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Henry Fuller's White Mist - updated January 12, 2018  
   

January 18, 2016. The following is Henry Fuller's story of life with White Mist. Henry is the owner of the Cape Breton Boat Yard in Baddeck, Bras d'or Lake, Nova Scotia. White Mist is S&S design #911 and is early in a line of long keel, shallow draft, centerboard boats that evolved from the famous S&S design - NY32s - http://newyork32.org/. Of particular interest to Dolphin 24 owners this evolution included Carleton Mitchell's Finisterre, the Shaw 24 (Trina) and our Dolphin 24! So, Henry's White Mist story is an important part of our Dolphin 24 story.

This story got its start in another story we have in the Stories Section - Irv and Exy Johnson's Yankees http://dolphin24.org/yankees_johnson.html. Henry also owns a Shaw 24! Small world - click this link to go to Galatea http://dolphin24.org/galatea.html

The following 'story' was published in the Sparkman & Stephen's Association 2016 yearbook.

Webmaster Note: December 25, 2017. Its taken a while but we have just received relevant pictures which we have inserted into Henry's article, along with a few edit notes.

"Twenty Years of Owning a S&S Classic Wooden Boat"

 

I was born in 1946. That year a 45'-4" S&S designed yawl was built and launched by Henry B. Nevins, a preeminent American builder of wooden boats. The boat was called Revonoc (S&S Design No. 602, LOA 45'4"). The owner was Harvey Conover. Revonoc simply is Conover spelled backwards!

 

Mustang

Previous to this in the late 1930s Conover owned a NY 32 (S&S Design No. 125, LOA 45'-4") of the same name. The NY 32s were designed in 1935 and built to create a class of racing boats for members of the New York Yacht Club in 1936. Twenty of these signature boats were built. Several NY 32s are still sailing today having been restored as classic wooden boats (www.newyork32.org).

The most famous is Mustang once owned and sailed by Rod Stephens. He purchased Mustang (ex-Revonoc) from Harvey Conover. Conover was one of the original NY 32 owners. Mustang is currently for sale In Annapolis, MD.  When constructed in 1936 a NY 32 cost $11,000.00 "Great Depression" dollars!

Edit Note: This is the link to the Sparkman & Stephens website that describes Mustang.

http://sparkmanstephens.blogspot.com/2011/04/design-125-ny32-mustang-for-sale.html

This brief evolutionary boat  history has significant genetic inference as the Revonoc (S&S Design N0. 602) built in 1946 was the design type for three other S&S fine sail boats that can be considered as not quite identical quadruplets. The design evolved from the NY 32. The boats I am referring to are White Mist (S&S Design No. 911, LOA 46'-7"), Figaro III (S&S Design No. 1107, LOA 47')***, and Theodora   (Design No. 602-01, LOA 45'-3"), a recent 2010 composite constructed yawl using revamped Revonoc plans to build a beautiful 21st century version of a proven classic S&S design. Theodora was built in Christchurch, New Zealand  by Ian Franklin and launched in 2010 for an Australian owner. All these boats are shallow draft full keel centerboard classics from whence Carleton Mitchell's renowned Finisterre (S&S Design No.1054, LOA 38'-6") evolved.

White Mist

White Mist was launched in 1950 with the name of "Maybe"! The original owner was William P. Barrows of Rochester, NY.  Within a year the boat was sold to G.W. Blunt White and renamed White Mist. White raced White Mist extensively for the next 11 years. The numerous brass plaques on the main cabin bulkhead cover nine consecutive Bermuda races (1950-1966), the 1953 Buenos Aries Rio race, a trans-Atlantic Race in 1957 from Bermuda to Santander, Spain which culminated in the 1957 Fastnet Race. This Fastnet was every bit as rough as the disastrous 1979 Fastnet Race according to Lawrence Huntington, a living member of that 1957 crew.

