Preview: The Film Charlotte – Inside the Gannon and Benjamin Marine Railway

August 1, 2014

Maynard Bray

Looking for a wooden boat film to keep you occupied for an evening? Skip the hollywood entertainment one of these nights and check out the film Charlotte: A Wooden Boat Story.

The 95-minute film takes you inside Vineyard Haven's Gannon and Benjamin Marine Railway to document the building of Charlotte, OCH Guide Nat Benjamin's 50' schooner of his own design.

Charlotte: A Wooden Boat Story

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Note: You can watch the film in HD and support the filmmaker by renting it on Amazon Instant Video or purchasing the DVD.

Eschewing narration or overt storytelling, Director Jeff Kusama-Hinte's Charlotte "has a gentle, meditative power."

The film calmed my mind and left me with a deep respect for the characters who populate the Gannon and Benjamin boat shop. I appreciated the honesty with which we're given a window on the Vineyard community and the Gannon and Benjamin families.

Michael Naumann -- owner of the 38' Benjamin-designed sloop Here and Now -- puts it well during an interview in the film:

"Nat and Ross have their own charisma. They are very peculiar New Englanders, I think very typical for a kind of New England you might find in Melville's Moby Dick. They are very unique people with a very personal charisma, an aura which is unusual. I think basically it's honesty and seriousness and integrity. I may sound gushing, but it's really true."

What a monumental work is a vessel such as Charlotte; one worthy of deep pride among all that had a hand in her creation.

NAVIGATE FURTHER

Read Nat Benjamin's own description of Charlotte in his Guide Post Three Boats I Lust After (and Why).

Another favorite quote from the film:
"The powerboat guys are known as stinkpot guys because their boats make oil fumes. And they refer to this boatyard as the 'splinter hippies.' There might be a financial distance between the people that own the boats and the people that build them, but they're all united about the artistry in this whole thing. They get respected for that. Even the stinkpot crew kinda respects them."
-Maynard Silva

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