What Daniel Robb’s new book Sloop is not is a guide to rebuilding his family’s 1939 Herreshoff 12 ½, Daphie. Yes, there are hints on moving an old boat, building a steam box to bend frames, constructing a temporary building shed that’s capable of withstanding a New England winter, chalking, talk of rivets and much more.
The book’s real subject is an elegantly written meditation on the process. More than fastening plank to frame, it explores the deeper meaning he finds in restoring the old boat. Robb reflects on Thoreau, whose spirit seems to silently guide Daphie’s restoration. As he seeks the advice from old timers and veteran boatbuilders he establishes new friendships and explores old-fashioned values. Rebuilding the boat’s fragile timbers connected him to his past, his family’s history.
In the end, he has restored much more than a beautiful little Herreshoff 12.5, he has restored himself.