The 'Margaret M' is a 14 foot sailboat, built by Arthur Barnes of Victoria between 1951 and 1952. The 'Margaret M' is a proper yacht with a full keeled hull, made of red cedar planks on steamed oak ribs. Her decks are yellow cedar with dark mahogany king plank and covering boards.
Her cockpit, although small, contains locking doors, railed seats and sole grating. This was Barnes' first sailboat, but he would eventually build another called 'Diane'. This boat was a tabloid cruiser that was slightly larger than Margaret M (18 feet).
What makes this such as unusual vessel was that Arthur Barnes was blind and had only one arm.
While clearing land with his father, Arthur Barnes went to investigate a charge that had failed to detonate. A delayed blast occurred which caused the loss of his eyesight and part of his right arm – he was only 10 years old at the time.
Barnes was a very determined individual who did not let his disabilities get in the way of his ambition. He was once quoted as saying "If you want to do anything bad enough, you'll do it, come hell or high water". This must have been the way he felt about boat building; a seemingly impossible task for someone without sight.
Barnes learned the art of boat building from a group of friends; he would 'watch' what they were doing by feeling with his left hand. Despite the fact that his father thought it was a foolish idea, Barnes began building boats of his own – the first of which was a nine and a half foot rowboat. He developed his boats through mental vision and touch. He also designed jigs that would allow him to use saws and other power tools. About his father, Barnes was quoted as saying "…I fooled him…and a lot of other people. I built that boat…and when it was finished, I sold it for $40."
Boat building was not the only talent that Arthur Barnes possessed. He was also an accomplished classical musician (French horn) and owned a bakery in Victoria called 'Art's Confectionary'.