Preview: MARTHA, E.B. White’s Last Sailboat — In Good Hands (the Sallee Rover design by Samuel Crocker)

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The little sloop MARTHA has long been a favorite of Center Harbor watchers. Built by Joel White for his father, E.B. White, the writer, and named for White’s granddaughter Martha, she expresses quietly and eloquently all that we love about traditional handmade wooden boats. She was E.B. White’s last boat, the Sallee Rover design by Samuel Crocker.

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28 Responses So Far to “MARTHA, E.B. White’s Last Sailboat — In Good Hands (the Sallee Rover design by Samuel Crocker)

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    Jon Crawfurd says:

    Charming! Wonderful sailors on a wonderful boat!

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    Judy Thomas says:

    I grew up in a sailing family. My dad was a major Sam Crocker fan. We started with a Stone Horse Jr. which we rapidly and unfortunately outgrew. All told we had six wooden sailboats over the years. Every one except one was a Crocker design and that exception didn’t stay in the family very long as you can probably guess. Our local sailing area was Cape Cod and the islands but on Dad’s vacation it was coastal Maine or other points farther afield. It was the best possible way to grow up and in the middle of the fiberglass explosion we were often a curiosity. Many a tourist requested permission to board if we made the mistake of tying up rather than anchoring out. We never had a “Martha” but I promise you we would have loved her if we had!

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    Eugene Bellows says:

    Beautiful boat and in good hands. Seen her when I wa at the woodenboat school

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    Doug Day says:

    thanks for that , Keenan. Love to see Martha at Sweet Chariot Music Festival, an easy sail away on Swan’s Island, Aug 2 and 3 for shanties in Burnt Coat at 4 PM. Love to have you as a guest in the evening shows, 7;30 PM Aug 2-4. Maynard’s point about how satisfying it is for a boat happy on its own trailer pulled by a normal pick-up. That’s where I’m headed. Thanks for this lovely testimony, right in keeping with the original owner. Doug Day

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    Michael Ryan says:

    Thanks for sharing. A wonderful story, a beautifully simple boat and a fine young man.

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    Brent Williams says:

    Such a beautiful but yet simple boat, thanks for sharing.

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    Terry Smith says:

    Any time one gets wound up a tad too tight, a few minutes with OCH will help one re-boot. Thanks!

    I’ve enjoyed (and learned from) E.B. White’s writings for many years. MARTHA seems consistent with the man who gave us “Stuart LIttle.” Her Crocker lines really resonate with me. My earliest sailing was with my parents on a Crocker Stone Horse in NJ.

    Thanks for another nifty video. OCH’s on the water production values are matchless, as usual.

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    Chris Martin says:

    Excellent. I had a chance to meet Keenan this year at WB, this video brought back some memories. Well done.

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    John Wujack says:

    I’m a fan of Sam Crocker and have owned my Stone Horse, Kittiwake, for 15 years. I see some similarities, but what caught my eye is Martha’s jib sheet arrangement. I constantly fiddle attempting to perfect Kittiwake’s staysail sheet and have tried what I thought was everything under the sun. Not once have I thought to dead end a block to the traveler as is utilized on Martha. Thanks for sharing. Just maybe a eureka moment!

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    Joseph Wl Haley III says:

    You know we have a Joel White boat builder here on the north Florida/Georgia Border. He is the son of a boat builder. They are a ‘cracker’ family. One of the daughters publish a long story of the family and their lives in North Florida. Most of their boats were work and fishing boats.

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      Ralph Morris says:

      Thanks, Maynard and all, for the wonderful videos. I’m 89, and my sailing days are past.

      But I’m sailing in your videos, and loving it.

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    John Pazereskis says:

    Looks rather like a toy boat. I suspect that in a great lakes daily short chop she’d go up and down more than forward.

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    Chuck Requadt says:

    What a Wonderfull video. I grew up on the Great Lakes in the 40’/50’s and raced wooden Lightnings starting at 8 years old. Worked many summers in a boatyard raking seams, etc. I attended Wooden Boat school in 2008 and attended Geoff Kerr’s class building a Coquina. Keenan, I remember one particular day at the school at lunch time there was a commotion in the area and here you were driving (I believe) a pickup through the school and everyone was scattering. You must have just gotten your learners permit or it was a few years before you were eligible for a permit. What a special place the school is and the entire Brookln area. Thanks for the Video and the best on your future sailing adventures and your Dad’s future adventures.

