A look back on a foggy morning

Well it finally happened, we have been visited by Maine’s infamous fog. I was shocked once again when I peeled back our hatch curtain to see blue skies. However, once I turned my gaze from the sky to the horizon at the mouth of Pulpit Harbor, I no longer could see the towering Camden Hills behind Isleboro as we could last night. By the time the coffee was ready, we were socked in. However, the sun was still high and the fog was low, so somehow Maine has managed to make fog still beautiful.

I figured I’d take this lazy morning to reflect on how we got here. We are only able to sail from scenic spot to scenic spot and even voyage through the “offshore” conditions in the Gulf of Maine because of all the hard work my husband, Brandon, has put into Persistence to get it where it is today. 

To take another step back, for those who don’t know Brandon was actually raised on 63-ft Lemsteraak called Brandaris (yes, he is actually named after the boat) which was has a rich history as one of the Little Ships of Dunkrirk before she ended up in Wickford, Rhode Island where Brandon lived and worked aboard from birth to 21.

So he grew up maintaining and fixing boats where he acquired many skills. He is also a master of researching and self-teaching. As many of our friends can attest, he spends his downtime on cruising forums or YouTube learning about the next project. In 2006, at 21 he started as a mechanic at Jamestown Boat Yard – where he still works today and we keep the boat. A year or so later, he acquired a Pearson Triton, a 1968 28-footer that he stripped completely and refit and named her Persistence after all the hard work it took to get her launched.

In 2010, my friend from college, Morgan, moved to the area and became a launch driver at JBY. She met Brandon and went for sails onboard Persistence. At the same time, I was also fixing up a Triton and by summer of 2012 was living aboard with a boyfriend in Newport Harbor (if you want to put a relationship into a pressure cooker, move on a 28 footer!) Morgan had always mentioned that we should all meet up because we had the same weird old boats. Ours was one of the first hulls made by Pearson which was just around the time they were starting to use fiberglass so it was a solid piece of yachting history. The design had both querks and a following of loyal sailors. I can’t tell you how many places we’d go and some older passerby would say – “is this a Triton?! I loved this boat/ had this boat / grew up on this boat…”

Morgan and I sailing on Persistence in 2012 with Gussie, back when we were both single and Gussie was an only child. (This was when I only knew Brandon as Morgan’s-Friend-With-a-Triton)

It was years before our acquaintance turned into a romance, but it was a joke that I must “have a thing for guys with Pearson Tritons.” About a year or so after we were dating and had been cruising the first Persistence around Rhode Island, we started looking for something bigger. In the Fall of 2014, a 1978 C&C 34 popped up on Craig’s List asking $10K. (Boats on YachtWorld are listed for ($18-25K) so we decided to take look to see what was wrong with it for the price and if it was fixable.

Armed with a moisture meter – a tool to sense if there is water in the core of the boat that can’t been seen – we headed just over the border from New Hampshire into Maine to check out Shiobahn which had been living high and dry in a boatyard away from the waterfront for a few years. Turns out it was the original owner, who just used it around Portsmouth, and his family was not interested in sailing anymore. He tried the yacht broker track and deals had fallen through, so he just wanted to see her go to a good home. We offered him a price and he accepted it, I think he was just thrilled to see it go to a young couple who would use her. (We hope the couple we met back in McGlathery who knew the boat and the previous owner passes on that she is loved and used!)

We had her trucked back to Jamestown and luckily we were able to sell the Triton not too soon after to a young guy in the Chesapeake with the dream of sailing it with his fiancé to the Bahamas. (Hope that worked out, he sent messages for a year or so showing us some upgrades he did but soon after lost touch).

Then so began the work on new Persistence. That first winter Brandon (and I help where I can) stripped out nearly every wire, hose, floor board, faucet, oven, and more that can probably not be named. Nights and weekends were spent replacing it all and bringing her systems up to the 21st century. 

