Editor’s Page

Nim Marsh is Points East’s editor. He has spent many decades playing in the North Atlantic from 10 degrees N to 60 degrees N, in both power and sailboats, imbued with the belief — about 98 percent of the time, anyway — that a bad day at sea is better than a good day in the office.

In the wakes of mariners past

January 29, 2018 at 12:00 am

How can one be excited about the future without first thrilling to the past? I can’t. I really can’t. This personal eccentricity began with my discovery of a barely legible 2½- by 4 ½-inch embossing – blue set into blue – on the cover of Carl D. Lane’s “Boatowner’s Sheet Anchor” (Funk & Wagnalls, New York, 1969). Carl Lane’s line art depicts what appears to be an 18th-century brigantine, a 16th-century caraval, and a 19th-century coasting schooner – all flying serpentine streamers – fading from view, and in memory, into a tropical haze. In their wakes, a small 20th-century, marconi-rigged, Atkin-type cutter, flying a yacht club burgee, follows, toward that same old horizon, her skipper imagining in his mind’s eyeRead More

Boating’s back-room boogie? A cautionary tale

November 20, 2017 at 12:00 am

Last August, we met a woman who owns a boat, who was kicked off her mooring – for which she paid more than $2,000 in advance, has anchored her boat nearby since May, and has accrued tens of thousands of dollars in fines while doing nothing wrong. As if this isn’t bad enough, her name has been besmirched, her character questioned, and local anchoring ordinances bent to her detriment. And all she wants is for someone to do the right thing so she can stop fighting city hall and enjoy the magic of boating. Since 2014, Jo-Ann “Sunny” Albanese had leased a mooring for her 32-foot Pacemaker from a marina in Mill Cove, in North Kingstown (Wickford), R.I. In 2016,Read More

61 days: A season within a season

September 25, 2017 at 12:00 am

As the October/November issue approached, I thought about how exceptional these two months have been for me over the years. These 61 days constitute a distinct season unto itself – part of the autumn quarter, but of even greater significance. When a youngster in Massachusetts, duck hunting with my father, the 10th and 11th months required different settings for such early species as mallards, widgeon, wood ducks, hooded merganser, and blue- and green-winged teal. When I was a little older, sea-duck hunting involved running offshore (Chatham, East Dennis, Annisquam were frequent launching spots) in a 14-foot skiff, setting out shadow decoys, and waiting for skeins of what we called “coot” (surf and white-winged scoter), bufflehead and oldsquaw (now called long-tailedRead More

Just another day on the water

August 28, 2017 at 12:00 am

The day’s forecast was five to 10 southwest, gusting to 20 in the afternoon, but as we crested the hill over the marina, all we could see was a flat, mirrored surface on the bay, with an Opti fleet seemingly riveted to it. “Hope you find some wind out there,” offered a dock neighbor as I neared Chessie’s slip. Instead of my usual, “Oh, we will,” I replied resignedly, “We’ll find something,” not really believing that we would. We should have known better: On the water, what we see isn’t always what we get. I ghosted out to the harbor mouth and picked up a weak southeast, which was all my little gaffer needed to get the mast wedges creakingRead More

Renaissance woman

July 24, 2017 at 12:00 am

You could call her a jack-of-all-trades, but if you honor her thus, you must add that she’s a master of most of them, too. I met Julia Doyle-Kingsbury at the 2015 Boatbuilders Show on Cape Cod. She was working the Squeteague Sailmakers exhibit, and I was so delighted by the stunning mainsail art she’d designed, I asked her to make me a new, whimsical sail for my catboat. During visits to the loft, she learned I lived in Rhode Island, and she said her music group – L’Esperance Mandolin Ensemble — rehearses near our home. Naomi and I try to go to one “cultural” event each month, so we attended the group’s next concert, “Celtic to Classical.” The program rangedRead More

Mix a little whimsy with the disciplines

June 26, 2017 at 9:45 am

I already can hear the wharfside wags hurrumphing, but I am going to say it anyway: Recreational boating is not warfare. Sure, at times it may seem so but if we’re on the right boat, for all the right reasons, with the right seagoing experience, and with plenty of sea room, then even a short gale at sea can be much fun and great sport. As the late solo sailor Steve Black told an offshore passagemaking-seminar audience, to their surprise: “It’s not life-threatening.” The commercial experience is another story. Those who make their living from the sea – those out in most all conditions to feed the family and pay the mortgage – can be excused for occasionally perceiving theirRead More

Handsome is as handsome does

May 22, 2017 at 12:00 am

The name Ray Hunt has been a presence since my earliest days on Duxbury (Mass.) Bay. I first heard it when my father showed me, nestled in Duxbury Beach dunes, the remains of the Hunt family’s waterfowling camp, near which my great-uncle had a similar structure. Then there were the odd-looking sailboats I saw in the bay, the narrow, plumb-stemmed, double-ended, slab-sided, hard-chined 110s designed by Duxbury native C. Raymond Hunt in 1939: Original “contract cost” was $480.50. The name of one of these caught my eye back then — Hogan’s Goat — and it’s stayed with me to the present day. One plausible derivation of the name Hogan’s Goat is this WWII “New York Times” reference: “An old NavyRead More

‘Once Upon an Island’

April 24, 2017 at 12:00 am

She was born in New York City – her father was an architect there – and she lives in Norwell, Mass., but Leslie Silvia’s spiritual wellspring has always been Peddocks Island in Boston Harbor. Her grandfather, Alex Bies, who’d emigrated from Poland in 1889, was assigned to the island’s Army post, Fort Andrews, as a tailor in 1904. “My family’s wonderful and unusual life on Peddocks Island began in 1904,” wrote Leslie’s mother, Matilda Silvia, in the latter’s memoir, “Once Upon an Island,” published in 2003. In time, Alex bought a two-story house; moved his wife to Peddocks; transported their home by sea to the other side of the island; had children, including Matilda; and settled into a self-sufficient andRead More

Boatbuilding, stress relief and the Ph.D.

March 13, 2017 at 12:01 am

Ask Piero “Peter” Biancani how many boats he has built and he’s likely to respond with a bemused expression as though he’s never thought of counting. When pressed, he’ll probably answer, as he did one bluebird mid-February day on the shore of Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay, “Oh, maybe a dozen.” From where I am standing, at the west side of his house, I can see parts of seven or eight vessels of varying sizes, and I know there are three more “Biancani Boatworks” products at the southeast end of his house, and a couple stored beneath it. I suspect the retired Applied Mechanics engineer, Brown Medical School professor, and researcher at Rhode Island Hospital’s Division of Gastroenterology has never thoughtRead More

Nobody gets hurt

January 27, 2017 at 8:05 pm

A lady who sat next to me . . . said, “Do you reef in your gaff-topsails when you are close-hauled or do you let go the mizzen-top-bowline and cross-jack-braces. . .” I hadn’t the slightest idea what she was talking about . . . One reason for this was that none of the principle words (except “reef”) is pronounced the way it is spelled: “gaff-topsails” is pronounced “gassles,” “close-hauled” is pronounced “cold,” mizzen-top-bowlines” is pronounced “mittens,” and “cross-jack-braces” is pronounced “crabapples” or something that sounds a whole lot like that. Thus what the lady really said to me was, “Do you reef in your gassles when you are cold or do you let go the mittens and crabapples.” –Read More