A Hinckley Islander 31 is carefully restored after neglect and then a storm
The sailboat Holiday, a restored wooden Islander 31 sloop built at the Hinckley Company boatyard in 1940, survived Hurricane Ike in 2008 with little damage.
Like all boats tied up in Galveston during the storm, she was lifted at her dock by massive storm surge. She came down, as the water receded, atop a neighboring sailboat.
But thanks to the painstaking rebuilding in the years before by her owner, Terry Conrad, Holiday is as strong as she is beautiful, and needed only painting and minor cosmetic repairs after the storm.
For Conrad, the storm occasioned an abrupt change in career. An artist and sculptor in metal for almost 40 years, the loss of his shop and equipment on Postoffice Street in downtown Galveston was literally a watershed. Today, he’s the proprietor of Island Brainworks, which offers a kind of electronic biofeedback treatment at his Postoffice Street location.
But his boat had survived the storm.
“Holiday is a beautiful sailing boat,” Conrad said. “She’s a joy to look at.”
Holiday was designed by Aage Nielsen, an associate of the renowned firm Sparkman & Stephens of Boston, which had winning Trans-Atlantic Race and America’s Cup designs to the firm’s credit. Holiday was one of 20 boats built to her design between 1939 and 1940, before World War II halted the construction of private yachts.
“I heard that Henry Hinckley, the founder of the Hinckley Company, said that the Islander 31 was one of the prettiest boats they had ever built,” Conrad said.
Conrad bought the boat in 1996 from a dry-storage yard in Houston. An old boat then, Holiday had suffered from neglect.
“She needed a lot of work,” Conrad said. “It took six years of evenings and weekends to bring her back. I loved that part.”
Much of her framing had to be replaced by Conrad and his partner on the project, attorney Andy Mytelka. Each piece is hewed to a design and standard of workmanship lavished on the original.
“I was following the work of a master,” Conrad said.
With her wooden hull again sound, Conrad applied a new skin of two layers of quarter-inch diagonal Western red cedar strips, cold-molded with System Three epoxy resin to protect it from the warm coastal marine environment. The additional strength this provided was proved in Hurricane Ike.
She has most of her original hardware and brass work, but her rig was restored with new stainless steel. The twin spreaders and jumper struts on her wooden mast are a reminder of the reason modern jib-headed sailing rigs were called “Marconi,” from their masts’ resemblance to early radio transmission towers. She has new sails and roller furling on her “fractional” jib — that is, one that reaches only part way up the mast, as Nielsen designed her.
Conrad hasn’t taken the boat cruising offshore. At 31 feet overall, including her gracefully overhanging stern and raked bow, she’s just not large enough for extended cruising, Conrad said.
Holiday’s cabin is comfortable and snug, with a head and a vented stove to keep it warm. But the sloop lacks the full galley and storage space needed for extended voyaging. As a day sailer on Galveston Bay and around the jetties, however, she’s ideal, he said.
After 20 years of ownership, care for her and enjoyment, Conrad finds he has less time these days to spend with Holiday. He might even think of someday letting her go.
“But not for the money,” he said. He would have to be convinced that a prospective new owner would look after her properly. As anyone who has loved a boat knows, far more is invested in them than dollars.