What’s this sailboat doing in a swimming pool? It’s a curious image saved from oblivion when Soundings moved from its Essex, Connecticut, waterfront office to a new location inland. In the process, hundreds of black-and-white prints were cast away just as the age of the digital image was dawning, making the print photo obsolete. The Soundings darkroom, and its big reproduction camera, would soon go the way of the dinosaur.
The picture was scheduled to appear in the February 1979 issue. The image was sent to an editor as a “hard copy” by way of “snail mail.” It was an 8-by-10-inch glossy print with the photo caption typed along the left border. The dateline and place of origin show the photo was taken in Memphis, Tennessee, the day after Christmas in 1978. The title states: “Wrong Turn?”
That’s Eric Barnhart checking the rigging on his 25-foot sailboat as it floats in the kidney-shaped pool behind his house. The logo, partially visible on the mainsail, tells us the boat is an O’Day 25 — a fiberglass cruiser/racer that was popular at the time. It seems that Barnhart had big plans for a New Year’s Eve party and thought his boat would make a good bar, as well as a memorable conversation piece. His father owned a crane company, and the two arranged to deposit the boat in the pool in time for the festivities.
Barnhart explained that, after the party, the boat would be put to more conventional use: It was to be trucked to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where Barnhart would set out for a cruise to the Bahamas.
This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue.