Sandefjord in Robinson's Cove, Moorea, 15 miles from Tahiti
EARLIER THIS WEEK I was talking about that famous brand of sailing vessel known as the Colin Archer. That spawned a request for details about a gaff-rigged 47-foot Colin Archer ketch called Sandefjord. By chance, I happened to know quite a lot about Sandefjord because she was based in my home town and belonged to two brothers, Pat and Barry Cullen.
They sailed her around the world in 1965/66 when she was about 50 years old, and made a movie of the trip. There is a website still with a slide show that shows how different things were in those days, when young sailors went barefoot and wore nothing but rugby shorts under the tropical sun. No number 50 sunscreen for them as they circled the globe via the tradewind routes. No fears of melanoma, either, because the reigning medical opinion was that a healthy tan was good for you.
I have often wondered how many people were inspired by that movie to follow in the wake of Sandefjord. I wonder how many people bought or built Westsail 32s, the smaller siblings of the Colin Archer, because they were smitten with the romance of sailing off into the wild blue yonder.
It’s not difficult to understand the urge to explore the world’s beautiful islands and harbors, including those of the South Seas, when you see a picture like that of Sandefjord above. No sensitive person could look at this beautiful boat stern-moored to a coconut tree in Robinson’s Cove in Papetoai Bay, Moorea, without feeling emotionally moved.
Look at her exquisite lines. Note the exact right amount of freeboard and the gorgeous curve of the sheerline. See how her bowsprit has just the perfect amount of steeve. Observe how her mizzen mast is raked just a couple of degrees farther aft than the mainmast to avoid the dreadful appearance of parallel masts. Note how carefully the ratlines have been placed and secured. This was a boat manned by sailors who loved her and understood her. And, in turn, she looked after them.
There was a time, way back in 1935, when her former Norwegian owner, Erling Tambs, was sailing her to Cape Town, when she pitchpoled in a storm and lost one man and her mizzen mast. But the Cullens and their crew completed their 1966 circumnavigation without major problems. They did remove the engine, it’s true, when it started to give trouble. They carried on without one and they did break their bowsprit in what was diplomatically called a berthing incident, but they built themselves another sprit and carried on regardless.
Sandefjord was already famous when she circled westward around the earth from Durban to Durban, and the Cullens later entered her for the first Cape-to-Rio race in 1971, but what happened to her after that I don’t know. I hope someone is looking after her somewhere, showering her with the love and respect she surely deserves.
There’s a schooner in the offing,With her topsails shot with fire,
And my heart has gone aboard her
For the Islands of Desire.
I must forth again to-morrow!
With the sunset I must be
Hull down on the trail of rapture
In the wonder of the Sea.
— Richard Hovey, The Sea Gypsy
TailpieceChildren’s drums are highly educational toys. The first thing a kid learns when he gets a drum is that he’s never going to be given another one.
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