Written by Thomas S. Hartt of Ontario

Yacht Atlanta

The history of the yacht Atlanta in the Hartt family began in the spring of 1964 when my father, Don Hartt purchased an abandoned hull that had been left to the elements of nature for over 20 years.  I remember going to Indian Town in the north end of Saint John where she was tied, not knowing know what to expect, only that Dad was looking at a boat to purchase.  After climbing over some barges and a retired tugboat Dad said ‘here she is’.  It took a few minutes to figure out the shape of a sailboat. A few days later she was towed through the Reversing Falls to Market Slip in downtown Saint John.  Brian Hartt and I walked to Market Slip on our noon hour from Saint John High School and there she was tied alongside the wharf grounded out on the low tide so the hull could be surveyed.  It was a different picture than the first impression standing on deck.  Although battered and bruised she had the lines of a beautiful lady.  Dad purchased her that day. 

The Atlanta was built in 1898 in Stockholm, Sweden and was named Allona (she was re-named Atlanta when she came to Canada).  There were stories she had been built for the Swedish Royal Family but this is not true.  She was built by a private individual and remained in the same family until sold for the trip to America in 1948.  A granddaughter of the original owner, Mrs. Sigrid Svedin not only made contact but visited and established a friendship. 

The Allona was originally built as a sloop (one mast).  She was 85’-4” long overall, 59’-0” on the waterline, with a beam (width) of 16’-7” and draft (depth under water) of 12’-6”.  There was 22 tons of lead on her keel neatly molded to shape and her total displacement was 60 tons.  She was build of 1¾” thick mahogany on steel frames.  The Swedes made very good steel and after 66 years there was not a bit of rust on the steel.  The critical areas of rot in a wooden boat are found in the dead wood along the stem, keel and stern, but she was sound.  Originally she was a very sleek looking sloop.  She was flush deck with only skylights and companionways protruding above deck.  When built she did not have a motor.  The interior consisted of an owner’s stateroom, a large salon with settees that could be made into bunk beds, a galley (kitchen), head (bathroom), crew quarters in the bow and a captain’s stateroom in the stern.  The woodwork in the owner’s stateroom and salon was mahogany inlaid with birds eye maple. 

Sometime before the Second World War the owners loaned the Allona to a Swedish Sea Cadet organization for a certain time each year and made several changes including a second mast and shortening the main mast, changing her from a sloop to ketch rig.  In addition bulwarks were added around her deck approximately 12 inches high which gave her more freeboard and protection from slipping off the side.  A bowsprit (a spar extending forward from the bow to which jibs and stays are made fast) was also added. 

Mrs. Svedin remembered many happy times on the Allona.  Someone in the family still owned her in 1948, but circumstances were different after the war and a group of Estonians fleeing their homeland purchased the Allona with intention of sailing to South America.  Estonia had been under Russian influence before the war, fell to the Germans and occupied by the Russians after the war.  This particular group of families escaped to Sweden but had to move on. 

Yacht Atlanta


The group consisted of approximately 42 people including young children.  They hired a captain and were approaching the island of Bermuda but without charts of the area.  They would have relied on sail and been without communications and the other navigational conveniences of today such as Radar and Global Positioning.  Reefs surround Bermuda and as the story goes they could see a lot of breaking water and sharks.  After a long trip across the Atlantic the group were anxious to reach land and the captain said he knew the port of Saint John, N.B. and this is how they came to sail into Saint John Harbour unannounced in 1948.  They were quarantined and not allowed off the boat at first but eventually were allowed to stay and most settled in Canada.  Theirs is a story in itself. 

