“There is but a plank between a sailor and eternity.”
– Thomas Gibbons
I’ve always admired wooden sailboats. They are filled with charm, nostalgia, craftsmanship, history and a great sea-story or two. Catboats in particular have always caught my eye. Initially designed as working boats employing materials that were readily available and affordable at the time they are easily recognizable with their iconic cat rig, generous beam, high bow and barn door rudder. They have a lot of heart and a lot of gumption within their small footprint. There’s something hopeful about seeing a catboat tied to a mooring along a quaint New England shore or moving along at ease with a full sail and a proud smile at the helm.
I’d like to share this hope and a proud smile with you all by posting the journey that I’ve recently started with the acquisition of a 1951 Fenwick Williams catboat. I do not know much about wooden boats. Okay, I know zilch, gulp! But I’ve made a commitment to learn because once she’s ready to be put back into the water, I have the enormous responsibility to keep my passengers and the others out on the water safe. Anyone who’s ever owned a boat will agree that things do go wrong, mostly when you are away from your mooring or dock so it helps to know your boat inside and out, how it is put together, how it moves, how to fix it when you have no other option but to do so, immediately and alone. I guess it’s unlikely that I’ll ever be that far from shore in this boat. However I will be sailing on Buzzard’s Bay and that can get very tricky very quickly in a boat the size of mine or any boat for that matter.
This blog will not be a lesson in history nor a technical outline of the repairs and restoration required to put her back in the water. Maybe that will change once I feel like I know enough to share solid advice with you all but in the meantime I will share links to others who are experts in such.
This blog will be part diary, part documentary, part maintenance log and all adventure.
- Model: Fenwick Williams
- Date built: 1951
- Material: Oak/fir/cedar
- Length: LOA: 18′-0″; LWL: 17′-6″
- Beam: 8′-6″
- Draft: cb up: 2′; cb down: 4′-8″
- Displacement: 3763 lbs
- Engine: Inboard 30hp gas atomic universal
- Former name: Owl
- Current name: Sparkle
- Home port: Marion, MA