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.
EARLY ON, IN SUMMER we’d explored a few Narragansett Bay anchorages , southeastern coastal Massachusetts, and Martha’s Vineyard. Cruising is for going places, I’d complain, not tinkering and varnishing. And the mold—sheesh!
Admittedly, it was a treat to bring Land’s End into a harbor: People buzzing around in their dinghies would sing out admiration for the classic wood ketch. When this happened, the sting over the amount of time and money she commanded in our lives would mingle momentarily with pride, which I had no business feeling, as this was Rick’s project, not mine. He’d only nod at my repeated critiques, and when people paid him compliments, he’d beam a brilliant smile.
Eventually, we converged with other owners of Crocker designs. Barry Blaisdell, the owner of Gabriel, a Crocker sloop, contacted us and invited us to do the annual race in 2001. (See “From Land’s End to the Crocker Cult,” in CW July 2002.) Sailed on a triangular, windward-leeward course of about 20 miles, the race is one of the larger summer sailing events in New England and has drawn up to 100 boats in dozens of current and classic-plastic designs, from Catalinas to Tartans, Bristols to Sabres, Pearsons to Hanses, Jeanneaus to Js.
Land’s End, we decided, wasn’t ready for a 100-mile transit from Rhode Island to the starting line that year, so we drove up and crewed with the Blaisdells, and Gabriel won. At the post-race party at Crocker’s Boat Yard, we met Sam’s son Sturgis, his son, Sam, and Sam’s son, Skip. People were thrilled to learn that Land’s End indeed was afloat. “You’ve got to bring her up to do the race,” they told us. “You have to.”