Ben Franklin and the America’s Cup

Posted: November 3, 2013 in Music, Technology
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I don’t think Ben Franklin would be at all surprised to see the boats of this year’s America’s Cup, boats which seem no longer like sailboats but like an almost mythical hybrid of water creature and bird, equally at home flying through the water or above it. Ben Franklin admired the outriggers used by the Pacific Islanders, realizing that they were fast and stable.


The America’s Cup boat:

America's Cup boat 1


America’s Cup boat:

America's Cup boat 2

Could he have even imagined what a “sailboat” would look like now?

As you know from yesterday’s post, Ben Franklin was prescient not only about sailboats, but about many things. He was a man of science, language, music and an enormous variety of subjects. He was charming, well-read and loved good food. He also loved people and spent much of his life trying to improve their lives. He came up with many witty and wise sayings. And he contributed much to the beginning of America, setting a high standard for those around him and those to follow him.


Although it looks like the inexpensive pallet for children’s paints or a plate for fussy eaters who don’t want any of their foods to touch,  Ben designed this for eating soup on a boat.  If the movement of the ship forced soup from the middle bowl, it would hopefully land in one of the surrounding small bowls rather than on the eater or the floor.



This was the type of sedan chair used to carry an individual. Not a very comfortable ride, I imagine, but better than being one of the men carrying the chair!


Ben, thanks for all you did.  May we all be a bit more like you–caring, inquisitive, willing to be challenged, stretching our talents and enjoying life.


  1. Al says:

    He and da Vinci were both well ahead of their times.

  2. That was my first thought too: like da Vinci :o) And I would sign that quote too: well done is better than well said.

    • Very true. It’s similar to the biblical parable about the son who told his father he would do what the father asked, then didn’t, while the other son said “No” at first, but did what the father asked later.


  3. helenscribe says:

    What a gorgeous clip of the America’s Cup!! I saw some of this from SF Marina Village shoreline. This just reminds me of my first love. Thanks so much for posting. H

    • It’s not, of course, my clip and it may just be of the boat sailing and not the Cup. We were in San Francisco, so the last day I went down to try to see a bit of it and ended up spending the day with a bunch of New Zealanders and having a blast. Glad you enjoyed the post, Helen. I was happily surprised when I saw the drawings in the Ben Franklin Museum.


  4. helenscribe says:

    Reblogged this on helenscribe and commented:
    A gorgeous reminder of a thrilling event.

  5. Maybe the main point of the sedan chair was to arrive with your good clothes still clean, since in Ben’s time streets were likely to be muddy and messy!