The roots of boating often run deep. Dana Brackett’s go back to age 6 and his grandfather’s 50-foot wooden powerboat, built in 1928 at the Vineyard Shipyard in Milford, Delaware. “It was a thing of beauty that fully captivated my mind on the idea of
classic wood,” says the resident of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. “I can still smell the varnish, mahogany and hemp lines from that boat. It led me ultimately to buying a classic yawl.”
He’s talking about Summer Wind, his 1964 Concordia yawl, Hull No. 97 of the sailboat series that Abeking & Rasmussen built in Germany. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt that the Concordia was the most beautiful and quintessential wooden sailboat there is,” Brackett says. “A Concordia is about as good as it gets in terms of design and beauty on the water for medium-sized sailboats. I’ve always dreamed of owning one.”
He and his wife, Carole Ann, found the boat on the hard in 2007 at the Concordia yard in Padanaram, Massachusetts. “I wanted to show my wife what a Concordia was,” he recalls. “We poked around and ultimately bumped into Concordia Company owner Brodie MacGregor. One thing led to another, and we ended up buying the boat a month later.” The price was in the low-$100,000 range.
Summer Wind is the couple’s first boat, and they’ve made good use of her, cruising the New England coastline from Salem to Provincetown and Chatham on the Cape, to the islands of Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and Cuttyhunk, and beyond to Newport, Rhode Island, and Long Island Sound. Yearly cruises might include Memorial Day in Vineyard Haven and the Fourth of July in Hyannis or Nantucket. “There’s full-moon night cruising, the Opera Cup classic yacht race in Nantucket in August, and Jamestown and Newport for Labor Day along with shorter cruises,” Brackett says.
The cabin layout supports this type of cruising. “It’s typical Concordia, with a main salon, a head, a forward cabin and plenty of stowage,” Brackett says. “We have all the food and appropriate beverages, and tons of books. The galley is mostly for light cooking, and dinners start with a healthy cocktail hour.”
Concordia’s designers added varnished knotty pine, black locust, mahogany and a teak sole. The cabin “is like a Stradivarius violin,” Brackett says, “remarkable in its simplicity and utilitarian beauty, right down to the Concordia coal stove.”
Summer Wind is also “a joy to sail, even in the toughest weather,” Brackett says. “She handles a chop as if there were none. And, when properly balanced, she can track a course without having to touch the tiller.”
Power comes from a 40-hp Yanmar diesel, which replaced the old gas engine. “It’s more than the boat is spec’d for,” Brackett says, “but the extra horsepower has come in handy, such as when you’re in Woods Hole with close to a full-moon tide.”
The Bracketts continue to use the Concordia Company for maintenance. The yard has rewired most of the boat, replaced the deck, added a hot-water tank, a cockpit shower and a compressed natural gas stove.
“I can’t imagine having anyone other than that yard taking care of our boat,” Brackett says. Although he and his wife still navigate using paper charts and some of his grandfather’s old navigation tools, the old Raymarine plotter may be replaced next.
Buying Summer Wind has “fulfilled every dream we’ve ever had of sailing,” Brackett says. “The vision was, and remains, to be able to cruise coastal New England in a quintessential wooden sailboat for as long as we can safely do so, in our advancing age.”
Waldo Howland, C. Raymond Hunt and a team of designers brought out the first Concordia yawl in 1938. The design was so successful as a cruising boat and a bluewater competitor that it remained virtually unchanged as 103 hulls were built during a 30-year production run. The secret? “The Concordia yawls were never made to fit any racing rules,” Howland once said. “They were made to fit the ocean.”
This article originally appeared in the December 2019 issue.