What’s in a name
It will surprise few of those who know us to hear that when the time came to name our new home we turned to fiction for inspiration. There is a wonderful series of books by Arthur Ransome that we read to Owen starting when he was quite young. Swallows and Amazons takes place in the lake country of England in the 1920s, a place and time where its tale of adventure rings as entirely plausible. A family with four children summering by a lake where the children find a small sailboat and an island and their parents let them spend the summer camping on the island. It’s a sweet story of independent children, the adventures of childhood summers, and a love of sailing. Owen enjoyed it enough that we continued on to read the entire 12 volume series.
In one of the later volumes, We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea, the children are staying with their mother in Harwich, England, waiting for their father to return from a Navy posting. They meet a young man out sailing a small cruising sloop and talk both him and their mother into letting them go sailing with him for a while, although their mother imposes the condition that they stay within the harbor and not go out past the sea buoy. Naturally things get complicated; they anchor and the sloops owner goes ashore for gasoline as the engine has run out. Then the fog rolls in, the owner doesn’t return from shore (you’ll have to read it yourself to find out why!), the anchor drags, and before they know it they’re swept out to sea and wind up flying before a gale all the way to Holland.
The children are competent small boat sailors, but they find themselves in a situation where they don’t really know what they’re doing and have to figure it out as they go along. They are seen safely through the adventure by their own courage and resourcefulness, but also by the well found, seaworthy little ship that carries them. That little ship was named Goblin and it is in the spirit of a sturdy little ship to see us home even should we get in over our heads that we chose the name.
The history of hull #301
One of the last Whitby 42s built in Ontario by Whitby Boat Works before the construction was moved down to Florida, hull #301 was originally launched as Blyth Spirit in 1983.
We don’t know much about her original owners, who kept her for about 4 years, but in 1987 she was renamed Marika and moved to Buzzards Bay. The family who kept her and sailed her for the next nearly three decades lived in California, but would summer on Cape Cod and sailed her far and wide. Amongst her papers and old charts are records of a long journey down to the Bahamas and back, as well as an offshore passage to Bermuda. More recently she’s kept closer to home as time has finally driven her owners to reluctantly part with a much loved member of their family.
We took over her stewardship in the winter of 2014 and are looking forward to many years with her as well.
The Whitby 42
The Whitby 42 was designed by Ted Brewer and built by Whitby Boat Works in Ontario. There were several hundred made and they are to be found all over the world now (there are a number to be found on the internet as well with interesting stories of their own to tell).
There are a number of variations of the design to be found. The original Whitby 42 is a ketch or a cutter rigged ketch, sometimes with a bowsprit, sometimes without. Her relatives are the Whitby 44, a stretched design, and the Brewer 12.8, a fin keeled sloop or cutter variation. There is a wonderful article by Ed Lawrence to be found on the Whitby Brewer Association website describing the many variations of the basic Whitby 42 design.
Above deck she has a center cockpit which is both large and deep, with a companionway forward leading down to the salon and one aft leading to the aft cabin. There’s enough seating in the cockpit for our entire family to stretch our full length, each with a bench of our own. But then, we’re not a terribly tall bunch… With the dodger in place it’s warm and sheltered from the wind, a pleasant combination of sun and shade even when the wind is blowing pretty strong.
Below deck the salon has a remarkable amount of floor space. The table folds up to the forward bulkhead and where some Whitbys had a starboard settee, we have a pair of removable chairs. With the table up and the chairs out of the way, there’s a reasonable amount of space for children to frolic. The galley and the nav station are at the back of the salon, to either side of the companion way, both comfortably cozy. Going forward there is a head that we are working on removing; we plan to put a mattress in at sink level for Kinsley. There will be a little ladder for her to climb up to her bunk. It should be large enough to be comfortable for her for at least the next three or four years. Beyond that is the vee berth, which is Owen’s domain. Going aft from the salon there’s a passageway under the cockpit, with a workbench and giant access doors to the enormous engine room. From there you find yourself in the aft berth, otherwise known as the parent’s room. Here also you’ll find the larger of the two heads, which we plan to keep as the only head going forward.