On Saturday, July 21, the Boothbay Harbor One Design Association (BHODA) will celebrate its namesake’s 80th birthday.
“It's kind of a big year for us,” said BHODA President Alex Herger. “Because it's the 80th, we're going to have a big celebration. It's going to be about the ancient mariner, which is sort of appropriate given 80 years. We're all old sailors, so we're ancient mariners.”
Jon Dunsford, a book of knowledge on the subject of one design, will give a presentation on its history. His 1941 boat #20 Bittersweet was the last built before the U.S. joined World War II.
“To me, it's about sharing the history of Boothbay Harbor with people that come here,” said Dunsford. “It’s amazing, back in 1937 was the last of the big J-boats and it was built in Bath, Maine. It was the biggest and the baddest and it's never been replicated – it's called Ranger.”
Ranger, Dunsford explained, was a steel boat with an aluminum mast and a canoe-like shape. Starling Burges, famed naval architect, was its designer and German naval architect Geerd Hendel drafted it.
Dunsford said Hendel and Burges, both of Wiscasset, sailed in Boothbay Harbor every summer. When BHYC decided it wanted something new in the open class, it had a contest, and Burges and Hendel entered it with the BHOD prototype #0 Loon, built by Benny Rand and Norman Hodgdon toward the end of 1937.
“The end of the story is between that January and that May, five different builders around the town built six boats … It all evolved because of this wonderful, incredible J-boat and the technology of building that.”
Herger is a relatively new owner having bought #17 Blue Witch, built in 1939, in the summer of 2015. When she moved to the region, she decided she was going to learn how to sail and was immediately taken by the beauty and simplicity of the One Design.
“I went out on other people's boats that have all these rigs everywhere and like 10 lines. I mean, they're just complicated. We have basically a jib line and a main line and that's it,” said Herger.
The goal of BHODA this year is to get more people involved in the future of the One Design. The association is looking to get future generations to take ownership of the boats and the history, to keep the fleet going.
Said Dunsford, “There are just so many stories we don't celebrate often enough. What we don't celebrate enough here is the boatbuilding on the peninsula.”
The “Eightieth Birthday Bash” will be held at BHYC with cocktails and sea shanties at 5:30 p.m. and dinner beginning at 6:30 p.m. Adult tickets are $30 and children under 12 are $19.50. To RSVP, call 633-5750.