White Mist (Maybe)

White Mist

Click on the above photos for a larger image

In 1962 White Mist was purchased by Melville B. Grosvenor (1900-1983) from G.W. Blunt White's estate. Ed. Note: The Mystic Seaport Library, which is home to the Olin Stephens collection, is named after Blunt White - a past commodore of the Cruising Club of America and the Off Soundings Club. (The Blunt White Library is also home to the Dolphin24 website book, copy #1)The boat remained in Grosvenor's immediate family until 1995 when I purchased it.  Melville was the grandson of Alexander Graham Bell. His father, Gilbert Grosvenor, was the first editor of the National Geographic Magazine. Melville, Gilbert's son, followed in his footsteps as did his son Gilbert. I purchased White Mist from Gilbert Grosvenor. White Mist had been part of the Grosvenor family for 33 years (1962-1995).

In 1976 I purchased a rundown boatyard in Baddeck, NS that had stored and maintained White Mist for a number of years. This is how I came to admire White Mist and recognize what fine a boat she is. With this knowledge I could not pass up the chance to buy the boat when the opportunity arose.  It was a no brainer because I had a partner in the initial purchase, past Commodore Henry H. Anderson of the New York Yacht Club whose father in 1936 had been one of the original purchasers of a NY 32. The Anderson NY 32 was called 'Clotho'.  Harry Anderson is still alive and exuberantly vibrant at the age of 94! I recommend the recent biography of Commodore Anderson entitled "The Strenuous Life of Harry Anderson" by Roger Vaughan.

Since 1995 I (we) have owned White Mist the second boat to be built from the 1946 S&S Revonoc plans. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to become the fourth owner of White Mist

The best way to get to know a boat is to take care of it!

As I write this article White Mist rests in the old wooden shed where wood boats were once built in the former Pinaud Yacht Yard, now known as Cape Breton Boatyard. The boat sits in its custom wood cradle on a railway car looking proud and clean with newly painted topsides, an interior cabin that has been sanded, undercoated and given a finish coat of Epiphanes eggshell white paint. New bright LED cabin lights have been installed plus a new custom fitted dish rack over the galley sink replacing the original dish rack with a more aesthetically functional design. Improvements are ongoing. A wooden boat is never finished.

White Mist's interior is traditional with four berths in the main cabin and two in the forward cabin. Sitting in the main cabin is a pleasure as there is nothing to equal the enduring comfort of an older wooden boat as one contemplates its 65 year history. The forepeak once accommodated a pipe berth for a paid hand. A second head for the paid hand was an added amenity that was removed. Today the forepeak provides a good ample space to store bagged sails, ropes and spare dinghy oars.

Working on White Mist is every much a pleasure as sailing the boat. In fact, the satisfaction one gains from the work required to maintain White Mist in what I have previously referred to as a state of 'glory' becomes the overriding 'passion' as you know you are preserving a valuable piece of yachting history.

 When White Mist was in 1995 purchased the boat needed significant upgrades which have been completed.  I outlined much of this work in an earlier piece in the S&S Yearbook as well as in 2008 a piece on the refastening White Mist's bottom which required the removal and replacement of about 2,400 bronze screws. This job was challenging. At the time I was quoted a price of $12.00 per screw to refasten the bottom from a reputable New England Boatyard! Now, with the refastening of the bottom planks it has raised the odds that White Mist is capable of lasting another 65 years. Sadly, I will not be around. My hope is that White Mist will be. In 35 years White Mist will be 100 years old. I would be 104!

Over the last twenty years the work completed to maintain White Mist to a high standard has been extensive and time consuming. One marvels at the details of construction which have proven to be the key to the boats long term structural integrity. The quality of the wood used and the joinery work attest to the high building standards that Henry Nevins adhered to.  There are bronze cross floors throughout the boat. The 2"x2" white oak frames were not let into the keel, but left with a small space so that the chance of heel of the frame deterioration is eradicated. White Mist is doubled planked with the first layer being 3/8" Port Orford cedar that is overlaid with 3/4" Honduras mahogany. The cedar is back screwed into the mahogany between each frame.  In 1983 the two garboard planks were replaced as they had been poisoned with engine oil from the leaky Westerbeke engine!

I have a copy of the detailed White Mist construction plans that provide a long list of instructions during the building of the boat.  Detailed letters from Rod Stephens to Arthur Gauss at the Nevins yard spelled out building instructions and changes thereto. The rigorous oversight and care during construction no doubt is attributable to the current longevity of White Mist.

