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A Skipper’s Dream Outlives His Beloved 'Petrel'

When a wooden yacht called the Petrel was recently demolished on Martha’s Vineyard, two generations of sailors and boat enthusiasts blanched — including some on another island, Manhattan, where the yacht’s former owner used to offer $3.75 rides in New York Harbor.

That was Nick van Nes, a former Navy man with bright blue eyes who hoped in 1972 that his new company, Bring Sailing Back Inc., could introduce sailing to city dwellers who were not part of the upper-class set usually associated with yachting.

Mr. van Nes left Manhattan for Martha’s Vineyard in 2000, and several years later took the Petrel out of the water, leaving it at the top of a railway in an industrial part of Vineyard Haven, forlorn but still regal. “She was this incredibly massive, pretty object that appeared there one day,” said Ross Gannon, who builds and restores wooden boats in Vineyard Haven.

Legend has it that President John F. Kennedy once sailed the boat, which was built in 1938 by the famed naval architects Sparkman & Stephens, and even considered it for special use by the White House.

Last year, Mr. van Nes sold the Petrel to a German man, Olaf Kunkut, but the new owner found it would cost more to restore the aging boat than it would to simply rebuild it. So workers began harvesting parts to use in a new boat that will be built with the Petrel’s original plans.


New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/12/us...es.html?src=tp


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A sad ending for a glorious yacht

Petrel, a familiar sight in Martha's Vineyard waters, as well as in the East River and Caribbean, came to an ignominious end this week in Vineyard Haven, when the 70-foot wooden yawl was ripped apart with heavy equipment and hauled away in dumpster loads.

The lead keel was salvaged, along with a few brass parts, which will go into a new vessel to be built from the original plans.

"There's a lot of good boat left, but by the time you finished a restoration, it would exceed the cost of building a new one," Tom George said. Mr. George is project manager for owner Olaf Kunkut of Germany. Mr. George will oversee construction of the new boat in Port Townsend, Washington.

"The boat has been in the family for a long time," said Nick Van Nes, a West Tisbury resident who sold the boat to Mr. Kunkut recently. Mr. Van Nes said he had repaired large sections of the vessel, but could no longer keep up with the expensive maintenance needed.

"It's the way of wooden boats. It was out of my hands, but not out of my heart," Mr. Van Nes said. "I sold it to somebody with the understanding that it would be renovated. But we talked about all the options."

The boat sat on the Vineyard Haven waterfront for three years, at the top of the R.M. Packer Company railway, as various options were evaluated. On Monday, a demolition crew tipped the boat over on her side and began salvaging a few parts.


Martha's Vineyard Times
A sad ending for a glorious yacht : The Martha's Vineyard Times


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