Finally some face time in RTP, looks like mega-travel may resume with a Tokyo-Beijing-Singapore swing in mid-August. Vacation — I’m talking up a solo week (no family, no friends) on the Vineyard the last week of September or the first week of October to fish and write. Need to make plans. I know what I want to rent and it is one of these harbor cottages in Menemsha.
Leonard Peck slipped the hawser Saturday morning, passing about the time the tide turned and began to ebb.
By coincidence I was at his shop buying some wire for a new gaff bridle from his son John, paying his granddaughters who were working the same register I worked in the 1970s when I was the clerk with Leonard’s other son Geoffrey, and I asked John how the Cap was faring, but the news was sad, and the prospects of a visit weren’t good. Today I learned he passed.
The Francis Minot
I will remember Leonard Peck as a literary man (a Harvard English major), with a Lincolnesque white beard, and a laconic way of speaking that belied a love for telling a good yarn. He was one of the last of a generation of Cotusions (his son John’s coinage) that made their living on and around the water, running Peck’s Boats forever, building Cotuit Skiffs, and his incongruous tugboat, the Francis Minot.
The Peck’s and Churbuck’s were close families. My grandfather gave Leonard his frame for building skiffs, the Peck’s rented this house one winter in the late 40s or early 50s when my grandparents moved off Cape. I sailed with his sons, Geoff and John, but only knew his eldest, the late Bill Peck, from afar. All three were named after Leonard’s favorite authors, Geoffrey Chaucer, John Milton, and William Shakespeare.
Leonard took the Francis Minot on an epic voyage down the Mississippi and back up the east coast. He wrote a memoir about his life in Cotuit, For Golden Friends I Had, and last year, at the dinner commemorating the 100th annivesary of the Cotuit Mosquito Yacht Club, delivered a masterful speech about the yacht club, and the fleet he helped build.
My condolences to his wife Betty, his sons, John and Geoff, and his grandchildren. This is Cotuit’s loss.
The five-foot basswood crap oars I’ve been nursing for five years are about three strokes from giving up the ghost and having invested several coats of Epiphanes varnish, Churbuck YellowÂ on the blades, and tacked on leathers and buttons, I’ve decided enough is enough, no more lipstick on the pig, and for once it is time to get some real oars.
I looked at a pair at an antique shop on Martha’s Vineyard over the weekend, the lady quoted $125 for a so-so pair of six-footers, maybe 50 years old. I was tempted, but I was basically paying New York prices for something some hedge fund manager was going to turn into a piece of wall art. It was time to call Shaw & Tenney, makers of the best oars on the planet, and the third oldest marine manufacturer in the country.
I dropped $180 for a pair of six-foot spruce oars with a leathers/button kit I’ll sew on myself. These should, knock on wood, wind up in the hands of my grandchildren. I was tempted to get ash — the “ash” breeze is the old nickname for rowing — but ash is heavy and overkill for a set of dinghy oars.
This fall I think I’ll clamp a sculling notch on the transom of the dinghy and learn how to propel myself with one oar. Interestingly, Shaw & Tenney charges more money for a single sculling oar than they do for a pair of conventional ones.