S/V Talisman Sailing Charters in Door County

S/V Talisman Sailing Charters in Door County

Saved from the Bonfire

Taken from Sailing Magazine, October 2004
Article by Heather Frekman

Sailing MagazineLooking today at the classic wooden sailboat at the foot of the Michigan Street bridge in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, with her varnish gleaming and bright colors flying, it's hard to believe that anyone would have recommended to her newest owner that she be burned. Yet this lovely 66-year old cutter named Talisman was in a sorry state less than two short years ago.

It is a testament to the vision and determination of two men – owner John Yount, business manager for Wisconsin's Mequon-Thiensville School District, and Sturgeon Bay native Keith Kollberg, owner of Star Board Wooden Boatworks – that this nearly lost yacht celebrated a dramatic rebirth in a special July 23 christening ceremony. And, it seems somehow appropriate that the event took place at Grate Lakes Yacht Services, the former south yard of Palmer Johnson and the extant heart of Sturgeon Bay's legendary shipbuilding industry.

Yount had his heart set on Talisman from the very beginning, despite her dilapidated condition.

"John looked at this boat for six years," Kollberg said, "He fell in love; he had to have her."

Yount purchased Talisman in October 2002 and brought her to Sturgeon Bay from Long Island, New York, in December of that year. Recognizing that a daunting amount of work lay ahead, he hired former Palmer Johnson shipwright Kollberg and his expert crew in October 2003.

"The boat looked awful," said Yount's mother, Beth, who was on hand with her husband, John Yount Sr., for the christening ceremony. "I wouldn't even go to see it, that's how bad it was."

According to Kollberg, the project entailed far more work than either he or Yount anticipated.

"Life is about lessons," he said. "I told him at the beginning, 'You will earn this boat. You won't know how until maybe years down the road, but you will earn her.'"

"We replaced 40 out of 44 frames, six deck planks and 24 deck beams, then 18 feet of shelf and 8 feet of sheer on the starboard side," he explained. "We had to take out the port lights and blast them. We replaced the coaming, rebuilt the cockpit and put in new cabin hatches and a new companionway frame and hatch. It's been all day, seven days a week, for months."

Thanks to the team's painstaking efforts, nearly 100 percent of Talisman's hardware and fittings are original.

"We just gave her a face lift, "Kollberg said with a smile.

Talisman's story began in 1935, when the renowned Philip L. Rhodes designed her for Elihu Root, Jr., son of the prominent American statesman. She was never built for Root, however; her design was eventually picked up by Gray Boats, which built her at it Thomaston, Maine, yard in 1938.

She is solidly built of oak framing and Philippine mahogany planking. She features a white pine deck, Sitka spruce mast, Oregon pine boom and an iron keel with 7,750 pounds of ballast, as well as the sweet lines of her era – while she is slightly more than 37 feet long, she is just 28 feet at the waterline, which gives her a sleek, graceful profile.

Talisman can accommodate four adults in a forward stateroom V-berth and in two quarter berths in the main saloon. The galley is located to port of the companionway, and the engine room is all the way aft.

Inarguably, she would not be here today without the dedication of both Yount and Kollberg.

Many of Yount's family members and friends attended the christening, and he thanked everyone who played a role in this remarkable restoration project.

"It was good fortune that God brought us all together in friendship and fellowship," he said. "Everyone did a beautiful job making this restoration come together. It was a family effort all along, and Talisman has renewed my life."

The yacht's home port will be Sturgeon Bay's Idyll Wood Island, off Potawatomi State Park. The island is owned by Yount's parents.

At the culmination of the christening ceremony, Yount's mother carefully made her way to the bowsprit with the bottle of champagne. She captured the mood of the day, and indeed the passion of all sailors and shipwrights, best of all:

"To the sea, to the sailors and to this beautiful old lady, I christen thee Talisman."

- Article by Heather Frekman, Sailing Magazine October 2004

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