BAR HARBOR — The years the teenage Tristram C. “Tris” Colket Jr. won the Bar Harbor Yacht Club’s Pew Cup, 1952 and 1953, the silver cup wasn’t the only prize.
Yacht club member Eleanor McCormick also knitted a sweater for the champion. It had colorful signal flags spelling out the name of his boat, the Luders called Tries, on the front and his name on the back.
When Colket married 14 years later, he had long grown out of the sweater, but his wife Ruth loved to wear it.
A few weeks after Tristram Colket died this summer, his beloved Luders, the one he sailed to those BHYC victories, returned to its mooring at the family’s home on Cromwell Cove.
His son Bryan, who said he grew up sailing Tries with his father “from as young as I can remember,” is looking forward to getting out sailing on the boat this summer.
“Every day after lunch my dad would take that boat out for a sail. A lot of times he’d go out and sail it by himself,” he said.
“He would sail and sail and just have a wonderful time,” Ruth Colket said.
Because sailing was so central in the family, Bryan Colket thought growing up that it was something everyone did in the summer, like riding bikes and playing baseball. “I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have that experience until I was much older,” he said.
What’s in a name
The boats in the local racing fleets of Luders and International One Designs are “sort of like honored ancestors,” said Bill Horner, a Luders sailor and the unofficial historian of the local fleet. Careful records are kept for most of the boats. “Their provenance is sort of like genealogy.”
Tries was built in 1947, the year after the first shipment of the one-design boats arrived on Mount Desert Island.Over the years, the Luders Marine Construction company in Stamford, Conn., built more than 229 of the Luders 16s.
They were “keel sloop(s),16 feet on the waterline and 26 feet overall, built of marine plywood and designed by Art Luders. No less than 23 of these were acquired by Fleet members,” according to the “History of the Northeast Harbor Fleet” by Joseph L. Grant. “They carried overlapping Genoa jibs, and were shorter and much lighter than the Internationals, but at a distance their sail-plan and hull form was close enough to the I.C.’s to make it hard to tell the difference.”
Before Tristram Colket’s mother Ethel bought it for him, this Luders belonged to the Andrew
s family, who gave it the name Tri-S for the three sons whose first names all started with the letter S: Stuart, Stockton (Stocky) and Scofield (Scho).
When the Colkets bought it for young Tris, they kept the name but changed the pronunciation.
“Like ‘Tris tries,’” Ruth Colket said. “We always called it the Tries with one syllable.”
A lifetime of racing
The young Tris was captivated with sailing from a very young age.
“We have pictures of him standing on a wooden Coca-Cola box,” aboard a 99-foot boat, Ruth Colket said.
When he began racing Tries as a young teenager, it was often in the company of his good friend, Sheldon Goldthwait.
“At that point, the Bar Harbor Yacht Club was up at the Stokesbury property (now the ferry terminal),” Goldthwait said. “That’s where I started sailing. We had no clubhouse; we used the then-vacant Stokesburyhouse. We had sort of free rein of that.”
He crewed while Colket skippered Tries in the Northeast Harbor Fleet’s August cruise, which would stretch two or three nights. They usually slept right on the boat, even though the Luders are not at all designed to be comfortable for that purpose.
“We slept on the boats except for one night in Swan’s Island,”Goldthwait remembered. “There were people that had a boardinghouse or B&B, we all went up there and stayed,” a coed crew of youth sailors crashing on the floor together.
In addition to the race wins, the young Colket earned the yacht club’s Seamanship Trophy in 1952.
The family also had a succession of larger cruising sailboats, a Hinckley 51, a Hinckley 70 and most recently a custom 98-foot Hodgdon, all named Windcrest.
Colket was always keen to support Maine boatbuilders; the family’s current motorboat,Relentless, was built in Surry at Wesmac.
With the most recent Windcrest, Colket placed several times in the St. Bart’s Bucket race for cruising yachts of at least 30.5 meters, including a second-place overall finish in 2009.
Colket’s sailing careercame to an abrupt endwhen he suffered a stroke several years ago.
Since he had sailed Tries almost every day he was in Bar Harbor for so many years, Ruth Colket thought it would be hard on him to see the boat out on its mooring and not be able to go sailing. They kept it in storage at the former Bar Harbor Boating Company in Hulls Cove, run by the late John Cochran.
After Cochran died in 2017, Bryan Colket arranged for Tries to be towed to Jim Elk’s shop nearby on Norway Drive. Elk specializes in Luders and wooden masts.
“The boat was in beautiful shape, everything on the topsides was perfect,” Elk said. “And the bottom was actually not rotten,” but water had seeped into the end grain of the wood veneer on the hull. When the boats were built, he said, they “didn’t have the technology to keep the water out of the veneers where the keel attaches.”
So he removed and replaced one layer of the veneer and fiberglassed over the wood hull to better protect it.
The big learning curve for Elk on this project was the deck, which is painted with black stripes to make it look like a teak deck. He discovered that there used to be grooves cut into the plywood to show where the lines should go.
Consulting with Oliver Spear, a veteran boatyard hand who worked with Cochran many years ago, Elk researched and found a tool called a pinstriper that’s designed exactly for this kind of painting.
It’s a small bottle for paint with a wheel attached, so “when you roll it along (the surface), paint comes out of the bottle and gets on the wheel and puts a line on,” he said. Spear and others used to be able to freehand these stripes, and quite efficiently, too, in half a day or so.
“They must have had incredibly steady hands,” Elk said.
After several years in a building at Cochran’s and two winters in Elk’s shop, Tries is finally back in action. The boat was launched last Wednesday at the Bar Harbor Town Pier and towed to its mooring at the Colkets’ home on Cromwell Cove.