Ross Gannon and Nat Benjamin met on Martha’s Vineyard in the 1970s. Gannon (far left), an engineer by training, was building houses from salvaged timber. Benjamin, after kicking around the Caribbean and Med with his family on his boat, was working at Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard. Their paths overlapped, and a friendship sprang up, but it wasn’t until 1980 that the two decided to open a yard together.
Among those who’d been drawn to Raymond Hunt’s little waterfront office in Marblehead, Massachusetts, was a Canadian-born inventor named Albert Hickman. During the prewar period, Hickman, an 1899 graduate of Harvard and onetime provincial governor of New Brunswick, had set aside a writing career to develop what he would call the “Sea Sled.” The boat’s twin hulls funneled air beneath them to, as was said, “ride on air.” High-speed seaworthiness with relatively modest horsepower was the result.
If you love wooden boats, there’s a good chance you’ve been smitten by a couple of Sam Devlin designs. After more than 35 years in business, there are hundreds of Devlins afloat around the world, from skiffs to daysailers to tugs.
The sky looks darkly ominous — almost bruised — as I drive across Columbus Boulevard and turn onto South Delaware Avenue. Philadelphia is in for a massive thunderstorm, and its moody threat provides the perfect backdrop for this service road’s desolate scenery. I pass a chemical company, a power station, a boarded-up brick factory of some sort. Every few blocks the avenue is bisected by train tracks, pitted with tooth-rattling potholes.
We’re a down-to-earth group here at Soundings, and generally not given to idolatry of any sort. However, if we had to choose heroes, Nathaniel Philbrick would definitely be one.
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