Monday, April 09, 2012
She is 96 years old, all bones and little skin. Her ribs are split and rotted in places and stained by rust. Nonetheless, she is a slightly fearsome presence, commanding her surroundings like a T. rex in a natural history museum.
When the Shawnee first hit the water in 1916, she was a striking beauty — a 72-foot sailboat made of old-growth oak and Douglas fir, African mahogany, naturally curved hackmatack and gleaming teak. Her hull had the seductive curve of a wineglass. Her keel was 37,000 pounds of lead capped by a single slab of carved oak stretching stem to stern.
Now the Shawnee sits partially dismantled in Newport Beach, where master shipwright Dennis Holland is working to restore the boat to her original glory. It's a project six years in the making, with no end in sight.