Charles N. Wilson, the owner of the Saint John Dry Dock, the Saint John Tug Boat Company and numerous other business at the time purchased the boat from them.  I am sure this was a charitable jester by Mr. Wilson as this was not his type of boat and after the war there wouldn’t have been much of a market for her.  He never used the boat himself, but there are a number of stories around Saint John involving his sons and others who occasionally sailed her.  One story is she passed the Digby ferry on a return trip from Nova Scotia.  Another that she was coming into Saint John harbour in a heavy wind and had to run up on the flats in Courtney Bay to stop.  In any case Mr. Wilson did not have a personal interest in the boat and she lay at the Dry Dock for a number of years.  When the Dry Dock was sold she moved to a docking facility at Indian Town.  The Indian Town site was a storage area for dredging barges and retired tugboats in Mr. Wilson’s fleet.  It was here that she fell into severe disrepair and was vandalized. 

Dad always had a boat and at the time owned the Mar-T-E-Jane (named after 3 sisters and myself), a 40-foot sailboat.  Our family spent 12 years cruising the St. John River, but Dad was restless with the same river trips.  He occasionally ventured into the Bay of Fundy with the Mar-T-E-Jane but she was not equipped for ocean sailing and he had been looking for a larger boat for some time.  He sold the Mar-T-E-Jane that summer and for the first time in many years was without a boat.  He rented a houseboat for the annual RKYC cruise, to the amusement of his friends. 

Mr. Wilson allowed Dad to keep the boat at Indian Town and it was here that she was re-furbished.  The first task was cleaning out the interior below decks.  The foul odor of 20 years was unbearable but after the mildewed upholstery was thrown out and the hatches opened there was a huge improvement.  The work ahead completely consumed my father’s free time for the next year.  The interior was completely gutted save the built-in mahogany and fancy woodwork.  Some of the work involved water and diesel tanks installed below the cabin floor, new floor, galley, head and new wiring.  A diesel generator was installed to charge two large banks of batteries for electricity.  The old engine was small and probably used more for maneuvering than for power and was removed.  In its place Dad purchased the largest diesel he could find that would fit in the space below the cabin floor.  It would power her at about 8 knots, which is quite slow for a boat this size.  She had a hull speed in the area of 13 knots, which she often reached under sail. 

After the Second World War Dad and his brother Lloyd went to work for my grandfather (Gilbert E. Hartt) who was in the wholesale lumber business.  They did some logging operations and operated a sawmill at South Bay just outside Saint John.  My grandfather died in 1950 and the sawmill burned down in the early 1950’s but they had developed the business from wholesale to retail lumber sales that included a planing mill for dressing lumber.  They added a building supply store, a millwork shop and sash/window shop.  The restoration of the Atlanta was facilitated using the resources of skilled carpenters and cabinetmakers along with the ability to obtain desired wood. 

Above decks all the mahogany skylights, hatches, main companionway, helm, binnacle, coamings and dodger were replaced.  Most of the bulwarks had been damaged or destroyed from the abrasion between barges and also replaced.  The original bulwarks and knee braces were varnished mahogany, but Dad opted for painted mahogany that was easier to maintain.  The rail on the bulwarks was varnished oak.   The deck was planked with Scandinavian pine and was sanded and the joints re-sealed.  The original main mast was circular and huge, maybe 20 inches in diameter but the stays supporting it were not maintained and it had broken leaving only a stub.  The mizzenmast, also circular was in good shape, shortened and re-used. 

While Dad had his eye on the ocean he still wanted to be able to sail on the St. John River which afforded suitable anchorage’s that the ocean around Saint John did not.  This required passing through the Reversing Falls at slack tide under the Reversing Falls Bridge.  The new Harbour Bridge was built higher than the old Reversing Falls Bridge whose clearance is between 80 and 85 feet at slack tide depending on the seasonal level of the river.  The height of the mast when she arrived in Canada was considerably higher than 85 feet so a change in sail structure had to be made.  Dad had a naval architect in Boston design a new rig taking this important criterion into consideration.  The result was a shorter rig, not as pretty as before but more functional and easier to handle.  Sika Spruce was used for the new main mast.  It was tapered and rectangular in shape, hollow in the middle and approximately 76 feet long.  It took the whole length of the window shop kitty cornered from one corner to the opposite meaning the whole facility was occupied to build one mast.  The logistics of transporting the finished mast to a wharf in Saint John Harbour to be stepped in the boat was a headache for Dad.  The mast was not finished for the first summer in 1965 but was ready along with new sails for the summer of 1966. 

