When I was a little girl one of my favorite things to do with my Grandpa was what he called ‘Dock Walking’.
We would go down to the marina on a Saturday morning to check on the boat, and if we weren’t taking her out we would do the wash down and tidy up. He would check batteries and refill them from the jug of distilled water
under the V berth. Turn over the huge twin Chevys. Flush the head
. I would do whatever chore he set me too. All too often it involved sandpaper or a brush…
Once we finished the chores he and I would clean up and walk up to the marina office where the gas pumps and a cooler of ice cream also lived. Then, licking up the drips from our drumsticks, we would stroll the docks, walking along and looking at boats. Seeing what had been done to neighbours and old favorites, checking out any new boats or folks at the visitors dock
. Chatting with the other boaters there also, working on their boats, or coming and going.
I still love to dock
walk. Lucky me, Himself does as well and we often, on nice days, go for a dock walk. Strolling along the path between the berths, the bows pointed in towards us like friendly dogs
in a kennel, the myriad hulls, hardware
, the assorted goods that people add for their own comfort. It always fascinates me.
In our own marina there was a boat that had always interested me. It was clearly older, fiberglass
and fast looking, but hardware
that dated her, like older ladies with costume jewelry from their heyday. She had no mast
and there was evidence of work that had begun and then been abandoned. She had sat there for years. Her tags were a decade old. But she had… good bones… that sleddy fast look. Think Anne Miller or Sophia Loren in their later years. Still hot thru the wrinkles and crazing and softening of once firm structures.
She had the tiny letters ‘FFB” on her stern next to her name and port. A racing
friend had once told me, when I asked if he knew what it stood for; “Honey, that’s just a ****in fast boat”. I still don’t know if he was joking, but he was right, she did look fast.
One day a man was working on her when we were dock walking so we paused to ask about the boat. Moondancer’s new owner was happy to share her history
. She was
a ****in fast boat. She was one of Tom Wylie’s early designs, a one off, described by the designer
as ‘a racing
machine’. Built early in the ‘70’s, by ’73/’74 she was blowing the competition out of the water
and taking no prisoners in races in Northern California
and Southern California
in the same seasons.
How she had landed in our little quiet marina no one knows. She was just parked there and left. But her new owner was laying fiberglass
, repairing deck
coring, installing beautiful huge new winches. He described the carbon mast
he had ordered and the rigging
for her, the new suite of sails
, the redone electronics
. She was clearly being put back into racing form. When the mast was ready he motored her out of the marina and never returned. Recently I spotted her in a Singlehanded Sailing Society racing sheet. She had taken first in her class in the Long Pac. It made me happy to see she is back doing what she does best.
Wyliecat Performance Yachts: About Tom Wylie
Singlehanded Sailing Society
This post was inspired by something I recently saw. Last weekend we were at Grand Marina over in Alameda and after running our errands we indulged in a bit of dock walking thru the yard. They work on big boats there. One huge beauty caught our eyes. She was almost a full keel
, but not quite. Double ended, with a huge bowsprit
on her bow. Three masts. She looked traditional, but not like a classic woody. We knocked on her hull
. I looked at the surface. We couldn’t tell what she was made of. The hull
looked to smooth to be wood. To rough to be fiberglass, but not the right feel for ferro
. She was getting the works; mani pedi, colour, cut and curl, new wardrobe.
When the yard was done with her she was going to be smashing, in an old school
kind of way. I asked and was told “That there is what we call a Herrshoff 55”. Her name was 'Constance'.
I went home and googled around. Her designer
is an America’s cup Hall of Famer. Her keel
was laid in 1971. She was built from the 1946 designs for the ‘Marco Polo’. We were unable to tell what she was built from because she was sorta a fiberglass boat laid up like a ferro
cement hull… Something called Feralite. She has an electric propulsion
system now. She has cruised all over the Pacific and Atlantic.
Latitude 38 Letters - January 2001
Constance | Green Marine RePower
I love how much I learn by just looking, and asking, about the fascinating boats I find.
Anyone else discovered any treasures, while just wastin time, dock walkin on a lazy day?