NEW LEASE ON LIFE FOR TELSON

Cruising World - - Underway -

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

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