The Atlanta moved from her Indian Town location in the spring of 1965 to the Royal Kennebecasis Yacht Club where Dad had installed a mooring.  The mooring was placed away from the other club moorings in deep water close to The Brothers Island, a long way out from the club.  He installed another mooring right in front of the cottage at Sand Point.  It was placed so when swinging towards shore she was on the edge of the shallow water and close to shore especially at low tide.  This was an exposed location and unsettling to see her almost on the beach at times so he moved the mooring down river just beyond the Sand Point wharf where she had plenty of room to swing in deep water. 

The Atlanta looked strange the summer of 1965 with only a mizzenmast, but otherwise she was finished.  Dad kept her at Sand Point and ironed the bugs out from there.  Towards the end of summer he got itchy feet and motored across the Bay of Fundy to Digby. 

In the fall of 1965 he took her to Lords Cove on Deer Island where she would spend the winter for the next few years.  Deer Island is at the mouth of Passamaquoddy Bay in the Bay of Fundy and close to Maine, Grand Manan, Campobello and St. Andrews.  The drive from Saint John was about 2 hours including the ferry from Letete and this turned out to be a convenient location for weekend trips in the fall and spring.  Sam Tucker, a resident of Deer Island looked after her and was a great source for local information and advice when cruising in the area. 

By the spring of 1966 the new main mast was finished and the new sails had arrived.  The mast was stepped using a crane at low tide in Saint John Harbour.  The first time passing under the Reversing Falls Bridge with the new mast was frightening because looking up from the deck gave the impression the mast would hit the bridge, but Dad had arranged for someone to be on shore and signal if there was a problem.  As it turned out there was always 5 or 6 feet clearance even when the river was seasonally high, but was always a challenge to pass under the bridge at the very centre where it is highest.  The River width beneath the bridge is narrow and where the high tides of the Bay of Fundy meet the St. John River creating the reversing action (on the low tide the River flows into the Bay and on the high tide the Bay flows into the River).  The truest slack tide lasts only a matter of minutes and with 13 feet of keel underneath, the underwater currents could cause a sudden lurch in any direction.  It was never possible to know precisely the time of truest slack because the seasonal levels of the river would vary from the listed times, so it helped to arrive early for the Falls. 

Under Sail 1 Under Sail 2


The first time under sail was a thrill.  Dad chose Grand Bay, the first open water on the St. John River upstream from the Falls and it was blowing about 20 knots.  On a broad reach (wind perpendicular to boat) she took off.  There were a couple of seasoned sailors from the yacht club on board along with riggers who had fabricated the standing rigging for the masts.  They kept a careful eye on the rigging while the rest of us were held in awe at this huge boat slipping through the water at about 10 knots.  Her best point of sail was a broad reach in winds above 20 knots wherein she would achieve her hull speed very quickly.  At hull speed the quarter wave formed at the stern would be up level with the deck.  Grand Bay was one of the few places on the River that afforded the room and wind direction for this to occur.  In salt water, conditions were more suitable and more exciting surging through ocean conditions at hull speed.  She would break through the heavy seas of the Bay of Fundy sending out bow waves of pure white foaming water with out missing stride.  Close to the wind she also performed very well and was not uncommon for her decks to be under water in a good breeze.  Down wind she was sluggish and without spinnakers and bloopers (which required extra rigging and manpower to operate) did not perform as well.  She no doubt performed better in lighter winds when first built as a sloop and even when arriving in Canada under a taller rig.  The shorter rig was easier to handle and could be sailed with 3 or 4 people. 

