From Conn. to Annapolis, Kayes move to make living off vessel


January 17, 1993|By NANCY NOYES

Connecticut teachers Ken and Ellen Kaye are acting on a dream in a relatively dramatic way, when their brand-new staysail schooner Woodwind arrives at City Dock about the first of June.

Egged on by their daughter, Jennifer, who moved here a few months ago after helping research locations, the Kayes soon will be pulling up stakes in Connecticut, selling their house and 30-foot sailboat and moving to Annapolis to operate Woodwind as an excursion and corporate charter vessel.

"I spent a semester as crew on the Spirit of Massachusetts, and after that I guess I planted the seed of the idea in my parents' minds, and we went looking for place to do it," Jennifer Kaye said. "We found that there really weren't a lot of excursion-type sailing programs available in Annapolis, and we thought it would fill a good niche here."

Kaye explained that her father, who will retire in June, has obtained his captain's license and eventually will take over full operation of the boat, but for now he is working closely with Highspire Yacht Services in Annapolis to market and operate the project.

"I found out who was operating the dock at the Annapolis Marriott [Waterfront Hotel], and that's how we found Highspire," Kaye said.

As planned, programming for the boat will include four daily two- to 2 1/2 -hour cruises, as well as special charters, day trips and overnight excursions, all departing from the Marriott.

"We'll be doing corporate cruises, excursion sails, sunset cruises, and historical and environmental cruises," Kaye said.

Woodwind, which is still under construction at Scarano Boat Builders in Albany, N.Y., is an entirely new creature. It is made of wood and West System epoxy, which combines the enduring grace and aesthetic allure of a traditional wooden vessel with many modern innovations to improve performance and handling characteristics.

Dave Isbell, a Highspire captain who has worked closely with the Kayes since the project's inception several months ago, said the idea in designing and building Woodwind was not to recreate a traditional schooner, but rather to build a "drop-dead beautiful" entity with many practical updates.

The original plans were drawn up even before Woodwind's final home was chosen and have been modified slightly for the Chesapeake by shortening the draft to seven feet -- a move that required increasing ballast by lengthening the hull a bit to its current dimensions of 61 feet on deck and 76 feet overall, Isbell said.

If topside lines are traditional in flavor, below the water Woodwind is all modern, with a long fin keel with bulb and a spade rudder, while spars will be aluminum in place of the traditional wooden ones.

Because of the use of state-of-the-art wood and epoxy building techniques in place of traditional plank-on-beam construction, Woodwind, with a beam of about 16 feet, will displace about 47,000 to 48,000 pounds, making her relatively light for her size. She will carry about 1,800 square feet of sail, which Isbell said was "a lot for her length -- she should be pretty fast."

Other modern aspects of the project include such features as plenty of winches, to help make Woodwind more accessible for short cruises by reducing the labor-intensity of operation.

Woodwind is being built to strict Coast Guard specifications for certification as a passenger carrier, with watertight bulkheads below and other important safety features.

She will carry 49 passengers for daysails and short cruises, and for overnight sails the six staterooms will accommodate 10.

Highspire's J. P. Thies, who is handling the marketing aspects of the Woodwind project, explained that his company's job is to put together the overall logistics, set crew schedules using the company's pool of salaried captains, determine pricing and do promotions for the project.

"The idea isn't just to do a two-hour sail," he said of the four-cruises-daily program that is envisioned. "We want to take each excursion and give it its own theme and flavor, so that if you live in Annapolis and guests come to town, you can pick the flavor you want. We're going to offer a menu of things to choose from."

Marina management course

Anne Arundel Community College's non-credit continuing education department will offer a five-week, 10-session course in marina management and operations, taught by business and marine professional Peter Tucker.

It will meeting twice weekly from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Feb. 2 through March 4, in the classroom space at Coast Navigation, one block off of West Street on Legion Avenue in Annapolis. The class was established in response to the need for sound, safe, professional marina management as the cost of running marinas rises and the level of liability and responsibility in marina management escalates.

Several field visits to operating marina facilities will be included as well as classroom time. Topics include the importance of customer relations and marketing, slip management, fuel dock management and managing a ship's store.

Tucker, with several years in hands-on marina management up and down the East Coast as well as a strong business background, including an MBA, brings a unique combination of resources to his role as instructor.

Cost for the course is $110, with an optional textbook, which can be purchased separately from Tucker.

RF For more information, or to register, call AACC at (410) 541-2325.

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