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Charlotte, the latest Nat Benjamin design, launched from G&B
Nat and Pam Benjamin launched Charlotte from the Gannon and Benjamin Marine Railway Saturday. Named for Nat's paternal grandmother, the 50-foot schooner is the Benjamin family boat, designed and built over three years by Nat and crew at G&B's Mugwump annex, behind Tisbury Marketplace.
Builder, father, grandfather Nat Benjamin and daughter Jessica rode Charlotte into Vineyard Haven harbor. Photos by Danielle Zerbonne
Friends of G&B and of Nat and his partner Ross Gannon crowded the little boatyard for the festivities. Others who couldn't come watched the event on The Times web cam, which overlooks the boatyard. Pam Benjamin described the event for missing friends in an e-mail: "Everything went fantastically well on Saturday. Even though it was raining all morning till about 2 pm, and then windy. As usual, it cleared up splendidly just in time, and when the boat touched the water the sun revealed itself completely, putting the spotlight on Charlotte and the other beautiful boats in the Harbor.... We did not do the traditional break the bottle over the bow routine. Too violent for the Benjamin/Stevens/Abrams/Hearn family. We all poured water from five of the significant ponds on the Island over the boat from Jessica's and M.V. hand made pottery bowls and cups - Menemsha, Squibnocket, Tisbury Great, Cape Pogue, and Tashmoo Ponds. Then the grandchildren, Hoffie, Harper, Silas, and Axel put together feathers, rocks, flowers, shells, wampum, driftwood with sheep's wool from the Allen Farm braided around it all, a bag that Signe made - treasures from Martha's Vineyard. That was all put in a basket and placed on the boat with numerous bouquets of flowers."
Delighted, Pam Benjamin and grandson Hoffie Hearn spoke to the crowd.
Charlotte is 14 feet wide, draws six feet, eight inches, and she's built to last with nearly indestructible South American hardwoods that have become a favored building material at G&B. She displaces 56,000 pounds and has an 80-horse Cummins diesel for auxiliary power.