Boston Pilot Boat of
History of the Dancing
Back in the 1850's; in the golden days of sail when our
great white winged clipper ships crowded the trade routes of the
seven seas; the little pilot boat Dancing Feather could
be seen sailing about off the entrance of Boston Harbor. Out there,
possibly many miles off shore, she was ready to greet the incoming
merchant ships and put one of her pilots aboard.
In those days; and even today; the skippers of large,
ocean going vessels called upon the knowledge of local pilots to
direct their great ships in and out of port. Pilot boats, each
carrying several pilots, cruised about outside of the principal
The piloting business was highly competitive so a very special
type of boat was developed for the service. She had to be able to
cruise on station in all kinds of weather in every season and yet be
fast; for there was usually a race to be the first alongside when a
sail was sighted. American pilot boats developed to such a high
degree that they became famous the world over for their seaworthiness
One of the most famous of these was the Boston pilot boat
Dancing Feather, designed and built by D. J. Lawlor in 1853 at
East Boston. She had a beautiful clipper bow, graceful lines, and was
known as a fine sea boat with a reputation for getting there first.
Her round stern seems to have been an importation from New York and
this style enjoyed only a short popularity in Boston. During his
career D. J. Lawlor designed and built several noted pilot boats
including the Florence, Phantom, Lilie, and
The model of the Dancing Feather has been built with great
care from research and scaled down plans based on the original lines.
Her hull is dark green with black topsides and dark brown main rail.
The lower masts and spars are stained and the topmasts are painted
white. The model is mounted on a mahogany finished base with brass
nameplates on each side.
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