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Charting a Course to the Show

Redwing at Mystic 2007
Phil Bolger, Stu Fyfe and Redwing Mystic 2007

I have to confess that I'm a Woodenboat Show Stalker. After having attended many of the shows as a visitor, my wife asked “Why don’t you enter Redwing in the show next summer?” The year was 1995 and the show was in Southwest Harbor. I and the boat reside on Cape Cod. Since I can’t trailer her, that left sailing her there. My buddy Pete who was to accompany me had to back out five days before shoving off, so that meant a solo voyage.

Up to that time, I’d had little offshore experience so this was to be an adventure for sure. My 22′ Bolger gaff sloop had LORAN, a depth sounder, knot meter, and an inadequate collection of charts. My first leg was from Hyannis to Provincetown through the Cape Cod Canal. An easy enough and uneventful trip. From here on in, I was in unfamiliar waters. The P-Town to Isle of Shoals leg brought me across Stellwagen Bank and lots of whale sightings. As I approached Gloucester, I had to decide whether to pull into Gloucester or continue on to the shoals.

There had been thunderstorm warnings all afternoon. I decided to press on, knowing that once I did, there would be no safe place to turn in till New Hampshire. As luck would have it, I got hit by a frightening thunderstorm. I can honestly say it was the scariest moment I’ve ever had at sea. The next day I went from the Isle of Shoals to Portland in the rain. I left Portland in very thick fog before sunrise and arrived at Criehaven Island just as the sun was going down. The only land I saw during this day was Monhegan's big cliffs through the fog. Next morning I left just after sunrise (in the fog again) and arrived just off the Seawall at Mount Desert Island as the fog cleared. The show was a great experience. I was docked next to Tyler Proctor, a boatbuilder from Bar Harbor. Great man. Even offered me his truck to get supplies. The trip back required beating into the southwesterlies and motoring.

In 1996 I pointed Redwing towards Mystic with my daughter Catie accompanying me. Staying on board at the Seaport was magical. Like being sent back in time. That trip hooked my daughter. She went on to Mt Holyoke a few years later and spent a semester with the Williams- Mystic program at the seaport. Later she would continue on with her graduate studies at URI in Marine Fisheries. She is currently the Coordinator of School and Family Programs at the Seattle Aquarium. Thank you Mystic!

My involvement with the Atlantic Challenge Program brought me to Rockland in 2002 for the Show that included the International Atlantic Challenge Competition. There was also a trip to the Newport Show in 2004.

I returned to Mystic for the Show honoring Phil Bolger. Redwing was among many Bolger boats at that show. I had the pleasure of visiting with Phil and Suzanne on several occasions. He was a true genius. So, after a few years off, I’m leaving the Cape on Wednesday and headed to Mystic once again. I’ll be out in the anchoring field this time as a casual observer of this annual event. If you're there, give me a wave!


Submitted by Bob Lister on

I wish I had read this before the show. I was there all weekend and rowed and sailed by the anchorage area several times. Guess we will have to look out for you next year.