A good friend of many years asked if I would like to have a 19' sailboat that was sitting in his yard. It belonged to his son, who was willing to give it to me. He had no pictures but said he thought it was built in Sweden and that the title said it was a "Lofano" sailboat. I Googled that information but found nothing.

I explained that I normally don't mess with boats longer than 15 feet and even had to pay the landfill to get rid of two boats of 15 and 16 feet that needed too much work. I offered them on Craigslist free, but there were no takers!

A few days later, my friend had a visitor with a digital camera. He took pictures and sent them to me. The boat was nice looking and sitting on a decent trailer. When my friend said that a small Honda outboard came with the boat, I decided to accept the gift. My brother volunteered to go along to help with loading and driving. After a delicious meal, we returned to New Jersey. It rained for much of the seven-hour round trip but my brother did most of the driving.

I discovered that the boat had been re-titled in 1986, but it appeared to have been built in the early to mid 70s. They used to build fiberglass boats of laminated material but today they spray it in a mold. These boats are tough! The boat measured only 17 feet instead of 19 and according to a hardly legible tag on the transom, It was built by Lofland Sailcraft Inc. (not Losano).

Armed with this information, I started another web search and my real adventures began. There was almost no information about Lofland Boats on the web, but I found a couple of people asking about a Lofland Picnic on www.boatus.com/forum.htm/. One person gave a link to the Rhodes website where there was a photo of a Picnic. When I followed the link, there was no doubt that the boat I had hauled home was a Picnic.

A man named Nils Lucander also got into the forum discussion, saying his father designed the boat in 1959. I wrote Nils, asking for information and he sent me a scan of the boat's design (below). The keel was different in the original drawings.

I Googled the words "Lofland" and "Wichita" to see what I could find, and came across a Lofland family website which contained several sailboat graphics. I wrote an email to the address given under "Contact" and received a very nice letter from Allen E. Lofland. His father manufactured boats including the Snipe, Lightning, Flying Scott and Picnic. He gave me much information about the boat. Mr. Lofland said that Stan Spitzer had sold the Lofland line of boats through General Boats Inc. of New York. The company has since moved to North Carolina and now sells the Rhodes. http://www.rhodes22.com/home.html

I wrote to Mr. Spitzer and he replied, saying that some 350 Picnics were produced by several companies, including one in Nova Scotia. Most of the Picnics were built by Lofland Sail-Craft, Inc. of Wichita, Kansas.

The Picnic17 is a pocket cruiser rigged as a Sloop with furling jib and a combination keel/centerboard style hull. The ballast in the keel is not moved and the board inside the keel is easily handled without a winch and kicks up readily when hitting bottom. These features were incorporated into the popular Rhodes22, also sold by General Boats. For more detailed information on the science of ballast and keel structures, click these links on the Rhodes website:

The Picnic was an innovative craft, easily identified by its flared and reversed sheer hull. Some Picnics have differently shaped transoms and I am not certain about why or when it was changed. The fiberglass transom was strengthened with 1 inch plywood and could be equipped with a 40-hp outboard engine for water-skiing (The MacGregor was 4 decades late)! According to a 16-page General Boats sales brochure, a British Seagull outboard and Mercury outboards up to 40 HP were offered as accessories. An owner in California has an original Picnic, trailer and Seagull outboard with all the papers. Another owner in the Chicago area said his Picnic gets up on a plane using a 20hp outboard. Some Picnics were delivered with a small Berkeley jet-pump. According to Stan Spitzer, it was driven by a Briggs & Stratton typically used on lawnmowers.

A California owner posted these photos of his Picnic jet-pump on Boat-US.

Note the different shape of the transom of my Picnic. You can see the patch where the jet-pump was located and a smaller sealed hole for the exhaust.

The cabin has room for two adults to sleep plus space for a Porta-Potty, small cooking stove and other items. The Picnic 17 was delivered with cushions both inside the cabin and in the cockpit. Early Picnics had two windows on each side of the cabin and none on the front. Later Picnics had single-pane windows on the sides and smaller windows on the front of the cabin.

