Monthly: April 2010

29 Apr


Nord Vinden still available…


This beautiful boat is still available. You can read about her and see more detailed photos here. Built by William Clements in 1988, to George Holmes Ethel design, this boat is a marvel. I’ve been in touch with the owner and he is asking 10k, though she’s probably worth twice that. If you have interest or questions, please contact me via my email address, visible in this blogs introduction, and I will connect you with the owner. Located in southern VA.


Filed Under: Uncategorized

28 Apr


Alessandro Di Benedetto: Around nonstop in a Mini 6.50


Alessandro Di Benedetto

Improving and strengthening the boat in preparation for her voyage

Building the protection cabin

rotta teorica

the Mini fitted out

Departing Les Sables d’Ollone

Mini with Alessandro aboard

Modification aft, the ‘protection cabin’, is apparent here



all photos courtesy Alessandro Di Benedetto

With the spate of circumnavigations one reads about these day’s, from teenagers to 60′ Maxi’s, this particular adventurer stands out, at least for me. Alessandro Di Benedetto is no stranger to open ocean sailing, having crossed both the Atlantic and Pacific in, or rather, on a 20′ catamaran with no cabin. Now he’s pursuing something no less audacious. He’s making an attempt to go round via the three capes in a modified 21′ Mini 6.50 with no assistance and without stopping or landing. If he succeeds he will have done so in the smallest boat to achieve this to date. He cites the rule and spirit of the first Golden Globe as inspiration:

“The new trip rules are very simple. They are the same used for the Golden Globe, first regatta single-handed sailor held by Sunday Times in 1968/69, later become Vendée Globe:

* A sailor, a sailing boat, the globe circumnavigation sailing past the 3 Capes at left (Agulhas, Leeuwin, Horn), without any landing and not assisted.”

Alessandro made some significant modifications to his Mini in preparation for this endeavor. He built a cabin at aft which will allow him protection from the elements while allowing him to steer from within, much in the vein of Blondie Hassler’s innovations to Jester. He’s also strengthened the rudder/steering system.

Alessandro has rather lofty goals for his project which range beyond simply being the ‘first’ to achieve something. In his words:

Some of the aims of the project:

* To accomplish a unique feat which would be recognized as World Record.
* To be ambassador and international testimonial for sponsors taking part into the event.
* To contribute to the scientific research in several fields (renewable energy, environment protection, medical researches, new technologies, clothing, materials).
* To promote extraordinary experience to be shared with people from different cultures in order to make them feel citizens of the world.
* To be a source of inspiration and motivation for children and young people and to educate them to consider themselves citizens of the world in order to sustain the protection of both natural and artistic earth heritage, with special regard to the next generations.

In order to guarantee the successful achievement of the Round World Sailing and to allow the creation of new multi-medial high-quality products (high resolution videos, satellite communication ,etc), the sail-boat is equipped with the latest technologies (regarding sailing safety, sailing systems, sustenance, complete protection of the body in hostile environments).
The expedition and the boat itself are a real laboratory with the aim to receive new ideas, various kind of projects, testing new tools, materials, renewable energy systems, clothing and realizing medical researches. Documentation which is being collected during this expedition and Alessandro’s overall experience will be used not only to fully respond to the sponsor requirements in terms of image, but even to promote the culture of the sea among young people and in order to give strong support to the scientific research, specifically about the environment.
(from Allesandro’s website-ed)

Alessandro made good Cape Horn on April 16.

In response to my request for permission to write about him, with some words of encouragement and admiration added, he replied: (relayed through his mother, Anne Marie) “Thanks a lot. Your message gives me -and the boat too – new energies.” Sent from Atlantic Sud 46°37’37″S/49°45’43 W, his latest location. You can track Alessandro’s progress and read his log updates on his homepage.

My thanks to Alessandro and his mom for their cooperation and I am wishing him great success for his project. You can read about his past adventures in his books and read more about his current venture and listen to a lengthy interview here.

Filed Under: Uncategorized

19 Apr


Help us find this boat: ‘Twilite’


Everett building with Emmett, (maybe), poking out of the backpack

courtesy Hallie Bond & WoodenBoat

‘Twilite’, built to JH Rushton’s Vesper design.

