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Preview: The Closest Thing to Magic, Of Boats and Boathouses

December 3, 2015

When Harry Bryan designed and built the little sloop KATIE, he had no idea the magic she would keep bringing to him and his family.

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– After we sold our Cruising Catch, we had planned to sell it after our trip, and we did that. Not boatless, for sure, but I had my fiddlehead and a little 12 foot sailboat, to the first Daisy, the prototype, and those were our only boats for a number of years. I’d just been doodling around on the drawing board and came up with an 18 foot using a centreboard, and presented that to my wife as an option we might build. I said, well, if you’re gonna do that, why don’t you make it a little bit longer so we can spend the night in it, and I would’ve loved to do that, but didn’t think that was gonna fly, so I jumped back to the drawing board again. The original 18 has never been built, but we’ve designed a 20 footer with a little higher freeboard, and a small trunk cabin on that centreboard. We put that together, and were gonna name it after a common name of my wife’s ancestors, and my ancestors, Edith which we thought was a nice name, but it, it was just chosen as something that was common to both of us, and a nice sound. But very unfortunately, my daughter-in-law died suddenly at that time. Her name Katie, and it was a terrible blow to all of us, and in fact, she was there at the launching of what was to be the Edith, and died a few days later. And we asked her parents if they would mind if we named the boat after her. It’s meant so much to me to have this boat be a memory of her, and we put the first year she was hauled out of the water on a little railway we built covered with a canvas tarp. And that winter I went to work to build a boat house over her, and it was a very therapeutic experience to be able to build this cover to protect the boat. And it’s turned out to be a wonderful boat. We absolutely love that boat. The two of us can cruise comfortably in it. And every time I leave under sail, and feel that first puff of wind start to move that boat, it is the closest thing to magic that I can possibly imagine. You feel that slight acceleration, and absolute quiet, and off you go. I never get tired of that. Using the unseen wind, and feeling somewhat closer to the seabirds in looking for that change in the wind, that little lift of change under a headland that helps you get along. It’s such great fun. And also being at one with the boat. I really feel that the boat is more than a bunch of pieces of wood stuck together with pins. Yes, there is a real presence there. I often talk to the boat, and I know darn well that I’m not the only sailor who does that. I sense a real communication, one way or the other, that I get by sailing that boat, and maintaining her, that’s really special.



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