The Gannon & Benjamin Marine Railway in Vineyard Haven, Mass, was the center of the local boating universe at noon on Saturday, July 10th, when co-owner Ross Gannon launched his dream boat, a 45-foot sloop named Elita.
Elita set in the cradle and ready to go.
Three years in the making, the all-wood vessel was yet another addition to the impressive flotilla of classic-looking sailing boats that the company has been adding to the Vineyard Haven harbor, and the sailing world in general, for nearly 30 years. (The company will, in fact, celebrate its 30th year in business on July 24th.)
Sitting offshore, as if waiting for their sister ship to join them are the Charlotte, Nat Benjamin's boat which was launched last year, and two of the Black Dog ships, Alabama (white) and Shenandoah (black).
A close-up look at these boats can make you feel as if you were looking at a scene from 100 years prior.
Modern boats were on hand, too.
The Juno, a 65-foot schooner, the largest G&B creation to date, was launched in 2003. The following year she won the Concours d'Elegance in Antigua's Classic Yacht Regatta.
Close-up of Charlotte.
The G&B boat shed with celebrants.
A happy crowd of about 200 turned out under clear skies and heavy heat for the traditional benediction, bottle breaking and the new vessel's slow easy slide down the railway track into the water for its first official introduction to its natural element.
Louisa Gould, marine photographer, was there to capture the event.
An ebullient Ross Gannon addresses the crowd.
Island historian Mathew Stackpole puts the event in perspective.
Ross Gannon's wife Kirsten swings the champagne.
Once the champagne bottle was broken on the bow, cannon boomed, cheers and clapping erupted and Elita was set loose to slide down the rails.
The ride down the tracks begins.
First dip into the water and the cannons fire.
A receding tide and overload of well-wishers temporarily puts the splash on hold.
Boats come to offload passengers.
A lighter Elita is free and in. Next up: outfitting, installation of masts and other equipment.