Breakwater News : Winter scenes
There is slack. The election is over. There is a noticeable air of hope that is, after all, eternal. And up the rail at Gannon and Benjamin came KLANG II.
As Islanders settle in for winter, so do the water-bound and water-borne. KLANG II came in and took a mooring to our stern. It was not long there before I noticed the bilge pump running. A lot.
It is not necessarily an alarming thing to have the bilge pump running on a wooden boat, especially to those who have had one in need of help. It is when the bilge pump stops running that there are problems.
In passing, I made the acquaintance of her captain. I gave him a lift out, and was rewarded with the cook's tour of the handsome old vessel. She's as old-time as they come; well-loved and maintained to great reward, but in need of attention now. By the time I went back over the rail, I could tell she was a survivor.
So here she is: KLANG II. When you take a beach walk along Vineyard Haven Harbor take a gander. There are tales there, and she stirs the imagination, but she needs a bit of work, and is at the point where without the right attention she might prove to be even more organic. Let's hope we see her off the rail in good form again.
Any who ride the port side of the ferry heading off can follow the sailing season of the Bela class boats clustered in close to the north slip. Celeste, Isabella, Blue Rhythm among others. The remarkable shape is born of Nat Benjamin's genius. Most of them now are without rigs, ready any day to go ashore for the winter.
The schooners seem at home even in the wintry environment. Designed for the worst the Grand Banks could dish out in the harshest of winter gales while working the fishery, they appear ready for adventure, and from what I understand there is still plenty of that in their future.
The mooring field is full of stalwarts. Those who stay rigged are lashed down and give an air of hunkered down. Winter is for all intents here. I think of the great adventurers spending winters below decks in far off and then unknown places. This harbor was at the end of the world at one time. Bartholomew Gosnold himself holed up here for a winter. No black dog. No harbor motel. No breakwater.
In the Lagoon you still see the watermen dredging scallops. These are the small draggers out there with hardy souls in slickers and rubber boots and gloves so we can have great pasta. The bounty of the sea in proportion to the respect with which it is harvested is an infinitely sustainable resource. These men obviously understand the balance.
This is a fine time of year to take in the nature of this place. We took a carload across to Chappy and went to the end of the road. It was gray and windy out of the south with heavy surf breaking on the sand. We walked out onto the beach to the new Katama cut. The wind carried the salt spray up and over. Wasque point has seen its share of drama. Thanks to whoever had the foresight and generosity to make this a protected area, generations to come will have this place to breathe in the elements of the North Atlantic.
At G & B's Mugwump shop, we are all but finished with this year's final project: the 36-foot "Lobsteryacht," now ready for paint. Under the guidance of Marty and Ross, this boat has been a privilege to be a part of. Rare indeed, is a shop where you can order a handmade plank-on-frame boat custom designed to owner specifications. This one will be here for the winter getting painted as weather permits. Stop by and have a look. She will be moving to Northeast Harbor, Maine, in the spring.
At the beach shop, Robert is putting the final touches on a totally rebuilt Herreshoff 12½. Of the 300 or so of these classic timepieces that were originally built starting in the 1920s, all but a handful are accounted for. One more is now in condition that may see her enjoy another century of sailing enjoyment. This one will be going into Menemsha pond and may she have a long happy reborn life. Bill has finished a really fine looking light rowing dory for a local enthusiast. He and Nat have taken up the restoration of KLANG II that will benefit from any and all energy they will be putting in over the coming months.
Finally, we have moved CrowFlite into the Eel Pond in Woods Hole for the winter. It is dark when I leave to catch the morning ferry to Martha's Vineyard and dark when I return. A few more weeks and Laura and I will be heading south to our other home in Patagonia, Chile. It is spring there now. We have much to do to clean up after the volcano. But that is another story. See you next year.
This is the last Breakwater News until next year.