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Robert H. Baker: A Legacy of Small Craft by…
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Robert H. Baker: A Legacy of Small Craft

by Anne W Baker

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 099054060X, Paperback)

Robert Howe “Bob” Baker (1927-1983) was a precocious youth who found his passion early on and, as this book by his wife, Anne “Pete” Baker (1929-2011), details, became an extraordinary designer of boats. Wooden “working boats” were his passion and the book not only tells the story of Bob’s lifelong involvement with boat design but also gives the how and why of his approach to design. The pages are filled with the finely drafted drawings of his designs. Among the many amazing facts of the story is the senior thesis he did in high school on boat design. At seventeen he clearly understood the physics and engineering of a boat’s travel through water, but his interest was in the practicalities of design. This would be the guiding tenet of his approach to design for the rest of his life. For those who are wooden boat enthusiasts, you will find the detailed drawings and concrete explanations of how boats were designed something you can get your teeth into. For those who are merely wandering without commitment in the territory, you will still find much to learn amid a story well told. Bob, was born into a family of scholars. His grandfather, Louis McHenry Howe, was President Franklin Roosevelt's private secretary; his grandmother, Grace Howe, was appointed the first post mistress in the US; his godfather was President Roosevelt; his father, Robert Horace Baker, was a well know Professor and author of astronomy, and his mother Mary Howe Baker was a mathematician. However, Bob’s path was different, driven by his love of boats. Beginning with childhood summers spent in the waters of Westport, MA, where Bob would find derelict boats and drag them home. By 16, he had filled a workbook, with over 200 designs and sketches. By 22, Bob was hired to teach mechanical engineering at St. Georges school in Middletown, RI. While there he began designing boats for the students to build and learn to sail. Eventually his interest in the traditional working boats, their design, construction and history, took priority. It wasn't long before his knowledge of traditional working boats was noticed by Mystic Seaport, WoodenBoat Magazine, Rockport Apprenticeshop, and the New York State, New Bedford Whaling, and Bath Maritime museums. Jon Wilson, Founder- WoodenBoat magazine: “Bob loved things traditional, and taught others to love them, but he was not bound by tradition. His unfailing eye for proportion and detail was thus the object of considerable admiration for all who knew him. Bob spent his life with boats, sailing them, drawing them, restoring them, and, whenever possible, taking lines off them. His plans and drawings are a reflection of his love and understanding of design and of the sea.” Maynard Bray, Founding Director- Preservation Shipyard, Mystic Seaport: “Bob, more than most people, had a real feel for the way of old time boat builders and designers and understood that proportion, shape, and simplicity have everything to do with grace and beauty. Because he had owned, studied, sailed and repaired a number of old Southern New England small craft, Bob was the authority on how they are rigged and painted.” Peter Vermilya, Creator of Small Craft, Mystic Seaport: “Bob was an artist and a craftsman of the highest order, and his interests and talents are evident in his work. Out of practical experience and careful observation, Bob arrived at his own remarkable technical and aesthetic understanding of watercraft developing his own design skills and principals.” Lance Lee, Founder of the Rockport ApprenticeShop: “Bob, some 20 years ahead of his time, acted to protect, cherish, and revitalize links between the past he revered and the future he honored. He found practical genius and frequent consistent beauty on the structures and methods of the sails and oars of the late 19th and 20th century.” Robert H. Baker: A Legacy of Small Craft by Anne W. Baker, author of Collecting Houses: 17th Century Houses - 20th Century Adventure.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 18 Jan 2016 20:56:03 -0500)

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