During the summer of 1966 she stayed at the cottage and the family used her for day trips on the St. John and Kennebecasis Rivers.  Weekend trips were as far as Foresters Cove on the Kennebassis and Glenwood on the St. John.  Glenwood is upriver at the end of the wide portion of the River just before Oak Point.  After Oak Point the River narrows and while large enough for the Atlanta there are a few tricky areas to navigate for a boat drawing 13 feet. 

The first ocean trip under full rig was down the shore to Maine.  It was a family trip (except for Mary Jane who was married and living in Toronto) including our cousin Brian Hartt.  In Cutler, Maine, a mechanical problem developed.  The transmission was slipping and would not maintain forward thrust.  The nearest town with a mechanic was Machias and after a few trips back to the shop was found to be burnt out.  By the time a new transmission was found, delivered and installed a week had gone by.  The problem came about under sail without the motor running, the propeller shaft continued to turn but the transmission was not being lubricated.  Dad had a brake installed on the shaft so it would not turn while under sail, but of course this created some drag from the fixed propeller.  The rest of the trip went well and continued on to Penobscot Bay, including Northeast Harbour, Southwest Harbour, Stonington, Camden and the Eggemoggin Reach. 

At the end of the summer she was returned to Lords Cove and used for cruising the area on weekends until sometime into October.  Likewise in the spring the weekend cruising started on the long weekend in May and continued until the 1st of July when she would be moved to the cottage. 

Dad was generous with inviting people for trips on the Atlanta and accommodated anyone who expressed an interest.  One trip to Briar Island in Nova Scotia included employees from the Hartt Lumber Company.  One friend who enjoyed being on the Atlanta was Val Dexter and in 1967 offered to purchase half the boat and share expenses.  This partnership worked well in not only were the two good friends but Dad could draw on the resources of his own company for woodwork and carpenters and Val had resources of metals and mechanics through his road building company, Dexter Construction.  Dexter’s equipment was all Caterpillar and more heavy duty Caterpillar parts ended up on the little BMC engine than there were original parts. 

Digby, Nova Scotia, 40 nautical miles across the Bay of Fundy was a pleasant days sail in favorable wind directions.  Digby is a pretty town with a large government wharf and huge scallop fishing fleet right in the middle of town.  Coming in from the cold Bay of Fundy through the narrow Digby Gut to the large and beautiful Annapolis Basin and sailing by the Digby Pines Hotel up on the hill was always a pleasant experience.  The Maritime Lumberman’s Association held a convention every summer at the Pines and Dad loved to show up on his boat.  He would always take people out for a sail at these conventions.  Many trips were also made to St. Andrews, Head Harbour on Campobello, and North Head on Grand Manan, all a short sail from Lord’s Cove. 

The big trip in the summer of 1967 was to Marblehead, Mass., Halifax and home.  Marblehead is one of the premier American sailing areas and contains 3 large yacht clubs and hundreds of sailing vessels of all sizes.  It was a beehive of activity leading up to the biannual Marblehead to Halifax Ocean race.  We were not a participant in the race but were able to take in all the festivities and left for Halifax the same morning as the racers.  By nightfall there was not another boat to be seen as the fleet dispersed well offshore in the Gulf of Maine.  The course was before the wind and as mentioned previously, the Atlanta did not have the equipment to sail well on this point of sail, so the engine was used, arriving in Halifax 36 hours later before most of the racers. 

