Rockwell Kent book helps spur the dream of owning a schooner

Jan/Feb 2003

While we were delivering our Alden-designed schooner Bagheera to Portland, Maine, I remembered a book I bought in California back in April when we were test-sailing Bagheera. It was a first edition of Rockwell Kent�s �N by E,� which detailed the artist�s adventure aboard an engineless sloop sailing from New York to Greenland. I was captivated by an engraving Kent included in the book, a portrait of him standing naked in the ship�s rigging, arms raised — celebratory — to the sky as the boat approached the stark coast of Newfoundland. (Granted, Kent and his crew wrecked their boat in Greenland, but we were only sailing to Maine. Getting near Greenland seemed unlikely.)

My business partner Scott and I spent the weekend in April sailing Bagheera out of Richmond in the East Bay, cruising the wine country in a rental car along roads that were trimmed with the yellow blossoms of California poppies, and bathing in the sparkling waters of the Pacific. While considering whether we should buy this boat, sitting in the sand near Bodega Bay, I flipped through the pages and read, �Love, love enveloped him; soft hands and lips caressed him,� Kent wrote of a man who had succumbed to the call of the sea and was building a boat to sail the South Seas: �The air was laden with sweet perfume and the song of birds. Oh Paradise!�

Here we were in California feeling the same senseless pull and being lulled to complicity in a countryside that felt like the land of the Lotus Eaters. Eight months later, after being sobered by the grim realities of owning an old wooden schooner for running a seasonal business, we refer to this weekend as �those heady days in April.�  

By Ocean Navigator