Friday, November 10, 2006


One of the great pleasures we found in Urbanna VA was meeting Gary.

Gary is retired from 25+ years in the US Coast Guard. He lives in Urbanna near the water, and he goes down to the docks three times a day for (in his words), "my salt water fix." That's how we met Gary, was down at the docks. He knew all about Westsails and he knew the pedigree of the W32 design. Gary said that he was building his own boat and he invited us to his house to see it.

It wasn't until a couple of days later that we got the chance to go to Gary's house. We walked around back to a large garage and the found Gary working on her.

Wow! What a solid boat he is building. She will be a 34 foot long schooner copied from one of Nat Herreshoff's designs. She is not unlike Joshua Slocum's Spray, but smaller. She sits upside down in Gary's garage while he works on the frame and the hull. When that's complete, he'll roll her out and flip her over.

We also went inside Gary's house to meet his wife Nell. In his workroom we saw some of the models of wooden boats that Gary was working on. They are all exquisitely beautiful examples of boat modeling and of wood working. Gary's current project is to build one to present as a gift to the new hotel in Urbanna. The walls in Gary's workroom are lined with hung models of hulls. It looks very much like Nat Herreshoff's model room in Bristol RI except that Herreshoff worked in half-hull models.

Gary invited us back to the launching of his boat in about two years. I would love to be there to see it. Gary already has a plan for her. He will use this boat to give deaf and handicapped children the chance to enjoy sailing. I think that is a wonderful ambition.

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We were about to leave and we invited Gary to sail with us from Urbanna to Deltaville; about 20 miles away. He accepted and off we went. We had very strong following winds and I set only the foresail. Gary took the helm and it only took him minutes to get the feel of Tarwathie. Gary has been sailing all his life in the local waters so he was familiar with the area, and with the weather, and water conditions. However I don't think that he ever had the chance to sail a heavy rig with a full keel like Tarwathie. Tarwathie was perhaps an inkling of what his own boat would be like. It took Gary only a few minutes to remark that he was glad to have planned for wheel steering instead of the tiller, and a schooner rig rather than a sloop or cutter because he would have a much smaller and easier to handle foresail. I'm sure he was right on both counts.

Good luck Gary. We wish you fair winds and safe voyages.

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