The men’s wives came aboard in Halifax for the return trip to Saint John. The winds were too light for sailing and the seas moderate.  It was not a very nice trip for the ladies as the fog was thick.  Dad took the Canadian Power Squadron courses up to the level of Junior Navigator including celestial navigation and was very competent navigating in these conditions.  It was necessary to spent hours on the bow of the Atlanta listening for navigational bells and whistles emitting from buoys.  This is a key element to dead reckoning navigation where a buoy is identified before moving on to the next course.  Besides fog another nicety of the Bay of Fundy and south end of Nova Scotia is the tides and they had to be factored in course settings as they related to set and speed.  After travelling from Halifax along the south shore and past Yarmouth into Saint Mary’s Bay without seeing land, everyone looked forward to passing through a narrow gap in the Digby Neck, a shortcut to the Bay of Fundy.  This piece of water is about one kilometer wide and while voices were heard on the wharf at Tiverton, land was never seen.  There was more fog crossing the Bay of Fundy heading for Passamaquoddy Bay to a stop at Lords Cove before returning to Saint John.  The tide runs perpendicular to the course across the Bay, so calculation of tide set is particularly important.  The first buoy to pick up would have been off Campobello Island.  Shortly before the estimated time of arrival at this first buoy the sun broke through the fog and the ladies came on deck to enjoy the first decent weather since leaving Halifax.  They were sitting on the deck when they heard something different coming from the side of the boat.  Visibility was only about 20 feet and the engine was cut back to neutral.  Shortly we glided past the gentle swell of the Bay breaking over a reef within ten or fifteen feet.  Much relieved, the crunch never came.  Dad may have misjudged this day but he was quick to narrow down our possible locations and we went looking for a buoy to determine our location.  As it turned out the crossing was faster than anticipated and the first buoy passed.  That was the worse scare I ever had on the Atlanta and this event prompted Dad to purchase Radar the next season.  There was a war surplus Loran set on board but at that time there were only two shore stations within range.  One in the Boston area could only be picked up in American waters.  Two fixes are okay, but three are better and the machine was difficult to use and required about 15 minutes to obtain a fix.  GPS and improved Radar used today make a mockery of the equipment available in the 1960’s. 

It must have been on his mind for awhile, but about this time Dad started talking about taking the Atlanta to the Caribbean.  His friend Doug Kirby owned the ‘Lady K’, a 48 foot ketch and together they were planning to take their boats south.  Kirby was an avid racer and was sailing in the Newport to Bermuda Ocean race in the summer of 1968.  He would leave the ‘Lady K’ in Bermuda after the race and pick her up for the trip further south in the late fall.  Dad did not want to lose the use of the boat for the summer so planned on leaving for Bermuda in the fall.  Bermuda is a natural stop on the direct line to the Caribbean. 

