About a month ago I was given a bunch of old photos of Anna R. by one of her former owners. I feel so lucky to call so many of the past owners of this lovely little boat my good friends. It’s so wonderful to hear stories of her past; of the care and love with which she was built, and the adventures that have been had aboard her over the years. These photos are almost as great as the stories, it’s so interesting to see all the things that are just the same, and all of the things that are so different. The photo below is my favorite of the bunch, it makes me smile and reminds me that spring is just around the corner.
Along with the photos was an old newspaper article, published back when newspapers cost just fifteen cents. The Article is titled, New London man builds sailboat in backyard, I’ve copied the text below the scanned image.
The article was printed in The Argus-Champion – Newport-Lake Sunapee Times, Newport, NH on Thursday, June 11, 1970.
by Chris Paine
“NEW LONDON – Kenneth rich, Burpee Hill Rd., New London is gaining a reputation around these parts for being, of all things, a shipbuilder.
His latest, and biggest project to date – a 25 ft Friendship Sloop – was launched last week at Great Bay Marina in Newington. She was a long time in the making — Mr. Rich laid her keel on May 28, 1966. Building mostly during the fall, spring, and summer, Mr. Rich, whose usual job is inspecting the roads in the Sunapee area for the State Highway Dept., did all the work himself, with the exception, of course, of some help from his wife Anna. They even managed to pour the keel themselves, melting it in a bathtub.
Constructed according to plans which her builder received from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, “Anna R.” has deadwood and ribs of West Virginia white oak, cedar planking, teak deck, and mahogany trim. Her mast and boom are of solid spruce, cut from the slopes of Mt. Kearsarge and dried in the hayloft for two years before stripping the bark, shaping and sanding. Almost everything on the boat is handmade, even the cleats, which were carved out of hardwood.
Down below she has a galley, two bunks, which convert to doubles, and an enclosed head forward. Beneath the cockpit Mr Rich has installed a Gray Marine four-cylinder auxiliary engine.
The Friendship Sloop is less a specific design than a general type of sailing vessel, charachterized by an elliptical transom, rounded stern, clipper bow, round bilges, and a gaff rig. Originally intended for lobstering and fishing, the first one was supposed to have been built in Friendship, Maine around 1890.
Mr. Rich’s interest in boats goes back to childhood summers spent with his grandparents in Ash Point, Maine, and latter, to a summer job on a sloop out of Marblehead, Mass. His long standing admiration for Friendships dates from that time. He recalls an old man who used his Friendship to take tourists on excursions, being able to make perfect landings at the dock single-handedly without the help of an engine.
So when the time came a few years ago to buy another boat (by this time he had already built several smaller ones) Mr. Rich originally intended to buy and old lobster boat, hopefully for $200 to $300, and rebuild it. But the asking price for old lobster boats was $600 to $700. For a little more than that he knew he could build what he’d always wanted — his own Friendship Sloop.
Now that the boat is finished and in the water, he plans to sail down east from Kittery to the annual sloop regatta in Friendship, Maine, where usually at least 30 Friendship owners gather to race their craft and compare notes. He also plans to make a trip to the Cape later in the summer. What are Mr. Rich’s boatbuilding plans for the future? At the moment he’s not building anything, and is absorbed in mastering the art of celestial navigation through a correspondence course given by the Coast Guard. But projecting from the shed at the end of his driveway is a mysterious something shrouded in canvas. It’s another boat, of course, or more accurately, the remains of one — this time the rotting shell of the only surviving Lake Sunapee One-Design, and Mr. Rich intends to rebuild it, plank by plank.”
I wish I could have met this man, but will happily settle for hearing so many wonderful stories from his family, and sailing the beautiful boat he built. One thing is abundantly clear from everything I’ve been told thus far, Ken and Anna Rich were two very lovely people. Everyone who knew them speaks of them with such fondness and love, and Anna R. is something of a testament to that. I feel as though I am somehow a part of their lives, even though I never knew them. In any case, I feel awfully lucky to have somehow become the owner of such a lovely little boat.