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Friday, August 11, 2006

A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever

This is the 'Tamarind', built 20 years ago in Hong Kong, a traditional Bruce Roberts' replica of the famous Joshua Slocum 'Spray' design. Length overall is 44 feet and maximum cruising speed is 8 knots. She is all-wood, with teak decks and hull, and a yakal keel.

My dad decided one day he wanted to sail around the world when he retired, and once he decided that, he had his heart set on building a traditional wooden yacht. He did that from full-scale plans and she was built on a plot of land next to where we lived. She has an incredible attention to detail, from brass portholes recovered from scrapped vessels, to carved dolphins on the bulwarks.

I'm both proud and humbled to say that I helped to build her, devoting every weekend to the project. It took us about three years to build her, and we had the help of a couple of other guys who could devote more time than only our weekends. What an awesome thing it was to be part of creating something so beautiful. Sadly, due to my mother's health problems at the time, my dad had to shelf his plans and then he seemed to lose his interest in his dream. They did actually live on her for five years though, while in Hong Kong.

And we spent many a happy weekend out in the waters of Hong Kong, sails up and bombing along at a fair clip. A relatively heavy, low-draught boat, she took a lot of wind to get going and when she did, she was beautiful in her trim. Despite being a 'big black duck' (her original hull colour was black) she was incredibly responsive and such a joy to behold on the water.

She now calls the waters around Borocay in The Philippines, home, where she is a charter yacht. I hope those who sail on her feel as much joy as I did, no experience has ever matched laying on the bowsprit with her under full sail. That was my place, in charge of the genoa.


Miranda said...

She's absolutely beautiful. A friend of mine in high school had a dad with the same dream. He too built a boat in the back yard. lol...I remember the front of it sticking over the fence. He did eventually finish it. He and his wife moved to Vancouver where they sailed all the way down to the tip of south america and back. He had wanted to sail the world, unfortunatly, as you get older things come up. He had gotten dementia (spell check) and they ended up having to sell it.

Fiona said...

Thank you Miranda!

They are wonderful dreams and I feel immensely privileged to have been a part of this one. And the legacy lives on as she continues to sail. I hope your friend's dad's boat does too.

Sunny Delight said...

She is a beauty, and to be able to say you had a hand in building her! I am in awe!

The wooden boat, there is just something about them... no matter the kind...the new ones just do not compare. In days gone by, we once talked of buying an old wooden chris craft and rebuilding her..but alas...plans have a way of changing.

But you have wonderful memories :)

Polyman2 said...

Wow, How cool.

Fiona said...

Sunny you're absolutely right about wooden boats...the feel under your feet, the sounds of them, the way they sail so heavy and solid. No 'plastic' for me!!

Awesome memories of me and my dad which I treasure and always will.

Polyman - thank you :)


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