Also in the late 1950s a Karamath marine engine was installed. In 1971 a Universal Atomic 4 was installed. Presently ELF's hull is almost totally original, with only small portions having been rebuilt. Significance: The ELF is the oldest small yacht in the United States today. She was built as a racing boat in 1888 by Lawley and Sons of South Boston, Massachusetts for William H. Wilkinson. She was designed by George F. Lawley. The Lawley firm was well known in the yachting world in the late 19th century. They advertised: "'Lawley Built' A symbol of Excellence in the Maritime World since 1866." William H. Wilkinson was prominent on the American yachting scene during the 1880s and 90s--a pioneer in the use of wire rather than rope rigging. The ELF, although modified at times during her career, is still in use as a yacht today.


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