Jack Sherwood possesses one of the most authentic voices in marine publishing over the last two decades.
For the last 17 years, Jack wrote a monthly column for Soundings called “Bay Tripper,” in which he chronicled the various characters and places he encountered as he worked his way around Chesapeake Bay on his beloved 22-foot Erewhon, a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Sailmaster.
A friend in Florida admitted recently that he was back “working” the death notices. Huh? Working the what? What he did was compile all of the obituaries over a three-day period from a big South Florida newspaper to find out the average age of the decedents. The number was 83.2.
Old Tom Dower had as strong a will to live as anyone I’ve interviewed.
I last spoke to Dower more than 25 years ago. He was 70 and had just started building his fifth boat. A year or so earlier, he had survived being run down by a vessel about 20 miles off Virginia. Dower was single-handing his 33-foot ketch from Florida to Newfoundland when he was rammed about 1 a.m. It could have been a “doper,” he told me, or a fishing trawler. Whatever the vessel, she never stopped.
Boats should look like boats, and churches like churches.
At their best, boats are an outward expression of an inner conversation about beauty and purpose (to paraphrase a furniture maker). A boat should make you want to run your hand along some part of it, and the right boat, as I have said before, should make you stop and turn as you walk away from it — and look back with longing.
In some cases, the determination is more straightforward than in others. A boat sinks quickly in horrendous conditions. The water is cold, the crew inexperienced, there is no life raft or survival suits, the last known position is vague.
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