By typical kindergarten standards, John C. Harris was sort of a weird kid. As a 5-year-old he preferred fiddling with the pencils, compasses and other drawing tools on his father’s drafting table to the more conventional childhood games his friends were playing outside. And when his classmates were drawing engineering schematics in high school drafting class, Harris’ frustrated teacher simply left him alone to design and draw what he was completely obsessed with: boats.
Finding a boat with historical literary significance these days is no easy task. Many boats that writers once owned have disappeared, lost to time or misfortune. Maybe that’s due to the chaotic and tentative nature of a writer’s life. Maybe that’s just boat ownership. Either way, few sailed by famed authors remain today.
There’s nothing like the pull of a fish when you hook up, whether it’s a striped bass, dolphinfish, marlin or other gamefish. Adrenaline flows. Eyes focus. The brain screams, fish on! Landing the catch on slick-calm water, perhaps with a picturesque coastline within sight, doesn’t hurt, either.
The most interesting yachting in local waters during the season was furnished by the new 30-foot class of the New York Yacht Club.
— Rudder magazine, November 1905
The class was the New York 30, designed by Nathanael Herreshoff and launched at the company yard in Bristol, Rhode Island, as a fleet of 18 earlier that year. Today they are living legends, with many of the originals still sailing and racing — some with their original names — under the aegis of the New York 30 Class Association.
The story of the 1937 Alden cutter Zaida III is one of patriotic service to her country. It’s also one of quality construction, longevity and persistence. People who respect her have stubbornly sailed and cared for her for 79 years. In today’s culture of planned obsolescence, Zaida’s story is also a celebration of hand craftsmanship and time-honored skills.
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