where the sole would be and George laid
battens to get the crown needed to clear my
head. The cabin top was laminated sheets of
plywood with no carlins to bump my head on.
As another year approached the work became
more detailed and went slowly. George built a
hollow spruce mast. Rigging hardware came from
many places, including beautiful teak blocks from
Nova Scotia. Bronze winches, cleats, and hardware
were unpacked like jewels from their
certainly keep up with or pass boats of similar size.
With her shoal draft I liked being able to take her
over the bar and into the Gulf of Mexico in breaking
seas. This would be useful for the kind of cruising I
was going to do, as not all inlets in Florida are marked
or even considered navigable. Local knowledge and
shoal draft can make for a more pleasant cruise!
For over 40 years now I have cruised aboard Annie
along Florida's west coast and its many islands, some
civilized like Useppa and Sanibel and some still wild
and uninhabited like Cayo Costa and Punta Blanca.
Our house in Boca Grande is on a bayou less than
half a mile to the entrance to Charlotte Harbor,
which is some 10 miles across and, remarkably, still
with little sign of manmade objects on the horizon:
The harbor is perfect for day sails.
There is a deep channel out to the Gulf of Mexico
where I can sometimes successfully troll for my
dinner. Our favorite cruising ground remains the
many square miles to the south, inside the barrier
I write this from my back porch, looking out at
Annie, her newly-varnished mast sparkling in the
morning sun. Enough of writing, I think I will go for a
We transported and launched Annie at a
boatyard where I had worked on my boyhood
catboat years earlier, a place of happy memories.
Annie floated exactly on her designed waterline,
to my father’s delight. George, my father and I
took the boat out on the first stormy day that
came along. We didn’t reef, we strapped her in
beam to the wind and knocked her down. The
water came over the rail but she went no further.
We felt this was a satisfactory test of stability. We
spent the rest of the afternoon under reefed
main and staysail with the centerboard all the
way down. She performed perfectly for us.
At first I day sailed alone in all sorts of weather
to find out how Annie liked to be handled. I
found that she was a good sailer, and could G