In the work required to maintain and upgrade White Mist I have made every effort to maintain to adhere to the original building specs. When replacing the three deck hatches I struggled with either building new rectangular look alike hatches or replacing them with ocean going Atkins Hoyle hatches. The latter was decided upon as in my mind the proper choice is based on a 'safety at sea' mandate.  A boom gallows frame was added to allow securing the boom rather than have it hang by cable from the mizzen mast. A new dodger embraces the dodger frame which provides some distinction in shape compared to contemporary dodger designs.

Small improvements have made a difference to handling White Mist. Perhaps the best was installing a short track for the main sheet in the aft of the cockpit which allows micro adjustments in trimming the main sail.  Adding foot blocks for the spinnaker sheets improved handling of the spinnaker.  The addition of a Furlex roller furling unit alleviated foredeck sail handling. A baby stay for a small hanked on jib was added. This replaced an awkward club footed self-tacking jib boom.  This seemed prudent as the storm jib could also be accommodated here. Running back stays were installed to provide mast support if required. The mast tangs were in place for this back stay additon.

In 2003 the deck was recovered. This entailed removing the cockpit combings, deck hardware and old canvas covering the 5/8" Douglas fir plywood deck. The plywood was sanded and new silicon bronze screws were set between existing screws into the deck beams. The plywood was then given a coat of epoxy followed by a layer of west system cloth impregnated with epoxy and finished with a two part epoxy paint. New cockpit combings were fashioned and installed along with four new Anderson ST sheet winches replacing the original bronze Nevins sheet winches.

Speaking of the cockpit White Mist has a large an accommodating rectangular cockpit. Pilgrim (ex-Revonoc) has a T-Shape cockpit which I find unappealing. Originally, White Mist was built to be tiller steered. Today, White Mist has a Edson wheel pedestal that is about center cockpit which allowed for the cockpit to be shortened by creating a seat for the helmsman just in front of the new mainsail trimming track.

When steered by a tiller White Mist's compass was located on the bridge deck. When the Edson steering pedestal was installed the compass was moved to the pedestal leaving the bridge deck compass mount empty covered by a round piece of teak. I found a near duplicate Kelvin and White Constellation compass to the original over the internet. This compass is mounted on the bridge deck spot. Now, White Mist has two compasses just as it has two depth sounders. I consider a compass and depth sounder the two most necessary navigation tools. Double or nothing you might say!

Another topside improvement made was to construct a double bow roller to accommodate two anchors as White Mist had no way of mounting an anchor on her bow. The boat did have a fine Ideal electric windlass which has been modified by adding a chain gypsy. A 20 kilo Bruce is the main anchor.
A 20 kilo CQR is the back up and a 36 kilo Hereschoff anchor rests on the cabin top for storm purposes.  An anchor chain locker was fashioned below decks. 180' of 3/8" chain is the current anchor rode of choice

In 2006 the mainsail and mizzen were replaced. The original sails were made by Ratsey. The original Ratsey storm trysail and storm jib are works of art. The sail inventory is large and varied to include a mizzen staysail, two spinnakers, a spinnaker staysail and several jibs. Some of the older sails were sent to SAIL CARE in Ford City, PA for cleaning and repairs to extend their use. I have recently ordered a new mizzen staysail to replace one that has seen better days.

Mechanically, from a systems point of view, I have tried to keep things simple. The 4-107 Westerbeke was replaced with a 62Hp Perkins MD 60 engine in 1996. A three bladed Max prop has replaced the original two bladed fixed prop. A Vetus Bullflex coupling was installed between the engine transmission and shaft flange. A PSS shaft seal replaces the standard bronze thru hull stuffing box.

Electronically, Raymarine instruments were added as when buying the boat there were outdated original Kenyon instruments! A  Raymarine chart plotter, radar and autopilot completed the electronic upgrade.  A space over the ice box was modified to mount the radar and chart plotter display units as well as the VHF and Furuno GPS.  Today, it is hard to keep up with the constant changes in electronics given unstoppable 'new features' that prevail. Begrudgingly obsolescence rules in the realm of boat electronics!

The domestic water system has been upgraded from hand pump to pressure pump delivery. New stainless steel water tanks to replace the soldered original 32oz. copper tanks. A hot water heater has been installed. A holding tank has been added.  The head is the original Wilcox Crittenden Skipper model. It has been recently rebuilt and its bronze base painted with epoxy paint. The 40 gal steel fuel tank has been replaced with a 40 gallon ss tank. I wish there was room for a 60 gallon tank, but it is not feasible.

