City Continues to Interest and Impress Sailors

Cape Dory Owners Start Season of Sailing Rendezvous in the City
By Joe Cohen
Standard-Times Staff Writer

Edson International president Will Keene fields questions from members of the Cape Dory Sailboat Owners Association during a recent tour of the company’s world headquarters in New Bedford’s Business Park. The sailors, visiting from as far away as Montreal, are the first of three sailing clubs to layover in New Bedford’s harbor this summer. Edson International has manufactured marine steering, pumps, davits, NAV/COM towers and accessories since 1859.

NEW BEDFORD — The city has hosted its first sailing rendezvous of the 2008 season and judging from the comments of some of the participants it was an overwhelming success.
The Cape Dory Sailboat Owners Association arrived in New Bedford-Fairhaven Harbor on Sunday and departed Tuesday morning. During their stay, the sailboat owners and crew along with Cape Dory owners who drove to the city gathered for dinners, a tour of local boating gear manufacturers and a party atop the New Bedford Whaling Museum on Monday evening.
Joe Myerson, a senior editor for Northeast Boating magazine who organized the event, sailed his Cape Dory 25D from Red Brook Harbor, Cataumet, at the other end of Buzzards Bay. He said last year he and his wife participated in a Cape Dory owners’ event in Essex, Conn., and it occurred to him that it was “about time we had a rendezvous in Buzzards Bay.”
Mr. Myerson said he had to decide whether to hold the rendezvous in Mattapoisett or New Bedford. He chose New Bedford primarily because he believed there was more to do for attendees.
Mr. Myerson said his perception is that New Bedford has come a long way from its former image of being a gritty place and not necessarily for sailboat rendezvous. Growing up in Bourne, parents would “scare children” with the threat of sending them to New Bedford, he said.
The actual experience was that all the attendees indicated they were very impressed with the city and that officials had “gone out of their way” to make the experience positive. Mr. Myerson said it was “absolutely positive — I’d recommend it, the city could do well with (recreational) boaters.”
One suggestion he had for city officials — get a dinghy dock downtown so boaters can come and go in their smaller tender craft from the moorings. The Cape Dory fleet was moored off Popes Island and shuttled by Whaling City Expeditions and the Harbor Development Commission, headed by Kristin Decas.
Ms. Decas said the HDC is working to establish a docking area for dinghies to make the city more accommodating for the recreational boater, while keeping as its first priority the use of docking space for commercial fishermen.
Another attendee was Garth Wallace, crewing for Duncan Cameron, both of Montreal.
Cape Dory yachts are traditional-styled, full-keel fiberglass sailboats designed by Carl Alberg, ranging in size from about 10 to 45 feet and built from the 1960s through 1991. Cape Dory also built a very limited line of powerboats and trawlers. The company was based in eastern Massachusetts, with most being built in Taunton.
Mr. Wallace said he and Mr. Cameron were sailing the New England coast after picking up Mr. Cameron’s Cape Dory 27 from its previous owner and would spend the summer sailing the boat back to Canada via New York City, the Hudson River and Lake Champlain.
“I had never been to New Bedford before,” Mr. Wallace said, describing the city as “super.” He said he found it has a “very unique harbor … wonderfully protected” and the visit was very interesting. “I’d come back anytime,” he said, noting that recreational boaters mesh well with the commercial fishing operations.
Stan Wheatley, who sails a Cape Dory 28, also attended the rendezvous. He said his experience was the boaters were “very well treated” and believed the city “laid out the red carpet.” He also said, “I’ll be back.”
The next large group of sailors to visit, according to city officials, will be the Cruising Club of New England scheduled to overnight in the city on Aug. 4.
The Stamford (Conn.) Yacht Club also is scheduled to cruise to New Bedford-Fairhaven Harbor, arriving on Aug. 10. The cruise is being led by Dom Champa, who was the cruise chairman last year, visited New Bedford and liked the city and its amenities. In a statement prepared by the mayor’s office promoting the sailboat crews’ visits, Mr. Champa said, “We simply had a blast — we had such a great time we decided to bring the yacht club cruise back to New Bedford this year.”
Ms. Decas, in the prepared statement, said the sailing craft “are a great complement to our working port.” She pledged the HDC will “assure that our visitors have a positive experience.”
Contact Joe Cohen at
July 23, 2008
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