The sun had chased the fog out to sea. The Golden Gate’s red spires propped up an azure sky as she spread her wings and heeled to the breeze. Her plumb stem forcefully shouldered aside the boiling ebb, delighting the gawkers ashore who never saw this display of grace and power by the schooner Wander Bird on San Francisco Bay.
Sapphire skies, juicy green meadows and sparkling water. Not a blade of grass out of whack. It was a day to remember in the town of Marstal, on the Danish island of Ærø. If this brings on vowel-anxiety, relax. This isn’t about phonetics but salty schooners, the people who built them and those who sailed them to faraway places.
Rhode Island. Little Rhody. The Ocean State. It’s small, but when it comes to boats, the place feels big. Not as big as in the glory days, before the “real” America’s Cup left Newport and before the recent economic turbulence. Still, the marine trades are “among the only growing sectors in manufacturing and blue-collar work,” according to Lisa DiRaimo, executive director at the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association. “And despite the recession, the industry has held its own.”
In a different age and a different world, I’d probably know how to devoutly genuflect and kiss the ring of a monsignor. That’s what I feel like doing next time I see Puma skipper Kenny Read or any of the other sailors competing in the Volvo Ocean Race. Heroes, crazy, but also insanely brave.
There are as many ways to build boats as there are ways to skin a cat. From floating fortresses to sleek sloops, they all have to be built somehow. “Produced” actually is more like it these days — so they might be affordable to consumers and lucrative to their purveyors.
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