|Something Old, Something New|
Part 2: “Doesn’t the dampness raise hell with your harp?”
By Capt. Bill Pike — May 2003
The scenery en route was dazzling. There were some 40 antique vessels—power and sail—ranging size-wise from a 14-foot Amesbury skiff to a 58-foot Lawley Canoe Stern Power Cruiser and age-wise from a Tarpon Springs sponge boat that splashed in 1901 to a Chebacco Schooner completed in 1997 and owned by the Essex Historical Society and Shipbuilding Museum. With the sun beaming down warmly, errant breezes wafted aromas of old-fashioned varnish and paint, blended with the tang of salt water. I eased the Chris-Craft into a vacant slot with the help of a guy in a pirate costume with a live parrot on his shoulder, fetching up somewhere between a Chris-Craft runabout called Que Sera and a big New York Consolidated Commuter called Juniata, from whence emanated the ethereal tones we were hunting.
Everybody hopped ashore—thoroughly PFD’d kids included—to find Helminski hard at work, focusing his cherished, old Minolta Autocord upon a lady in a long, floral dress and bonnet playing a large, golden harp: Nina Vickers, former Newark, New Jersey, trial attorney turned entertainer and co-owner (with her husband Russ) of Hawthorne Cove Marina. Seated on a wraparound settee in the carefully restored cockpit of the Consolidated, Vickers was having little trouble talking to Helminski, posing, and playing a moving interpretation of “Let It Be,” all at the same time. “You’re going to have to hurry it up, Mr. Photographer,” she smiled. “I”m a busy girl. Besides the boat show, I’ve got two weddings and a Bar Mitzvah today.”
“Doesn’t the dampness raise hell with your harp?” queried a listener, apparently anxious about the effects of salt air on gold leaf. “Not a bit,” Vickers replied with a flourish, smoothly transitioning into a complex rendition of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” to distract the children gathering at Helminski’s heels. The encounter turned out to be a tone-setter for the rest of the day—again and again that morning and afternoon we met with the very same mixture of seafaring romance and fun.
This article originally appeared in the April 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.