During the years that sculptor Arden Scott built her schooner Annie in Greenport, her work was the talk of the town. After eight years of construction, when Annie was finally launched in August of 1988 the streets of Greenport were lined with onlookers cheering her on. Suffolk Times photographer Judy Ahrens requested a route to the water that would give her a great shot of the boat turning the corner of Main and Front streets in front of The Coronet’s iconic neon sign.
Late last month, Annie’s departure from Greenport was a much quieter affair. After nearly three decades of constant caring for her wooden boat, Arden Scott and her husband, Keith McCamy, sold Annie to Tom Whitehead, a musician from Maine, who in late June took her up the coast in search of new adventures.
“He’s a wonderful young man. He was the right person and he asked the right questions,” said Ms. Scott, now 76 years old, who gave a lecture on building Annie at the East End Seaport Museum July 16.
Their path to building Annie seemed logical in hindsight. Ms. Scott, long a wooden boat aficionado, had spent years buying rotting boats and attempting to repair them before she listened to advice that she might be better off building her own.
But the right design was crucial for someone whose life has been devoted to visual aesthetics. Ms. Scott was an avid reader of nautical columnist Roger Taylor’s “Good Boats,” and one day she saw in his column a little 28-foot gaff-rigged schooner named Susan designed by Murray Peterson.
The classic design was a seaworthy one. The fact that it was small made it manageable for one person to build and maintain. The gaff rigging would prove to always give her something to do when sailing, constantly finessing sail trim.
One day, she got up the nerve to call up Roger Taylor and try and buy the plans to the Murray Peterson design. But Peterson was long gone from this earth. She tracked down his heirs and begged to buy the plans. She promised not to deviate from them in her construction and made a deal.
“They must have thought, ‘here’s this crazy sculptor from downtown Manhattan who says she’s gonna build a boat,” said Ms. Scott in her lecture at the seaport museum.
Plans in hand, she now needed to find a place to build Annie. In the late 1970s, she began keeping a house and studio in Greenport, where she met Carpenter Street boatyard owner Annie Barstow. Ms. Barstow showed Ms. Scott the loft floor, where they could draw up the life-sized plans needed to begin construction, after they cleaned out all the raccoon droppings. She set to work on the schooner in 1981.