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Sailor seduced by a NY-30 named minx

Marek Jachimczyk backs into the explanation of why, for more than 11 years, he has devoted his life to a boat now 100 years old.

Marek Jachimczyk backs into the explanation of why, for more than 11 years, he has devoted his life to a boat now 100 years old.

“You don’t do this for the money, definitely,” says the man who has finally sailed Minx, one of the 18 original New York 30s. “You’re just trying to fulfill your desires. It’s like a passion, I guess. You sometimes don’t even think about what you do,” says the engineer and jewelry designer who has tinkered with Nathanael Green Herreshoff’s timeless design, if only slightly. “You just go ahead and do it. You have to sacrifice your private life, I guess, your financial situation, because you don’t concentrate much on work.”

In August, Jachimczyk (pronounced yah-HIM-trick) watched as a rigger stepped the mast on Minx. He was gripped by fear while the 55-foot Sitka spruce spar dangled above his boat. Then, as the rigger lowered the stick in place, he was swept by emotion far greater, he says, than when he had launched the boat a year before. Finding and setting the mast was the consummation of his long and dogged engagement dance with Minx. It was as if he finally had slipped the ring on her finger.

Because of some choices he made — choices shaped by economic reality — she is no longer a Herreshoff. Instead, call her a Jachimczyk. Unlike many of the other surviving NY-30s, this lass is being kept by a less-than-wealthy gentleman. The result is something other than a restoration to Herreshoff’s lines. How she got her new mast is not the lone example of her compromised situation, but it is a telling one.

Meeting with a minx

Studying the Sunday New York Times one April day in 1994, Jachimczyk, who was in the market for a sailboat that would stand out in a crowd, saw advertisements for a Columbia 36 and a 44-foot Herreshoff. Both boats were described as classics. He circled the two ads and then made some phone calls. He had already rented a car to visit a wooden Hinckley in Maryland. It was too far gone to interest him. He had inspected another boat in Massachusetts, but had not bought.

Jachimczyk says he was not well-

informed on the legendary Herreshoff designs, but when the Herreshoff was described to him, he lost interest in the Columbia.

He visited Greenport, on the north fork of Long Island, and found the NY-30. Minx — a word that can mean seductress — was written on the transom.

She was sheathed in fiberglass. Tall stanchions marched along her originally bare rails, strung with lifelines. Her deck was pocked with rot. He also saw “a perfect design. Even though you don’t know it is a Herreshoff, it [catches] the eye.”

Getting to know her

Although he was not well versed in Herreshoff history, Jachimczyk brought an established aesthetic to his boat search. He had begun sailing Omegas as a boy in Poland, where he says he graduated from the polytechnic institute in Warsaw. When he emigrated to the United States, he rented Rhodes 19s and Herreshoff Bullseyes on Long Island.

“It wasn’t like I was thinking of owning a Herreshoff NY-30,” he says. “I wasn’t informed about the class [and] I didn’t have much information about how important they were.” (Designed in 1904 by Nathanael Green Herreshoff for 18 members of the New York Yacht Club, the boat went into production in January 1905 and the final boat was completed in April that year. Together, the 18 boats comprised what some consider the first one-design fleet.)

Jachimczyk borrowed a book on Herreshoff from the seller. What he read persuaded him to buy Minx. It was then that his obsession (his word is “capriciousness”) seems to have begun. “I thought that it would take me a few months to repair damages and go for a pleasant sail around Greenport. However, the reality was much different,” he says. “The first two years, we were stripping the fiberglass and hardware to get to the bare wood so I could see what had to be done correctly,” he recalls.

He hired a professional boat carpenter to replace the spongy deck and a few bad planks. But he did most of the work himself or with friends. Ribs were “sistered,” planks were refastened and the interior was rebuilt.

The boat had acquired a cabin with a doghouse in place of the original long, low, squared Herreshoff cabin trunk. He decided to keep what he had. For one thing, the doghouse gave him standing headroom, and it was a small design compromise. “I used all mahogany wood. I didn’t use any new hardware. I did a lot of things to my liking, I would say, to keep the feel of the age of the boat.”

A civil engineer and surveyor by training, Jachimczyk says he turned to selling real estate to have a more flexible schedule, although he also ran his Manhattan jewelry design studio — named Minx, after the boat.

“I was all the time over there,” at Brewer Yacht Yard in Greenport, an hour from his Long Island home, working on Minx. “Free time and weekends. When I had the chance, [I stayed] four days a week.”

Just the right fit

On June 25, 2004, the yacht was relaunched and Jachimczyk began looking for a new mast. Minx had been converted from the gaff-rigged main of Herreshoff’s design to a Marconi rig with aluminum spars.

“I had a few options. There was a wooden mast in [Brewer’s] boatyard, but the gentleman didn’t want to sell it,” he says. “I started looking on the Internet, in the local newspaper and spreading the word through New York 30 owners. I was tracking down the Linette [NY-30 No. 10] spars. They were someplace in Connecticut, but they were donated already to a restoration school, so it was out of my reach.”

