NEW LEASE ON LIFE FOR TELSON
Your gripping article on the loss of Bowditch (“Surviving the Imperfect Storm,” May 2018) and remarkable rescue of her crew 40 years ago touched my wife, Nancy, and me in a strange way. The dinghy shown aboard 24 de Febrero is similar to our Telson, purchased about the same time (now 42 years ago) in Solomons Island, Maryland, for $360. It had no flotation and was built by a now untraceable company, MAT Plastics, in New England; a close version appeared some years ago as the well-done (and way more costly) Oxford Dinghy, built on the Chesapeake’s Eastern Shore.
We’re marine biologists, and Nancy named the dinghy after the pointed rear end of a tiny estuarine shrimp! It has followed us cruising many thousands of miles along the coast. While towing it in Ambrose Channel toward New York, it was pooped and filled in a following sea.
How Capt. Strenz and his crew ever freed the dinghy of water and kept it afloat in any seaway, with 500 pounds worth of people in it, is amazing.
Telson, after over four decades of weather and hard use, was tired, and last winter, I took it into my workshop for a total rebuild. Stripping every bit of wood, I found it to be pretty frail, with many concealed original fasteners of mild steel. The rebuild — supposed to take a couple of weekends — was 150 hours and involved a steam box, white oak, cypress and paulownia; flotation fore and aft; and a portable hiking seat amidships. An old salvaged spar from some other skiff made Telson’s gunter using an old Dyer Dhow sail, a lovely, handy rig. May it sail one or two generations more.—kent Mountfiord, Lusby, Maryland