Tide Lines

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MICHIGAN CITY LIGHT

A symbol of Michigan City, Ind., this Lake Michigan lighthouse is the city’s third light. The original light was built in Washington Park in 1837, according to La Porte County Historical Society and Museum. A new light and three-story keeper’s residence replaced that first light in 1858. The current light and fog signal building were built at the end of the park’s East Pier in 1904, but the previous light was maintained as a keeper’s residence for another 36 years. Seven keepers and 14 assistant keepers served at Michigan City from 1837 to 1940. The older light now houses a museum dedicated to maritime history, shipwrecks and local lore. The current 49-foot beacon is the only operating public lighthouse in Indiana. Both the catwalk and light are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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SEA DOGS

Basil, a 4-1/2-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, has been a distance rower for the last three years. At least he thinks so. “Really, I row; he sleeps,” says his owner, Gunnar Seigh of Red Hook, N.Y.

Whether rowing their classic Rangeley on Canadian lakes, racing in the Blackburn Challenge in Gloucester, Mass., or showing off at boat shows, Basil prefers to curl up forward of the rowing thwart and sleep.

“We spent this summer rowing and camping in Canada,” says Seigh. “Last year we were the only passenger-carrying boat in the Blackburn Challenge. We’ll race again this year. If I were competitive, I’d row without him just to see how well I could do.”

The two attract plenty of attention at boat shows. Seigh rows around the harbor as vintage recordings play on his portable Victrola. Ashore, it’s a dog’s life. Basil swims and digs up rocks in the water. New friends feed him ice cream and dog biscuits. “He brings lots of smiles,” says Seigh.

No wonder he gets bored on the boat and just sleeps.

— Mary R. Drake

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COASTAL CHARACTERS

Geoff Kerr, Westford, Vt.

AGE: 48

OCCUPATION: Owner/operator of Two Daughters Boatworks, where he builds,

restores and repairs all manner of wooden boats.

AVOCATION: A former Coast Guardsman, Kerr teaches boatbuilding at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes, Vt., and the WoodenBoat School in Brooklin, Maine. “In my classes everyone goes home with a boat.” He’s also coxswain of the

museum’s 32-foot Cornish gigs, which compete all over New England.

FIRST BOAT: “A 26-foot motor utility cruiser that I went fishing in on the sounds of North Carolina when I was 4 years old.””

CURRENT BOAT: A lug-rigged 19.5-foot double-ended Caledonia yawl, the first boat he built. “It’s stable enough for me to stand on the gunwale, and sails very well.”

PET PEEVE: Boats designed for mass production. “The kind you can’t tell from a half-mile whether they’re

upside-down or not.”

— Mary R. Drake

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LOOKING BACK

Design by numbers

Those who don’t know him very well might be awed by the presence of the Noted Designer, who is the object — not the hero — of this little yarn. He is dignified, as he ought to be, for his name is known from Coast to Coast, as the designer of many famous motorboats.

At luncheon, the other day, one of the party, having matched with the Noted Designer for the price thereof, and lost, felt justified in starting a conversation aimed to secure the Designer’s capra hircus — that is the scientific name of the common or tin-can-devouring variety of goat.

The designer had just remarked, “I’ve got to get out three designs this week — a 60-footer, a 50 and a 35.”

A Prominent Yachtsman in the party, who had several times fallen victim to the Designer’s wiles, fired a broadside: “Sure,” he said in vindictive glee, “I know how it’s done. You go into his office to order plans for your new boat. ‘I know exactly what you want,’ he tells you. Then he presses a button on his mahogany desk, and a boy appears from an inner office. ‘Get plan No. 4827,’ is the impressive order. The tracing comes along. You are told that, with certain minor changes, it will make you an ideal boat. Surrounded by all the evidence of genius and in the presence of the Noted Designer, you believe it.

“He gives you the choice of straight or spiral companionway stairs — that’s something. And if he takes a fancy to you he’ll let you specify mahogany or butternut finish for the interior of your cabin. But if he doesn’t like your looks or manner, he’ll see that there is a self-bailing, adjustable skylight over your bunk, and will see to it that the builder uses a patented skylight hinge that is guaranteed to deliver a nice stream on your neck.

“He’s got a new scheme,” the Prominent Yachtsman proceeded, getting even for many past scores. “He’s planning a sliding pole, like those in the fire houses, to use with the spiral stairs. That’s the difference between Plan No. 4827 and Plan No. 2963.”

— Motor Boat, Sept. 10, 1909