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Vineyard Gazette
Edgartown, Massachusetts
February 3, 2012     Vineyard Gazette
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February 3, 2012

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FOUR-A VINEYARD GAZETI'E, MARTHA'S VINEYARD, MASS. FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2012 CROWD ATTHE BLACK DOG TAVERN FOLLOWS STEP-BY-STEP PROCESS OFTHE BUILDING OFTHE BOAT JUNO. Pictures by Sam Low A Tale of Casting Keels and Rolling Bevels By SAM LOW When Nat and Pam Benjamin and their two-year-old daughter Jessica sailed into Vineyard Haven Harbor in 1972, Nat wondered aloud to his family, "Wouldn't it be nice to have a boatyard to fix up some of the wrecks around here and maybe build some new boats?" It was not until 1978 that they found such a place, but the owner, Pe- ter Strock, had just signed a purchase and sale agreement with MacDonalds. When a groundswell of opposition put an end to the Mac Attack, the land was sold to Donald DeSorcy who rented it to Nat and Ross Gannon for a year. "And here we are," Nat told the sold-out audience at last week's first- of-the-season Sail Martha's Vineyard speakers series held at the Black Dog Tavern. "Still renting, year-by-year." From keel to floor timbers to stem and counter, Nat took'the rapt audi-'. ence through building Junobeginning with drawing the plans in January 2001 to launching in September 2003. The actual construction process starts with lofting the boat's lines full scale on the floor. "If you read all the books it seems like getting the shape right is a pretty arcane process," he said, "but as you see here (in a picture of lofting the frames) it only takes a man and a dog about two weeks to lay out the lines." A dog and a very humble man, you might say, especially when you're talk- ing about creating one of the most complex curved objects in the world to make it both pleasing to the eye and able to withstand hurricanes at sea. We saw the frames, each piece pinned with locust trunnels, as it was being shaped on a ship's saw capable of cre- JUNO, AT SEA. THE MV WATER SHUTTLE The year round ferry service from Oak Bluffs to Falmouth Inner Harbor in just 25 minutes! Depart Depart Oak muffs Mon - Sat 4:00 a.m. 4:30 a.m, Mon - Sat 6:00 a.m. 6:30 a.m. Mon - Fri 7:15 a,m, 7:45 a,m. Mon - Fri 8:30 a.m. 9:00 a.rn. Mon - Fri 10:30 a.m. 11.15 a.m. Mon - Fri 2:00 p.m. 2:30 p.m, Mon - Fri 3:15 p.m. 3:45 p.m. Mon - Fri 4:30 p.m. 5:00 p.m. 24 hr Water Taxi Free van service to and from WaI-Mart and Falmouth Plaza. Fares: Adult/ChiUd: $9,00 one way 10 pass ticket: $75.00 Call 1-800-734-0088 NATBENJAMrNICAPTAINI MASTER woODEN BOAT BUILDER. ating a rolling bevel that must change constantly to make things fit right. We learned about the "Egyptian technique" (rollers, wedges and le- vers) that allowed the 30,000-pound lead keel, cast in East Providence and hauled into the shop on a Ralph Packer truck, to be moved into place --just so. And we marveled as Juno's skeleton took shape before our eyes -- sinuous compound curves braced with hackma- tack hanging knees and bronze floor timbers to make her both beautiful and very, very sturdy. "A boat is a piece of furniture you take out on the ocean and throw around," Nat told us. But it was not all about building -- the Gannon and Benjamin yard has trained some of the best talent in the world. There's Casson Kennedy, who came looking for a job and when he dis- covered there was no money to hire him volunteered to work for free. "We eventually paid him," says Nat, "and he became one of our most skillful joiners, working on the most delicate finishing touches." There was Ashley Butler, who sailed into Vineyard Haven harbor from Eng- land aboard a 1902 Cornish cutter at the age of 19,worked for Nat and Ross, and built a 30-foot sloop in his spare time which he sailed -- without an VINEYARD GAZET1"E CHANGE OF ADDSS DATE EFFEIVE: OLD: NEW: 9€ PLEASE NOTIFY 2 WEEKS PRIOR TO MOVE SEND TO: VINEYARD GAZETTE P.O. BOX 66, EDGARTOWN, MA 02539 OR CALL 508-627-4311 TOLL-FREE 1-877-850-0409 OR FAX 508-627-7444 OR E-MAIL engine -- to the Caribbean and back to England. Now he has his own yard and is married to the daughter of the owner of Rebecca, a previous Gannon and Benjamin schooner. "It's a tight family," Nat said. Or Frank Rapoza -- "a caulker and a talker" -- who carries on the arcane art of making a wooden boat watertight by easing strips of oakum between the planks in shipyards all over the world. There's also Myles Thurlow who came to work at age 11, was a head shipwright by age 18 and "ruined him- self for life." Myles is now a master rigger and spar builder in West Tisbury. "So I guess it ruined him in a good way," Nat added. There's also Andy Lyons, who built boats with Nat and Ross, and is now making violins. And the late Maynard Silva, sign-painter extraor- dinaire, who "with his free hand and never a stencil" painted Juno's name on the glistening just-finished stern. "And he was a damn good guitar player too," Nat said. Pat Cassidy, the foreman for Juno, sat next to Nat during the talk. Pat is now house carpentering but he's ready to jump back to boat building when the market improves. "We could have never built this boat without such a wonderful collection of characters," Nat marveled. The talk was followed by much dis- cussion. "How much did Juno cost?" some- one asked. "You price boats by the pound," Nat responded,"it's a little like going down the organic aisle at Croning's -- $25 a pound -- a bag of almonds." Juno, it turned out, was a lot of almonds. She weighs 100,000 pounds. You do the math. And where's Juno now? She's down in the Caribbean and will shift her berth back to the Vineyard this summer, still owned and sailed by the family who worked hard with the shipyard to cre- ate her. In conclusion, Nat told us one story that illustrates just how well Juno was built. She voyaged to Europe in 2006 to compete in Les Voiles de St.Tropez Regatta, a series of races that feature some of the most beautiful yachts in the world. One day, while at anchor, Juno was hit amidships by a 