It breaks our hearts every time a vintage wooden yacht is left to rot, or worse yet, is chopped into dumpster-sized pieces for lack of a better alternative. The latter option may be the fate of the 1937 Philip Rhodes thoroughbred Escapade if a new ‘steward’ doesn’t step forward before the end of this month to take on her necessary stem-to-stern refit.
Previous efforts to sell Escapade, on the hard at Richmond’s KKMI yard for 15 years, had no success, but at this point yard owner Paul Kaplan — who is a devout wooden boat aficionado himself — says "I’d be willing to sell her for a buck" to a new owner who can demonstrate that he or she is up to the daunting task of refitting her.
Built to a Rhodes design by the Luders Marine Construction Company of Stamford, Connecticut, the yawl Escapade was constructed of wood to the maximum length allowed by the prevailing (Cruising Club of America) rating rule of the era: 73 feet. A centerboarder, she draws 14 feet with her board down, and has a beam of 17 feet and a waterline length of 55 feet.
As any sailing historian worth his salt could tell you, Escapade and her Sparkman & Stephens-designed cousins Bolero and Baruna were dubbed the Three Great American Racing Yawls. And Escapade, with her masthead rig, longer waterline and bowsprit, is said to have been the most fearsome of the three. She carried 2,630 square feet of sail.
If our pockets were deeper, we might step up and take on the restoration of this one-of-a-kind vessel, but since we can’t we certainly hope someone else will. After all, we can’t think of a better use for ‘disposable income’ than refurbishing such a pedigreed thoroughbred. Interested parties may contact Kaplan at KKMI — but please do so very soon!