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    Ginny Jones says:

    What lovely words by Martha White, and as I was watching the video I was thinking of some of Martha’s Comments.AND E B White’s comments as well. His elegant but simple pieces are some of my favorite writings. There are several that I read every year – in late summer it is THE EYE OF EDNA which is such an evocative commentary on the approach of the hurricane EDNA that I find it strangely calming, particularly when I read it as a hurricane is on the move.

    MARTHA is a really special boat. Thanks for the memories of some very special people as well.

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      Ed McGuire says:

      Just a beautiful boat. And I very much enjoy reading EB’s essays.

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    Julia Graves says:

    Really enjoyed this story. What a beautiful boat.

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    Rob DesMarais says:

    Nicely done guys. My first sail on Mickey Finn, as the new owner, was out of Benjamin River. Paul Rollins favorite harbor. You should consider doing a piece on Paul, Mickey Finn and the Bud MacIntosh boat Go Go Girl that he is currently restoring in York. It’s looking awesome and should launch 2022. I just sold Mickey Finn so no self-promotion by me going on!

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    Eugene Alfano says:

    I saw a photo on the internet some twenty years ago or more and was enthralled with the single sailboat on a quiet mooring. I was aggravated by the fact that I could not find any information referencing the subject boat. I made a copy of the photo and hung it on my office wall. I remember thinking what a great little boat it would be to single-hand or weekend around Tampa Bay. I haven’t seen that picture in a few years; but, I am now satisfied that the boat in that picture is MARTHA.

  • David Tew

    David Tew says:

    What a great interview! Except for growing up at Woodenboat his experience was so much like mine growing up: learning on small wooden boats of all types then graduating to college sailing teams even to the extent of winning the collegiate Fowle Trophy just as his team did. I also got a kick out of seeing Maynard’s Handy Billy tied up stern-to while the interview was taking place. I will often moor or tie up by the stern when gamming with another and it drives my wife nuts. She thinks it’s wrong wrong wrong. ;) Thad Danielson, firmer proprietor of Redd’s Pond Boatworks in Marblehead now has a Sallee Rover. I’m sure he will enjoy it just as much as all who have sailed Martha.

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    Frank Crumbaugh says:

    I’m re-reading ONE MAN’S MEAT (staggeringly on-point 80 years on); it was a blessing to check my mail this morning and find this lovely piece. I visit the White graves at the back of the graveyard in Brooklin each time I’m in town, and look for MARTHA on her mooring if I’m there “in season”…. my personal pilgrimage toward sanity, wit and elegance, I suppose. I’m humbled to know and count as a friend MARTHA’s present owner (though he loves her and sails her as one who stewards rather than as one who owns), and now his son and the inimitable Maynard Bray bring to us this sweet vignette featuring MARTHA and the people to whom she was/is important.

    This piece demonstrates exactly why I love E.B. White and Brooklin, BBY and WBS, and why I am grateful to be a Life Member of OCH.

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    Martha White says:

    Nicely done, and great narration (and narrators!). EBW’s final boat was actually the Old Town XTC canoe, paddled on Walker Pond and the Belgrade lakes. He called it Ecstasy. MARTHA was his final sailboat, though, it’s true, and I helped press the gold leaf into her bowsprit dolphins and christened her with my junior high school class in attendance. She was built for a man who “could not not sail” by his only son who cherished him, which explains her wider decks, easy rig, and slightly under-powered sails. Fond memories, and we have been so happy with her subsequent owners who keep her so well and sail her so beautifully.

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      Joseph Wl Haley III says:

      I lived in that same area of Maine, I was a Capt for Air New England. I had 6 acre just off of Snow Pond (Musalanskee ?) south of Belgrade. I loved knocking about over in the Lakes. Great restaurant that served duck in a Blueberry sauce. I was sorry to leave when the airline folded. My son was bone in Augusta, so we still have a ‘Mainer’ in the family, His father is a Florida ‘Cracker”. Thanks to youall for the story of you find vessel.


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