Hi Girls & Guys:
At this point in time the Tern is resting in Royal Island Harbor in the Bahamas, waiting for R&B Boatyard in Spanish Wells to haul her out! There are no beaches here and we are not allowed to go ashore as it is a private island. Roger Staurbuck is reportedly building a 1st class golf course & resort on the island. While we are waiting here it provides me an opportunity to finish & publish some draft blurbs on the Tern Travels! The protection here brings to mind “Red Brook Harbor” in Cataumet, MA which is one of my true favorite harbors on Cape Cod. After a long hot summers sail there is no better harbor to drop anchor free from boat wakes & bay swell with clean water to take an evenings swim! Red Brook is only a few miles by water to Sperry Sails in Marion MA. The Tern’s dodger was eight years old and had begun to leak so after looking around I contracted Sperry Sails to build a new one! Red Brook Harbor is about an hour from their sail loft so it would be easy to motor over to Marion Harbor early morning to have the Sperry gang pattern out her new dodger! I made arrangements with Ham Ferris owner of Hamilton Ferris Power Products located in Bourne, MA to come out to the Tern in his skiff to fit her new solar panels! In addition I am installing navigation instruments in the new much larger instrument panel. The new ultra thin 100 watt solar panels from Hamilton Ferris will be installed on top of the new dodger. Ham Ferris brought out the panels and some quahogs he had caught in the bay, oh I would eat good tonight! The bulk of the work has been done and soon she will be ready for the passages south! Lollygagging here in Red Brook Harbor brings back fond memories of much younger days gaining sea legs and sailing experience here in the beautiful harbor!
Sea legs began at around six years old with my dad, and a 5 1/2 horsepower Johnson Sea Horse pushing a rented Amesbury Skiff in and out of the Weweantic River. Sayles Boat Livery located at the mouth of the river rented 16′ skiffs for 50 cents a day. As with all things good, Sayles Boat Livery is long gone, today just an empty fenced in lot of land overgrown with brush & weeds! My dad was a barber and Mondays was his day off. He would make pepper & egg sandwiches, pack the cooler with soda & beer, leaving home at 0400 (4AM), we would get to the boat livery around 5AM rent a boat, buy our sea worms, put the engine on the boat and be on the river before sunup! Many times we would not see another car on that early morning ride to the river. At six years old this was the greatest thing to happen in my life, I got less sleep on Sunday night before fishing than I did the night before Christmas! Shortly after we would leave the dock my dad would turn the Johnson over to me to steer so he could fish for striped bass! I learned at an early age how to read the currents and tides of the river and bay. Early morning we would troll for bass, then after sunup we would drift fish for fluke, flounder and scup! I did most of the fishing then as my dad would have a few beers and lay athwart ships, falling asleep until a fish woke him up or we got to the end of the drift when I would wake him so he could restart the motor for me! From time to time I would catch him with no bait on his hooks, he would just laugh and tell me the fish stole it. I loved the feeling of the salt spray coming over the bow splashing us as we worked our way back to windward to start the drift again! The awesome feeling of having this big engine all to myself was something I will never forget! I am sure this early experience led me to a life of fishing for a living! At low tide we would go next to the shore and dig quahogs with our hands and feet! Later in the day we would go up the river to catch eels. We would salt the eel skins all summer then in the winter months we would pour lead into molds with hooks in them, then stretch the ell skin over the lead these were used for casting from the shores of the Cape Cod Canal for striped bass in the spring. The canal is rocky and we would lose a lot of jigs that we had made that previous winter! In those days we ate like kings and our neighbors did too! By the time I turned twelve I was driving a big 1950 Buick 4 door in the wee hours of the morning from Mansfield to the Weweantic River, about 25 miles distance, prior to that I would sit on my dads lap and steer. In the spring and fall there was no school for me on Mondays as that was fishing day with my dad. My first sailing experience began at 11 years of age at summer camp on a lake in Lakeville, MA. I can not tell you how great it was to harness the wind. This new experience of sailing was surreal the wind just kind of took you away! Once the technique was learned it was up to you as to which direction the boat went with some restrictions but once the art of tacking was accomplished you could actually go against the wind. My first sailboat after returning from the service was a Centerboard Knockabout designed by L. Francis Herreshoff. She had no name on her transom so I named her Mellisa! I purchased her in 1970 for $75 from the Want Advertiser. She was built at the Herreshoff yard in Bristol RI in 1941. At 17 feet overall she was a little small for some of the adventures I took her on, like sailing through Woods hole without an engine. She provided me such great thrills and helped put the ever present Vietnam War out of my mind. Her mooring was located in Hospital Cove in those days she was the only boat in the cove, today there are close to a hundred. It was quite an adventure sailing through Woods Hole on the twenty mile passage to Martha’s Vineyard without the help of an engine or I guess you could say just the twenty mile passage without a compass was quite an adventure. All those younger years fishing with my dad in that little skiff had given me the ability to read the water! My adopted son Peter bailed the entire time as the centerboard trunk had a slight leak. Old Ben Shaw had not been able to stop the leak completely but it was manageable! We landed at the Tisbury Yacht Club in Vineyard Haven, beached the Mellisa where my friend Bill Arnold & his wife Marie picked us up. That was my first time on Martha’s Vineyard and also the beginning of my love affair with sailing the Cape & Islands that is still going on today!
