Archive for March, 2012
I’ve enjoyed my retirement, really I have. Sure I miss the process, the challenges, my genius employees and the beautiful yachts we created, but I love the small boats most of all, the ones that attracted me to a life of sailing. So when I phoned my brother from the midst of a winter holiday in New Zealand and he hit me with, “we’ve got this Herreshoff 12 ½ up at the boatyard and we can’t find ANYONE with your skills to restore it”, well…
The boatyard is on Cranberry Island, reachable only by a small wooden boat from Mount Desert Island, and this is the middle of winter. The commute itself is, can be, downright dangerous in an easterly wind. We leave at 6:00 in the morning and when we get to the island climb into a rusty old truck, an “island truck” that deteriorated beyond any hope of passing inspection twenty years ago, and spew a plume of blue oil-smoke another mile to the yard. This is a “real Maine” boatyard that forgot to leave the 19th century. There is no bathroom- all of the employees are male and find a spot out in back of one of the sheds for this necessity. But if you can find them beneath a century’s worth of too-good-to-discard chunks of hardwood, shelves of every color paint ever chosen by boatowners long departed, and modern batts of fiberglass cloth and epoxy resins– the bins full of ancient tools left behind by craftsmen sadly no longer available at any price in our benighted land are balm to a restless artisan like me who appreciates the heft in his hand of a tool that was not made in China to look good in a blister-pack.
Next week I will be in Rome studying Carravagios and Da Vincis. What a life!