The Block Island Times

The SV Slainte'

By J. V. Houlihan, Jr. | Jan 06, 2013
Photo by: Eric Moran Joe and Liam Houlihan going for a sail, '87

The Slainte' was a fun little pocket cruiser and it was a perfect boat for sailing in Point Judith Pond, a.k.a Salt Pond. It was like  sailing in a smaller version of Narragansett Bay: islands, channels, navigational hazards and SW wind! I usually kept the boat near the ferry dock, tucked in close to the bulkhead. This boat got lots of use over the 8 years we had her.

    Slainte' was a Kells 23, designed by Bob Kells of Providence. She had a retractable centerboard so she could sail in the thin water up in the pond; she was also fast off the wind on a run or a broad reach, when the board was cranked all the way up into the centerboard trunk. She had a good size mainsail, a working jib, and a 150 Genoa. The 150 could add some drama to sailing; it was a fast little boat.

    Slainte' had a few bunks and a head down below. It was a fun boat to do overnights up in the pond with my kids. We'd anchor up in the lee of Plato or Ram Island for the night, and it was a fun little getaway. Some of the best sailing I did on this particular boat, was early spring and late fall. For thrills, I'd take her out with my son Liam, meet an incoming ferry, power the boat up-wind and then jibe the boat and surf the down ferry's wake; fun and amusing stuff!

    Another fun place to take the kids was out to the Harbor of Refuge. Right out near the apex of the wall, was a great little sandbar. We could anchor near it, then swim over to it and have our own little beach. It was also a place where I'd dream about my next boat, and there were always several great designs to look in this anchorage.

    Somehow, I've been fixated on sailboats my whole life; still am. It is what it is I guess. Same deal with some Block Island guys I know: Eddy McGovern, Shea Butcher, Ray Torry, Champ and Carder Starr, Bill Black, Sylvan Viaciatus, Steve Land, Bill Dunleavey and Charley Gale. All of these guys, simply love boats, always did.

    I sailed my first Sunfish from Payne's Dock in '69, and that led me to buy a Snipe Class racer while in college. I had a sailboat, but no car; go figure. More importantly, I didn't care. Sailing is in my genes, and those genes go way back,  according to William Bradford, "a lusty younge man," my ancestor named John Howland, an indentured servant/sailor aboard the Mayflower. So I guess a guy just has to roll with this stuff and not fight it. I currently sail a 30 ft. Ericson, which I love; she's a fun, fast and tender boat. Lately however, I'm eying a  19 ft. Cape Dory Typhoon. We'll see, and I'll keep you posted. At this age, smaller may be better.

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