He heard of some wooden spars in South Carolina, but they were inadequate.

Then Jachimczyk encountered Bruce Elstrom and his Web page for The Wooden Boat Rescue Foundation. Elstrom, a professional instructor of SUV driving and a wooden-boat fan, had created a charitable non-profit to help salvageable old boats find new owners.

“I happened to have parted out an old Crocker sloop out of a marina in Groton, [Conn.],” Elstrom recalls. “I had stripped the boat off because it was going to be cut up. I had bought the engine and had all this other stuff.” The stuff included a hollow Sitka spruce mast.

Jachimczyk discovered Elstrom by wandering around the Internet. He sent an e-mail and then spoke with Elstrom by phone. “The mast was 60 feet long,” he remembers learning. “It could be mine after I sent him hardware back for his project. He said he could give the wood to me. So I went over there and I looked at the mast on March 19.”

He snapped some photographs of the mast and its tangle of rigging and spreaders. “They looked like a mess,” he says, but when he got home, he decided to buy. Another compromise entered the life of Minx. The mast was delivered to Greenport 11 days later.

A fortuitous encounter

“I started stripping everything from the mast,” Jachimczyk says. He befriended Greenport naval architect George Knight and recruited him to the project. Knight offered his services for free and set about drawing the plans.

“Marek is a very interesting guy, an absolutely first-class individual,” Knight says. “Somebody without his dedication and the ability to get assistance from other people would never have been able to cut this thing.”

Knight says he recommended that Minx, which had a broken aluminum mast, get a new aluminum spar. “His operation is on a very tight budget,” Knight says. Not only would a metal mast be lighter than a wooden one, “attachment of the rigging fittings is infinitely simpler,” he says, while a wooden mast would require expensive hardware, and would be less aerodynamic and more difficult to support than an aluminum mast with an oval cross section.

But Jachimczyk went with the round wooden mast.

“The mast was probably 50 years old and ... none of the rigging was suitable for use,” Knight says. “So we had to replace the rigging and also prepare a complete new set of rigging fitting attachments to secure the rigging to the mast. So I made drawings for him that showed suitable rigging fittings and Marek had them fabricated generally along the lines I had shown.”

Knight says he was well aware of the compromise he was designing. “It bears absolutely no resemblance to the NY-30 rig,” which is lower and has more than 1,000 square feet of working sail area, compared with 750 square feet on Minx’s new fractional sail plan, he says.

“I didn’t consider aesthetics in adapting it. It’s a decent-looking rig. Economy was a necessity so we did the best we could. It’s a very workmanlike rig,” says the naval architect who started his career designing wooden yachts and the rigging for them. “You don’t have to be ashamed of it.”

The family reunion

By the time work had begun on the mast, Jachimczyk had learned that the New York Yacht Club was planning a dinner at its Manhattan clubhouse to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the NY-30. Then in July there would be a reunion for the design in Newport. On the night of May 12, he was standing in the club’s magnificent Model Room in Manhattan, where the walls hide behind hundreds of yacht half-models, and the floor is crowded with scale models of America’s Cup defenders and challengers.

Several times his hand was gripped by that of another NY-30 owner. He was seated at one of the linen-draped tables and enjoyed a meal with the other owners. He says pride swelled in his chest, comparing the gathering to “a family that didn’t see each other for a long time.”

By this time, Jachimczyk had learned that yachting experts believed his boat was Neola II, NY-30 No. 12, in Minx clothing. Minx, NY-30 No. 13, was believed to have been destroyed on Long Island in the 1980s.

He harbored doubts. Why would someone give one NY-30 the name of a sister ship, he wondered. He had been through his boat from the keel to the cabintop and had found no serial numbers or other evidence one way or the other. To him, the object of his passion remained Minx.

Commitment rewarded

With the 100th Anniversary Celebration Regatta in Newport only two months away, his passion was stirred to push forward with the completion of Minx. He was cheered on in his boatyard by the yard management and fellow boaters. Unfortunately, the gala regatta had come and gone three weeks when the rigger finally came to the dock and set the spar in place.

Jachimczyk heard applause from the gathered crowd.

“It was a fantastic feeling,” he says. “They were patting my back, shaking my hand. They really don’t believe it. And [Minx] stands out from the other boats like a jewel.”

By September, Minx was sailing in a classic yacht regatta, joining three other NY-30s — Cara Mia, Nautilus and Amorita — on the waters of Long Island Sound.

“If he was to go to a show where awards were being handed out for the best NY-30, he would not win that show,” says Mike Acebo, manager of the Brewer yard. “But he does have a 100-year-old NY-30 and he can go sailing in it.” Acebo joined Jachimczyk for one of the first sails. “It sailed very well,” he says. “When we came back in, a slew of local customers who were out sailing that day came up to us and said the boat looks beautiful.”

Working all those years on Minx was “like a marathon,” Jachimczyk says. “You run and try to get to the end.”

After the first sail, “When we came back to the slip, I said something to myself, that ... nobody can take from you that feel-

ing which you have. It’s something that will stay with you for your whole life.

It’s incredible.”