The Bigger Boat

1980 Cape Dory 33 Sanderling

I purchased Sanderling in 2011 from the original family who had ordered her from Cape Dory in 1980.

Aside from the fact that she was a Cape Dory there were a few other things I liked. Her auxiliary engine had been updated with a Yanmar diesel, which I had experience with and preferred over the original Perkins and Volvos that these boats came with. Otherwise she was very much original, without a lot of additions or modifications. And she had been well cared for.

splash for sea trial and purchase

Since I had experience as a delivery captain, sailing instructor, and merchant mariner, I knew what to expect in a used recreational boat. I also new Cape Dory boats pretty well. I did my own survey and knew where to look and found pretty much what I expected.

Monogrammed Plates

The sellers of the 33 in Oxford (Stan & Mary) were wonderful, it was an emotional closing as Sanderling had been a huge part of their family for decades. They left everything they had ever used for boating onboard, including wonderful monogrammed plastic dinner plates:

I’ve you’ve never been to the Eastern shore of Maryland, it is exquisite. Coming from Rhode Island I was enthralled, since the Chesapeake is very much like Narragansett Bay only much, much BIGGER!

Stan and me, Mary taking pic

Previously I owned and refitted a Cape Dory 24 Trawler (see post The First Real Boat). I had Viola for many years and it was a sad day when I sold her. But I was also pretty stoked to trade up to this bigger boat that could potentially sail anywhere or be used as a modest live-aboard (…it has a shower!). Below is my proud new owner face. Sanderling and I sailed from the Chesapeake to her new home of Narragansett Bay without a single hitch.

pic of smiling new owner
proud new owner of Sanderling CD 33 Sloop

I picked up some crew at Statten Island, NY. My friend Steffen needed to get out of Boston for a bit.

Steffen on the high seas

Though my dreams included blue-water sailing, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed sailing my new Cape Dory 33 in light wind. On a fabulous June day in 2011 on my way home from the purchase in Maryland, Steffen & I had 5 kts of SW wind in Long Island Sound, and gently moved along at 3 kts wing and wing (full main and 120 Genoa).

view of sails wing and wing
wing and wing northeast bound long island sound 3 kts

As we entered Block Island Sound the late afternoon sun penetrated the first 10 feet of water with dancing golden rays. We glided through an area where dogfish were swimming upwards toward the surface. The visibility of the surface water was crystal clear. You could see their subtle green and black coloring vividly. It was one of those oceanic moments (they looked like miniature whale sharks from above in that clear water). The afternoon sun also beamed through the companionway and lit up the teak & holly sole.

cabin sole afternoon sun
afternoon sun

I sailed Sanderling on Narragansett Bay for the 2011 season. She weathered Irene in August on a mooring in Wickford, with just a little bit of Easterly exposure which abated after Irene’s rotation tracked to bring the wind South, where Sanderling was fully protected. No damage just a little chaffing on the rub rail.

pic of sanderling on the hard
snug in my yard

She’s been on the hard since 2012 getting what I like to refer to as a Galapagos refit: Slow like evolution. I only had the patience because I worked as a delivery captain, taught sailing, and crewed on commercial boats. Those activities kept me out on the water on other people’s boats most of the time. So small projects turned into bigger projects. But not feeling pressured made it work. I grew to really enjoy losing all track of time and then having Amber walk over to the boat and knock on the hull and say “let’s eat”, or one of my nieces climb up the steps late-night poking her head into the cockpit to say “whatcha doin?”. To which I would inevitably reply, “Hand me that wrench next to you”.

Amber keeping me company on a delivery in 2014

Several other posts detail the main projects of the Sanderling refit. Cockpit sole, Steering bracket, Barrier coat . But ten years and a pandemic is enough, and this boat is going in this season no matter what. If you can’t fix it with duct tape… you’re not using enough duct tape.