While on vacation in the Thousand Islands, we got to go out for a couple quick sails at the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, NY. The museum has a great collection of wooden racing boats, runabouts, and skiffs that represent the heyday of the region around the turn of the 20th century, but they also have a few sailboats.
On Tuesdays in July and August, the museum invites the community to come out and use some their boats (for free!). Their in-water sailing fleet includes:
- Rebecca: a 16′ catboat built in 2000 by the Antique Boat Museum to a J.Henry Rushton design
- Roseblossom II: a 12′ Beetle Cat built in 1931
- Margaret G: a 17′ Skaneateles skiff built in 1999 by the Antique Boat Museum
- The Bluenose keelboat Rudolph
- Six International Optimist Dinghies
- Four Sunfish
Roseblossom II and Margaret G were in the water the night we visited, and we had the opportunity to sail on Roseblossom. She was remarkably stable for not being a keelboat…I suppose helped by her wide beam. It was our first sail on a gaff-rigged boat but we didn’t really have to do anything as our skipper, Dick, was at the controls, which consisted of only the tiller and a hand-held main sheet with no mechanical advantage. Dick was really nice, and talked to us about sailing his Cape Dory on the river.
There was also a Precision 18 there, which was neither antique nor associated with the museum, but we took a ride on it too. The skipper was a guy named Bruce and/or Mac, and Andy was his crew. They were both a couple of characters. Andy was wearing Raoul Duke-style shooting glasses and never left the confines of the companionway. Bruce/Mac was at the tiller, setting up stories that never quite came to fruition. Together, it was as if Hunter S. Thompson had been cast in a Tom Stoppard play.
Bruce/Mac: Hey Andy, tell them about stepping the mast last week.
Andy: Heh. [smiles and nods]
Bruce/Mac: Yeah, two weeks ago.
Andy: Ha ha ha. [still grinning]
Bruce/Mac: I needed seventeen stitches in this thumb. [shows thumb with no visible sign of injury] Have you ever been to Cuttyhunk? Beautiful.
It was pretty fun. We had a bit of a longer sail on the P18, although the wind died and we had to fire up the motor to get back to the dock. I highly recommend checking it out if you’re ever in Clayton on a Tuesday.