"Cotton Blossom II" is a Q Class sloop built in 1925. She was recently completely rebuilt by Dennis Conner. The following webpages will take you from her birth to her recent rebirth.
"Cotton Blossom II" was originally designed by Johan Anker (1871-1940) under the Universal Class rule. She was built in 1925 at the Anker & Jensen shipyard in Asker Norway, not far from Oslo. She was shipped as deck cargo to Halifax. In order to avoid heavy import duties, she was sailed from Halifax to her first home port in Marblehead, MA. Originally built as "Leonore" for Robert Amory, she was one of two Anker & Jensen Q-boats delivered to Marblehead that year, the other being "Sally XIII" for Lawrence Percival.
Johan Anker built his first boat in 1889. He formed a partnership with Christian Jensen in 1905. The Anker & Jensen yard built boats from dinghies to schooners including Six, Eight and Twelve meter racing yachts. Anker chaired the Scandinavian Yacht Racing Union. His best known design is the Dragon class, which came out in 1928.
The Q class was introduced in 1904, Arestes being the first built under this rule. Some twenty Qs were built, attracting such designers as John Alden, L. Francis Herreshoff, Frederick Hoyt, Frank Paine and Johan Anker. The last Q boat built was "Questa", a Herreshoff design built in 1929 by Graves. 1929 also turned out to be the peak year for Q boats in Marblehead with 14 boats competing. ("Questa", Q-14, is now sailing on Flathead Lake, MT with another Herreshoff Q, "Nor'easter V", Q-12, built in 1928. See WoodenBoat #170.)
Leonore's measurement certificate dated May 27, 1929.
"Leonore" did not have a distinguished record in Marblehead although she did win the Puritan Cup in 1926. In 1931 she was sold to James Jackson and renamed Paloma. Mr. Jackson kept on her on Buzzards Bay for two seasons. She won the Block Island Race in 1932 and was the Buzzards Bay Champion. Jackson sold her in 1933 to Walter Wheeler of Stamford, CT. Mr. Wheeler named her "Cotton Blossom II". (CB-I was an R-boat.) The name derives from the stage play "Showboat." Wheeler was a third generation New England sailor but his wife was a Southern Belle who was not particularly fond of the water. In honor of an old yachting tradition of naming a vessel using "seven letters with two repeating," Wheeler settled on Cotton Blossom. Mrs. Wheeler apparently never grew any fonder of the sea. (CB- III was a Burgess A&R 12 meter which burned in a yard fire in the early 50s and CB-IV was a 73' Fife yawl, now "Halloween".) Wheeler was commodore of the Stamford Yacht Club in 1934 and a member of the CCA. He become president of Pitney Bowes Corporation. He died in 1974.
"Cotton Blossom II" ready for launching, 1934 . Mystic, CT.
"Cotton Blossom II" at anchor. 1934. Her color is Endeavour Blue.
Letter from Johan Anker to Walter Wheeler dated Sept. 11, 1936.
Wheeler removed approximately 1000 pounds of lead from the keel in hopes of improving her light air performance.
Wheeler was quite successful with racing "Cotton Blossom II", though his son Walter III, who was around 8 years old when his father purchased Cotton Blossom in 1929 for $2,000, recalled she was basically used as a cruising yacht. Wheeler's biggest victory was undoubtedly winning the Astor Cup in 1938.
Artwork reminiscing about "Cotton Blossom II" winning the Astor Cup in 1938. Courtesy Walter Wheeler III.
Wheeler sold "Cotton Blossom II" in 1940 to William Faurot and Charles Deere Wiman. Wiman would later become president of the John Deere Company. Her name was changed to "Scimitar" and she was home ported in Chicago where she competed in numerous Mackinac races. She placed 3rd in 1941 and 2nd in 1942 and 1943.
William Faurot sent this telegram to past owner Walter Wheeler
describing the 1941 Mackinac Race. Dated July 22, 1941.
Our daughter, Jennifer, found your long article on CBII. I am W.S. Faurot's eldest son and sailed on her from her arrival in Chicago until she went west. In Chicago she was Q8.
There were several occasions when she almost did not make it. The first you have is the boulder in Canadian Waters which almost took the keel off since she hit it square at 7 knots. Only saved by a fishing boat with a pump that kept her from sinking. The second was on Green Bay on a spinnaker run with heavy following seas. A strong gust caught her at the crest of a wave. Speed went from 7 past the 12 on the Kenyon and water came in over bow and stern as she settled down. After that the spinnaker came off in a flash and there was no more joking about sailing her under.
The last one was an unpredicted storm coming back from the Mackinac race. She almost went onto one of the islands in the middle of the night. I helped take down the jib in solid seas. Then the main came off, water came through the sky light, The hand pump was under water as we were heeled over so far and the engine would not start to run the pump. Buckets were hauled up through the companionway. We returned to Charlevoix the next day under bare poles doing 7 knots.