This is the third of the memories about sailing on the Eleanor from R.S.B. of Rutland, Vermont.
I was crew for the Eleanor on an overnight sail from Catskill to Kingston, NY in the summer of one of my college years. As we loaded the boat Pop fell on the gangplank to the dock that floated in Catskill Creek. He must have been in his 80’s by that time. I went to his side and helped him up. Some of the crew asked if we should abort the sail. Pop insisted that we carry on, not wanting to insult the Eleanor’s dignity. It was an awful sail! There was no wind and the temperature hovered above 95 degrees. We drifted south on the tide of the Hudson for a day. Then, we drifted north on the tide for a day back to Catskill Creek. As we drifted Pop kept us busy constantly changing the sails in an attempt to find any wind. Up with the drifter reacher! Strike that and put up the spinnaker! Again and again we adjusted the sails and rigging. We spent hours paddling in hopes of beating the change in the tide. We found out later that Pop had broken his ribs when he fell. Never give up on a sail! Never let the Eleanor down.
I learned to love the Eleanor.
This is the second of the memories about sailing on the Eleanor from R.S.B. of Rutland, Vermont.
Climbing into the far reaches of the hull to clean out the limber holes when I was 14 taught me a lesson that I wrote about in my high school English class. In the spring there was always much work to do to prepare the Eleanor for the launch. The mast had to be put in place, the bottom of the boat needed to be painted, anything loose needed to be tightened down, and every piece of equipment and sail needed to be inspected. So, up into the belly of the boat with a wire hanger to clean out the limber holes I crawled. That was a dirty job. It was carefully explained to me that without the care of the details of maintenance of the Eleanor, the integrity of the hull could weaken and she might not sail.
Sailboats are like love – each requires thoughtful and careful attention to the little things.
This memory reminds me of one of my husband’s sailing stories. Friends at work invited him to sail
the Bahamas with them. They were all big guys. Only when he was aboard did he realize that
they needed someone to go up the mast and squeeze into dirty places none of them could.
They sailed together for many years after that — JAH
I am writing in hopes of providing you with a personal relationship with the
Racing Sloop Eleanor. It is sad that nowadays stories and history can be lost as the speed of information
technology and the internet allow time to race by us at a rate never imagined when
the Eleanor was built in 1903. I thank you for the time you’ll invest in reading my stories
of the boat my grandfather, “Pop” to me, sailed, cared for and loved for 48 years.
More memories from R.S.B., Rutland, Vermont to come.
As a youngster my first memories of sailing on the Eleanor were nightmarish. I have to admit that my grandfather’s skill at the helm allowed the family and the rest of the crew to push the limits of the Hudson River between Catskill Creek and the Hudson River Boat Club to the maximum. Going sailing on the Eleanor when the wind was gusting and the river had whitecaps was not one of my favorite things to do. I would seek refuge below and listen to the hull pounding against the river. That seemed safer to me than being in the cockpit seeing the boat heel up as the water rushed on deck and along side the crew. I was sure we’d capsize. Time taught me to trust Pop’s hand and the Eleanor. I learned to embrace the adventure, but as my grandfather sailed into his 90’s he lost his stomach for the extreme sailing experiences. He sought a calmer, more spiriitual relationship with the boat, the river and the family.