The Joys of Fitting-Out

Unidentified child, fitting-out, City Island Yacht Club, May 1959 Negative #163216.3

The spring season brings longer daylight in the northern latitudes and rising temperatures. Since the early 1900s, it also brings the “Fitting-Out Number” issues of The Rudder and Motor Boating magazines. The Fitting Out issues were filled with practical tips for getting a vessel in shape for the upcoming season along with thoughts on the pleasures of the work.

Thomas Fleming Day, the founder and editor of The Rudder, wrote in the 1908 Fitting-Out Number: “On the labors of fitting out a boat, the ways of doing things properly, and all the sage counsels of the wise thereon, the present writer is less qualified to speak than of the good feeling of the fitting-out time; of the bodily and mental pleasures of the fitting-out toil; of the cheeriness of the first gathering of friends in the Spring in the boat’s cabin, even if she is still on stilts in the yard, or lies by the beach ready for the water …”

Morris Rosenfeld and Sons spent every year, usually in May, in various boatyards capturing the fitting-out processes of cleaning, scraping, caulking, painting, engine work – all the joys – for the following year’s issues that appeared in March or April. The Rosenfeld Collection shows preparing a boat for the water was a family affair. The images are of men, women, and children doing their part. There were even strollers in the yard.

Pictured here is an unidentified child using a rag to clean the bottom of a wooden dinghy. The image was made at the City Island Yacht Club in May 1959.

–Carol Mowrey