The benefits of a pretty big small boat

September 21st

Hmm…  that sounds kind of oxymoronic, or maybe just moronic – a big small boat?  Get your story straight, Mr. Blogger, it’s one or the other!

The Calendar Islands Yawl is, at just under 16 feet overall hull length,  a very large dinghy.  The beam is 5’2” at the fore-and-after center of the boat, and carries its beam aft to a 3’8” wide transom.   Dragging such a wide transom through the water would make for a slow sailer and a piggish rower, but Clint designed a lot of turn-up to the bilge aft, so that as long as the boat isn’t overloaded, the transom stays mostly above the water and the water can flow cleanly under it.

The beauty of all that beam, combined with no centerboard trunk (as the daggerboard trunk takes up not much space and it’s forward of the midships rowing thwart) is a great big cockpit with wraparound seating. Room for four people to sit, stretch their legs and be quite comfortable.

This weekend we had visitors, and Grey Fox had the pleasure of a crew of four for a leisurely harbor tour.  My old college friend Jeff, with whom I have done a particularly poor job of staying in touch, and his wife Louise joined me and my co-captain (in life, not in the boat, where I retain sole command…) for a wonderful Indian Summer weekend in New York.   The genesis for their visit was a text Jeff sent me on our wedding anniversary in July, which just happens to be the same day as Jeff & Lou’s anniversary.  Easy to remember! I texted back that it was great to hear from him and that we really should get together one of these days.  Or years. Yeah, yeah, I’m sure I have said that many times and never followed through, but this time we actually did, and I invited them to come visit after each of us had gotten our respective sons packed up and delivered back to college. Our guests escaped the lingering heat of Atlanta for some of the best weather of the year here in New York, which is what we hoped for in late September. 

We turned the event into a mini-college reunion my other college buddy Chris (he of the “A six hour vacation” August entry in this blog) and his wife Colette also joined us for Saturday brunch on the deck of our boat club, followed by a spin in the Fox.  Winds were light but sufficient to move the boat along, so we took a ~45-minute tour of Larchmont Harbor and nearby waters, which seemed delightful to my landlocked Georgian friends. 

Jeff, Colette, Louise

It was a great way to spend an afternoon near and on the water.   We capped off the day with a trip into Manhattan for dinner and a Broadway show.  We saw Come From Away, an incredibly inspiring true story of the goodness of human beings at the worst of times, the time in question being 9/11/2001 and the circumstance being the unplanned landing of more than 7,000 strangers from all over the world in a little town of only 9,000 residents in Newfoundland when 37 airliners crossing the Atlantic were diverted due to the closure of US airspace.  The Newfoundlanders took in the strangers with an incredibly selfless embrace for nearly a full week, stretching the available resources but not the locals’ hospitality.  Having witnessed the fall of the World Trade Towers from my office in midtown, and still harboring awful memories of what I saw, I was tremendously moved by this musical.  To call it a “feel-good” experience would sound like a tacky movie critic blurb and not come close to doing it justice.

Author: Larchmont Jim

A 50-something investment banker from Larchmont, New York (about 15 miles from midtown Manhattan). Amateur small boat sailer, boatbuilder, kayaker, musician. I grew up spending summers sailing the New England coast on my grandfather’s beautiful 47’ 1952 Sparkman & Stevens wooden yawl. I’ve lived in Larchmont, a major and historic sailing center on Long Island Sound, for 25 years, but career and family obligations kept me off the water for all of my 30s and 40s, and only about 7 years ago did I get back on the water, first in sea kayaks, and then in small boats.

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