Friday, January 07, 2011

Calico's Story - Part 2

And now, the conclusion of my very special guest blogger's tale.

Xmas 1960… I lay on a beach, holed. My waterline was cut through almost to my frames by the relentless slicing of the slush ice. And then one man with an idea (”That hull’s shape should never be lost. That must be an olde catboat.”) came to my rescue. For 50 dollars, I was heading to a home in S. Dartmouth where I would be brought back to life. Xmas passed five times as Gerald Monjeau stripped me to the bone, replaced my frames with locust, filled and faired all the slices and holes and brought me back to full health.

Gerald, a master also at recycling, fashioned a new rig for me, two masts and leeboards. Though ‘different’ from my early racing years, I still felt proud when I tasted salt water in 1966. Catboats were popular then as cruisers, but I sailed fast next to the variety of boats in Padanarum. For 26 Xmases, I was Monjeau’s boat, Calico. Gerald was a working man, but took me out every free minute: Cuttyhunk, , Woods Hole and Home. Over the years I must have sailed 8000 miles with the man.

Xmas 1993… Hurricane Bob had left his mark on Padanarum in late ’92 and I was one of the few that escaped. With little more than a broken bowsprit, I was hauled for the winter and bought by the McKay family of Mashpee. Long time friends of Monjeau, they promised serious care and the protection of the Mashpee River. They also vowed to keep me busy, indeed I spend April to December each year ‘going out’ with some or many of them. Some love taking me to the islands for days on end. Others just like me to be their swim platform. The little ones love the ‘kitchen’

The McKay children , spouses, their children all take their turns; indeed they number 19 as we approach another Xmas. In 2009, I felt 600 miles of Nantucket Sound pass under my hull, 103 voyages included trips down to Cotuit, over near Hyannis, ten days on Nantucket, and countless lunches upriver or down at the spit. Mckay with Eilis walk down to my dock daily to look for birds and fish. Kestrin has come from San Diego to see what boating New England is all about. Brady and Savannah were the last passengers of 2009, and Karen, Katrina and Eve use me as their picnic kitchen and houseboat to the beach. Grace has perfected her diving from my bowsprit. Tadhg has already claimed me as his slice of the ‘pie’ that Papa will leave someday…so I am confident that I shall live on for many more sails. Next spring Breda and Rob will bring me the 10th grandchild to take a nap in my cabin, sit in the sun of my cockpit or get the feel of the tiller with Papa.

So far, by my count, I have covered over 60,000 mi. over the water; I have gone around the Earth next to 2.5 times; giving pleasure to a growing number of people. So next time you are wondering about your mortality, remember that a simple plank from one tree has been and will continue to do it’s job for years to come.

The end - except that it isn't really, is it?

Thank you again to Calico and to her captain, Bill McKay, for sharing her story. I may never have the opportunity to sail with you, but just reading your tale (and better yet, sharing it here on Frogma) has brought warmth, cheer, and summery thoughts to some chilly winter days.

Long may you sail!


Pandabonium said...

Great thread of posts, Bonnie. What an adventure. There is a song about Calico begging to be written.

Tillerman said...

That's a wonderful story. I love the way she estimated the cumulative miles she has covered over the years, the account of how her owner's children and grandchildren are enjoying her so much, and especially the photo of the little girl steering Calico, with her grandfather I assume?

bonnie said...

I had the biggiest, sappiest grin on my face when I finished posting this last night. Pandabonium, yes, the Ballad of Calico would be lovely.

Tillerman, yes, that's Bill McKay himself, current skipper of Calico & one of his grandkids.

Calico's Story was actually their holiday letter one year - it was sent to me with all the pictures & everything, I put it up pretty much exactly as I got it.

I just loved it.

Anonymous said...

Great story, old wooden boats have a sprite, that the new fiberglass boasts will never have. At present reading a story about Tinkerbelle, a 13 1/2 foot boat that sail across the Atlantic in 1965 single handed.

Baydog said...

Kind of makes me feel guilty for having a fiberglass boat. Great story.

Buck said...


Anonymous said...

Hi all, It was nice to be able to share Calico's history with you...thank you, Bonnie, for being such a good writer. And for being so interested when you rounded that point on the Mashpee River and saw her sitting there. She is 'in the barn' right now for a few more months when she'll be back in for her 114th year. Writing, reading, and search engines - how lucky were are for these in our lives. How else would you get answers to your guesses and how else would I learn about a group of NY crazies who paddle those little boats all over the world. Take a sail with us - next time through. Sincerely, Bil McKay

bonnie said...

It was a privilege and a delight sharing your lovely old cat's story here! Thank you again for sending it.

The Internet certainly has a less pleasant side - but sometimes, it really is fantastic. This has been such fun.

bonnie said...

What a great story.

bonnie said...

sappy grin is back again!

O Docker said...

What is it about old wooden boats that speaks to us?

Do we see the builder in her lines? Her history in the scars? Or is it that wood ages just as we do - growing gray and brittle in the end?

Calico must have spoken often to her new owner - before she told her story to us.

Tillerman said...

I feel like I need to go into the barn this winter for a few new planks and a fresh coat of paint.

moonstruck said...

Great story. My first sailboat was a 20 ft schneider Pennant, built in College Point NY. Cedar planks on oak frames. An old boat when I bought her in 62. Wooden boats have a soul that plastic boats cant touch.

Dennis G

Teàrlach said...

What a cracking post. Many thanks for the story Bonnie.

Anonymous said...

i love it!! thank you.