100-foot out-of-control steel ketch under full sail. A lesser ship would have given up the ghost then and there, but not Juno. After a few weeks of repair work she was sailing home across the Atlantic. "That's why you build a boat strong," Nat said. The next date for the Sail Martha's Vineyard-Black Dog dinner lecture se- ries is Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. Dan O'Connor from the Life Raft and Survival Equip- ment Company in Portsmouth, R.L, will discuss safety at sea. Eating Right Can Foster Good Behavior From Page One-A ticed significant mood and behavior changes once she dropped the Big Macs and started eating healthier foods. She acknowledged Vineyarders eat differently here, and better. "We'd go to Slice of Life and I wouldn't even know what to order because I don't know what [the menu items] were," she said. "Arugula . . . sounded like something dangerous. I'd come to night meetings and they would serve us butternut squash soup and I thought, oh you gotta be kidding me -- I come here and they're serving me baby food." She continued: "What I noticed in doing that is that I started to feel different and I started to behave differently and my thinking started to clear up and there were some stark differences," she continued. "My mood improved, I wasn't so Debby Downer all the time." Ms. Fitzgerald said she had parents asking her "there's got to be another way, I don't want to medicate my kids. Nutrition isn't the cure for everything but it is a key to development that's worth considering." The greatest trend Ms. Fitzgerald sees is the growing number of over- diagnoses and misdiagnoses for things such as attention deficit disorder and learning disabilities without looking at the entire picture. She said nutrition can often be a good starting point. The current generation of school aged children in the country has the highest rate of food allergies, obesity, behavioral, emotional and learning challenges in the history of the United States, Ms. Fitzgerald said, as well as the highest incidence of autoimmune disease. Nationally, on average between three and seven per cent of school- aged children are diagnosed with some form of attention deficit disorder, Ms. Fitzgerald said. "We're not doing a holistic look at evaluation," she said. "I think that's a consistent trend across the whole country, that we're using labels to treat whole symptoms instead of addressing the causes .... " Returning to her central theme of nutrition, she said: "What we eat has bearing on our moods, our energy, our susceptibility to illness, weight, appear- ance aging-- nutrition has an influence on all areas of your life." She advocates a diet of lean protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, fewer car- bohydrates and plenty of water. But she is not a purist. "Don't leave here thinking, I screwed up my kids because they ate a fruit roll- up instead of fruit," she said. "But raise your awareness about how significant nutrition is in terms of maximizing the potential of your child and yourself. Hopefully sometime in the future we can get back to grounded diagnoses and medication for those who truly need it, instead of what our society finds as the quick fix and hands out like candy." To schedule an appointment with Jeanine Fitzgerald contact Marney Toole at 508.693.7900 extension 283. To reach Ms. Fitzgerald, e-mail tpfitz45@ JEANINE FITZGERALD AT REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL. Ivy Ashe Vineyard Annual Bird Count: 21,787 By ROBERT A. CULBERT The 52nd annual Martha's Vineyard Christmas Bird Count was held on Monday, Jan. 2. The weather was less than ideal. While the temperatures were warm, between 40 and 52 degrees, a westerly wind was brutal, a steady 15- 20 miles per hour with frequent gusts up to 35 miles per hour. We recorded 21,787 individuals of 120 species. The following highlights of this year's count are based on a comparison with the historic count results. While the count has been conducted annually since 1960, in 1980 it was expanded to cover the entire Island, including Chappaquiddick and Aquinnah. Since then the effort put into each count has remained fairly constant. Sixty-four intrepid field observers were divided into 12 field teams, each with an assigned part of the Vineyard where they counted all the birds they could find. An additional 14 people monitored their bird feeders. The 120 species we found is almost exactly the average number of species observed since 1980. While this is the highest species total we have had in the last four years, between 1994 and 2007 we almost always observed 121-130 species. We counted 21,787 individual birds, slightly less than half of our average since 1980. All the field teams reported that birds were scarce and hard to find this year. We only counted 15,926 individuals last year, so we have been well below average for two consecutive years. This is the fifth lowest total count we have had since 1980, with the lower counts generally being associated with bad weather. The strong winds we expe- rienced may qualify as bad weather, reducing the counts of both land and seabirds. As might be expected with low num- bers of individuals and species, we did not see some species that we often find. The most notable are: wood ducks, northern pintail (last miss 1968), north- ern bobwhite, killdeer, and Wilson's snipe. Two species of crows provided one of the highlights of this year's count. We counted 2,000 American crows, which is almost 10 per cent of all the birds we found. Three quarters of these crows were found in one large nocturnal roost in Oak Bluffs. Only four other counts have recorded more crows, with a high count of 4,700 in 2003. All You Need Is Love Peter Simon "All You Need is Love" poster Only $25.00. Order online at, or pick one up at the SIMON GALLERY next weekend! (54 Main Street, Vineyard Haven) We are also offering from 25 to 50% OFF on selected Ronni Simon jewelry! View her collections at GALLERY HOURS: Open FRIDAY, SATURDAY, SUNDAY and MONDAY next weekend, 11 - 5. • •••••e•••••••••o••••••••l••••o•••o•o•ol•o•o••ooo•••ooog o••o•o$•o•o •0••••