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Points East Magazine Book Review - Voyaging with Marionette - August 27, 2020  

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A love letter

“Voyaging with Marionette”
by Ron Breault. Whaler Books, 2020; 305 pp. $39.95.

Review by Bob Muggleston

The reader’s forbearance is requested. This story is best told over a couple of beers – the downstairs pub at the Brooklin Inn, in Maine, comes immediately to mind – but there are many such places where sailors gather and talk about their boats.

These stories are “undisciplined” in their presentation, and are conversational. I’ve tried to keep the same environment in writing this book.

Ron Breault

PS: I need to thank my wife Chris for putting up with all this sailboat stuff

Well, after spending time with “Voyaging with Marionette,” by Old Lyme, Connecticut’s Ron Breault, I can see why the postscript to his wife was added to the book’s preface: Holy smokes, is this a deep dive! The publication is ostensibly about the 25 years Breault has owned his 1960, S&S-designed Dolphin 24, but it’s oh-so-much more than that. Are you old enough to remember phone books? This is what “Voyaging” feels like in your hands, and it’s chock-a-block full with Dolphin 24 information, much of it gleaned from Breault’s time running the website Dolphin24.org.

It’s also packed with color photos and personal anecdotes about the author’s time spent racing and cruising Marionette throughout New England. Many of the boat’s logbooks have been trotted out in this capacity, but it’s all neat stuff, never boring or overly detailed, and produced by someone with a knack for identifying the most interesting aspect of any particular harbor.

Anyone who’s owned a pretty boat understands that the possession of such a craft is never enough: That is, if you like nice lines, you’re going to have a wandering eye. The author’s favorite cruising destination is Maine. Hey, wouldn’t you know it, there are some nice-looking boats up there! Many of them wood, with incredible pedigrees. Breault goes deep on some of those, as well. I’m always a sucker for the lineage of a classic boat, and clearly so is Breault. He’s also not afraid to reach out to legends like Olin Stephens, Bill Shaw and John Rousmaniere, either, and talks a bit about his various associations with these men, and even shares some of his correspondence with them.

More than anything, though, “Voyaging with Marionette” is a love letter to his Dolphin 24. Over the years Breault has meticulously restored her, built her a storage barn, and in that barn’s workshop constructed her wooden tender. In the book he shares many of the clever modifications both he and others have done to make life cruising aboard a Dolphin 24 easier, and more comfortable – many that could be applied to any small sailboat. So it’s a book that’s theoretically specific, but also has general appeal. I wish such an exhaustive work existed for my last boat, which also fell into the “Classic Plastic” category (though Marionette’s deck and cabin are wood).

In the book Breault reveals that, after retiring, he was casting about for something that would give his life meaning in the way his job previously had. His ownership of Marionette – and running a website dedicated to her class – seems to have been just the ticket.

Voyage on, Breault and Marionette.

Bob Muggleston is the editor of this magazine.










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