The summer of 1968 was similar to the previous year, mostly on the river and preparing for the trip south.  One notable trip was one to Digby.  Someone must have wanted to use the Boston Whaler in Digby because it was in the water and as we were preparing to leave Digby on Sunday morning decided to tow rather than lift it onto the deck.   The weather station was forecasting light winds and small waves in the Bay indicating a slow return trip under power to Saint John.  Normally both tenders were carried on deck while on the ocean.  The Whaler was a 14’ unsinkable, sandwiched fiberglass boat with a 30-hp motor and had to be lifted on and off deck with slings using the main sail halyard.  Conditions in the Bay were ideal, a decent wind and moderate seas.  Moving along about 10 knots on a broad reach, the Whaler was towing fine.  However by noon the wind was blowing about 20 knots and an extension to the towing line was added, placing the Whaler about 150 feet behind.  By early afternoon the wind was gusting 25 to 30 knots and the Bay was churning up big swells.  The Atlanta thrived in these conditions.  It would have been a fast and exhilarating run home except these were not the conditions for the Whaler to be in the water.  The situation grew worse as the whaler acted like a frenzied dog on the end of a long leash.  She would rise on the crest of a wave and come charging forward at planning speed right up to our stern and then drop back and do the same thing again.  This was an impossible situation because to shorten up the painter (line towing the Whaler) would bring her too close to the Atlanta and would risk the danger of her crashing or coming right up on the deck.  What happened next, she was riding down the crest of wave on a plane but travelling perpendicular on a slack line.  When she reached the end of the line the pull from the Atlanta snapped her around and she flipped over.  She began to porpoise up and down creating a tremendous strain on the painter and within minutes the line broke.  By this time every one was on deck, Dad started the engine and we rounded up to take the sails down.  At least one person was assigned to keep an eye on the whaler, but by the time the sails were down the Whaler was lost sight of in the heavy seas.  Motoring back she was found and an attempt was made to bring her on board.  When sailing in these conditions one has to wear a safety harness and be careful moving about because there is constant movement and always the chance of sudden pitching.  Forward movement and the steadying of the sails provides some predictability, but when these conditions are taken away the situation on deck becomes very serious.  The Atlanta was rolling from side to side at the same time riding up and down waves as she approached the Whaler.  There was still a piece of line on the Whaler’s bow that if retrieved could be attached to the main sail halyard and hoisted on board.  However the Atlanta rose and the Whaler dropped.  A few passes were made before securing the line but as she was being lifted by the bow the Whaler came crashing in and the line broke.  Another attempt was made and this time someone jumped on the Whaler to grab the shortened line.  He was almost lost trying to hold on to something, dropping with the Whaler what seemed to be 20 feet as the Atlanta rose on a crest.  That was enough for Dad and the Whaler was abandoned.  Dad reported the loss to the Coast Guard Station in Saint John mainly because it could be a hazard to other boats.  Sure enough about a week later he received a call from one of the Thompsons in Chance Harbour who had come across it upside down and was able to lift it on his fishing vessel.  He notified the Coast Guard and was given Dad’s name.  That night we took a truck to Chance Harbour and picked her up.  The Whaler was in good condition and the motor while submersed in salt water and then exposed to the air was eventually brought back to life.  Dad gave Mr. Thompson a $100. reward and the look on his face and then the big smile suggested he was wasn’t expecting anything.  $100. was a lot of money in those days. The Atlanta returned to Lords Cove in the fall of 1968 and preparations we made for the trip to Bermuda.  Dad did not plan on leaving until the end of Hurricane season around mid October.


While this meant sailing in October/November conditions he reasoned they would only have a couple of cold days before reaching Bermuda.  It was never a topic of discussion for me to go on this trip or on to the Caribbean, although I really wanted to.  I had just received a Business Diploma from the S.J. Institute of Technology and was starting Civil Technology at the N.B. Institute of Technology in Moncton.  We all went to Lords Cove to see them off.

The newspaper articles best tell the unfolding story of what happened next.  TheAtlanta wasabandoned on Tuesday, October 29, 1968 and Dad arrived home on Friday, November 1st. He looked tired and his voice hoarse from all the interviews.  He was sure the Atlanta was on the bottom of the Atlantic.  A week later there was a call from the Coast Guard with news the Atlanta had been spotted in the shipping lanes of the North Atlantic and was considered a hazard to navigation.  After what had transpired, Dad’s initial reaction was a disappointment and didn’t want to see her again.  The American Coast Guard found her and this time they were taking her out of the shipping lanes or making sure she sank.  They headed for the closest port, Halifax and kept the  Canadian Coast Guard up to date on their estimated time of arrival.  As soon as  abandoned she became salvage so the first person to board could claim  ownership.  The Americans wanted nothingto do with the legalities of salvage  rights and informed the Canadian Coast Guard they would enter Halifax Harbour, remove their tow line, leave the Atlanta drifting and depart without touching land.  Dad wasn’t going to let someone else claim her and through some contacts he had with the Canadian Coast Guard, kept up to date on her arrival time in Halifax. 

To prepare he and Val Dexter took a couple of trucks and Dexter mechanics to Halifax.  They were successful in claiming her in the Harbour and took her to the Bluenose Wharf.  The Bluenose was away for the winter and Don Oland whose family owned the Bluenose kindly offered the use of the wharf until spring.  They stripped out the interior and what they didn’t haul to the dump loaded in trucks for Saint John.  Dexter mechanics removed the main engine and re-furbished it over the winter.  After she was abandoned considerable damage occurred during her time drifting in the North Atlantic or during the tow in.  The bowsprit was broken, probably from the towline and her steering was gone.  The bowsprit and hardware Dad had built in Saint John.  The steering was another matter as the extent of damage was unknown, so Dad had her hauled out at a shipyard in Dartmouth and discovered the rudder had broken away, so the shipyard built and installed a new one.  Hauling out also afforded a chance to inspect the bottom and keel.  Luckily no other damage below her waterline was found.

