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Preview: YONDER – Slow Boat, Rich Life

January 20, 2015

In Japan, it’s called wabi-sabi — to Joe Coomer, it’s the beauty of patina and the leisurely comfort of a slow boat.

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– When I bought Yonder she was appealing because she was slow and I was from Texas and I was scared to death of the ocean. And Yonder was a stable platform to learn how to go to sea.

– Right now we’re on a mooring in front of a really busy lobstering harbor in Maine. She does bounce around on her mooring, but I keep her here because I can see her from my bedroom window and the first thing I do every morning before I eat breakfast, I see that my boat is still floating, still part of this world. So I came to Yonder as an antique dealer. Someone who appreciates patina and I knew that she was an old boat. That’s what I liked about her. Every worn corner appealed to me. And a crack in the paint, the crackeleture that you might see in a renaissance oil painting that she had on her ceiling I thought was gorgeous. I didn’t need her to look like a new boat in 2002 when she was built in 1934. Her original owner was the commodore of a yacht club down in Barrington, Rhode Island and he had her designed with quarter posts on her transom so that he could pull the kid’s sailing dinghies out into the bay, strung out behind her. I think she was designed to go slow and to go comfortable and to get you out on the water and keep you there. She keeps you there by being comfortable, by being able to stand up down below, by being stodgy and refusing to hurry, and just trying to make you understand what a comfortable life is like. So after my first four seasons aboard Yonder I wrote a book about her called Sailing in a Spoonful of Water. The publisher paid in advance that was exactly what Yonder had cost four years earlier. So I feel like she’s always been free and it’s always been a great treat to meet people who have read the book along the way and recognize this little boat so far at sea. Yonder had six previous owners in the 50 years before I found her and she just needed yearly maintenance. She’s 85% power boat really. She’s got a handkerchief jib and a small gaff and the sails are designed as steadying sails and to get you home if you lose your engine. When I first learned to sail I tried to visit every island I saw and Yonder took us there. She is a sea worthy boat, but we don’t like eight foot waves so we try and stay tucked in among the islands within reach of a harbor in four or five hours, but she has gone her way 30 and 35 hours across the Bay of Fundy to Canada. To Yarmouth and Halifax, stopping at every island along the way. Twice in the 23 years that I’ve owned her I’ve had to spend $10,000 and that was when I had a new stem put in and when I had a new gripe put in and a couple of new fuel tanks. So she’s got 90% of her original planking except for a few short strikes on her stem. Every year I sand her hull, apply two coats of paint. That takes me about two weeks, working two hours in the morning to get her sanded and fresh for the season with a couple coats of varnish. For the most part, that’s all she’s needed. It’s just my time and $500 worth of paint and sandpaper. I work more on the engine then I do on anything else. She’s got a 58 horsepower Westerbeke Diesel down below. It’s been there since 1982. Originally she was powered with a Grey gasoline engine. Very reliable, she’s over powered. Very rarely go above 1700 RPM and at that rate she’ll go about five-and-a-half, six knots. Original Edson steering gear, original controls. All this marlin spike work, all the spokes the same except for the king spoke so I can tell which spoke I’ve got when I’m steering and trying to look up. I mainly did it because their spokes are wood and I got tired of varnishing them. She’s 28 feet, but she’s big for 28 feet because she’s got a plumb stem and transom and she’s quite wide, almost 10 feet wide. She rarely, even in a good stiff breeze heals over very far, but when you get people from Texas, which is where I’m from, on a boat on the ocean for the first time it’s like you’re putting them on a flat car on a railroad flat car. They’re not worried. They’re comfortable. They don’t get sick and they can see why you love it. She is always been good to us in a way that’s hard to explain in that we never seem jealous of any other boat we see. I’ve only owned one boat in my life and that’s been Yonder. So I think I’m gonna have this boat for a long time and I hope I’m not the guy who let’s her go. I hope she’s still going on long after we’re gone.



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