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How to Email a Tartan!

Introduction by Deane Holt

I will admit to having strong feelings while reading Maarten's article - feelings of envy! Imagine having an unbroken line of sailing and sailors in your family from 1937. Maarten is, indeed, fortunate in having such family support - and sailing genes. In turn, we are fortunate in having his family and S/V BRACER come into the TCA34 family as the second of our T34 Classic fleet in the European Union.  Deane

Article by Maarten & Paulien Dudok van Heel

The Story of Bracer

I was born in the Netherlands, Europe, and raised in a sailing family. In 1937 my grandfather and his brother had a yacht designed and built by de Vries Lentsch, an enormous 18 m yawl named "Tromp II." The design was probably influenced by the lines of Sparkman & Stephens and especially those of Cees Bruynzeel's Zeearend.

Tromp II late 1930's

During the war Tromp was sunk in the harbour of Hoorn, on the IJsselmeer, so that the Germans would not take her as a war present. My grandfather sold Tromp in the 1970s after she was damaged during a fire while laid up for winter. In the late 1990s Tromp II was spotted in the waters near New Zealand.

The son of the designer gave me these photos some years ago. In the photo, De Vries Lentsch himself is standing on deck.

Amuthe 1961

Before I was born, my father had the 24 ft yawl "Amuthe" built. She was designed by W. de Vries Lentsch jr. (the son) and I think she was greatly influenced by the S&S designs Dolphin and the 22' Sailmaster. So during my young years I already became infected with the S&S virus.

In 1973, when I was ten years old, my father bought a real S&S, an Aqua 30 built by the Aquafibre Yard of Lymington, UK, which he named "Saskia", after my sister.

Saskia

With our family we sailed weekends and holidays on board "Saskia" and in those days she was a real "American S&S" eye catcher. My father sailed many races with her.

After some years my father had to sell "Saskia" for health reasons. Saskia's new owner went on to race her even more frequently than my father had and I became a crew member. We sailed almost all Dutch and some international races and did a lot of cruising.

Some years later a friend and I bought an S&S Sailmaster 22 daysailer, called "Juffrouw". With her centerboard she was the ideal sailing craft for our Dutch Waddenzee (lovely tidal waters in the North of Holland).

Juffrouw

But with a growing family a 22 ft day sailor becomes a bit cramped, so we started looking for a bigger boat with the same characteristics as "Juffrouw" and of course it had to be an S&S. This was not an easy job. In Europe, in my opinion, most yachts built during the 1960's-1970's were influenced by the IOR racing rules (narrow ends and deep fin keels), as you also can see in the popular S&S 34. There are very few useful centerboarders available. So, I was unable to find the right boat in Europe and to have one built was not really an option. After a while we were boatless.

The Wave

Then suddenly I read an article by George Colligan about the Tartan 34 Centerboard in the S&S Association's newsletter The Wave ! This gave new hope.

This was an S&S Sailmaster 22 - but with an LOA of 34 feet! Unbelievable. Just that single article changed my (our) sailing life! After a while I contacted George Colligan and I stayed in touch with him for 2 years, asking him anything and everything about the boat. In the spring of 2005 a very good friend of mine, Robert Jan, went to the USA and George and Susan welcomed him on board Timujin to have a look, take pictures and ask even more questions. He felt it was the right type of boat and that it would suit me.

In the summer of 2005 my plans became more serious. I read the story about Rubicon and contacted Jürgen. He invited us on board Rubicon in Hamburg, Germany, and indeed this boat felt perfect. During our vacation I felt a little "land sick" and my plans to search for a Tartan grew. I looked at the "yachtworld .com" website and George tipped me about Aponivi, Vixen and Dawn Piper. In September 2005 I found out that Aponivi had just been sold. I then contacted Jack Waddell about Vixen and Eric Phipps about Dawn Piper. Both boats were almost sold, but if I was quick Vixen would still be available.

Another thing was transport. There was only one more ship sailing from the east coast to Holland this season. If I wanted to get a boat over to Holland this side of the new year, there was not much time left. I had a list of all the boats for sale on the east coast of the US, from Chesapeake Bay up to Maine. Many emails went over the ocean and my good friend Margriet (a translator) helped me a lot when the English language was sometimes not clear to me.

At the end of September I booked a trip to NY and tried to contact the owners or brokers of all the boats near Vixen. I arranged to stay with my uncle and borrow his car to visit the boats. Annapolis Sailyard, represented by Richard Kahn, the broker for Bracer wrote: " Although I have a boatshow I will get you on board Bracer, because she is a great boat and you will not be disappointed".

Before leaving the Netherlands I called Margriet to thank her for all the effort she had put into translating things for me and told her I was really going to the States.

"What a coincidence," she said because my husband and I are also going to NY that weekend!" We had a wonderful stay in NY and looked at Vixen and all the sights of NY city. It was not possible to see any other boats that weekend.

Back in Holland it proved too complicated for two private persons to work out a deal on Vixen and make all the arrangements necessary to bring her over to Holland... So, no Tartan?

But after a few day I started thinking. It would be too complicated - and expensive - to go to the USA for every single boat that might be interesting, so I would have to find another way.

Bracer

So, I called Annapolis Sailyard and asked Richard Kahn if they were used to International transports and exporting boats? The answer was: " Yes sir, that is our daily business." I replied ", "OK, then maybe you can get me on board Bracer - but in Europe! This was the start of a really hectic week.

If the boat was worth its price I wanted to buy her, but then it would need to be on board the freighter the following week!? Well, as we say in Holland, where there is a will there is a way!

But how can you know whether you can trust people you have never met and who live on the other side of the Ocean? And what if they lie? And, and, and, etc...

I asked the S&S office for the name of a reliable surveyor. Mitchell Gibbons Neff referred me to Fred Wise, who did a great and very quick survey job. His comments: "Ok, the boat is above average but not perfect. If that is what you are looking for, lets go ahead". I replied: "Ok let's go ahead!"

Meanwhile I was sending and receiving one email after another about insurance, transport documents, payments etc. Richard was working on the documents, delivery skipper, etc. in the USA. To avoid any mistakes and misunderstandings, every email was also checked by George Colligan, Rob Snoeks (S&S Ass.), Margriet and Jan Maarten Boissevain (of Sevenstar).

Meanwhile Bracer was sailed to Baltimore, where George Colligan saw her and was able to tell me a lot about her, in words and in photos.

George also joined Bracer as she was taken to the freighter and gave a progress report as she was being lifted on board the freighter. We opened our first bottle of celebratory champagne!

Scheldegracht

On 30 October the Scheldegracht headed for Europe - the Netherlands or Belgium. On 23 November Scheldegracht arrived in Zeebrugge, Belgium. Just before our departure to Zeebrugge I checked my mail and found Susan's awful sad message about George's passing. It gave us a very black feeling.

In Zeebrugge Bracer was lifted off the Scheldegracht and indeed, as Richard Kahn had promised me, she did not disappoint me! She is a great boat and the basics are good.

The first time I touch Bracer

We have since sailed Bracer to her winter berth and have started a major refit operation.

 

Maarten, Paulien, Anne & Michiel Dudok van Heel