Mark Ellis, yacht designer and why I sail.

Last evening Brenda and I visited Essex Yacht Club to hang out with fellow boaters and enjoy a nice dinner.   Standing at the bar, as I have been known to do from time to time, I was introduced to Mark Ellis, the well known yacht designer. Mark is also a member of EYC but I had not realized who he was.

Not being a student of yacht design, I was unaware of Mark’s work until he told me two of his designs.  In particular, Mark was the brains behind the very successful Nonsuch line of catboats built in Canada.  Yes, some in the catboat association, no make that many, view the Nonsuch as anything but a catboat. However the Nonsuch, with it’s unusual unstayed cat rigged mast, is indeed a catboat.

As Brenda and served on the “steering committee” of the Catboat Association for many years, we know many who own these boats.  It was fun to talk to the guy who was the designer of a boat that is so widely know.

The design is unique, in part, because of the unstayed mast as well as the unusual wishbone boom, which eliminates the more traditional boom used on most boats.

Aside from being a “cat” rigged boat, there is little similar in it’s design to a more traditional “cape cod catboat”, a style that Brenda and I owned for many years. Our Marshall 22, “Sappho” was a big part of our lives when we were younger, that’s for sure.  We still see her on occasion as she now lives up at Pleasant Street Wharf in Wickford RI.  Here is a shot of Brenda on the edge of her cockpit when we visited a while back.  And here, is a shot of me at the wheel of Sappho in a different lifetime.  Hmm… What’s with the mustache?  Yep, I sported that “caterpillar” to look older.  No need for that now.  Alas, time marches on.  I look a bit different now days but I am still having fun afloat.  Goofier and grayer for sure.  However, I am doing a lot more sailing these days. Yahoo…
Not sure how I got on this tangent of our old catboat.  Anyway, Mark also designed another boat, the Niagra 35.  The lines are pretty sweet with a nice sheer.  I have long admired this design and saw one in the Bahamas last winter.  The young couple we met were sailing their Niagra down to the Caribbean.  I wonder where they are now?  Perhaps we will see them this coming winter. 

Mark’s current work is much different as he is focused more on power boats, it seems.  However, his designs are still great and have a wonderful feel.  You can see his current portfolio here.  In any event, it was fun to meet and talk to such an interesting guy and one who’s work allows folks like me to spend time afloat. Another reason to hang around boating types and think about being somewhere warmer as the weather gets colder and winter sets in.

Speaking of winter setting in.  The sort of winter that I am looking forward to is decidedly warmer.  It’s only been below freezing for a few days and I am already pining for the Bahamas.  Not a bad thing.  Only nine weeks and three days till we head to Florida and sunshine!!!

For now I will have to think about what we have to look forward to this winter.

The swimming pigs in Big Major Spot.  “Feed me, feed me…”Or, enjoying the view and having a picnic with Brenda on the beach.   And water the most amazing color of blue.
And, long walks on deserted beaches.  And pot luck suppers on Rum Cay.  We bring a “hot dish” of rice or something equally pedestrian.  Others, something more interesting. And always, not wanting to go swimming at the dock during feeding time.  Hold on tight…Well, this has indeed been a somewhat random post but spending time with Mark Ellis, designer, brought back memories and reminded me why we spend time on the water.

And, of course, there’s always sundown in the Bahamas to look forward to.  It doesn’t get any better than this.  Except, perhaps this.   I guess you’ll have to decide.  Me, I am counting the days.  Make that three months and six days.  Hmm…

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