Bolero Welcome Aboard

by Jane Ahrens

By Jane T. Ahrens
Photo Credit: Jane T. Ahrens
(unless noted)

BOLERO Photo Credit: Mystic Seaport Rosenfeld Collection

If former Fishers Island Yacht Club (FIYC) Commodore John Nicholas Brown and his Captain Fred Lawton could see their cherished “comfortable cruising boat with a turn of speed”¹, they would be extremely pleased.

Bolero returned to West Harbor in August 2018 during a Long Island Sound cruise with owners Ed Kane and Marty Wallace who have painstakingly restored her to her original glory – cedar decks and all.

This 73′ racing yawl has a marvelous history and a promising future. Designed in 1947 by Olin Stephens of Sparkman & Stephens for John Nicholas Brown (who was undersecretary of the US Navy from 1946 to 1949) and built by Henry S. Nevins in City Island, NY, she was launched in 1949. Bolero immediately set the pace for numerous trophies including the 1950, 1954 and 1956 Newport Bermuda Race.

Only the best materials were put into Bolero. Double-planked cedar and mahogany were carefully laid over white oak frames. Monel strapping along the inside of the hull and around the chainplates and mast step added additional strength to the structure. Post Orford cedar was used instead of teak to lighten the hull by 1,500 pounds. The two masts were state-of-the-art aluminum. (No one would deny that Bolero was a classic, yet she was never conceived with wooden spars.) ~ In the Spirit of Tradition: Old and New Classic Yachts by Jill Bobrow

Several owners later, Bolero was found in 1989 by Gunter Sunkler in the weeds of a canal in Fort Lauderdale. Sunkler took three years to find all the pieces that had been taken from the boat including masts, booms, sails and more ². She was restored by 1995 and recommissioned in 1996.

Fast forward to 2010 at Rockport Marine in Maine. From Yachting Magazine‘s article:
The Ageless Beauty of Bolero The latest refit of Olin Stephens’ classic yawl promises many more years of life for this yachting icon.
By Grace Trofa, Photography by Billy Black, December 21, 2010

Not many yacht owners would have the fortitude necessary to endure a 95-percent, 22-month refit. Wallace admits, “We swallowed hard but we couldn’t pull the plug on Bolero. She is an iconic part of the yachting scene, and it was a do-or-die situation.”

They have now owned Bolero for more than [18 ³] years — longer than the Browns — and there are many memories. Kane remembers an occasion when Olin Stephens came to the yard. He was then 95, and while Kane was trying to figure out a way to get Stephens aboard, even contemplating the use of a forklift, he turned around and discovered Stephens had climbed the 12-foot ladder and was already busy surveying the deck work. ~ Read the article here

At Mystic Seaport’s 2017 Antique & Classic Boat Rendezvous Ed Kane and Marty Wallace received a special citation for commitment to classic yacht restoration.

Although the Brown family was grounded in Rhode Island, they spent most summers on Fishers Island as John Nicholas Brown’s wife Anne Kinsolving had her family ties here. They bought land looking over the north end of West Harbor and built their modern house Windshield, designed by architect Richard Neutra in 1938.

In a Class by Herself: The Yawl Bolero and the Passion for Craftsmanship by John Rousmaniere

Many thanks to Captain Casey Fasciano who helped arrange and to 1st mate Barbara Krasinski and who was so nice to give us a welcoming tour, with last minute notice, one morning in late summer. Thank you to FIYC’s Ian Crary for masterfully steering the launch to the Bolero’s mooring in the harbor and patiently maneuvered along side… while I not so gracefully climbed aboard.

¹ Quote by Brown in Sailing at Fishers by John Rousmaniere, page 85

² Learn more about that restoration in the book In the Spirit of Tradition: Old and New Classic Yachts by Jill Bobrow, beginning on page 60

³ Over 18 in 2018, almost twice as long as the Brown’s owned Bolero

Featured Photo

USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay . Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

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