Motor-Boating in the West [1904]

The Auto-Boat: The Latest Fad

By Alex E. Beyfuss

An 18 mile an hour clip
An 18 mile an hour clip

Motor boating is yet in its infancy in this country, and is growing into favor among the Eastern sport-loving fraternity with a Barney Oldfield speed. Sporting Paris has gone motor boat crazy, and the auto boat has now become the fad among the wealthy of our land. "Auto-boatists" are plentiful on the Atlantic, and it will not be long before the new sport will take a firm hold on the Pacific Coast. :The auto boats are bound to come," said a prominent adherent of the new speed craft, "and no doubt you know we are some years behind our Eastern brothers in boats."

Boats of speed promise as much utility and popularity on the water as the automobile has attained on the land, and the often expressed opinion of Jay Gould that traveling by water way is the ideal method, is being realized. The development of the automobile having demonstrated the possibilities of explosive gasoline engines for vehicle propulsion, their application to marine work has followed, as a matter of course.

Great is the thrilling joy of this new sport, and gliding through the water almost noiselessly and without the slightest commotion at a twenty miles an hour clip, adds much to the delight of motor boating. There are no teams to pass, no ditches to look out for, no fines for speeding; in fact, automobiling in the water is not nearly as heavy a financial loss to the legatees as a well-built, speedy motor car would be. Auto boat enthusiasts contend that their craft is the safest and most seaworthy model built, and hold up as their example the United States torpedo boats, which are built on the same model design.

A motor boat is the New York girl's latest fad, and many of the society girls are going in for this exhilarating sport, following the example of the first water cheauffeur, Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt Jr. The great motor king's wife named her craft Hard Boiled Egg, because it couldn't be beaten.

The fever of ocean racing has been keen since the offer of C. L. Charley, of Paris, a prize of $10,000 for the motor boat which shall succeed in making a trip across the Atlantic Ocean between Havre and New York. Many are the enthusiasts who are building boats to race across the salty ocean, and the Transatlantic race will no doubt attract the attention of the whole world, and if successful will make the automobile boat one of the most marketable of the products of modern engineering skill.

In local motor boatdum, there was up to a few months ago but one enthusiast. Now that number has grown to nearly a dozen, and is continually growing as other speed lovers are introduced to the latest sport.

Three genuine automobile boats are owned on the Coast, while there are numerous compromises. The difference between the automobile boat and the compromise is principally in the shape of the boat after the waist, the torpedo model being perpetually flat, while the compromise has a round bottom.

S. D. Rogers steering theĀ Rogenko
S. D. Rogers steering theĀ Rogenko

S. D. Rogers, the father of motor boating on this Coast, has for several months astounded the yachtsmen and boatmen in general on the bay with his auto boat Rogenko, which craft has developed remarkable speed. Roger's auto boat is moored off the San Francisco Yacht Club at Sausalito, and its racy appearance attracts much attention. The boat is 40 feet long, 5 feet beam and is equipped with a 25 horse-power "Buffalo" engine. In the official speed test over a surveyed course, around Tiburon point, and over the Government course, the Rogenko developed a speed of 18 5/8 miles an hour, and her owner claims she can travel at a 20 mile an hour clip. H. L. Rich's Hazel at Eureka is a boat similar to the Roger's craft, being also equipped with a Buffalo engine.

William S. Tevis, one of the first motorists on the Coast, is a strong enthusiast of the speed launch, and not satisfied with a 12 mile an hour craft, has had a new autoboat constructed with a speed of nearly 18 miles an hour. The Tevis boat is a Dolphin model, which differs from the regulation auto boat in the shape of the water line, the torpedo or motor boat being curved on the sides while the Dolphin model is a straight wedge designed by Fred S. Knock of New Jersey.

Allan Pollock's St. Francis is one of the handsomest speed launches on the Coast, and Mr. Pollock has become very enthusiastic over motor boating. The St. Francis listed with the Corinthian fleet is a 44 foot boat with a 35 horse-power engine and a speed of 12 miles an hour. It comprises a fore and aft cabin, cockpit, engine house and dressing room with everything complete.

Many owners of gasoline launches on the Pacific Coast are interested themselves in motor boats. The conditions for the sport are better here than in the East. The season is longer on the Pacific, for, barring rain, the auto boats can run all the winter, while in the East most of the rivers and lakes are frozen up. The conditions on the Coast also excel those on eastern bodies of water after the trade winds have died out.

It will not be long before the automobile boat will hold sway on the water as the horseless carriage rules on the land.

(Transcribed from Overland Magazine, December 1904, pp.640-642.)

(Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page)