The Schooner Sara B Log

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April 07, 2009     Post 25
Spring Update

John A Noble (now Sara B) deck views
Peepers yelp from the pothole ponds of the West Barrier Bar and Sara B's crew is counting down, hoping for a late April launch from Fairpoint. Jim, Rich and I sanded her topsides last week and I did some touch up caulking of seams for an afternoon. One topside butt, port side sheer strake, will get some additional attention as will a soft spot in the old covering board to starboard. But we're hopeful that a quick scrape and about a barrel of seam compound along with bottom paint will get her ready below the waterline. Jim's skylight and the Gateley hatch projects are progressing, I have a good start on the new sail covers. And so far, we see no problem with Sara B's pressure treated pine bottom plank “experiment”.

A month or so ago, I stumbled across a piece of Sara B's past while surfing the Internet. I discovered the website of a professional mariner and marine surveyor in Brooklyn named Charles Deroko who turned out to be a former owner of our little ship. We corresponded via email and he sent along several photos of the schooner he knew as the John A. Noble purchased from Gene in 1980. (Mr. Noble was a famous artist who had a floating studio behind Staten Island that he built out of boat parts from the big graveyard there. He did many prints and paintings of working coastal schooners from the last days of sail. As a younger man he went to sea aboard schooners. The Internet says he died in 1983 so it's conceivable that he might have noticed the little vessel named for him out on the waters of Raritan Bay. At least it's fun to imagine he might have.) Deroko kept her at the South Street Seaport museum.

John A Noble - the upper right picture taken from Gene Stauss's Tradewind

Sara B, like all of us, was a lot younger then and also looked a bit different. She had her cockpit coaming and a shorter bowsprit then as well as a sliding front hatch much like the aft main hatch. Deroko worked as a rigger and maintenance person at the museum and also ran one of the museum's schooners. He did a complete overhaul of the steel rope rigging of the big steel Cape Horn carrier the Peking. (He also gave Sara B new standing rigging, so now we know who did the single shroud that was served). He has a fascinating article on the Peking job at his website. He says he didn't do a lot to Sara B but he did admit to crafting the basic no frills plywood box over the engine of which he wrote “that I used to keep open because I liked looking at the engine”. ( That sounds like a man who knows the importance of a happy diesel! I bet the oil gauge wasn't hidden back under the cockpit back when he had her either. )

John A Noble underway

He mostly daysailed Sara B, he wrote, as he was working two jobs then, his museum job as well as work on tugs. He sold Sara B to another Seaport Museum worker named George Phillips who lived aboard her through at least one New York winter. Mr. Phillips apparently did quite a lot of work on Sara B. He added the skylight and re-worked the front hatch and also gave her a tiller. We can't see how that was done unless he also made a new rudder stock for her. I assume he removed the cockpit coaming for some good reason and he gave her a new bowsprit. Perhaps he thought he had a bit too heavy a helm with her old sail plan after she got her new tiller. She certainly has a light and mannerly helm now.

In response to one of my comments about our efforts to keep Sara B going, Mr. Deroko wrote “Well she's getting on in years but was well built originally so I suspect there is much to work with. She is a good boat and I'm glad you like her.” Others who knew her- Gene, her former owner and Steve the Windsong's skipper, told us the same. As the tides of time roll on, she has indeed been a good b

Motoring back to the dock with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background

(All photos courtesy of Charles Deroko)

Working on the Wavertree - Charles Deroko on the left

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