A Crocker Ketch Comes Home
During a summer sojourn to her home waters, an old ketch’s past takes on vivid meaning when her original first mate, 60 years on, pays a visit.
PAULIE’S RIGHT ON ONE COUNT: She did lose Land’s End, when she and Henry divorced in 1974 and he took the boat to Maine. But many happy years interceded. Career opportunities for Henry at MIT called; the couple moved back to the U.S. East Coast, buying a home on a tiny island lying practically midchannel in the harbor at Manchester. They had four children. All of the Loomises—family and a wide net of friends—cruised and raced spring through fall aboard Land’s End, which was brought back East and kept on a mooring by the boathouse at the island.
The boys loved diving off the spreaders; a daughter, Pixie, who’d grow up to be an equestrienne, loved riding the staysail until Henry would shoo her away so he could raise it. The family spent a Thanksgiving or two aboard the boat at Jeffreys Ledge, off the Massachusetts coast; they roasted turkey, although usually the onboard fare was a pretty spare matter.
As the kids became teenagers, they’d take off alone aboard her. Somebody was always getting into mischief; groundings weren’t unusual, but the boat could take it. Over the years, in her steady, comfortable way, Land’s End touched dozens of lives, and today, a number of people carry vivid memories of her.
But on the other count—the rumors of sinking and demolition—Paulie, to her own endless delight and that of family and friends, is blessedly wrong.
So far, the ketch has had three owners: the Loomises, then Bob Booth, who bought the boat from Henry in the 1990s and kept her in Rhode Island to teach sail training.
The third, and current owner, is Captain Rick Martell, my other half, who found Land’s End at a yard off Rhode Island’s Sakonnet River in a pretty sorry state, although intact and complete with all tackle. Over my vigorous objections, Rick bought her in 1999.
“It’s the boat I’ve wanted to own all my life!” was his battle cry.
My forces were swiftly routed. Nose in the air and not all fingers in the pie, I cursed Booth for the gross interior left behind, the bulkheads painted turquoise, the scratchy settees laden with cat hair. And I wasn’t nuts about miles of teak and mahogany, leaks and mold, belaying pins, or a boomkin.