Carastee was a L. Francis Herreshoff design similar to this Herreshoff ketch with its graceful sheer.

The 16-millimeter projector whirs, displaying a flickering, scratchy movie from 1957. It’s a gathering of suburbanites in a backyard, nothing unusual there, except that in the midst of them is the wooden hull of a 37-foot sailboat. The scene is from a film taken the day Carastee, a 37-foot L. Francis Herreshoff design boat of the Nereia class, was launched at Marshall’s Shipyard in Port Washington, N.Y. The result of more than seven years and 14,000 hours of effort by one man: Maxwell Simkin (1916-2020). Mac to his friends, professional oral surgeon and boat builder extraordinaire, was so taken by the design that he knew he had to build it. Carastee — named after his children Carol and Steven — has a graceful bow and slightly raked spars. Her LOA is 36 feet, beam 11 feet, with a five-foot, three-inch draft. 

When Simkin first began the project, he knew virtually nothing about wooden boat building, but was a quick study. The lead keel was cast in his backyard, and he built a steam box for bending planks. He also built the pulpit and most of the deck hardware.

He had so much confidence in his skill that he entered the 1960 Bermuda Race — he likely was the only racer with a vessel built in a backyard. Vicious storms overtook the fleet. Many of the boats hove to for hours in 60-knot winds and heavy seas. Carastee rode out the blow with no difficulty.

Carastee now sits crowded into a shed at a shipyard in Greenport, N.Y. The vessel has such graceful lines and is such an obvious object of affection. She is now owned by shipwrights and will, no doubt, one day be gussied up and sailed again as a lasting legacy to Max Simkin. [Thanks to Rory Klinge for letting me see the film and telling me about this story.]

Let’s join Simkin on the way to Bermuda. It’s June 15th, and we’ll use the 2021 Nautical Almanac. We’ll be doing star sights and we’re using Volume 1 HO249, 2020 Epoch, Selected Stars. Height of eye is 10 feet. Our DR position is 36˚ 20’ N by 68˚ 35’ W. We’re going to do morning star sights of Vega and Fomalhaut. Sight time is 08:12:30 (use same time for both). The HS of Vega is 59˚ 19’. HS of Fomalhaut is 19˚ 48.8’.

A. What is the time of nautical twilight?

B. What is LHA of Aries?

C. What is HO of Vega?

D. And what is the intercept of Vega?

E. What is the HO of Fomalhaut?

F. What is the intercept of Fomalhaut?

G. What is precession and nutation correction for 2021?

H. What is the plotted fix position? 



A. 08:13:20 GMT

B. 318˚

C. Vega HO: 59˚ 15.3’

D. 10.7 nautical miles away

E. Fomalhaut HO: 19˚ 43’

F. 8 nautical miles away

G. 0.6 nautical miles at 72˚

H. 36° 13’ N by 68° 38’ W

By Ocean Navigator