Klang 'A lucky old log'
Through the long, wet winter, she sat on the rails at Gannon & Benjamin Marine Railway, mending plank by plank. Captain Rip Hayman has sailed Klang II into several harbors, looking for much-needed nautical therapy, but the tired old gaff-rigged yawl responded poorly to treatment, until she was hauled up on the rails at G & B.
"Every time we'd try to fix it, it would get worse," said Mr. Hayman. "We had to come to the wood doctors."
Launched from her builder's yard in Falmouth, England in 1924, Klang II was built in the style of an English Channel Cutter. In her various incarnations, she has served as a pilot boat, a ferry, and a patrol boat for the Royal Navy. In 1940, she carried British soldiers stationed in France to safety as the German army advanced across the countryside toward Dunkirk.
She has bounced around, her rich history the most useful asset to fend off the ravages that water and weather inflict on a wooden boat. Her journey of recovery began the day a group that would become the Klang II Community Association found her sitting on the bottom of the Connecticut River.
For a while, she called New York's World Trade Center home, but on the fateful day of September 11, 2001, she was off on a voyage, and escaped the destruction that struck her neighbors, according to Mr. Hayman.
Monday, she slid back down the rails into Vineyard Haven Harbor.
With a little help from the tide, she floated just fine. Klang II still needs a lot of work, but her benefactors hope that, after a summer here, she will soon be sailing back to England. Her visiting captain marvels at the importance Islanders put on wooden boats here, and on fixing them.
"She's a lucky old log," is the way he put it.