By John Urban
As much as I love boats, beaches, and seaside bars, my favorite spot of all may be the boatyard. I find that I am not alone in this way, and that’s part of the allure – boatyards are where you find like-minded spirits, waterfront dreamers, and some seasoned salts who know a thing or two about the far reaches of the world. Fortunately, blogs and social media stretch our ability to keep in touch with these sea wanderers during the winter months, and this was the case when I received yesterday’s email blast from Michael Picciandra.
After a career as a commercial fisherman out of Martha’s Vineyard, Mike Picciandra retired and began the multi-year restoration of a 1938 center-boarder that was built at the Casey Boatyard of Fairhaven, Massachusetts. It was a exhaustive rebuild, but Mike persevered and six years ago he re-launched his beamy thirty-foot Casey. He soon set sail from Tripps Boatyard in Westport, Mass covering thousands of single-handed miles along the coast of Florida and the Bahamas, heading back up north in the summer months.
An email blast from Mike usually contains a good story, beautiful photos under sail or at anchor, and an introduction to folks he meets along the way. Yet, Mike’s most recent post – and the accompanying photos – tell a particularly remarkable encounter. So with Mike’s permission, I will retell it here.
The story begins last month while Mike was at anchor in a spot called Manatee Pocket on the east coast of Florida near Stuart. Mike’s account is as follows:
“[While at anchor, I was] hailed by a young man is a small sailboat who asked if my boat was a Casey Cutter…I was startled as in the time I owned her people would ask if the boat was wood or fiberglass or who designed her, but nobody asked if she was Casey Built….”
When Mike said that yes it was built by Casey, the young man advised him that the owner of the house in front of where he was anchored wanted to talk with him.
Soon after, Mike rowed his dinghy to shore where he was met by a man who introduced himself as Ken Zeiegler, who at an age of 83 was “as spry as a young chicken with a quick smile and gentle manner.” Ken explained to Mike that he and his wife Dorothy purchased a 1936 Casey Cutter of the same dimensions fifty years prior and sailed her for the next three and a half decades. For those unfamiliar with old wooden boats, this chance meeting was about on par with the likelihood of stranger coming up to you saying that you share a common sibling.
In Mike’s account of this exchange he describes how Ken left his job at Raytheon to set out for a new life. It was then that Ken and Dorothy moved aboard the boat, named Patience, and sailed her from Massachusetts to Venezuela over a four-year period, settling in Manatee Pocket, Florida. Adding even more serendipity of this encounter, Mike told Ken that his own boat was also named Patience under a previous owner. Two Casey Cutters, the 1936 Patience #1 and the 1938 Patience #2.
As part of this exchange, Ken shared photos of Ken and Dorothy’s time aboard Patience, in many cases roaming the same waters and harbors that Mike now sails. Dorothy has since passed and Ken sold the boat in 1999, but the photo collection is a testament to life.
Ken and Dorothy’s story, like Mike’s account, is of the water, and it was my pleasure sharing it here at Write On The Water.Share on Facebook