Stonington lost a tourist attraction last week and the Chamber
of Commerce probably doesn't know it's missing. If the
harbormaster's shack in Rockport, Mass. is Motif #1 and the
Portland Head Light is Motif #2, then the old skiff at the
Town Dock must have been Motif # 3.
It had to be one of the shabbiest, most disreputable relics
of watercraft still afloat. Tourists loved it for its character
and countless pictures of the unsightly boat were taken, none
of which are likely to be seen on future calendars.
The appointments were about as indelicate as the old craft itself.
A ragged PFD lay in the bilge, with a few faded hints of its original
orange showing among the stains of fish bait and used motor oil.
A broken fish box contained a motley collection of old line, aged
to a grungy gray. The oars showed evidence of very high mileage
and very little paint. Only the outboard motor still shined.
Cary, the owner, didn't scuttle the old vessel though.
He says he's going to rebuild her even though he's bought a sturdy
fiberglass boat for his workday needs. He told me "they're not
building any more like that and it rows nicely." He's already
soaking new oak members to replace some missing frames.
Cary is an intrepid fisherman. He's so salty that when he dies,
they're just going to lay him in the sun to dry for a few days
with no artifical preservatives needed. It'll be a genuine organic
He's been seen coming into the harbor completely awash, just like
a submarine, with only his upper body and outboard motor showing.
It was probably in that same old skiff, too. I think the harbormaster
offered to set it up on shore as a monument but that didn't happen.
If it's a boat, Cary thinks it ought to be working. He's a fisherman,
not a philanthropist.