by Sam Howell.
In 1978, I transferred to Tabor Academy for my final two years of high school. That brought me the unique opportunity of sailing on Tabor Boy, the school’s 92’ schooner.
Originally built in 1914 as a Dutch North Sea pilot vessel, both hull and rigs were fabricated in steel. Forty years later, she came to Tabor Academy where she was rigged as a topsail schooner with yardarms on the foremast and a Marconi rigged mainsail. In the early 1990s, she was re-rigged again as a gaff-rigged schooner, with gaffs on the fore and main masts, which may have returned her to the original rig configuration.
My two seasons on Tabor Boy included various trips up and down the New England coast, as well as a spring voyage to the Bahamas via Bermuda and Florida. Looking back, Tabor Boy had a formidable impact on my becoming a Naval Architect. Offshore sailing sparked an interest in ocean racing and navigation and eventually in Naval Architecture. And now, forty-plus years later, my daughter is a student at Tabor Academy and was part of the Tabor Boy crew her freshman year!
Last year, when I learned that Tabor Boy was heading to a shipyard for an extensive refit, I wanted to help. I started out in an advisory capacity to Captain Jay Amster. This evolved, and after evaluating the spars and rigging it was determined that it was time to replace most of the rigging. This required new structural brackets on the spars. In addition, sections of the spars needed attention due to age and some corrosion. The final solution was mapped out in conjunction with Gladding-Hearn, the shipyard where the refit was taking place, Steve Koopman from SKD Structures, Captain Jay Amster, and the U.S.Coast Guard.
Tabor Boy is now sailing again, fulfilling her mission, and will be ready this fall for another set of students.