Homecoming for a schooner

Recovery and rejuvenation for a Gannon and Benjamin first.

Gannon and Benjamin partner Brad Abbott aboard the refurbished schooner Calabash.

On Friday, Gannon and Benjamin, a Vineyard Haven shipyard that specializes in the construction and restoration of wooden vessels, celebrated the refit of the gaff-rigged schooner Calabash. 

Shipwright and Gannon and Benjamin partner Brad Abbott refurbished Calabash for about a year and a half after it was acquired in Bermuda. The vessel happens to be the first schooner Gannon and Benjamin ever made. It was built in 1988 as the Lana and Harley for fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto, according to Nat Benjamin, the other partner in the shipyard. 

“It had been languishing in Bermuda for about 25 years, and not cared for well at all,” Benjamin said. “And I went over and surveyed it a couple years ago, gave the owner news about the condition of the boat, which they already knew, and made a deal to buy it, and brought it back here.”

“She was still floating and able to sail,” Abbott said. “The deck was leaking badly over a period of years, so we had to take the deck off, put a new deck on.”

Abbott said the deck house was compromised from water intrusion, and there were frame issues from too much immersion and haul-out of the boat. 

The deck was rebuilt differently than it originally was, Abbott said. “The deck is no longer teak, it’s a plywood deck covered in fiberglass,” he said. That adds useful stiffness.

“We brought it back basically for our yard to rebuild — to save the boat from deteriorating anymore,” he said. “And then after starting the project, I realized it’s a boat that I was very interested in.” 

“Brad thought this would be a perfect boat for him and his family,” Benjamin said.

Abbott, who resides in West Tisbury, said his family enjoys liveaboard life in Vineyard Haven Harbor in the summer. 

While the refit didn’t include the engine, it encompassed plenty of other things, including a replacement compass. “It had a good engine in it, so that same engine is in there, but it’s completely rewired and replumbed — new tanks — everything fresh in that regard,” Abbott said. 

The vessel didn’t have an electric windlass previously, but Abbott said he installed one as a convenience. 

Back in 1988, Benjamin said the Lana and Harley “probably cost $150,000” to construct. 

Today, Abbott said, the vessel would run $750,000 to $900,000 to build. “At least,” Benjamin said. “$30 or $35 a pound, at 30,000 pounds.”

“It’s a million-dollar boat,” Abbott said. “That’s another reason it’s worth rebuilding.”

Benjamin described the schooner as “44 feet on deck, about 50 [feet] overall.”

Benjamin said he expects masts shortly. “The main mast is almost ready,’ he said. “That will go in fairly soon. The foremast needs a little bit of work, but the rig will go in within the next couple of weeks, I bet.”