Preview: Learning from Experience; My Biggest Disaster and What it Taught Me.

June 15, 2012

Ginny Jones

Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s Gannon and Benjamin (on Martha’s Vineyard) owned a 72’ yawl named ZORRA. Purchased at a Federal Marshal’s Auction in 1986, she had had a fire onboard that had badly burned portions of her interior and filled the rest of her full of smoke When she arrived in Vineyard Haven under sail after the engine had seized just as she left the dock in Virginia, she was a mess. Over the years, after she arrived in her new homeport, and in between passages, she was rebuilt and turned into a very shapely, comfortable and sea kindly as well as fast sailing yacht. She was (and still is) one of the few designed by the legendary and revolutionary British powerboat designer Renato “Sonny” Levi. She had been built in Italy in the early 60’s and was originally named HERMITAGE. G & B used to sail her to the Caribbean each winter where she would charter, carry freight between the islands, or act as a floating home while Ross Gannon or Nat Benjamin was onboard, during which times they would help the boatbuilders of Carriacou, Bequia, or whatever other island ZORRA might be anchored.  The crew was normally occupied in upgrading (or repairing) ZORRA’s very basic gear and in improving her cosmetics. Deliveries on ZORRA were always exciting: she was very sound but skimpy on high-tech gear, and frugally outfitted – “shabby chic” before it became fashionable. The sorts of toys that charter guests expect weren’t included in her amenities; in fact, the sales pitch at first was “third world charters” – a reference to ZORRA rather than the islands -- and she often headed south late in the year after the hurricane season had ended but when winter storms were frequent.

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