from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A small yacht of less than the unit of rating (one ton).
Sorry, no etymologies found.
There were, too, moonlight sails in Peggy's little half-rater, which she handled with a master hand.
She had a little money when she started to school, and with that and what she was able to earn at the school and by teaching during vacations she managed to work her way as -- what was termed rather contemptuously in those days -- a 'half-rater.'
I've sailed a half-rater, and I don't mind getting wet, not a bit. "