A sharpie boat is a long narrow sailboat with an extremely flat bottom. It is believed that sharpies originated in New Haven, Connecticut, as oyster boats, though this belief is not backed by fact. Still, sharpies are popular throughout Connecticut as well as in other parts of the United States.
New Haven sharpies only require one person to crew them. These sharpie boats often include two masts that are used to create a faster rig. Typically, a New Haven sharpie boat is around 27 feet (8.2 meters) with a plumb bow and a counter-stem. Since oyster fishermen needed a boat that was solid and relatively quick, the sharpie design proved to be just the right kind of boat to collect oysters. Once sharpies were introduced within the Florida area around the year 1881, the Egret sharpie boat appeared.
Commodore Ralph Monroe brought the first sharpie boat to the Florida area in 1881. Monroe eventually created the Egret sharpie boat, which instantly gained popularity. The Egret had flared sides, and it was a double-ended unlike the New Haven sharpie. This new design allowed the Egret to sail rougher waters than the New Haven sharpie. Throughout the 1880s, the Egret sharpie was perfected with the help of other sailors and boat designers.
Recently, the sharpie boat has caught the attention of modern sailors and boat designers alike. As a true piece of marine Americana, the sharpie has been remodeled numerous times since the 1930s. In 1931, the Kroger brothers created a sharpie design that was later used in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. The Kroger brother design was so successful, that the very same sharpie design is used competitively in the United Kingdom, Holland, Portugal, and Germany today.
Original New Haven sharpies were crafted from waterproofed wood, though today's sharpie boats are often made from fiberglass and other modern materials. The sharpie design is regarded as one of the best sailboat designs ever created. Older sharpies are considered collectors items, and even modern sharpies are highly sought after.
Purchasing a sharpie may require a bit of research, since these boats are not sold frequently. Unlike mass-produced boats, sharpies are almost always handmade making them more expensive than most other sailboats in their class. Sharpies are not meant to cross oceans, though modern sharpies are built for speed. The vast majority of sharpie boats can be found in Connecticut and Florida, though many can also be spotted in Australia.