The Picnic 17 sailboat was designed by Nils Lucander for Stan Spitzer in 1959. Stan wrote that about 350 Picnics were produced by several companies, including one in Nova Scotia. Most of the Picnics were built by Lofland Sail-Craft, Inc. of Wichita, Kansas. Francis Lofland and Stan Spitzer worked together building and selling boats until the early 70s, when Lofland retired for medical reasons. Lofland also built the Snipe, Flying Scott and perhaps other boats. Lofland passed away several years ago but Stan Spitzer is still actively involved with General Boats. The Picnic later evolved into the Rhodes which is sold by General Boats, now located in North Carolina http://www.rhodes22.com/home.html

My boat was re-titled in 1986, so I don't know its age, but a Picnic owner in Florida, Cory Brookins, said his sail number is just one digit different from mine. His was inspected in 1972 in the Lofland Sail Craft Boat Works. A sticker on the cabin of my Picnic shows that the boat was registered in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1978. The most recent registration was 2005 on Lake Wallenpaupack in the Pocono region of Pennsylvania. I was told by a friend that he remembers seeing several Picnics on Harvey's Lake in Pennsylvania about 20 years ago (I have no connection to the lake in spite of the name similarity). At least one of those Picnics had a small inboard motor. My Picnic also had a small inboard at one time but it was removed by a previous owner.

Hull material: layered fiberglass
LOA: 17feet, 3 inches
Beam: 6 feet, 8 inches
Shoal Draft: 1 foot with centerboard raised; approximately 4 feet lowered
Displacement: approximately 700 lbs
Mast length from step (located on top of cabin): 24 feet
Total sail area: 204 ft.
Mainsail: Area 119 ft.; Luff 20' 6" (247"); Leech 23' (276"); Foot 9' 6" (114")
Jib (furling): Area 85 ft.; Luff 16' (192"); Leech 15' 4" (184"); Foot 10' 6" (126")
Spinnaker: 203 ft.
(measurements of luff, leech & foot are my own)

The following is part of a report by “Captain Jim” on a trip he made with his MacGregor. The museum mentioned below is probably the H. Lee White Marine Museum in Oneida on the Erie Canal. I wrote to them but received no reply.

DAY 18: 6:17 wake up knock from vigilant marina "metermaid", whom we assured we would pay their fees before departing. We took an early morning bike tour of town, too early for anything to be open, so had nice breakfast at the "Town Restaurant", a unique, small 3 level place that made imaginative use of every inch of space, with both a loft and a cave. Toured historic Ft. Ontario, which switched hands 3 times between the French, English and Americans. The downtown Mariners museum was an intricate and interesting place where each room led into the next with a surprising variety of displays, including one on the underground railway (complete with reproduced "hideaway" behind secret door) and stories of the struggles of individual slaves and the people who tried to help them escape. Outside there was ,on a trailer, a rare boat, the "Picnic 17" which was an early small powersailer built in the '70's by General Boat Co., makers of the Rhodes 22. It was ahead of its time, but could probably be marketed successfully today, with water ballast modifications.


Unanswered questions:
• Were any Picnics built before or after 1959-1973?
• Who if anyone built the Picnic besides Lofland? (One owner's Picnic says "ROL" on the title)

The upholstery in my picnic looked like it was never used. There are pads for both the cabin and the open cockpit. My main and furling jib were also like new with no wear, stains or tears.

(Click on photos below to enlarge and click "Return" to close)


The rare tilting galvanized Holsclaw trailer was in very good condition. These trailers have not been manufactured for about 20 years and are now highly prized among collectors of old boats. Equipped with coil springs and shock absorbers, the Holsclaw is said to have the nicest ride of all boat trailers.

I made a new hatch cover and refinished the rudder and tiller.

I sold this jewel of a pocket cruiser with trailer to a young man in Pennsylvania.

Below are pictures of other known Picnics in sailable condition

This beautifully restored Picnic is in Wisconsin

The next two pictures show a nice Picnic in Florida.

Another great Picnic sails in North Carolina waters

A Picnic in good condition in Illinois

"Wind Chime" sails in Arkansas water

Someone made a Picnic into a decorative planter for their New Jersey home

The Picnic and trailer shown below sold on eBay in Iowa, July 11, 2008 for only $159.50 plus a $149 Boat-Angel processing fee! It needs some TLC, but that was a steal for someone!

The following Picnic is posted on the Rhodes website

This Picnic sold on New Jersey Craigslist in July, 2009

Download Picnic Sales Brochure, 6 MB