My Article that appeared in the 2012 Friendship Sloop Year Book
*#74 PATIENCE and Me*
I always felt at home by the ocean. My dad had a boat at the marina and there was no place I loved better than being down by the water. I went to the University of Rhode Island and studied Commercial Fisheries and Marine Technology. Upon graduating with an associate’s degree, I began working on draggers. Having met the Lord in college, I experienced His call to ministry “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19.
Over the last 30 years I have served as Pastor of three churches and now Director of a Christian Camp and Conference Center. I have never lost my love for the sea. I know I’m truly on vacation when I’m with my family and I get chance to read an issue of WoodenBoat. Over the years, a dream has formed that someday the Lord would let me use my experience in a ministry on the water. With a commercial fishing background, I have a great affinity toward work boats. Nothing could be better than doing this under sail. Over time it became very clear that my dreams would culminate in the Friendship Sloop.
In October of 2009 I was quite ill with a temperature of 104 for the entire month. I thought that maybe it was soon time to go home and be with my Lord. I wished I had joined the Friendship Sloop Society and sailed one of their sloops! I finally got better and the first thing I did was to join the Friendship Sloop Society. The Friendship Sloop is the perfect boat for me. It brings together my dream of sailing with a beautiful workboat heritage. I read all I could and learned that no member of the society was “left on the dock.” This would give me an opportunity to get my feet wet. So I planned to attend the 50th Anniversary Regatta. What a land mark way to begin!
But it gets even better! The second Friendship Newsletter I received in the spring of 2010 had an ad, “Friendship Sloop Available.” It stated, “The Malcolm Brewer built Friendship Sloop is looking for a good home.” I couldn’t believe my eyes! I couldn’t wait to call! It was hard for me to have read these words at night, to wait for the morning to call the two names that were listed. Wait I did, after all, her name is PATIENCE! I called the next morning and my lesson in “patience” continued as I had to leave messages at both numbers and wait for the return call.
My mind raced, wondering what this boat was like. I had been thinking about this for a long time and didn’t want to settle for second best. I had made up my mind that I wanted a thirty footer, something large enough for my family of seven but not too big for me to single hand. Finally the fateful call came. I asked the size of this vessel and the voice on the other end said “thirty feet.” I had thrown out a fleece to the Lord and it came back with a confirmation!
I was told the boat needed work, a new keel, ribs, mast and rudder. This did not deter me in the least. As a pastor, I have an odd set of skills. Perhaps not--Jesus was a carpenter and his disciple’s were fishermen. Having built our homes in Maine and upstate New York, it seemed natural that I should invest myself in restoring this boat, perhaps even taking the keel and mast from our own woods in Maine.
When I was called to pastor a church in Maine, I knew I was home. I wanted nothing more than to stay there serving the Lord the rest of my life. The church in Sheepscott, an old sea captain’s village had quite a history. It started in 1739 when the Commonwealth of Massachusetts threatened to sue the village for not having the gospel preached among them. A lot has changed since then and our six years of service went by quickly. Even though we were called to pastor a church in New York , we were fortunate to keep our home in Maine and looked forward to the day the Lord would send us back.
It is my dream to “retire” and sail a Friendship Sloop along the coast of Maine and beyond. In fact, I hope to do three things with this part of my life: start the Maine Maritime Ministry sharing the gospel on the coast, fish the old way and chartering my boat once I receive my captain’s license. This is something I had started in the 1970’s-- another dream to finally realize!
With the demands of ministry, I couldn’t get away and check out the boat right away, as I had wanted. So I gave this opportunity to the Lord and thought that if this was the boat for me, somehow He would hold it until I could fit it into my schedule and check it out.” It would be a miracle if I could get away in the middle of the busy summer camp season. The only opportunity I’d have would be to see her on my way up to Maine to the Friendship Sloop 50th Regatta in Rockland.
