“Its classic look, the ease of handling, and the rosewood and mahogany interior make this a warm, wonderful family boat.”

Aberlour, Ericson 31′
Interview with the Captain — Past Commodore Rob Howie, Corinthian Yacht Club

On the Corinthian Yacht Club

How would you describe what makes the Corinthian Yacht Club so special?
It starts with its members and their reputation for being the most family friendly club in town.  The Club’s historic clubhouse at the head of Marblehead Harbor gives it—as The Boston Globe described it in 1915—“one of the most beautiful views in American waters.”  Corinthian’s competitive sailing locally, regionally, and internationally puts it the top tier of American yacht club racing. 

What are you most proud of that happened at Corinthian Yacht Club during your watch?
We updated our mission and vision for the first time since our founding in 1885, implemented our first formal strategy, and led sustainability efforts which became a model for other clubs.  We restored the clubhouse’s Prohibition-area spirits lockers, refurbished the ballroom, dining, and trophy rooms, built a beautiful new Harbor Bar, published our first history, and won the competitive Commodore Cup for only the 2nd time in 20 years!

How did you become interested in sustainability?
I met with fellow Corinthian member and sailing legend Dee Cafarri in Newport while she was competing in the 2017-2018 Volvo Ocean Race.  Dee was also serving as the U.N.’s ambassador to the global sailing community aboard her boat Clean Seas: Turn the Tide on Plastic, a Volvo Ocean 65 which took water samples to measure microplastic concentrations across the world’s oceans during the 45,000 mile, round-the-world race.  I was inspired by what I learned, and resolved to help fix the problem, starting with the Corinthian.  I later became Sailors for the Seas Skipper for Marblehead to help promote Green Boating and Clean Regattas, and joined the board of Sustainable Marblehead to help build further momentum. 

About the Boat

Why did you choose to buy an Ericson 31?
After having owned power boats for a number of years, it was time to return to sailing.  I always admired the classic, graceful lines of the Ericson Independence sloop, which was designed by Bruce King.  A friend of mine had one in Salem Harbor.  It’s a lot of boat for its size, and easy to sail single handed.  

What other kinds of boats did you consider before buying this model?
It was the only one I seriously considered.  

How did you come to find her before purchasing?
I learned that there’s a fellow Ericson 31 owner on the west coast who keeps track of the Ericson Independence sloops, their owners, and locations.  When I was looking, he showed me there was only one boat for sale, and it was on the hard in a yard in New Brunswick, Canada. I had it surveyed there, bought it sight unseen, and had it shipped to Marblehead.  

Who first introduced you to boating/sailing?
I’ve been messing around in boats since I was a boy, both on the ocean and on freshwater lakes.  My father owned a lapstrake Lyman which was moored in Marblehead Harbor.  I learned to sail on a Corinthian.  

What boats have you previously owned?
A skiff for fishing, an Aquasport when my children were young, and a classic Bertram flybridge sport fisherman, which is now with a daughter and her family at the Riverside Yacht Club in Old Greenwich, Connecticut.   

What are the features you like most about your boat?
Its classic look, the ease of handling, and the rosewood and mahogany interior make this a warm, wonderful family boat.  

What improvements have you added or do you plan to add?
I replaced the original hatches with Lewmar hatches from England, painted the sprayhood, upgraded the electronics, had the brightwork redone, restored the classic brass binnacle, added a canvas cover over the helm station, and replaced my jib with a custom one from Piranha Sails in Marblehead.  Looking ahead, there’s always work to be done to try to maintain a 41 year old boat in Bristol condition.  

How do you typically use your boat over the summer, and where do you go?
I’ve cruised east to Maine and south to the islands, but generally I use it for day sailing or overnight sailing close to home.  We spend time entertaining family and friends on the mooring as well. 

What is the biggest challenge you have in servicing your boat?
Finding qualified craftsman who do quality work on time and on budget is always a challenge.  I like to use local folks who are expert in their craft and yet are reasonably priced.   I’ve found HarborMoor.com to be a great resource for sourcing skilled local hands. 

Do you have any advice for those looking to buy an Ericson like yours?
They only made 69 Ericson Independence hulls between 1977 and 1982, and so there aren’t many that come on the market.  Owners tend to be loyal and hang onto their boats.  When one does come up for sale, it’s usually snapped up quickly.  

What’s the story behind the boat’s name?
Aberlour is named after one of Scotland’s finest single malts.  With my Scots heritage and drink preference, it was a perfect fit.  Of course, I always keep a 16 year old double cask bottle aboard so that neither my guests nor I ever go thirsty! 

Click the gallery below for more photos and information about Aberlour!