Brilliant (Part II)

by John Urban

Brilliant at Mooring

A few weeks back I posted some photos of Mystic Seaport’s schooner Brilliant. This past week I had the chance to spend some time aboard Brilliant on the western end of Long Island Sound where I saw, firsthand, why so many have loved this boat for so long.

Brilliant was born a yacht, designed and built to the highest standards. She raced successfully, then saw her hull painted gray during World War II when she was used to patrol the shoreline. Later, under the ownership continuous care of Mystic Seaport, she’s sailed the coast and crossed the Atlantic as a sail training vessel.

This beautiful craft was built way back in 1932. Today, she’s equipped with radar, a knotmeter, and depth finder, but she’s otherwise original, and with the sails raised and set you realize nothing more is needed. Brilliant heels over, finds her groove and charges forward.

Brilliant underway

Brilliant’s most striking quality is that this remarkable boat has welcomed more than 10,000 students and sailing enthusiasts who have been experienced the thrill of being on a wind-powered vessel that offers lessons in leadership, teamwork, and self-reliance.

The photos and short video clip I’ve included in this post offer a sense of Brilliant’s handsome beauty. Every bit as powerful is the strong sense of security you feel when sailing aboard this wonderful schooner.

Captain Nicholas Alley, Brilliant’s skipper, described the welcome this boat receives when she enters a harbor. “Just the other day someone came up to us and shared a personal story about sailing aboard Brilliant. And you know what, that happens same thing happens three to four times a week.”

Brilliant bow

I recently read a quote by the sailor and author John Rousmaniere: “The goal is not to sail the boat, but rather to help the boat sail herself.” This pithy statement carries substantial truth about sailing, maybe even the entire truth about sailing. Yet, some boats sail themselves more than others. Brilliant is one such boat.

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About John Urban

Like his protagonist, John Urban has worked as a college professor and he sails the waters of Southern New England on an old wooden sailboat that he restored. He is a regular contributor to the blog Write On The Water, and his short stories have appeared in the anthologies Seasmoke and Deadfall. The ocean was his desired destination from an early age. As a boy living a landlocked life in Western Massachusetts, nights were dedicated to reading about boats and watching Flipper and weekends were spent boating and fishing, April-to-October, on Long Island Sound. Thoughts of a career at sea ended early after a stint at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, but the circle of life has come around some years later in the form of the fictional world of Steve Decatur. Urban lives just outside Boston and spends his summers near the waters edge of Buzzards Bay and Rhode Island Sound. A Single Deadly Truth, published on Amazon Kindle, is Urban's debut novel. As second Steve Decatur mystery, Masters of Rhode Island, is due out later this year.
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2 Responses to Brilliant (Part II)

  1. Marian Stanley says:

    Gorgeous photos and boats – you are really in the right place, John!

  2. Harry Switzer says:

    We understand why you are enjoying Mystic. Well said.

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