Below decks, there was much to do as White Mist had never much care in terms of maintaining the interior. It was funeral parlor dark below as most of the interior woodwork was stained a dark mahogany. We remedied this situation by painting the interior white leaving the trim to be varnished. Between the cabin top beams the plywood had been varnished. This was also painted white.  In December 2014 the interior white was sanded and repainted. The main cabin settees and berth cushions have been recovered with sunbrella: green in the main cabin and red on the forward cabin berths.

A four burner Force 10 propane stove was installed to replace a dangerous ancient three burner alcohol stove. A Sea Frost BD 12 unit was mounted to cool down the fridge which before was cooled only by block ice abetted with dry ice if need be.  The fridge is spacious and easily accessed. The Sea Frost runs off the house batteries, not by an engine belt driven compressor unit. To provide some cabin warmth a Force 10 propane heater has placed on the main cabin bulkhead replacing a small wood stove.

White Mist's wiring has been updated where required. A new circuit breaker panel was installed. Proper battery switches and breaker panel were added. The battery system consists of four GC2 lead acid 6 volt batteries and a 12 volt starting battery.  I have not succumbed to AGM or GEL batteries in deference to the high cost.  In 2014 the MD 60 engine was refitted with a serpentine belt pulley kit and a new 120amp alternator. This is a fine upgrade as it gets rid of the traditional V-belt providing better reliability and belt wear plus a quieter engine.  The regulator is an external two step Aqualine model that can be adjusted to accommodate various battery types. This regulator has been fool proof since the MD 60 installation 19 years ago. A  Xantrax 40 amp battery charger was installed a few years ago. This has functioned unfailingly.

This past spring White Mist's boom was stripped and inspected. My thought was that perhaps a new boom should be constructed. However, all the boom needed was some tender loving care that included regluing a separated wood joint, replacing the original Merriman wood cheek blocks for the topping lift and outhaul with new shiny Garhauer stainless steel cheek blocks. The out haul itself was replaced as well the shock cord for securing a furled mainsail. The present boom is a replacement for one that broke in the middle of the 1957 trans-Atlantic race from Bermuda to Europe..... the result of a mispositioned boom vang.  Creative members of that crew employed some boards from the cabin berth bottoms to splint the boom making it strong enough to complete the race.

White Mist sports a 65' wooden mast that was built new in 1994 identical to the original Sitka spruce spar. The original mast was sacrificed in 1992 when a shroud let go. The SS 7x19 wire rigging was replaced in 1996 and is inspected annually. The use of Staylock fittings made the replacement of the rigging an enjoyable task.  A good wooden mast is hard to beat.

The history of this fine S&S design is what fascinates. The 1946 Revonoc, now named Pilgrim, was rebuilt over a five year period from 1991-96. The cost was reputed to be in the half million dollar range as the boat had been neglected.  This boat has been for sale for a number of years at a much reduced price to say nothing of the cost to build from scratch.

Figaro III, owned by William Snaith, is no longer. The boat was purchased by Arthur B. Hanson who owned the boat for 15 years. Hanson renamed Figaro, Foolscap. On January 14, 1979 Foolscap was blown ashore by hurricane force winds on to the Moroccan coast.  A true loss, but fortunately no loss of life.  A read of Snaith's fine book, "On the Winds Way" is an infectious account of Figaro's 1957 trans-Atlantic race, Snaith’s love for this boat and his utter joy at being at sea.

White Mist beat Figaro III in the 1957 Trans-Atlantic Race after twenty days at sea by a heart rendering few minutes. In the following Fastnet Race, a very rough race, White Mist beat Figaro again, but only by one minute! I am told that Blunt White was ecstatic and full of robust laughter. Snaith no doubt was furious and full of disgust as he was a keen competitor. Two of the sail boats in the first Admiral's Cup series in 1957 were White Mist and Figaro (see www.admiralscup.rorc.org/history).

