For one sailor, love at first sight took decades to requite
When Jamie White rechristened his prized 20-foot Flicka sloop, Dulcinea, he knew he would have to hold a proper maritime renaming ceremony.
You might reasonably ask what such a thing entails.
That would be lots of rum and seeking blessing from all the gods of the deep, White said.
“You’re asking for Neptune to accept a new boat into his book of ships,” White said. “As myth has it, Neptune has a book, where he keeps track of every ship in the water.”
For White, former director of the Texas Seaport Museum in Galveston, that renaming ceremony was the culmination of a lifelong admiration of Flicka boats. It was a moment of almost literary aspiration, right down to the ship’s name, which was drawn from one of his wife’s favorite books, “Don Quixote.”
“It has the look of a small ship, but it’s very stout,” White said, describing what he loves so much about the vessel. “It sits in the water, instead of on the water. It’s more like a prizefighter, compared to a ballerina.”
The Dulcinea was the 302nd of 400 Flicka 20s built in August 1984 at Seacraft Yachts in Southern California, White said. Naval architect Bruce Bingham modeled it on deep-sea fishing boats plying the North Atlantic Ocean from Chesapeake Bay, he said.
White fell in love with that model at a California boat show in the early 1980s, he said. But at the time, they were expensive.
In the 2010s, White found himself in Galveston, working on a $3.3 million restoration of the 1877 tall ship Elissa, he said.
“To try to keep my sanity, I was trying to sail different types of boats in my free time,” White said.
He’d just completed one of those trips, and was at the Marina Bar & Grill near the Galveston Yacht Basin, when he saw it — the Kittiwake.
The ship measures 20 feet long, 8 feet across the beam and weighs about 6,000 pounds, White said.
“It’s a small little cruising sloop,” he said. “It has a heavy displacement for its size.”
The interior of the boat is teak. It sleeps four below deck and features a small galley with a stove and an icebox, White said.
After first spotting the vessel sometime around 2010, White began making regular visits to it every three or so months in hope of seeing its owner, he said. Years went by; the paint began to fade and the rigging went to tatters.
“You could just tell it had not been sailed,” he said.
White tracked down the owner’s number and met him for a drink, he said. The previous owner was a retired NASA employee who was having trouble getting out on the water regularly, and thought he might be looking to sell the Kittiwake.
The man offered the boat for a price too good to turn down, White said.
The rest, as they say, is history. White and his wife renamed the boat Dulcinea, which White said feeds into both their histories quite well.
“The work I do restoring ships is somewhat like chasing at windmills,” he said. “It’s not an everyday job.”