The sharpie evolved in the Connecticut area of the United States, especially around New Haven, about the middle of the 19th century. Built primarily to meet the needs of the inshore oyster fishing industry, sharpies were typified by the relatively narrow beam for their length, flat bottoms, a transom stern, centre board, free standing masts and “leg of mutton” sails.
The boats were quick and cheap to build, and soon developed to meet the specific needs of the fishermen. Oysters were gathered by using tongs – hinged handles attached to two opposing rakes which were clamped into the muddy sea bed – and lifted into the open hull. A rounded counter stern made this process easier for the crew and soon became a feature of the New Haven boats.
As boats became longer the fitting of two masts allowed a bigger spread of sail, but incorporating a third mast step midway between the two meant the boats could be "reefed' down to one mast in heavy weather.
Quite soon the sharpie type spread down the eastern seaboard including New York, The Chesapeake, The Carolinas, Florida, inland to the Great Lakes, West across the USA to Washington State, and East across the Atlantic to France.
The type soon evolved into pure leisure versions, and also spawned racing craft with a massive sail area and big crews to keep them upright.
The Milford 20 is a modern interpretation of the New Haven sharpie model. It has been developed specifically for the amateur builder, and is intended as a safe, easy to sail, recreational vessel for sheltered water usage. Its shallow draft will open up adventures where most boats just can’t reach. As a camp cruiser it will make a cosy home for two with sleeping length available in either cockpit. Alternatively the shallow draft opens access to many beaches and the boat will carry plenty of camping equipment