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.
THE FRONT PAGE of The Manchester Cricket, an independent weekly newspaper, offers up the usual small-town fodder writ large. And the front-page feature in the issue of June 22, 2012, was no different, unless you happened to be a now-88-year-old woman named Paulie Loomis or the man whom Loomis didn’t know: Rick Martell.
“Lands’ End Featured for 46th Annual S.S. Crocker Race” read the headline, with yet another variation of the possessive apostrophe.
“Each year the Crocker Race is dedicated to the memory of S.S. Crocker and the boats he designed,” begins the article by Carrie Woodruff. “This year’s featured boat is the Lands’ End, built in 1935 for Lee and Henry Loomis.”
Paulie called Skip. “I want the owner’s phone number!” she demanded.
Skip assured her that he’d pass on her contact details, then contacted Rick. “Are you still coming?” he asked. “We’ve put your lines drawing on the glasses we give out after the race. We’ll give you a mooring for as long as you need it and put you on the dock of the Manchester Yacht Club for the party. And the wife of the original owner wants to speak to you.”
The heat was on; we were committed. Rick went into delivery mode, plotting a 100-mile course from Newport, Rhode Island, to Manchester, buying food, and loading pounds of block ice into the box—yes, through the deck. Before he left, he called Paulie.
“Who’s this?” she said. “Wimbledon’s on.”
“It’s Rick Martell, Mrs. Loomis,” he said. “I’m the owner of Land’s End, and Skip Crocker said you wanted to talk to me.”
“Land’s End?” she exclaimed. “I love that boat. I need to see it again!”