GRAMPIAN 26 -
HULL No 1
In early 1969 a gentleman visited the Toronto Boat Show
where the first production model of the 26ft. Grampian, hull number one, was
on display. He decided it was the boat that suited him perfectly. He bought it
"off the floor" for the show price, and named it Waterwitch. It is
thought that he paid $6,000 for it.
He had a special three axle trailer built, and In July 1970
he took the boat to the southern States and sailed the Caribbean for a month
or so. There, on one occasion, he ran aground on a coral reef but did little
or no damage.
During July of the following summer, 1971, I joined him for
a four week cruise off the New England coast. We trailered the boat from
Toronto to Newport R.I. at
the end of June. The original plan was to have a crew of four, and sail
to Bermuda, a distance of some 740 Miles one way, but the other two backed
out. As a result just he and I set out to the alluring islands, going on the
traditional four hour watches. By mid-week we encountered heavy seas and a
full gale. We were skirting the eastern edge of the season's first hurricane
tracking north-easterly along the coast. Sailing under storm jib and reefed
main we were steadily making six knots while the wind-steering gear, which he
had installed on the transom, kept us admirably on course. At no time, even
though the waves appeared from our perspective to be higher then our mast,
passing us by in huge rollers, did I feel in danger at any time. The Grampian
handled it all.
The mutual decision however, for various reason, was to
turn back and spend the remaining three weeks visiting the numerous New
England ports, from Mystic Seaport to Cape Anne.
Ever since, he tells me, he has returned each summer to
cruise this area, using his trusty Lincoln to tow the boat on its trailer to
Rhode Island, where he launched the boat.
Over the years he has made many modifications and additions
to the boat. With a healthy respect for the ocean, he doubled the cabin lights
by installing additional Plexiglas over all the windows, and, in addition to
the traditional washboards, an extra set of doors for the companion way.
Shortly after our trip, he had the transom altered and had the motor well
filled in. I believe the inboard, installed shortly after the purchase, is a
Volvo diesel with a cone type of transmission which occasionally becomes stuck
in reverse. For the purpose he carries a sledge hammer on board, he tells me.
The wind vane for self steering has now been replaced with
electronics, and, frankly, there is so much equipment on board that there
seems little living space. But then, he usually sails single handed. He still
feels his Grampian is a fine boat and has never regretted getting it. It sails
very well and is very safe. This year seems to be the first year that, due to
other commitments, he will not sail the ocean, but he does plan to launch and
sail the Georgian Bay for the season, that is, after his horses are taken care
of. Hull number One will remain in fresh water this year.
Currently Waterwitch's owner must be well into his
eighties, for he told me years ago that at the end of WWII he ferried naval
vessels across the Atlantic from England, and was often responsible for their
safe passage since it occurred frequently that the captain was "out of
commission". Having received his training as a naval officer, he was a very
fine navigator and seaman.
Thanks to Hessel
Pape for providing this story and photos.
Please note that all photos were taken while
Waterwitch was in "Winter mode"