Monday, October 31, 2011

Kibitzing; Jamie Brickell and Mothboats

I haven't been doing much sailing this fall but I have been kibitzing. Sometimes, you never know when you'll walk smack dab into sailing history. In talking with SSA Lightning sailor Jamie Brickell, he mentioned he learned to sail on a Mothboat, specifically a Skip Etchell's Connecticut design. Well, he added a comment to one of my posts which I'll drag over to this post. At the time, he didn't mention his mother was Allegra Knapp Mertz, winner, four times, of the Adams Cup.

Jamie writes;

My mother, Allegra Knapp Mertz, bought Connecticut Moth #1020 from Skip Etchells in 1947, named her Loon, and frostbited at Larchmont (NY) Yacht Club over the winter on 1947-48. Her husband, Jim Mertz, was a member of American YC in Rye NY, and Loon went there in 1948. She was placed on one of the docks. I was 7 years old at the time and found that I could push her off the dock and go sailing. The only problem was getting her back on the dock at the end of the day. I did this for about 6 weeks before I was caught. Mom came down to the club to go sailing and the sails and boat were missing. Luckily I sailed around the AYC main dock and made a perfect landing, wouldn't have broken an egg, as she said. Looking back, it was probably a bit crazy for a 7 year old to sail around Milton Harbor, and a bit beyond, unsupervised, but that was then. I loved that boat and think it is the reason I am still racing small boats, currently a Lightning, at age 70 with my wife Susie as forward crew. There is a half model of her (Loon) in the American Yacht Club.
Jamie (age 4) also faintly remembers his Mom and step-dad fishing a large log onto the Mothboat to use later as firewood.

For a tribute to Allegra Knapp Mertz, here is a link to her obituary in the New York Times.

I've talked to a fair number of my generation and many learned by sailing on their own; not so much through organized instruction; just going out and going sailing.

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