The Lady Jane
My grandfather was a Chancery Court judge in Richmond, Virginia in the ’40s and ’50s, but every summer he took a month off and sailed the Chesapeake Bay. When he got too old to handle sail, he bought the Lady Jane, a 50-foot Chesapeake deadrise workboat hull fitted with a cruising boat cabin structure. By the time I was a boy, my uncle Brockenbrough Lamb Jr. owned the boat and visited us every summer for a weekend or so. In the eyes of a 10 year-old, there was nothing more grand, from her pilothouse trimmed in green leather, to the helsman’s seat (a huge green stool with a steel tractor seat atop it, to her massive Yachtsman-style anchor. Long and skinny, she got by with just around 80 horsepower, and tooled along at about 9 knots. She went to the wreckers a decade or so ago, but not before logging thousands of miles up and down the Bay and down the intercoastal to Florida.
Nightingale was a 1966 Tartan 27, hull # 67 if I recall. My friend and cousin Murray Bayliss acquired her in 1981, and bewteen then and 1987 we proceeded to sail her all over the Chesapeake, up the east coast to Cape May and the Hamptons, and then to Bermuda and back with 5 souls aboard(and what a trip that was). She was a good sailer, she put up with a lot of mistreatment, and saw us through good times and bad. In many ways she was my favorite boat, and I wish I could find her again. Murray graduated to much bigger, more complex boat, but for sheer joy of sailing, Nightingale reigns supreme in my memory.
The good ship Hornblower
This was Murray’s next boat, and we sailed her to Tahiti and back in 1988 with shipmate Taylor Smith, via Jamaica, Panama, and the Galapagos. On the way back we called in Rangiroa, Nuku Hiva, Hawaii, San Fransisco, Panama and Cozumel. She is a Baba 40, and Murray continues to sail her to this day, having made a transatlantic crossing and countless trips between the Chesapeake and the Caribbean. She too is tough and able, and like most of Bob Perry’s designs, she shows a good turn of speed, too.
Summerfield Boat Works
No discussion of boats we love would be complete without a lengthy side trip to Summerfield Boat Works in Fort Lauderdale, where I worked for a couple of years in the early ’90s. Summerfield stood on the New River across from River Bend Marine and Broward Yachts, where she had been since the ’40s. It was one of the last of the do-it-yourself yards in Lauderdale, but also one of the last places where a skilled shipwright could repair wooden boats. It was more than a place to work — it was a community of odd ducks, and I had the time of my life in the brief time I worked there. I also met some of my favorite boats there. An album of Summerfield pictures is here: Summerfield Boat Works.
When my wife Cynthia and I got married in 1999, we chartered a trawler for our honeymoon and cruised from Sarasota to Sanibel. Tender Offer was an Island Gypsy 30 footer, and aboard her we had probably the best one-week vacation we’ve ever taken. She has since been sold, but Jung Yacht Charters still does a great job chartering a fleet of very well-kept trawlers out of the Sarasota Cay Club marina. We keep threatening to do it again but have yet to make it happen. I’d recommend it as a great time, though. Wes Jung’s operation can be found on the web at http://www.boat-charters.com/.
Little Brother was one of those boats I met at Summerfield. She was one of many boats owned by Shelley, the proprietor of our competitor across the river, River Bend Marine. But Shelley stored her at Summerfield because we had huge sheds for covered long-term storage.
Imagine my shock to run into her again right here at Marina Jack in Sarasota. She is owned by a local businessman, and in conversation with him I learned she was one of the early designs of James Krogen, who went on to found the boat company Kady Krogen Yachts, still in operation to this day. Little Brother was built in the Orient of teak and mahogany, and she is just a beauty!
Stingray is another boat that was in long-term storage in the sheds at Summerfield, and she is one of a kind. She was not only an early C. Raymond Hunt design (1964), she shares her hull design with the deep-vee hulls that were later used by Bertram Yachts and Cigarette to dominate the markets for fast ocean fishing boats and offshore racers.
At 58 feet, she is a standout gentleman’s yacht. I got to drive her in and out of the sheds at Summerfield a few times and did some work on her, and she is a true thoroughbred. She is currently for sale (www.yachtworld.com) for $495,000, and I hope her new owner takes the excellent care of her she has seen so far. She is something special. An article about her design appears in the book 100 Boat Designs Reviewed, by Maynard Bray and Peter Spectre, pp/ 253-256. You can read it online for free here.
The six huge sheds at Summerfield (salvaged WW II airplane hangars, it was said) would hold anywhere from 6-9 big boats each, and this made Summerfield a sought-after destination for those who needed to lay their boats up for a few months and go back up north for the summer. Getting boats in and out could be involved, and we often had to start up, move, and re-tie quite a few boats to get out one deeply-buried one. And that’s how I met Nereus.
She was just different. A wood boat, obviously built for a couple, simple accomodations, and just the right size. Nothing flashy … all function. She stuck in my mind all these years, and I wondered who built her and where the rest of them were! Then last year, I found an old copy of Woodenboat magazine featuring boats of Penobsot Boat Works, and my question was answered. Company head and designer Carl Lane built a few dozen of his “Penbos,” as they came to be called, and tehy were all named in the back of the article. Sure enough, there was Nereus! She is currently in New York, named Compromise III, and I don’t have a digital picture of her yet. But that model is our dream boat for coastal cruising when we retire, and I’m keeping tabs on the location of several specimens!