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Preview: The Smallest Boat in the Harbor — Nutshell Pram & Shellback Dinghy

March 8, 2016

As time moves on we are discovering that, often, it’s the smallest pleasures that generate the sweetest dividends – the smallest boat in the harbor can often bring the most joy.

For our 300th video, we’ve come full circle, back to where we began in our first video — to the very essence of simplicity afloat.

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– [Narrator] 25 years ago I was sitting on the deck of a beautiful Herreshoff yacht in New Zealand. And I saw this. And I remember thinking, “Wow. Whatever that is, that is what I want”. And that image stuck with me. I’ve had bigger boats. Really nice boats. But there’s something about a small boat and its simplicity that speaks to me. When I moved to Brooklyn, I found a harbor full of big, beautiful yachts. I was looking for a boat, but the space and time and money required for a bigger boat just wasn’t in my life at the moment. My kids were nine at the time. They’re twins. And they were just coming into boating age. Now the priority was my kids learning to sail. I wanted them to be able to go off to islands on their own. I wanted them to be able to handle the boat. I wanted them to learn how to do things. So the best boats they say for kids are the boats that sail and row. Seems like there’s a lot of insecurities in buying a boat. Especially a small boat. It’s as if sailing on the big yachts is somehow real sailing. And the smaller boats are just toys.

– [Man] Where’s your spinnaker?

– [Narrator] It’s almost like there’s a little voice inside our heads getting us out of what we really need and what we really want, and we’re thinking about are the cool people on the really big boats gonna be laughing at me?

– [Steve] Amy? It’s Steve. Maybe, I dunno. I just think maybe you might wanna… I’ve got a little boat. I was wondering if maybe you wanted to go out for an overnight with me on it. It’s a stupid idea.

– [Narrator] If the people on the big boats are making fun of you, how are you gonna be happy in a little boat? So I started asking the old timers around what was a good boat for kids. It was Maynard Bray that suggested the larger Nutshell Pram. So I found a good used one that was 25 years old. Gave it a fresh coat of paint, and had a brand new boat. Kids took right to it. Took them about 30 minutes to learn to row, and they were off. Stella absolutely fell in love with the Nutshell. I still remember it was our last morning in Maine for the summer. Jack asked if we could go row the Nutshell around the harbor. He’d been thinking all morning about which boats he wanted to circle one last time. The Nutshell was such a hit with the kids the second year I looked for another boat. This time a Shellback Dinghy. It’s kind of a cousin to the Nutshell. A little sleeker, a little faster. Of course that fit Jack. He wanted to be a little faster than his sister. Getting the second boat was a good move. Then they could go out together and sail together and with friends. Right from the start, they could handle it all on their own. It was small enough, light enough, easy to handle. It’s hard to ever know as a parent whether you make the right decision, but when I see my kids carry their own gear, get the rigs and the boats down to the beach, hop in, hoist the sail and sail away, I feel like they’re learning things that they’re gonna take with them hopefully for the rest of their life. People do laugh when they see us loading up these little boats. It just doesn’t seem possible that a little speck of a boat can be so substantial and carry gear and kids and head out to islands. I got the Nutshell for the kids, but pretty soon I figured out it’s just as good a boat for the adults. We packed the boat up and head across the reach to our favorite island. It’s easy to get above the high tide line and camp for the night. I never could’ve imagined these boats would’ve gotten us out to the places they’ve taken us. As it turns out, here in Maine at least, the more experienced a sailor is, the more it seems they love the small, simple boats.


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