The recently ”Kiwi” built Theodora sold in 2013. The asking price was $1,827,000.00US! I visited Theodora when under construction in Christchurch in February 2009. It was of the highest quality workmanship. I have often dreamed how incredulous it would be to own this composite boat alongside White Mist! You could sail on a traditional plank of frame built boat one day and on the composite clone the next! I will not have this option! Theodora is reputed to sail exquisitely and now sails off Australia's Gold Coast.

The yearly challenge is to maintain White Mist to preserve the boat for posterity. Not long ago I reread a well written 2008 account in a S&S Association's Yearbook by the owner of "Nimue" ( S&S Design No. 1732 LOA 45'-2") who at age 67 began to work to recommission his boat located in San Francisco. The boat had been neglected for a number of years. The account spelled out in detail the problems that arise when a classic wooden boat is left unattended. A cursory review of the New York 32 web site (www.newyork32.org) reveals the ravages of age and neglect on several of these fine boats.

 It is indeed sad to eyeball the accretive decline of a classic beauty over an extended history of multiple ownerships. It is like being on a slippery slope akin to the human aging process. Vigilance is required and when something must be fixed or replaced it must be attended to immediately not later. There is often a tendency to procrastinate as the "to do" list seems to dominate. Right now White Mist is resting peacefully under cover where wind and weather are of little concern, but the next sixty five years are!

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Notes:   I am indebted to several sources for information regarding this article. The S&S website that has a comprehensive listing of all S&S designs is a fine resource recording the history of S&S sail boats.  Past NYYC Commodore Henry Anderson has a vast memory bank from his long sailing history and in depth knowledge thereof. He supplied articles and personal experience about NY 32s. Over the years I have encountered former crew members of White Mist who supplied information on the boat. Personal letters from Walter Flower (now deceased) , a White Mist crew member on the 1953 Buenos Aries-Rio Race and Lawrence Huntington a crew member on the 1957 trans-Atlantic Race and Fastnet Race provide a good summary of these three races aboard White Mist.  Francis Chichester in his autobiography, "The Lonely Sea and the Sky", mentions both White Mist and Figaro III on page 328 as participants in the 1957 Fastnet Race.  Chichester in fact was a crew member on Figaro! Patrick Matthiesen has written extensively on S&S sail boats whose lines were drawn by K. Aage Nielsen. Matthiesen's writings serve to enhance the overall historic profile of the S&S tradition. Last, but most important is the huge privilege of being an owner and temporary custodian of White Mist, a humbling and rewarding experience.

***It is to be noted that a sister ship to Figaro III (Foolscap) was constructed in Brazil. This boat was called Cairu III (S&S Design No. 1463, LOA 47'-6"). I just discovered this from the S&S design web site!

Submitted by Henry W. Fuller

PO Box 247
Baddeck, NS
Canada B0E 1B0

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White Mist

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January 12, 2018. Henry sent in the following on White Mist (minor edits)

First, I  had a nice chat with Harry Anderson earlier in the week. He sounds in good trim as he works his way into his 96th year.

Today, I spent a good part of the daylight hours going through my copious and assorted files on White Mist. I had neglected doing this, but there is has been a fear if I do not put this file in order the next owner would  miss out on a great story. So, I went thought every item from when we used to store and take care of the boat to my offer to buy it  in the fall of 1994 and then the 24 years to date.

  So, I have owned the boat since the late fall of 1994, but have been involved with White Mist's storage and care since 1976 the year I bought the boat yard.....the total time period is 41 years out of White Mist's 68  year life current life span. I believe the boat has another 68 years within her!

Her older sister, Revonoc (ex-Pilgrim, Nipantuck), that was rebuilt from 1991-96 at a rumored cost of $500K, is now being restored back to  the original to the extent of removing the pedestal wheel steering to the original tiller mode! The new owner has spent a pretty penny on the boat since he bought it in the fall of 2015.

Why I am telling you this is in my White Mist files I found a letter today.  The letter was inquiring about White Mist.  The author also asked me how I was getting along on the restoration of Galatea. I know he was  very interested in the progress..........reason being that he was the individual that John Runyon bought Galatea from, Syd Rogers! I have had a compelling feeling that there was a force out there pushing me to get the  restoration done. I am not sure if Syd was the original owner, but if not, close to it.  So, I have owned Galatea about 33-35 years well over half the boat's life! I will have to check my files at the yard to see exactly how long.

All the best,

HWF

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