World traveler gets a lift at GHC tomorrow afternoon at high tide.The Halabisky’s talk about their adventures
In the early fifties,when my Uncle Jimmy,fresh from the Navy,with a beautiful young wife,decided to sail around the world,he sought out the best in the business. Designed by John Atkin and built by Joel Johnson by hand in Black Rock, CT,34′ 71/2″LOA, gaff cutter-rigged with tillered helm, she was born to circumnavigate;Made for the Trades.
Legend has it that all documentation of that first global loop,fell victim to the jealousy of a troubled woman.
I remember seeing Vixen for the first time at Dinner Key Marina in Miami with a “FOR SALE”sign posted in her rigging.We were living there at the time,so saw her every day.I was a child and knew she was my uncle’s boat and what she’d done,but was really too young to appreciate the scope of her accomplishment.
My uncle had become enamored of Africa and returned there leaving her behind. When my family returned to Dinner Key the following year,Vixen was gone.
Her name cropped up occasionally in the classifieds of assorted yachting journals,then sort of faded away.My uncle pretty much lived out the rest of his life in Africa,primarily Rhodesia,until the uprising,when he moved to South Africa. He visited us,here in Gloucester,maybe a handful of times,before his death in 2005.
My brother,Dave,like his uncle,a devotee of fine things nautical,ocean-going vessels in particular,decided to “google”Vixen,and he came up with a hit.That put us in touch with her current owner/skipper Bruce Halabisky,who has just now completed her(at least)second circumnavigation at her birthplace in Black Rock.
He and his wife became a family on the way,adding to beautiful little girls to the crew.
How Vixen got to Juneau,Alaska,remains a mystery to me.(maybe Les knows;I’ll ask him)In 1989 she was discovered in a boatyard in Port Townsend,Wash.,by a sympathetic boat-building professor with a connoisseur’s eye for poetic lines,Leslie Schnick.From then on,he directed all of his resources and energies to her refitting and upgrade,restoring her to the condition of her original purpose.She won prize after prize in the classic boat shows, becoming quite the star on that circuit.
Meanwhile,Bruce was researching his own project;planning to build his own world traveler.When he saw Vixen at a show,however,he knew he’d found the vessel he would’ve designed and built himself.He and Les struck a deal:and once they hit Hawaii,there was no stopping her;Vixen was going around again.