Issue: July 2001
Backyard Boats: Family Jewels

Traditional boatbuilding skills and techniques are a precious inheritance in this Virginia family.


    The Mayer-Aschhoff family hands down boatbuilding skills like a fine set of Wedgewood, and Dana Lynn is the latest example of their generational knowledge. The 17-foot, gaff-rigged catboat is the third sailboat Ron Mayer-Aschhoff of Charlottesville, Va., and his father Ernst Mayer-Aschhoff have built together, and the first on which Ron’s 20-year-old-son Brett has collaborated. Built of oak, mahogany, marine plywood and cedar, the boat has been under construction in the Mayer-Aschhoff’s garage since April 2000.

    Even the lead-ballasted keel was homemade; Ron collected lead weights from car tires at junkyards, melted them down and cast the ballast himself.

    Ron’s grandfather was a German sea captain, and his father Ernst studied shipbuilding in school and made it his trade. He came to America during World War II. Their first boat together was an 18-foot Lightning and the second was a 16-footer Ernst designed, similar to a Lightning. With her small cuddy cabin, Dana Lynn sleeps two and provides a head and small galley for weekending.

    “We do it just for the love of it and we sail what we build,” says Ron. “My goal is to complete Dana Lynn by July and I would like to sail her from Leesylvania State Park on the Potomac to Nags Head, N.C.”