In Festival Boats 2022, Festival Boats 2023

The seaworthy Nordic Folkboat Lorraine has truly been a gift to steward–from January of 1979 to the present. As a sailmaker of nearly 50 years, I have had the privilege of sailing on many hundreds of boats and know that Nordic Folkboats are among a handful of perfect sailing vessels. Sailing Lorraine is an effortless and absolute joy. She answers her helm in zephyrs or gales, and many of her sisters (after adding a self-bailing cockpit) have crossed oceans. It was just such a sister to Lorraine that taught me Folkboats’ seaworthiness as I cruised/bashed about the gnarly Hawaiian Islands with its owner who had sailed her from Santa Cruz to Lahaina.
I spied from the sail loft window a Folkboat in Pt. Hudson with a for sale sign on her. I knew she had chosen me. She was school bus yellow, with spar buff canvas cabin top and decks in need of replacing, a house painted white with crazed plexiglass portlights port and starboard and a giant Plastismo compass and a plastic tank inspection port on the cabin’s aft bulkheads that face the cockpit. Her name was Mittelfart! (named for the town in Denmark where TH Lind built her in 1959).
But her Norwegian Pine lapstrake planks fastened with copper rivets were breathtaking, especially at their hood ends where they enter the stem, and her lines were exquisite. I am certain that it is the sheer line of a vessel that makes us fall in love and charms us to undertake boat ownership. A few broken frames at the hard turn of the bilge were all she needed to have replaced and, well, maybe a portion of a plank or two, keel bolts, and new canvas on her cabin top and decks. Since I lived in Port Townsend with the most brilliant of shipwrights these details seemed to pose no problems!
I set to work stripping the hull and decks, sandblasting her rusty wood-burning stove, and hiring or trading for skilled help. After her first major refit, I studied how to rename a boat without inviting peril, and christened her Lorraine, after my mother. Decades later Lorraine has all of the work completed and gear acquired, plus many new planks, a new house, and cabin top, new decks, new keel bolts, a classic compass, a solar-charged battery that powers modern amenities, and a Navionics app.
Lorraine and I have sailed the Salish Sea from Olympia to Princess Louisa Inlet and Desolation Sound, visiting most provincial and state parks in Puget Sound, the San Juans, and the Gulf Islands, as well as some grand pubs! My son and godson have cruised with me from infancy and I have been blessed with shipmates–who have accompanied me on glorious northwest sailing adventures that include no standing headroom, running water, indoor plumbing, or amenities beyond those found in a canopy camper. Last summer I enjoyed a 2-month retirement cruise in South Sound, delighted to know that at 70 I could still raise sails and the anchor and convince my 26-year-old son to join me for a week! And my godson’s 6-year-old son was crew for a week, too.
I delight in day sailing in Port Townsend Bay most especially the countless times I could walk less than 100-yards from the sail loft at Pt. Hudson to her slip and be out on the water in 10 minutes time forgetting whatever I was worried about and enjoying the wind and water, snow-capped peaks, and beautiful vessels out sailing that afternoon. A gift beyond measure, to which I owe whatever sanity I may still possess.
Because of the knowledge and skill of Port Townsend’s marine trades, Lorraine has taken honors two different years for best in her class in Victoria’s Classic Boat Festival, is featured in an Off-Center Harbor video, is structurally sound, shipshape, and–depending on time and money any given year – close to “Bristol fashion”. The work and inspiration of my family and friends (some no longer with us, or retired from the marine trades and life afloat) shines in Lorraine and makes me proud that she is part of our Wooden Boat Festival.