BROOKLIN — Browsing through a boating magazine recently, I saw yacht broker’s listing for Amity with a photograph — the one that appears above — showing the handsome Friendship sloop under sail.
Although the hull was black, it was unmistakably the same boat I sailed on nearly 30 years ago with her owner, James Russell Wiggins, and another newspaperman of note, Richard Dudman.
Mr. Wiggins was, at the time, the owner, publisher and editor of The Ellsworth American. Before that, he was for many years editor of the Washington Post. He was also the owner of Amity, a 30-foot Friendship sloop built around 1900 by Wilbur Morse, considered the founding genius of the type.
Mr. Dudman was a retired foreign correspondent, member of the Washington, D.C., press corps, longtime bureau chief for the St. Louis Post Dispatch in the nation’s capital and proud to have been on President Nixon’s famous “Enemies List.” He, too, was a Friendship sloop man, owner of the wooden Freedom, built and launched for him in 1976 by Ralph Stanley, considered by many as the successor to the Morse legacy.
I don’t remember precisely when I was invited to join those two icons of journalism and watch the start of the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta aboard Mr. Wiggins’ classic boat, but it must have been in the very early 1990s. I was not a Friendship sloop aficionado, but I was, like Mr. Wiggins and Mr. Dudman, an enthusiastic sailor, and I had been responsible for the Waterfront section of The American for a couple of years.
On ERR day, I drove to the Wiggins home on the Benjamin River and around mid-morning the sailing party, which included a Wiggins nephew who was both a pilot and an accomplished sailor, boarded Amity and headed out into Eggemoggin Reach.
The day was hot and, as often seems the case, there was little wind around the regatta starting line. Amity had no sail up, but we motored slowly along the southern edge of the reach waiting for something to happen.
The crew was hot and a bit testy, but Mr. Wiggins and Mr. Dudman, gentlemen sailors attired in collared shirts, ties (a bowtie as always for Mr. Dudman) and white sunhats, sat serenely in the cockpit on folding chairs and talked of their past experiences in Washington, on the water and in Maine.
From behind an island, a small, open boat hove into view moving straight into the wind. It was powered by a windmill like the ones that used to pump well water on farms. At the helm was Captain Havilah S. Hawkins, widely known as “Budsy,” artist, inventor and retired schooner captain.
Originally from New Jersey, Hawkins moved to Sedgwick as a young man and, after World War II, he and his wife bought the schooners Stephen Taber, built in 1871 and still sailing, and the Alice S. Wentworth and more or less invented the Maine windjammer cruise business. Later, he designed the still active schooner Mary Day, named for his wife and launched in 1962.
After some casual conversation among the old salts Captain Hawkins whizzed away and Amity headed for home. No one on board seemed very concerned about the regatta.
Mr. Wiggins must have been about 90 at the time this occurred, Mr. Dudman and Captain Hawkins, both the same age, perhaps 75 — but nowhere in the racing fleet, I’m sure, was there a greater collective intellect, interest and enthusiasm than among those three sailors.