Tuesday, July 31, 2012

It Takes Rockport Village to Launch ADVENTURESS

The night before we launched ADVENTURESS, I went by Rockport Marine Park on my bike to look at the boat before I pedaled home. I crossed the little creek we call Goose River, and marveled that in less than 24 hours an 83-foot boat would be maneuvered into it. It looked narrow and shallow as I cruised over the tiny foot bridge. 

Across the green lawn of the park, opposite of the statue of Andre the seal, ADVENTURESS looked huge. She dwarfed the lime kilns and old train, the remaining artifacts of Rockport's former life an industrial town. Although it was evening, long after closing time, our crew was still moving up and down the ladder. Martha Coolidge, the interior designer of the boat, was planning to be there late into the evening installing cushions, adjusting pillows and fixtures and making sure all of the interior details were just so.

I saw the owner standing at the corner of the park, just looking at the boat. He had stood there, or at other vantage points, for most of the week. Each day, while the crew streamed back and forth, he just watched us, and watched the light move over ADVENTURESS' smooth hull. 

We greeted each other and stood together for a few minutes. For me, and others at the yard, this night was the end of something--a long project, but also a chapter of our employment, and our lives. Henceforth, we would refer to events in our individual timelines, a birth of child, a new house or a new relationship, for example, as "during ADVENTURESS." As if it were a geological era or historical epoch.

For the owner, it was a beginning. "Just look at her," he said, and confessed, "I don't think I'll be able to sleep at all tonight." It was hard to wrap my head around the fact that the boat was about to begin a new existence, outside the red sheds of Rockport Marine. The park was quiet and still.

The next day, people began setting up lawn chairs and milling around in the middle of the morning while the boatyard workers took care of a thousand errands and details. We moved tractors back and forth, set up lines, fueled up the small boats. The caterers set up tables and loaded them with food and drinks. By noon, over a thousand people lined the banks of the Goose River, the bridge, and the hills around the harbor. Boats thronged into the harbor and ran signal flags up their rigs. Even the Taco Libre truck showed up. In fact, the whole town showed up. It was a day of celebration, not just by the people who had worked so hard to restore her, but for everyone who could appreciate the uniqueness of such a incredible example of craftsmanship, passion and community.

These pictures capture the beauty of that day. Thanks to Jane Kurko of Langley Photography for these images; stay tuned for more as we take ADVENTURESS out for her first sails. She will race in the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta, and the Castine and Camden feeder races this weekend. You can also tour the boat on Wednesday at the Castine Town Dock, where ADVENTURESS will be joined by SUMURUN, BELLE AVENTURE, and other Fife yachts. From 4-6, please join us for the Fife Symposium, a moderated discussion of these magnificent vessels. For more information, please click here.

In addition, OffCenterHarbor.com and Langley Photography produced an amazing video about the people and craftsmanship of the project, which you can view here. They will be filming the upcoming events around ADVENTURESS, and we are eager to share with you the second part of her story.


-Maria Simpson

Adventuress on Tom Brownell's trailer before launch in Rockport Marine Park.

Crew meeting to figure out who would be where, and which lines were which...

Captain Alastair Doyne-Ditmas and interior designer Martha Coolidge.

Getting ready.

Harbormaster Abbie Leonard bestowed the owner honorary residency status in Rockport, and refunded him the $3 of the $5 launching fee for non-residents.

The owner gave a moving speech, while project manager, Brian Englander, and Rockport Marine owner, Taylor Allen, looked on.

Fast footwork and line handling as the boat goes in the water...

Diver Dallas Fields awaits his cue to lower the poppets on the trailer once the boat hits the water. Meyric Matthews gives a thumbs up.

Without a hitch.

Carpenters Greg Pugh and Phil Finck helped out on deck...

And some guests wore their launch day best for the occasion. 

It takes a village to launch a boat in Rockport, Maine.

Our first view of her underway.

The new rig was made at Rockport Marine with custom-fabricated hardware.

It's not Launch Day without flowers.

Signal flags on the dock at Rockport Marine welcome ADVENTURESS to the dockside party!

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At August 4, 2012 at 7:01 AM , Blogger Georg Hinteregger said...

In looking closely at the very first photo from your "It takes a Village" post, it gave me pleasure to find you standing in the middle of the crowd, arms crossed, in rapt attention. You seem well placed in your position for a balanced overview. In your celebration of community you make room for all of us, from the Taco Libre fast food vendors, to the seniors in their finery, to feel at home. We even found ourselves in the final photo of the series. We are standing on the dock, backs turned, facing south, overlooking BOUNTY.

While I continue to struggle with what a boat like ADVENTURESS means in a broader social and cultural context, her beauty is undeniable. Very special boats like ADVENTURESS, aside from being objects of stunning beauty, are near living things in their element.

Speaking in gratitude to the assembled from the launch platform, Victor, her new owner, quoted the most famous lines from the exuberant classic romantic poet Keats.
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty,--that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."
Later, in homage to the many highly skilled crafts people from Rockport, Victor spoke of the classic Greek perception of craft: The creation of beauty perceived and prized as work sacred to the gods.

What makes ADVENTURESS so vital and different from a static work of museum art, like a Grecian urn, is that ADVENTURESS is both ADVENTURESS and the reincarnation of ADVENTURESS.

A long time ago as a very young man living in Japan I came to appreciate the beauty of their wooden homes and temples. Most famous among them is the Ise Shrine. In 2013 the present buildings will be dismantled and new ones erected exactly as they were. Every 20 years, for over 1300 years, they have been doing this. It will be the 62nd iteration of the shrine that is forever ancient and forever young.

To see ADVENTURESS in this light may seem far fetched. To have ADVENTURESS endure on such a time scale seem almost unimaginable. But without the passing on and practice of the actual building techniques, wooden boats will cease to exist.

It seems to me that many of us wooden boat people are misfits in the modern linear world defined by growth and progress. We delight in the circularity of time. A vessel like ADVENTURESS is both herself and her own grandparent.

Wooden boats range widely in their cultural significance. Some few, like CONSTITUTION and the CHARLES W. MORGAN are so unique, and are by now so fully institutionalized, they have become mere artifacts. Their future is their past.

ADVENTURESS is different. She is now. She is for now the glamorous queen of the Maine wooden boat building world, the one to see at the 2012 reaches and races, she will be ogled like a movie star by the multitudes at her several special guest appearances.

All too soon the new made debutante will sail to distant lands, fortunate to have found such an able and caring patron. We can not know what the future holds, but we can look back from her time of greatest ignominy--scuttled to protect a fascist harbor--to her greatest triumph, her present Rockport incarnation. With joy but also apprehension, we wish her well. She was the perfect vessel for the great passion for the craft at Rockport Marine. I imagine her absence leaves quite a hole.

In the launching we partake in a communal celebration of renewal. She is reborn. Baptismal waters anoint her bow. She floats free to resume her life on the water. She has a life. She has appointments and promises to keep.

Georg Hinteregger

At August 17, 2012 at 2:07 PM , Blogger Rockport Marine said...

Georg, thank you for this response to my post. You have said much more than I could have about what this project means to some of us. I especially love the idea of "a vessel like ADVENTURESS is both herself and her own grandparent." That is an absolutely beautiful idea.

Thanks for being there!


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