 The Atlanta spent the winter in Halifax but was too far for Dad to do any work on her.  Over the winter he ordered new sails, cushions, mattresses and re-furbished what was taken back to Saint John.  He was anxious to have her back in New Brunswick so in the spring of 1969 planned to return her to Lords Cove.  The engine had been re-installed but the new sails had not arrived. 

The trip was planned for the long weekend in May.  I arrived in Halifax by train from Moncton on Saturday and cast off as soon as I was on board with an estimated arrival in Deer Island on Monday.  The run out from Halifax Harbour was pretty easy but after turning south at Chebucto Head the seas were large and continued to build during the night.  This was not unusual but would make for a slow trip down the south shore of Nova Scotia without sails.  I was on watch in the early hours of Sunday when the engine quit. The Atlanta wallowed helplessly about in the seas.  The problem was dirt in the fuel that clogged the fuel filter.  By daylight it was determined the engine could not be started with the resources available and would have to ask the Coast Guard for a tow.  We were roughly 25 kilometers off Lunenburg when the Coast Guard was contacted.  The same Coast Guard vessel ‘Rapid’ that brought Dad and his crew into Halifax the previous fall arrived within a few hours and towed us to Lunenburg. 

Dad made arrangements to leave the Atlanta at the Smith and Ruhland boatyard where both Bluenoses had been built. He took advantage of their expertise and had the rigging checked and repaired as well as the hull painted and the mahogany bright work varnished.  Smith and Ruhland were doing some of the work intended to be done back in Lord’s Cove and Dad decided to wait until the new sails arrived in June before attempting another trip under power alone.  He was also a little gun shy and didn’t want to risk another round of publicity.  In June the Atlanta looked like a new lady with fresh paint and varnish and new sails.  This time the trip was uneventful. 

The Atlanta was back on the St. John River for the summers of 1969 and 1970.  Dad enjoyed her more during these two years than ever before and made some of the old runs across to Nova Scotia and down the shore to Maine.  However the dream of sailing her in the Caribbean never left and he was soon planing the next trip south.  This time he knew he would have to forfeit the use of her in the summer and sail to Bermuda before the hurricane season started. 

During the summer of 1970 Dad and his brother Lloyd received an offer to purchase the Hartt Lumber Company.  Dad at 58 was eager to retire while Lloyd only 52 was not.  The offer was too tempting because they continued negotiations and the sale went through in the fall. 

This is all the incentive Dad needed to get the Atlanta south and sail the Caribbean in the winters.  The trip to Bermuda was made the next summer and the Atlanta left there until late fall.  I had finished school in June of 1970, traveled in Europe until the spring of 1971 and was just into my first job so wasn’t asked to go, although two of my best friends, John Bacon and Eric Thompson made the trip.  For the same reasons I wasn’t asked to make the trip from Bermuda to the Caribbean in December of 1971, but Dad arranged for the family (except Mary Jane who was with her family) to be together for Christmas in Antigua. 

I was working in Labrador City and when flying out at Christmas for two weeks vacation was given lay off papers.  I think my employer new the golden opportunity, because the company went bankrupt in February.  Arriving on Christmas Day, I was free to spend the winter cruising.  There were already two crew from Saint John on board, Gord Mouland Jr. and Cyrus Blanchett and to my relief Dad was glad to have me too. 

The next four months were some of the most memorable of my life.  From English Harbour in Antigua we sailed the Leeward and Windward Islands including Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, the Grenadines as far south as Grenada.  My sisters Margot and Elizabeth had returned to school but my Mother was on board until March.  My parent’s friends would come for two-week visits and we sailed back and forth between the islands discovering new anchorage’s and enjoying the warm climate. 

