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Providential Vagaries

Charmed Life - page 3

Globetrotting yacht "Radiant Star"A traditional Herreshoff-style saloon.Radiant Star’s conversion into a full-fledged yacht began in earnest once she reached Skyline Marina. Here her thick larch hull planks were recaulked from the waterline up and refastened with giant square-cut galvanized boat nails from the waterline down. Her decks were skinned over with a waterproof membrane and then covered with brand-new fir planks, fastened with literally thousands of screws and bungs. And her battered bulwarks boards were replaced with vast slabs of varnished mahogany and adorned with brand-new caprails crafted of purpleheart, a straight-grain wood from the American South.

Interior work took way more time and money. In fact, Buchan was constrained to wax a tad philosophical about the latter subject as we finished our tour of Radiant Star’s accommodation spaces, an elegantly transformed, blue-collar-to-blue-stocking construct featuring dark mahogany, white wainscoting, Black Watch tartan, and a charming collection of old steamship furniture. Local artisan David Bass was responsible for the look of it all, I’d gathered, although Buchan and his wife Gwen were a source of near-constant help, thanks largely to where they lived and continue to live—a condo within sight of Radiant Star’s slip.

The trusty eight-in-line Gardner diesel.“Years ago,” Buchan began with a wry grin, “when I was building the 53-foot Huningford cutter Gwen and I circumnavigated in, I saved every invoice after I’d paid it and the pile grew until—I must admit, Bill—it became a dispiriting thing to look at.”

“But with Radiant Star,” he went on, the grin widening, “I did differently—I paid the invoices all right, but then I simply tossed them into the wastebasket. It proved to be a much happier situation, I’ll warrant you. Much happier.”

Concluding his story, the old boy’s grin went full-width and he emitted a peal of surprisingly uproarious, zen-masterish laughter, a development that belied a sad detail that had shadowed our visit from the very first—Buchan was selling Radiant Star for $619,000. He’d picked Chuck Hovey Yachts (www.chuckhoveyyachts.com) as his broker.

Of course, we talked about it eventually. “I really shouldn’t own a boat like this anymore,” he explained, rather wistfully I thought, no doubt deferring to the implacability of old age and the health issues that tend to go along with it.

“But then,” he added, seemingly gladdened by the prospect of yet another providential happening in Radiant Star’s long, well-traveled, and arguably charmed life. “We’ve just got a possible buyer, you know. A Scotsman, believe it or not. The broker tells me he’s quite familiar with herring drifters and is apparently quite passionate about them, too. He wants to take her back to Scotland. Imagine! Might she be going home at last!”