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.
UNDETERRED BY HIS GRUMBLING and whiny first mate, my good captain, a Renaissance man of sorts—VietNam vet, potter and artist, logger, professional skipper and delivery captain—set off on a mammoth project over the next dozen years to refurbish the love of his life.
Today, though pretty much as she was when Henry had her built, Land’s End carries a new main, jib, and mizzen sail and roller furling; lazy jacks; varnished grabrails; a rebuilt samson post; a reconstructed transom that’s now varnished, not painted; a rebuilt Westerbeke marinized diesel; Lowrance radar and a chart plotter; and some new deck hardware, including a rounded varnished box that people think is the rum cask but is actually an attractive way to hide a propane tank. More recently, another 1,000 pounds of ballast have gone in to put her back on her lines and help balance her better under sail.
Belowdecks are more of the fruits of Rick’s hard labor, which he’s fit in between seasons of sailing various designs—from Oysters to Hinckleys and Swans—to and from the Caribbean for private owners. He installed, or had installed, new upgraded electrics, extra battery banks and a galvanic isolator, interior lighting, a redesigned galley with wood shelving, liner boards of mahogany above the lockers, and new cushions upholstered with jade-green Ultrasuede. He wooded, reefed, and caulked the hull. He ripped out the gross, spongy cork sole and had one of satin-surfaced pine boards installed. Rummaging around at marine consignment shops, Rick found a kerosene anchor light, which we suspend from the mizzen boom in the cockpit at night, and a hurricane lantern, which we use to warm the saloon. Last, but not least, he painstakingly removed the turquoise paint and refinished the interior with an eggshell white.
We did make one other small change that’s important to us. Working in what former CW editor Nim Marsh calls the Word Mines of Cruising World, I’ve learned to appreciate the style requirements of the National Geographic atlas. Over the years Land’s End was spelled “Lands End,” without an apostrophe, and it didn’t make sense, if the reference was to England’s most southern point of land. So we made the change to “Land’s End,” and when Rick found an Olde Towne canvas-covered ribbed dinghy, we named her Lizard, for the opposing, smaller point of land.
Both are in decent enough form. Land’s End is still rough around the edges and needs way more TLC than our pocketbooks can afford; there’s nothing more costly, or non-essential, we know, than restoring and maintaining a classic wood ketch. In the 1980s, Brooklin Boat Yard in Maine had done a partial refit of Land’s End for Henry. But make no mistake—the boat is not a museum piece. Land’s End is no gleaming Herreshoff New York 40, 12-Meter, or S- or P-class charmer that wins the silver trophies on the wooden-boat regatta circuit. She’s an old boat, and she’s for relaxing.
She hasn’t been cut up, and she hasn’t sunk, and those are the most important things of all.