National Geographic : 1964 Aug
And in Europe, thousands of miles of such waterways beckoned: the network of canals crisscrossing the Netherlands, Belgium, and France; the great rivers Rhine, Rhone, and (someday, we hoped) the Danube; to the north the Baltic, and to the south the seas of ancient history-Mediterranean, Ionian, Adriatic, Ae gean. There was more to see and do with a boat than a lifetime would allow. Wanted: a Boat to Climb Mountains But it would take a special kind of boat one that "could both cross the seas and climb mountains," as Irving put it. "Fortunately the locks in France are of a standardized width," he informed me after long investigation. "We'll plan the Yankee's beam accordingly, and then she can climb the waterways to Switzerland. Of course she'll also need shallow draft with centerboard raised, folding masts for immovable bridges, and quick turning ability under power." She would have to be a sturdy ship, able to come off unharmed if grounded-Irving likes taking a vessel places she shouldn't go. Extra-strong steel was part of the answer. "But," Irving explained, "that won't be enough. If she runs aground in a fast river, the current will slew her sideways; her hull design must keep her from rolling over." Finally, she had to be a real home for us, with quarters for expense-sharing guests for ward of a center cockpit, and a great after cabin with windows across the stern; Irving had sailed Mayflower II and had fallen in love with her 17th-century roominess. The only problem was adapting it to a 20th-cen tury 50-footer. For nearly five years he measured boats, trailers, motel rooms, and kitchens all around the world. He talked design, construction, and canal travel with more than 500 persons. And then the noted yacht designer Olin Stephens, of Sparkman and Stephens, Inc., New York City, drew up the final plans. We lived in a trailer in a shipyard at Zaan Like a train on a trestle, Yankee glides across the rain-swollen Moselle River on an aqueduct near Epinal, France. Capt. Irving Johnson and his wife Electa, veterans of many a salt-water voyage, discovered new delights in cruising the rivers and canals that web the face of Western Europe. Fold down masts, shallow draft, and a reinforced hull enable the 50-foot ketch to explore wa terways denied to most sailing ships. 158 KODACHROMEBY IRVING JOHNSON C) NG S.