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Growing Up on our Friendship Sloop APOGEE
Photo: A late afternoon sail on the Toms River, my hometown, in New Jersey, with my family on our Friendship Sloop APOGEE (photo credit: Judy Berry)
APOGEE was built by Bruno and Stillman in 1969, in Newington, NH. A neighboring town to Portsmouth where my family and I live today.
The Friendship Sloop has a gaff rig configuration and an 11′ bowsprit made of solid spruce. Her appearance is reminiscent of a bygone era. Her Bruno and Stillman hull is number two out of the mold, lead ballast with a 10′ beam, weighs 14,000 pounds, is 43′ in length and has a delicate bowsprit adding to the beauty of her graceful lines. She has a wooden mast with wood mast hoops, boasting 5 sails, a mainsail, top mainsail and three jibs, all that can be articulated from the cockpit by the crew (the crew consisting of Sue, Hillary and myself!) A feat which required great skill, courage and an immense sense of humor, while under the strict orders and commands of Captain Maurice Landemare!
We enjoyed many years of voyages to New England at the beginning of our summer, where we sailed along the beautiful Northeastern coast and the rocky coast of Maine where we summered in Boothbay. Our return voyages to TR were a two man crew, myself a teenager and my Dad, Maurice consisting of endless night watches, a few hairy days in high winds, and a storm in Block Island that still haunts me to this day... I knew we were in trouble when Dad, Maurice, clipped a safety tether line onto me and another to himself in the middle of the night and attached us to the boat on deck during some rough seas and sour weather while sailing home to TR! Nothing prepared me for these experiences yet I felt triumphant to survived them! All were part of my summer experience and landscape.
There were so many wonderful days sailing APOGEE too. While blue-water cruising, land barely in sight and the sea infinite, errant seagulls and a variety of birds would land on APOGEE to take a moment’s rest, then flutter away. Whale sightings, curious Harbour Seals and Sea Pups would come up to our boat and hang out with us and of course the occasional dorsal fin knifing through the water which would set me back into illogical terror mode after seeing the movie “Jaws.” A lifetime of lessons, gatherings, sailing stories and adventures took place on APOGEE for me.
Aside from what I learned at the TRYC sailing program and sailing at camp in New England as a youngster, I’ve learned that there is simply an indescribable degree of spiritual peace and the ultimate respect for nature that can be reached while sailing any vessel, large or small. Sailing APOGEE taught me the language of sailing, how to make quick tactical decisions, I learned that sailing can offer you profound solitude in one moment and without warning, sheer terror the next. She taught me how to strategize my way through it, fighting (not flighting) towering waves and gale force winds. How to delight in the physics of the earth and nature. Apogee is a hard working sailboat, yet her silhouette elegant. I often thought of her as “Grace under Pressure.” Perhaps the best attribute and personification of any avid sailor.
What a blessing it was to have grown up in TR, on the water, among fellow sailing friends where sailing and APOGEE was not a recreation for our family, rather, a way of teaching us life skills, respect for nature and an undeniable way of life for all of us.