The Grenadines were a favorite.  These are a group of smaller islands between St. Vincent and Grenada with lots of white beaches and great snorkeling.  One time while anchored off the island of Mustique, Dad and Val Dexter went ashore and didn’t return for a very long time.  They purchased a piece of land together, big enough for two houses.  The island was then owned by an English Lord, Colin Tenant and he had given a piece of land to Princess Margaret as a wedding gift on which she built a home.

 By April everyone had returned to Canada leaving Dad and I.  He had made friends with Walter Boudreau and his family (originally from Cape Breton) who owned a hotel in Marigot Bay, St. Lucia and operated a charter operation on his large 120’ schooner the ‘Janine’.  The Boudreaus agreed to take care of the Atlanta in the off season, use her for day chartering, possibly purchase her and Dad still retained use for a few weeks in the winter.  We first sailed her back to Antigua where she was hauled out and the bottom cleaned and coated with anti fouling paint.  Dad and I flew home and the Boudreaus returned her to Marigot Bay.  Dad was quite satisfied with the arrangement as he didn’t want to spend the whole winter sailing again and besides he was thinking about building on Mustique.  He made a couple of trips to Mustique with Val and they proceeded to divide the land and build identical homes, which were ready the following winter.  On one of his trips he stopped by St. Lucia and was not happy with the condition of the Atlanta and decided to end the arrangement with the Boudreaus.  He returned her to Antigua for storage at Nelson’s Dockyard in English Harbour and shortly thereafter received an offer from a Canadian to purchase her.  It was a hard decision for him but he had done what he set out to do and now wanted a little diversion in his retirement.  The harsh realities of the Caribbean climate required constant attention and he wasn’t willing to give himself and all the resources necessary.

 The story of the Atlanta continues as the new owners returned her to Canada and Toronto.  She operated day charters out of the Harbour Castle Hotel on Toronto’s waterfront.  In 1976 she was en route for chartering at the Olympics and hit a reef approaching Kingston Harbour.  Apparently there was no vessel available to haul her off and she broke open after sitting on the reef in the swells for a day or two.  She was eventually hauled to a field east of Kingston.  I saw her there once, leaning up against a big tree.  One side of her was wide open and she was completely stripped including the lead from the keel.  I felt like someone had died and couldn’t bear to stay very long and have never been back. 

The Dexters, Mom and Dad moved into their new homes on Mustique in 1973 and enjoyed the idyllic life. People from all over the world were building winter retreats on this little paradise.  Faye Dexter and Mom enjoyed the people, life and climate, but Dad was restless.  There was not a lot to do and he and Val frequently traveled to St. Vincent for day trips.  In their wanderings they discovered a resurrected golf course far out in the mountains.  It was the only golf course on the island and had gone bankrupt and abandoned.  Someone had re-opened it complete with a small casino.  The original owner of the course had build a home beside one of the greens and overlooking a huge valley that looked down to the sea about 7 or 8 kilometers away.  It was a secluded place surrounded by dense brush and forest.  It was also abandoned and thick with overgrowth.  There was a beautiful large pool that was full of debris.  They bought it.  The place was cleaned up and it was like a little Eden in the middle of a jungle.  Dad was golfing again and he liked the people on the island as opposed to the upper crust clan on Mustique.  Mom and Faye wouldn’t spend much time there.  Val was there more often but did not golf.  Dad spent most of his time there returning to Mustique for a day or two each week.  When I visited in March 1977 Dad was complaining about something happening in his stomach and would have it checked out on his return to Canada in the spring.  Later that summer he was diagnosed with colon cancer and died in April 1978. 

Thomas S. Hartt


Thomas S., Donald D., Gilbert E., Alfred E., Thomas E., Thomas A., Thomas, Jonathan, Samuel, Issac

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