Christopher Birch

Christopher Birch is the proprietor of Birch Marine Inc. on Long Wharf in Boston, Mass., where he’s been building, maintaining and restoring boats for the past 34 years. His “Boston Harbor Currents” column appears in each issue of Points East. In addition, he has contributed several other feature articles and commentary pieces to the magazine.

 

 

 

The 2022 Tetra rendezvous: Seeing red

December 2022 By Christopher Birch Like ketchup, fire engines and Carmine Hose, Tetras are red. Tom Hill built a white one once, but every other hull of this iconic Steve Redmond rowboat design I’ve seen has been painted red. I’m not sure how this tradition
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Gyro failure

October/November 2022 By Christopher Birch I was listening to a Red Sox day-game while repairing shrink-wrap tools in my shop one slow September day a few decades back when the phone rang. A thickly accented voice on the other end of the line explained that
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A brush with death… literally

How a simple bilge pump replacement ended up with me hanging upside down on a fence in the woods
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My first sailboat came with clothespins

August, 2022 By Christopher Birch The boat was a 1971 Tartan 30, and the previous owner turned her over to me broom clean. Every storage locker and shelf space in the cabin was bare. She was as empty as a frat house keg at dawn.
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Grape-Nuts

The joy of cruising is that life is distilled to its simplest terms.
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A colorful occupation: Where there’s a will, there’s a way

The son is following in his father's footsteps... at least for now.
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Tetra twins

May 2022 By Christopher Birch My new friend, Dick Eldridge, just built a rowboat, and Points East magazine is to blame. I’ve made mention of a favorite red rowboat in the pages of this magazine on several occasions. Dick read my ramblings on the merits
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‘Eagle Seven’

I recently discovered a new boat yoga pose that I call “Eagle Seven.”
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The Blue Hill bandit

December 2021 By Christopher Birch For Points East Sometimes those Boston Harbor currents float you right out the harbor. On one such recent trip, my wife, Alex, and I steered our sailboat to a mooring at the Kollegewidgwok Yacht Club in Blue Hill, Maine. The
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The lost oar

My father coached me to “Never get run over by the same trolley car twice.” Regrettably, I failed to abide and managed to accidentally set oars free in Buzzards Bay for a second time.
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‘Boston, we have a problem…’

September 2021 By Christopher Birch “I just clogged up the toilet on the company plane and I need your help,” was how the scandalous text chain with my boat service customer started. “We’re going to be up for another four hours. There is only one
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Chicken catch-a-tory

August 2021 By Christoper Birch A recipe for when your crew and dog departed by car, and you’re left to advance the boat toward home waters by yourself. (The name conjures up an image of Ye Olde New England flair.) Recipe preface: Food is an
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A prince of a man and the captain of Boston Harbor

Larry Cannon, a prince of a man and the captain of Boston Harbor, is sorely missed.
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Lure of the Elizabeths

A brief history of the wild Elizabeth Islands off Cape Cod, including how a prominent Boston Brahmin family has, for generations, shared its wealth with recreational mariners.
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The little red boat that could

June 2021 By Christopher Birch In 1999, my father built a rowboat. He named her after his granddaughter Heidi, who was born the same year. The boat has provided excellent service for our family and especially for me. I calculate she has been towed and
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Nautical math, and the infernal roll

May, 2021 By Christopher Birch For Points East I find it odd how the math crowd refuses to entertain the idea of dividing by zero. Mathematics is the last place I would expect to find such a defeatist attitude. They say it can’t be done,
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The Fix-It button

The perfect boat will be the one that takes care of itself.
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Horizon job

Midwinter 2021 By Christopher Birch In my daydream, I’m at the helm of a perfectly restored J-class yacht from yesteryear. Familiar faces dot the crew. Ted Turner is on the topping lift, and Dennis Conner is down below making sandwiches. It’s the final leg, and
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Stalking the crew of S/V Delos

By Christopher Birch For Points East In the first 35 years of running my boat repair business, I installed exactly zero convection cooktops. Then one Monday morning two years ago, these ranges were suddenly all the rage. Three customers called me before I had drained
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You’re a grand old isle . . .

And what better place to celebrate the Fourth of July than Cuttyhunk, an old-time, back-to-basics island seven miles off the Massachusetts coast that simply reeks of independence from life’s complexities?
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Outdoor showers

By Christopher Birch Outdoor showers for the N.E. sailorSeveral years ago, on New Year’s Eve, I made a resolution: For the 12 months ahead, I would never shower without a beer. There’s something about the yin and yang of hot water and cold beer that
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Downeast Express

Ride the prevailing southwest wind north and east along the New England coast, and you’ll ultimately find yourself in the pristine waters of Downeast Maine. Take the offshore fast track there.
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Cruising aboard the Caravan 18

Guest perspective: Christopher Birch “What’d you sail in on?” asked the man shaving at the sink next to me. “A Caravan 18,” I replied, pleased with my quick thinking and grateful for the shaving cream concealing my smirk. It was a beautiful August morning in
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La Dolce Vita

And it was a sweet life indeed aboard the 41-foot Concordia yawl Dolce, on a delivery from Boston to the Newport Boat Brokerage Show to be sold. No one bought her, but that isn’t my story.
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Lessons learned from a lame duck

By Christopher Birch For Points East Not every marina has a duck house, but, lucky for me, mine does. I’m thinking now of a certain duck that once lived there. She had a bad starboard wing and a bad port leg. When she walked, she
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Moxie

Guest perspective/Christopher Birch My adventures in yachting got off to a rich start. A “SAIL” magazine subscription card, with a questionnaire at the bottom, was my launch ramp. I checked the box indicating my net worth exceeded $10 million (I felt like $10 million just
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Six simple machines

The tools we use today all descend from a few common origins.
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For Koshare, early spring came in December

March/April 2018 By Christopher Birch There we were: In an engineless sailboat, in the Atlantic, in December. Paddling. Sea and sky were the same shade of slate. Light snow further blurred the boundaries between frozen, liquid and gas. Koshare’s faded dirty whiteness blended into the
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Arguments for a proper rowboat

Guest perspective/Christopher Birch The longer I have been around boats, the more I have come to appreciate the small ones. When I was young, I dreamed of how grand it would be to have a massive sailing yacht of my very own. Now, some years
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Let the genius shine

Midwinter 2017 By Christopher Birch The best advice I ever gave my children was to drink their coffee black and their whiskey neat. I rest easy knowing how much time I have saved them from rustling around looking for things like cream and sugar and
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