After sailing Melissa in Buzzards Bay I knew that I had to have a bigger boat so I went back to the Want Advertiser. I found my next sailboat in Marblehead, she was bigger & faster! I rechristened her Woki Yapi (Hopi Indian for peace). She was 30 feet on deck (same as the Tern) but very narrow 6’6″ (the Tern is 10.5′), with a sloop rig and a 5 foot draft. She was designed by L. Francis for racing in Nantucket Sound, there were 30 of them built at the Quincy Adams boatyard in Quincy, MA for the rich people of Nantucket. I had #28 which was built for Bissell Rugs in Boston. She was a great boat to handle though living aboard was to be a challenge. I set about converting her from a racing boat to a weekend cruiser, which soon turned to living aboard all summer. She had no engine but would tack on a dime and was a fun boat to live on in the summer while sailing the Cape & Islands. I rented a mooring at the Red Brook Harbor Boatyard. After 3 years of living aboard in the summer I knew I would have to get a bigger boat to live aboard full time!
Searching for a full time live-aboard was a daunting task which took a couple of years of poking through ads, visiting brokers until I found the boat I wanted. She was located in Baltimore, MD. Her name was Windflower. She was exactly what I was looking for! I sailed her back to Red Brook Harbor and set about getting her ready to sail the world. In the end she was a little too big to handle single-handed and she was lost to the ice in Sandy Hook, NJ in the winter of 1976-77. That disaster spelled the end of my sailing days for over thirty years! I was so devastated after her loss I was unable to even look at another sailboat never mind sail one! Windflower, was a 55′ overall including bowsprit & boomkin. Her hull & decks were teak, frames were sawn oak! She was a gaffed rigged yawl built at the Thames River Shipyard, London in 1908. She was built for a Cuthbert Buckle (a proper Pomey). Traditional English workmanship throughout. Her interior was a sight to behold complete with private captains quarters and crews quarters, with exotic woods everywhere you looked. The problem was this boat needed a crew to go offshore as everything was massive and impossible to single hand offshore, in those days we did not have the luxury of all the giggy gadgets we have today. I was thirty two years old when I lost her to the ice in Sandy Hook, New Jersey in the winter of 1976-77. In those days I thought I could do anything but in the end I realized I needed to find a competent crew to take her offshore. I had sailed her down Long Island Sound single handed but was reluctant to take her offshore! Even way back then sailing men were scarce! Not being able to find a crew to take her offshore, I was forced to tie her up in sandy Hook! Little did I know this would be a once in a hundred year winter! She sustained much damage in the winter and in the spring I was forced to sell her as I was out of money. The Windflower met her end in the gulf stream off Florida at the hands of her new owners! Some thirty years later when I saw Paviti Tern (Patience) tied up in Oak Bluffs, just rotting away. I knew she would be mine! Finally after all these years here was a boat I could handle single handed, no need for a competent crew! Located above the entry into the forecastle (focsle) on the S/V Windflower was a poem cast in bronze entitled “The Windflower’s Poem”. Her poem lives on today cast in gold onboard Paviti Tern!
“If I were a bird that lived on high
I would lean on the wind
When the wind came by
I would say to the wind
When it took me away
That’s where I wanted to go today”
The harbor has gone through immense changes over the last 40 years or so! Many are good some are not so good but immense none the less! All in all the water is still clean enough for my water-maker to work! Moorings are everywhere but thanks to the Colonial Ordinance anchorages are still available! Unlike in Florida where they have no Colonial ordinance to protect access rights to the ocean, anchorages are becoming a thing of the past and now cruiser will have to buy mooring time!
Hope you enjoy the pics? More to come from Royal Harbor in the Bahamas!
Ciao! For now,