Courtesy © Benjamin Mendlowitz

Bob LaVertue paddling Twilite

Courtesy © Benjamin Mendlowitz


Twilite‘s sumptuous bronze rudder

Courtesy © Benjamin Mendlowitz

The completed hull in Everett’s shop with the deck framing in.

courtesy Emmett Smith

Two more shots of the work in progress

courtesy Emmett Smith

Everett Smith’s first boat, Merganser, loosely based on Rushton’s Princess, resting on his shop floor

courtesy Everett Smith

Twilite surrounded by her admirers. Mason Smith (left), Everetts brother, wrote the WoodenBoat article,
Bob LaVertue (standing before the sail) commissioned Everett Smith ,(kneeling in the red check shirt) to build Twilite

courtesy Emmett Smith

John Brady recently forwarded me an email from Emmett Smith who is trying to locate a boat built by his father Everett. Emmett’s email was originally sent to Tom Shephard, a fellow member of the Delaware River chapter of the TSCA. John thought I might be interested, and inevitably, I am. Here’s the gist of the matter:

“Dear Mr. Sheppard,

My Name is Emmett Smith. John Brady gave me your name. I am looking for a very unique boat that I think may be in the Philadelphia area. It is a reproduction of a Rushton Vesper model decked sailing canoe that my father Everett Smith built for a customer in the 1970’s. It was called ‘Twilite,’ and got a bit of press from WoodenBoat at the time. For me, it is a part of my family history, and I am anxious to find it.

The boat was sold by the Ross Bros. in Massachusetts in the late 1980’s and entered the world of designers and antiques. It found its way to Wanamakers Department Store at 1300 Market St. in Philadelphia, whee it was on display from 1991-1996. When Strawbridges bought out Wanamakers, the boat went into a storage unit at 8th and Market. In 2006, when FDC-Macy’s moved into 1300 Market St., the old storage building was cleared out and the boat was sold. This is information from the Visual Director of Macy’s, a man named Mark Moody, who oversaw the selloff but does not remember who the boat went to.

So far this is where the trail ends. The boat was sold in downtown Philadelphia in 2006. So, I am contacting people in the area who would take note of a unique boat such as this. If you have seen it or have any leads for me please be in touch. I am looking also for anyone else who sells or deals in boats or maritime antiques; anyone who might have come across this boat.

The boat is Alaskan cedar over oak, with mahogany decks and coamings and spruce masts. The folding rudder and Radix style centerboard are handmade as well. The boat has copper flotation tanks under the decks. It did have a flag with its name, but I do not know if it is still with the boat. The Ross Bros. also stamped their name before they sold it, probably under the thwarts and seats. I have attached a couple of pictures as well.

Thank you so much for your time.”

I was intrigued. I searched my spotty WoodenBoat archive and found the article in WoodenBoat # 65, august 1985. Jogged my memory. As a recent graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art (’83)I was thrilled to read this article which depicted the boatbuilder as artist. It introduced me to sailing canoes, canoe yawls, and J H Rushton. I think I bought the Manley book on Rushton shortly thereafter and visited the Adirondack Museum within the year. I wrote Emmett to get permission to write about his search and some intriguing info came to light. Emmett is now a boatbuilder living on the West coast and also doing consulting work for various institutions. Everett now has his shop in Canton, NY, the location of Rushton’s old boatworks. He served for a time as the curator of the Antique Boat Museum at Clayton, NY. Bob LaVertue, who commissioned the boat, I met at the MASCF last year. He crafts bronze and copper hardware for sailing canoes of this kind, including the folding fan centerboards in Springfield MA, and while he created some of the hardware for Twilite, the radix centerboard was made by John Wells.

This boat has a rich heritage, and Emmett would like to return it to the family fold. ANYONE having any info regarding the whereabouts of this family heirloom should contact Emmett, or me or John Brady.

Special thanks to Benjamin Mendlowitz for permission to use his lovely photos of Twilite. You really owe it to yourself to visit his website. And thanks to Tom Jackson at WoodenBoat for putting me in touch with him.

Filed Under: Uncategorized