The men are bent to their task, which is noisy, dusty and difficult. They wear face masks and ear protection, as carpenters are wont to do when they get down to the business of planing and sanding. They are engaged in an ancient art: building a mast from wood, much as it has been done since the wind first propelled ships.
What is there to know about Essex, Connecticut? It’s a fine little town on the banks of the Connecticut River, which discharges into Long Island Sound about a half-dozen miles south. It’s a quintessential Yankee town with all the attendant decor, including American flags on Main Street, whose red, white and blue center stripe marks the parade route. (It’s also the home port of Soundings.)
The smaller the boat, the bigger the adventure. So simple, so good, so true. I recently felt the need to scratch this itch so I can wear a you-know-what-eating grin for a while.
“School? I thought that was boring,” says Gerhild Wiendieck over a can of soda in her home in Victoria, British Columbia, from which she can see the bluish contours of the U.S. shoreline across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Her short white hair and rectangular spectacles accentuate the relief of her face, carved by years, laughs and the salt of the sea. She’s pushing 85, but she’s still vital, with a wry sense of humor, an impish smile and an undying love for the ocean, which was a formative force in her life.
The western outskirts of Hamburg, Germany. Latitude 53 north, roughly the same parallel as Edmonton, Alberta. The air is chill and coarse. A brisk westerly reddens cheeks but can’t wipe the smiles from Jenny Felshart’s and Mareike Schiffler’s faces.
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