What we do

On Dena’s birthday, as mentioned in one of our last posts, we went to the Herreshoff marine museum in Bristol, RI, to discover what all hub-bub was really about.

Now, I grew up helping my dad re-build an incredible early 20th century Nat Herreshoff 63. A 63 foot (on deck) schooner rigged sailboat that my dad rebuilt from the keel up over a 7 year period of time. If I wanted to spend any time with the man over those 7 years that is what I had to do. I had to get into scraping and sanding and painting all that crap that a 12 to 19 year old young man could otherwise give a shit about. At the time the only thing I learned how to do was resent the fact that I wasn’t getting laid or drunk with my friends while my dad reveled in the genius of the designer.

Anyway, my dad finished his boat and went sailing for 8 years after he launched her in 1983 and, with the exception of one long summer aboard re-learning how to resent the whole lifestyle, I all but forgot how to sail and live the life of an itinerant vagabond until I met Dena and bought our first boat in 1999. 13 years after we set sail aboard our Sovereign Nation Dena and I found ourselves at the Herreshoff Museum, of course reveling in the genius of Nathanial Herreshoff.

While in the museum we discovered a beautiful 31 foot wooden sailboat called S/V Torch designed and built by “The Wizard of Bristol” himself. This boat was so memorable because it was a foot shorter than our boat but she seemed to be vast in comparison on the inside. She was so brilliantly laid out that we just sat there for a few long moments in awe. If you want to experience it for yourself (in a very limited way) they have a 360 degree panoramic on the museum website here…

Anyway, we got back home to Noank and immediately started re-thinking our boat in terms of interior layout and design, grabbed a sledgehammer and started tearing shit apart.

If you’ll remember this is what she looked like this summer while we were cruising up the coast.

This is looking forward from the companionway.

Well this past week we did this…

We took the plumbing apart, tore off the trim and then went to work on the cabinetry.

The only real surprise was the fact that the old stuff came apart so easily.

Once we got the heavy stuff out of the way the rest of the shelves just pulled out by hand.

Demolition really is the art of discovery and what we discovered, I mean besides the fact that the old stuff wasn’t built very well, was that we really needed to clean behind our stores.

We also discovered that we will have plenty of space for our new design which will have the galley situated forward-midships with the new 12 volt refrigerator in the old hanging locker across from the head. The stove will go just aft of that with a new double sink further aft. Aft of the sink will be a settee for reading on a port tack and we will build a new kitty-cabin all the way aft that will have hanging hammocks for both cats, a gimballed cat-feeder and a special cat door leading to a solar-vented litterbox where the old fridge used to be.

We’re about 2/3rds through the demo and we have 3 days off this week so we should be able to start the new construction before the end of the year.



  1. And the insanity begins again—-well, insanity for anyone else but you guys always come out of the craziness with a better looking and more functional boat, can’t wait to see the results of this storm.

  2. Y’all are so fucking hardcore. Cheers to you for your perseverance and spirit of creative destruction. So happy to see pictures!!! I’ve missed them.
    Double cheers for Kitty Korner!

  3. Well, one of the best things about having an old boat that nobody else wants is the fact that we can customize it any way we wish. Cats have always been an important part of our lives and we find that boats are never made for them even though there have always been domesticated cats aboard boats. Lord Nelson was a big fan of domesticated cats and always had one aboard. Then there was Mrs. Chippy that went on the Endeavor with Shackleton and.. and… Hell, check out the “Ships Cat” wikipage! Anyway, I think it’s about time someone built a proper kitty-cabin aboard ship.

  4. Ah ha Kate you have reached into James brain again. I was thinking it was funny, SLEDGEHAMMER Style. But now is the time to do such things. james, your the Master. Get it , how you will be safe and cozy. The best thing that will happen , as before , is you will know what your dealing with. Many discoveries , many surprises… Good luck and Happy Holidays. Make the Best of it .Aloha

  5. I just looked up what “gimballed” means. Well, that sure is a good idea! Simple and elegant and probably ancient. As usual, I marvel at the engineering design principles that have developed for boat life. The rules of this world work differently. Adjust.
    Is it “Jim-balled” or “Ghim-balled”? I’ll use this handy little word, it’s like Metaphor Helper in a box. (Ever talk to someone who uses a word and you can tell from how they pronounce it that they only know that word from reading, not from speaking? Give me a clue.)

  6. That would be Ghim-balled Kate, indeed a very handy little word/device on a boat…
    Thanks for the kind wishes/words Tom!
    We are both liking this project so much more then the last time we did a major project aboard (the mast/deck rebuild in Yarmouth, Me.) where we had to live in a fiberglass nightmare for 14 days. This time we can just ride away at the end of the day. Although we both find that we prefer living aboard as opposed to an old folks home in our Grotty ‘ol town, it is nice to be able to ride away from the dust at the end of the day.

  7. J.W.,
    The best thing about having a 51 year old boat is that you can throw inhibition to the wind and jump right in, sawzall in hand, and bust shit up without as much as a second thought.
    We love this kind of thing and it’s the first boat that either one of us has had that we can do this with so it feels really good. Besides, when this project is done we will be able to say without reservation that we rebuilt this entire boat… And that’s something. Right?!

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