I called Dan and made arrangements to see the boat in July. I was nervous and afraid someone else would take this opportunity from me, so once again I had to be patient and wait on the Lord. If it was of Him, it would come to pass. The day finally arrived. I drove to Sagamore Beach Massachusetts, and there was PATIENCE, sitting in the back yard proudly upon her stand. I looked her over from stem to stern. She was in much better shape than I had imagined. I said to Dan, “I would be honored to be her next steward.” He agreed. Then I asked how many others have called. He replied, “You were the only one.” I felt blessed; the Lord saved this boat just for me. Coincidentally, this boat was owned by Father John and now God had given her to another one of His servants.
This was the beginning a perfect trip. Receiving my Friendship Sloop on the way to the 50th Regatta was a dream upon dream come true. I could not have had a more wonderful time, except if my family was there to share it with me. I was loaded with questions, specific questions, about my boat and the wonderful Friendship Sloops. Here I met friendly people who were more than happy to be of assistance. I had a wonderful time! I was actually sailing Friendship Sloops (Osprey and Gladiator), on the same weekend! The Lord says He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20)
My journey continues as I try to learn all I can about Friendship Sloops. Every step I take, it keeps getting better and better. The more I learned of Patience’s builder Malcolm Brewer, the more I stand in awe of how I have been blessed. I don’t believe she could have been built by a better person on earth, except by the great Carpenter himself, our Lord Jesus. Malcolm was one of the greatest Master builders Maine has ever seen. A lofty claim, but true, none the less. Encyclopedia Britannica did a documentary on Malcolm Brewer Boat Builder which stated that his “craftsmanship was the finest in New England.” Wooden boat Magazine, the winter of 1982, has three articles on this legend. The first is entitled, “The Masterful Work of Malcolm Brewer.” This Friendship Sloop Patience, he built for himself by his own hand with help from none “for he wanted it that way.” This was his “recreation” after work, for he loved nothing better than building boats. Every part of PATIENCE was built by the master’s hand. If this wasn’t enough, the boat was begun in the very year I was born!
Malcolm was a “perfectionist”. After interviewing more than dozen of Malcolm’s friends and colleagues, I can’t believe what God has entrusted to me. As Willard White, a neighbor and a man who was like a son to Malcolm said, “You are a wonderfully lucky person.” He ended our conversation by saying, “This is a fairly serious responsibility, to maintain such history and this boat.” In my quest to learn more I realize how fortunate I am. So far I have not yet been able to find the plans for PATIENCE but have found out that Malcolm “was particularly thrilled when he saw Murray’s design Eastward in the mid-1950’s and decided that this type of sailboat would be a fine one to build for himself. With his usual thought and determination, Malcolm produced the lines of his lovely sloop PATIENCE.” Mr. White even has the hand carved half model that Malcolm made.
My stewardship is twofold; to restore this wonderful Friendship Sloop PATIENCE and to honor the memory of her exceptional builder. Another article in WoodenBoat goes on to say “One boat Malcolm built epitomized the dedication he brought to any undertaking. While he was at the shipyard in the late 1950’s, he got the use of a corner of one of the buildings there and started construction of a 30’ Friendship Sloop for himself. Putting in a couple of hours after each work day, and some time on weekends, he completed her entirely by himself and finally launched her in 1965. During that time, he drew an admiring following of friends and visitors. By all reports she was a real beauty. He named her PATIENCE because he explained, ‘it is said that time, patience and perseverance will accomplish all things.’ I did not want to name her time or perseverance. Malcolm sailed her alone for as long as he had her.”
PATIENCE is now snug in her home back in Maine. I would like to give special thanks to Dan Mahoney who saved PATIENCE from being chain sawed up and sold me this boat for a dollar, and then he would not even take the dollar. To Bill Whitney, who to this day has been a most helpful friend. To the many people who have graciously given of their time and advice in helping me along the road of restoration. I’ve been honored to speak with Ralph Stanley and Paul Bryant of Riverside Boat Company, both of whom saw PATIENCE being built. This boat is proving to be a spiritual journey for me. Until the day that PATIENCE finally rejoins the fleet…God Bless!
Rev. Chris Gerardi
"Those who go down to the sea in ships, Who do business on great waters, They see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep." Psalm 107:23-24. An official 501c3 non-profit Christian Ministry