Tuesday, May 19, 2009

s/v Black Opal

s/v Black Opal is a 58' Sampson ferrocement schooner, owned by Fred and Lynda Brady, and their teeny tiny dog Rusty (never doubt that Rusty is a part owner...).

Black Opal was previously named Serenity, but Fred and Lynda said that too many boats had that name, so they changed it. They have decked out Black Opal like a pirate ship, complete with ratlines and a black PVC pipe carbide cannon on the foredeck. The interior (not surprisingly, if you know Fred and Lynda) is like no other boat I've been on. With its pressed tin ceiling, porch swing in the galley (!), and the chandelier in the saloon (!!), Whimsy might have been a good name for her.

Fred and Lynda originated on Mercer Island, but spent a number of years at Cordova, Alaska. Accordingly, you would expect that they are self-reliant and capable. You would be right. Fred has made all of his spars (the masts started life as light poles), sewed a collection of flags, reshaped his mainsail (actually, a mainsail from a Downeast 45!), and has just completed making a new rudder. He also built all the cockpit furniture. In fact, Fred is the inspiration for me taking on the making of our new bowsprit.

When they first arrived at Shilshole, Fred and Lynda had crossed the Gulf of Alaska with their previous boat Halcyon Days (40', also ferrocement) - a journey not to be taken lightly at any time of year. Through the forward port on the deckhouse, Lynda's collection of tea cups was lined up and on display. Somehow they had survived the crossing.

Black Opal is a clear amalgamation of the two of them. The boat is rock solid (it's cement!) and ready to go anywhere and sustain any conditions. But the chandelier, the porch swing, the eyes painted on the oars stored in the rigging add a laugh and smile.

Black Opal was featured prominently in an article by Becky Coffield called "A Schooner Kind of Summer" in the December 2007 issue of 48 Degrees North, covering the annual Captain Raynaud International Schooner Race. (We have an autographed copy.)

If you have time for a beer or a glass of wine, you should knock on the hull and get a story from these two. They have a lifetime's worth of adventures to share.


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