Part 3: In 1999 the gutted hull sank at a Boston pier.
By Ben Ellison — February 2003
Fulford had gone from working in his brother's pharmacy in little Brockville, Ontario, to making millions selling "Dr. Williams' Pink Pills for Pale People" (trust me, I double checked). Though later found to contain mainly iron and sugar, Fulford was a pioneer of persuasive advertising and eventually sold his "tonic for the healthy, cure-all for the sick" in 87 countries. Pink Pills made Brockville famous and financed Fulford's 20,000-square-foot Victorian mansion on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. Cangarda was the perfect accessory. Fulford built a dock and renamed her Magedoma after his wife and children--Mary, George, Dorothy, and Martha. Unfortunately, Fulford further distinguished himself by becoming Canada's first known automobile fatality in 1905.
This sad turn seemed to mark a healthy turn in the yacht's life, as the remaining Fulford family enjoyed her right up until her time as a training vessel during WWII. She was queen of the Thousand Island area, known to sometimes run at night with her snazzy carbon arc spotlight blazing, other times to tie off her safety valves and race past everyone at 19 knots. In the summer of 1927, Mary Fulford hosted the Prince of Wales, Duke of Kent, and the Prime Ministers of both England and Canada on a famous dinner cruise.
After the war, Magedoma went through several Great Lakes owners and much decline, until a New England gentleman decided to tackle her restoration in the early 1980's. She was towed to Boston, her now-fragile hull purportedly wrapped in a giant swimming pool skin, and disassembled. Her engines were rebuilt by the Kew Bridge Steam Museum in London and much of her joinery work was renewed in Boston before the project ran out of steam. In 1999 the gutted hull sank at a Boston pier, an indignity that eventually compelled the renowned savior of classic yachts, Elizabeth Meyers, to raise her and gather the Cangarda kit in Fairhaven.
Which brings us to the present, and me, after hours of fascinating conversation, asking Cobb if there is anyone else alive who knows so much about this boat. His reply, "Not on the face of the earth," is not boastful, but rather the baleful words of a man on a quixotic mission. Over the last year, between delivery trips and his job as part-time skipper of the 175-foot Galveston-based bark Elissa, Cobb has spent innumerable hours researching Cangarda and trying to solicit a patron to finance her restoration, so far without success. Depending on choices, he estimates the cost at $2.5 to $5 million, including Meyers' half million asking price.
Not that Cobb is the only soul with a strong desire to see Cangarda brought back to life. Ross MacTaggart features her in his fine book The Golden Century, Classic Motor Yachts, 1830-1930 and calls for her rescue as a magnificent example of a now-rare breed on his Web site (www.thegoldencentury.com). Fulford Place, the mansion that Pink Pills built, is today a museum with an entire room devoted to this yacht. If, like me, you're inclined to join this list of admirers, and also have the means to actually save Cangarda, contact Meyers' J-Class Management in Newport and/or Cobb in Camden. With one century under her graceful transom, this lady deserves another.
J-Class Management Phone: (401) 849-3060. www.jclass.com.
Capt. Steve Cobb Phone: (207) 236-8489.
Ben Ellison has been a delivery captain and navigation instructor for nearly 30 years and was recently editor of Reed's Nautical Almanacs.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.