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Originally published in The Weekly Packet, July 17, 2014
New Doug Hylan design launched in Brooklin

The Bagatelle is launched

Jon Hopkins, left, flashes a wide smile moments after Bagatelle was launched on “a perfect Maine summer day,” June 25, 2014. The 26-foot cruiser was built at D.N. Hylan & Associates for Brooklin, Maine residents Jon and Peggy Hopkins.

Photo by Rich Hewitt Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Rich Hewitt

Bagatelle, a 26-foot raised deck cruiser built at the D.N. Hylan & Associates yard in Brooklin, is in the water and ready to begin cruising.

The boat, a modified version of a previous Doug Hylan design, was built for Brooklin residents Jon and Peggy Hopkins and launched Friday, June 25. The Hopkinses already have an 18-foot runabout that they’ve used for day cruising around the islands, but wanted something a little bigger.

“We wanted something larger that we could overnight in and that was sheltered from the elements,” Jon Hopkins said. “We were looking for a Downeast style, maybe 24 or 26 feet; not too big, but big enough to have the basic accommodations down below.”

It just so happened that Hylan already had an idea based on an earlier design that nicely fit their needs. About a decade ago, Hylan had designed and built Top Hat, a 26-foot center console launch. It had a very similar hull to Bagatelle, and at the time, Hylan said, he thought that if it was a little bigger, it would make a nice, small cruising boat.

“I made a little sketch then of what it might look like, but that’s as far as it went,” he said. “I showed them that sketch and they liked it. So I finished the design based on the sketch.”

Bagatelle can trace its history back to the early decades of the 20th century when William Hand began designing a series of V-bottom runabouts powered by the relatively new gas-powered engines and using the extra horsepower to get speeds beyond hull speed.

Their popularity waned until Harry Bryan and Brooklin’s Maynard Bray took the basic Hand hull design, substituted an outboard motor for the gas engine, and moved it from the center of the boat to a motor well at the rear. The result was a much quieter boat with more open space in the cockpit.

Bagatelle, Hylan said, is an evolution of the Bryan and Bray design, a bigger version of that same idea. Bagatelle has a raised sheer—the line where the sides of the hull meet the deck—and also has more deck than Top Hat, which translates into more space below. Bagatelle also sports a windshield and pilot house that provides protection from the elements, and is powered by a 60hp Evinrude outboard in the rear motor mount.

The construction methods were “pretty modern” for the yard which tends toward traditional methods, according to Ellery Brown who oversaw the construction of Bagatelle.

The bottom is two layers of marine plywood laminated, while the topsides are all cedar planking. There are no frames; the hull gets its stiffness from the hull design, Brown said.

Likewise, the foredeck is two layers of marine plywood with a balsa core, providing a stiff deck surface that allowed them to do away with the deck beams. Both construction methods saved time and space.

The Hopkinses were involved with the project throughout the construction.

“It was a fun and rewarding experience; they have a great group of people over there,” Jon Hopkins said.

Most of the work the yard does is custom work and, with the owner able to visit the yard regularly, many of the details below deck were redesigned as construction went along.

Some areas—like the roof of the pilot house—had to be raised a little to accommodate Jon Hopkins’ 6’4” frame. And the berths were made a little longer than usual for the same reason.

Bagatelle’s launch was delayed by one day due to rainy weather, but she went into the water on a perfect Maine summer day. The boat remains on the Benjamin River while the Hylan crew handles some final construction details. But the Hopkinses have had Bagatelle out and traveled up and down Eggemoggin Reach. Hopkins confirmed that Bagatelle provides a quiet ride even when it reached the design speed of 17 knots.

“That’s really faster than I care to go in it,” he said.

Once the crew is finished with the final touches, the Hopkinses plan to moor Bagatelle in Herrick Bay near their home.