Minuet in a reefing breeze

by John MacBeath Watkins

I was in a regatta this weekend. First day was fine, I sailed a Lightning and was one point out of first place despite being rated for a spinnaker I didn't have, but the second day I chose to race with Sarah Howell on her Yankee One design, Gemini. We did some spirited sailing in winds that we later learned gusted to 36 mph, but the racing was called off, and a good thing, too.

On the way home I caught sight of Carl Kamenzind sailing his 1929 cutter, Minuet, in plenty of breeze near the Fauntleroy ferry dock. Got this one from the ferry:

Minuet seemed to revel in the weather.


  1. Thank you Mr. Watkins, for posting this image and for allowing it to be copied and saved. I have no images of Minuet underway during my tenure (1991-presently), so finding your capture is a real joy.

    I remember the day well. A small craft advisory called for three-to-four foot swells. This kind of advise means one thing only, it's time to go sailing. Bare in mind, Minuet was made for off-shore racing and loves this stuff.

    In this image, the small stay sail jib is housed as well as a reduced / reefed main on the roller furling boom (original South Coast hardware). This configuration lowers the center of effort, reduces heal and invites spirited sailing at it's best.

    Carl Kamenzind

  2. Thank you from me, too. I only recently got connected with Carl and learned of his ownership of this boat, which my father built before my birth. As a young doctor in L.A., who had grown up building boats in Nova Scotia and yearned for one but couldn't yet afford to buy one, he built it and named it "Placebo," because, he said, a placebo is something the doctor gives to the patient when the patient wants something he really shouldn't have. It's fun for me to see pictures of it now, so lovingly restored by Carl. Madeline Steele Johnston

  3. Thank you, Madeline, I'm delighted to learn more about one of my favorite boats. Your father sure had an eye for good lines, the boat is fast and able, something any bluenose would be proud to have created. I've owned a couple boats that I don't now have good pictures of, I know how that can feel.

  4. Thank you Madeline, for all of your help. Learning about your Father, Dr. Archie A. Steele, has turned into a fascination for me. Every corner that I turn with my research of the good man, brings up more wonderful facts.

    Dear Madeline, if you ever do write a book about your Father, then I will be the first in line, clammering for a copy.

    A wind storm the other day, scared me into sleeping on board that night. Since Minuet is on the hook and exposed to Nature's fury, I must be there incase the anchors loose grip. Silly really, because there are two large anchors and a small one down there. Only the twenty-five pounder ever had tension that night, with the thirty-pounder ready just in case. The third anchor, a seventeen-pounder was just a paranoid skipper's excess.

    That night can best be described as sleeping in a roller coaster car. From time to time, it was necessary to lock hold into the birth, or else, be dumped into the bilge. A bee's wax candle provided heat and visual comfort as the winds hauled and the waves were parted by the bow stem.
    What a fine time it was.

    Mr. Watkins, I would very much like to see any other photos you may have shot that windy day. Please contact me at carl@rideyourbike.com.

    Carl Kamenzind

  5. Minuet really does look fine under sail.
    I have had the honor to see the sails from the deck! A very fun boat to sail. Carl is a fine skipper too. We used my 1966 Ford to haul her to the water from Carl's back yard where I first met her years ago. She sure does belong in salt water.


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