If you're lucky enough to live to 100, the years between 50 & 75 are your third quarter. That segment in life could be the waning of your physically agile years, so it's a good idea to stay active. It's also a good time to challenge your brain to keep things limber up there - by mastering something new. We decided to go sailing, and this is a chronicle of our journey.


Searching for a Sail Boat; and Finding One

The welcome sign at Robinhood Marine Center on the coast of Maine
In the previous post, Don and I got a little side tracked with all the shiny at the Annapolis boat show. We thought about abandoning our plan to find a trusty Cape Dory, and instead we'd get a new boat, because Don loved the light, the styling and the features in the newer layouts, and I was pretty excited about how many more family members we could accommodate with all the beds (smart boat designers).  After Annapolis,  I went directly to visit my family in Connecticut, and Don left for a business trip. We reconvened at home, and compared notes, and luckily, we both came to separate but matching conclusions that a new boat just wasn't us. It didn't fit our plan.  So, we spent the next few weeks getting our Cape Dory search back on track.

Robinhood Marine Center in December; all the boats are put away for the winter

In late November, Don found three boats that looked great; two Cape Dory's and a Robinhood - and all of them were at the Robinhood Marine Center in Maine. We already established that we were willing to go to the East Coast to look at a good boat, but Maine was about as far from California as you could go.  But, in addition, we would get to visit Cape Dory history.  The company was founded in Massachusetts in 1963 by Andy Vavolotis. In 1991, the Cape Dory name and their powerboat designs were sold to a (now closed) New York Shipyard, and parts of the Cape Dory boat building operation, including some of Carl Alberg-designed hull molds, and the marine hardware division of the company - Spartan Marine - were moved to Robinhood, Maine. The Robinhood 36 and 40 are still being manufactured from the Cape Dory 36 and 40 molds, and many of the original Cape Dory staff, including Andy Vavolotis and Dave Perry, are still making and selling great boats at Robinhood.

We booked a quick red-eye trip to Maine for the first weekend in December, and truth be told, I sort of braced myself for disappointment, even though I was excited to see and meet some of the history of the Cape Dory sailing community. We stayed in Historic Bath, and even though we froze our tails off, we were both utterly charmed by the maritime history of Portland, Bath and the surrounding areas. It was a good sign.

Don standing in Dave Perry's office, taking in the view of the marina

Dave Perry met us in his office, which is at the end of a narrow, wooded road that opens out to fingers of coast dotted with white birch trees and clapboard houses along the water. All the boats get hauled out for the winter, so the marina looked a little lonesome, but the yard and the buildings were filled with tons of Cape Dory's, Robinhoods, and an assortment of beautifully cared for and classic old and new boats. The smell of fiberglass resin in the cold December air reminded me of my step Dad's boat supply shop in Santa Barbara, CA in the early 80's - The Lazarette. I was freezing cold, but really comfortable and glad to be there.

One of the Cape Dory molds in the yard. I think Dave said this was from a CD28.
Dave drove us off-site to see the first boat, which was very nice. We spent about an hour checking her out in another boat yard, and as I was snapping photos, I was imagining warmer weather, a beam reach on a sunny day, and what it would it would feel like to move an East coast boat to Pacific waters.

Don and Dave back at Robinhood to look at the second
boat of three we were interested in.
After taking us to a neat little restaurant in a coastal village for lunch, and telling great stories (I admit to quizzing Dave just a little) about the Cape Dory manufacturing history in Massachusetts, we went back to the marina to look at the second boat, a Robinhood 36. I was curious about what - if anything - they had changed in the manufacturing of this boat, but I found that most of the differences in each sail boat related to what previous owners had chosen for equipment, comforts and level of care and upkeep.

The lovely, curved swell of a Robinhood hull, made with a Cape Dory mold.
The second boat was in the yard at Robinhood Marina, under peaked wood slats and a tarp, so we climbed a ladder, and hopped up to her deck. I could see my breath, and I wished I had two pairs of pants and fleece-lined mittens on, instead of leather gloves - my fingers were numb. Even though I'm a New England girl, I don't do cold well at all. But here's the thing; even amidst my teeth chattering, knee quaking discomfort, I had an immediate crush on this boat.
Don and Dave talking about the engine (Yanmar)  on the Robinhood 36
Don and Dave walked around and reviewed systems, while I took the camera and snapped close ups and distance shots from all sorts of angles, trying to keep in mind what I might want to review once we got back to California and I was thawed out, and thinking more clearly.
Dave Perry answering Don's questions about the Robinhood 36,
on the hard, under wraps for the winter.
Even though this boat was similar to others we had seen - same length, same layout, same t-cockpit, same helm, same galley, etc. ... there was something about her that felt righter-than-right to me - more than anything we looked at over the past 6 months. I had a hunch Don felt the same way every time we looked at each other across the deck; matching happy eyes.
I am so cold in this photo (I feel it all over again just looking at the image),
but inside, I was already singing love songs to this boat.
We made an offer on the Robinhood 36 before we left Dave's office. After thanking him for a great afternoon, and a wonderful tour of the boat yard, Don and I went to an Irish Pub in Bath, and ordered a couple of beers. We expected to get a call from Dave the next day, since the owners were traveling, but before Don finished his Guinness, Dave called us back, and we were suddenly, very excitedly, all grins and toasts, boat owners.
Our surveyor took this photo in late afternoon sun,
and I like the geometry of light, shadow and wood slats.

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