Here are some of the highlighted projects just that first winter:

  • Stripped the bottom down to the gel coat and barrier coated the bottom
  • Splurged on the B&G Zeus system; so had close to top of the line electronics. We figured these can go out of date quickly so we started with the best of the time (and it’s true in 2020, there have already been leaps and bounds beyond 2015).
  • Converted the engine from sea water cooled to fresh water cooled which streches the life of an older engine a little bit more
  • Upgraded the alternator for more charging capacity
  • Installed new batteries 
  • Created a new electrical panel – which in my opinion, looks like a work of art as its so well laid out with colorful wires and fuses, labeled, and organized as opposed to the firetrap/rats nest that lived back there before 
  • Made the bilges accessible by unscrewing the floor boards, sanding & varnishing them back to show off the teak and holly woodwork
  • Turned the ice box into a refrigerator with isotherm air cooled refrigeration 
  • Put in a propane tank in the aft lazertte for the stove with an additional hose to attach to a rail mounted grill
Taken September 2014, the first day we looked at the boat. The cushions remained for one season. We regret not keeping at least a little bit of fabric to make a pillow to pay homage to the original 1970s style.

By the time we launched mid-June 2015 on a rainy and foggy day, you might not think we did anything by first glance. The bulk to the changes were hidden from view. The sails were in decent shape and looked like one had never even been used. The cushions were good but were still in the fashion of the late 1970s (who thought Salmon and Trout made for a good pattern?!). The varnish was dull and cracking everywhere. I designed a new logo for the stern that a friend printed for us paging homage to the Atlas statue of holding up the world showcasing the Persistence if took to get this boat launched in just 6 months. That summer we took her to Block Island, Cuttyhunk, and all the way to Gloucester (for Morgan’s wedding) all the while making the project list for Winter ’15-16. 

New logo on launch day (in the pouring rain).

Over the next two winter haul outs  we worked on the cosmetics and creating other efficiencies: 

  • Auto pilot for making long cruises less exhausting 
  • Water heater for hot showers 
  • Solar power to keep up with the fridge – so it could stay on and we would always have cold beer when we got onboard. Also so we did not have to run the engine as much to charge batteries while cruising 
  • Windlass for anchoring via push button versus muscle power 
  • Varnished the interior
  • Re-covered the cockpit cushions and interior cushions & new sail cover (thanks to Brandon’s Mom)
  • New mattress and sheets cut to shape the v-berth 
  • A new canvas dodger for wind and sun protection in the cockpit followed the next year by a bimini over the helm for sailing sun protection soon followed by canvas to connect the two for ultimate sun protection while on the mooring or anchor (can’t sail with connector due to boom height.) This was all done by Neil Thurston of Thurston Canvas in Bristol who does an AMAZING job. The only thing we have outsourced on the entire boat.
  • New deck layout/configuration to replace the “winch farm” of many small winches with a bank of clutches and organizers for all the halyards and sail controls along with all new lines. 

The project list as gotten smaller these last few years so luckily launching just requires a new coat of bottom paint, buffing/waxing the topsides, and commissioning the engine but as anyone with a boat knows, the work list never ends. To get ready for this trip to Maine, Brandon added:

  • Heater that pulls from the diesel for drying and warming out the boat on wet cold days
  • Welded a new aft railing for holding the grill since the new bimini blocks where we used to keep it
  • Two new solar panels to the top  of the bimini thus doubling our precious capacity 
  • A new jib to replace the old 135 (thank Paul Tingle at Quantum!)
  • New main sheet system so we can control it from behind the dodger
  • Jack lines for safety offshore (thank Neil Thurston)
  • Some upgraded galley tools on reccs from the Boat Galley Amazon Store: new knives with sleeves, a silicone strainer, and more efficient galley storage tupperwares 

I’ve been writing this as we waited for the fog to lift and it’s been fun to reminisce over all the hard work (and persistence) we’ve (especially Brandon) poured into her these last 6 years. We have been dreaming of this trip and now to enjoy all the fruits of the labor makes the adventure all the much better. 

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