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Lots of boats come to Oriental, some tie up at the Town Dock for a night or two, others drop anchor in the harbor for a while. If you've spent any time on the water you know that every boat has a story. The Shipping News on TownDock.net brings you the stories of the boats that have visited recently.

Wes Barbour and SV Summer Wind
A boy and his sloop
March 10, 2024

ummer Wind is dismasted and missing her teak rails. She rests on jack stands by a gravel road. Nearby are a few houses, a lot of pine trees, and the boat’s owner, Wes Barbour.

Wes is different than most boat owners: he’s twelve years old. And the 1983 Com-Pac 19 Summer Wind is his first bought-with-his-own-money boat.

Wes Barbour.

Walking around the elevated hull, Wes explains why he wanted a boat this size. “It’s big enough for me to be able to sleep on it with friends, with family, or take people out sailing. But it’s also not too big where I can’t sail it by myself.”

Stability is also important, “so for people like his grandmothers that don’t like to heel, it’s a little more comfortable,” says Jen Barbour, Wes’ mother.

All reasonable requests for a person of twelve years.

Wes continues, getting to the finer points of Summer Wind. “They have an outward flange toe rail, so you can peel this down, and it’s an outward flange.” Wes pulls it away to inspect the wood underneath, saying “so if I ever had a leak, I could easily fix it.”

Wes explains the flange situation.

There’s the hull speed. “5.41 knots,” he says. “It’s not a great hull speed, but, I mean, that’s what the Sunfish is for.”

And the berth sizes: “every single berth is 6 feet 4 inches, so it can technically sleep four, but more like two comfortably.”

Summer Wind’s stanchions are “a little unnecessary because they are so short.I can get taller ones,” says Wes, “but for ‘round here, I don’t think I will.”

He has an opinion on the Danforth anchor as well. “Anchoring overnight- maybe two nights – I think that’ll be fine. But if I decide to keep the boat longer, I’ll get a Mantus or something like that.”

How does he know all this? Wes started with sailing lessons at Bow to Stern Boating when he was six years old. His family – mom, dad, and older brother – spent a year as liveaboards on a 32 ft Ericson sailboat, the year before COVID hit.

Summer Wind is on jack stands. The best way to get a look inside is through the portholes.

It’s also time spent around older sailors who are happy to share information with the next generation. That, and boat manuals.

Wes isn’t much of a fiction reader, but he thoroughly reads and enjoys manuals. Jen says her son has read through Don Casey manuals and The 12 Volt Bible, “I learned a lot from that one,” Wes adds.

The young man is an information collector, asking questions and paying attention to the sailors around him. “From hundreds of people in Oriental and New Bern who’ve sailed around the world, done a lot of stuff.”

Wes also credits his father, and his own research on boat specifications and construction.

“He is a big time nonfiction reader,” says Jen, “but homeschool has enabled us to kind of focus so that he stays interested.”

Jen Barbour stands back as her son Wes describes his future plans.

Wes isn’t too fond of school; he finds it boring and not very challenging. Through homeschooling, he has the opportunity to finish his daily school work by lunch time. Afterwards, Wes will go out sailing on his Sunfish or tackle a project like Summer Wind.

He puts his boat restorations on YouTube under his own channel: Barbour Boatworks. begun about 6 months ago with the restoration of a Howmaur Hauler, Barbour Boatworks explores his small boat restorations and his time sailing on the Bay River.

In his first video for Summer Wind, Wes goes over the vessel, explaining in detail the work he’s planning.

And then, he sets down his GoPro and turns the camera on himself as he works and explains what he’s doing. The audience watches him clean the interior of the boat, remove the teak handrails, and chisel away at the poly fill under the mast step. It’s the first video in a series.

It’s also a demonstration of his knowledge and skills.

Wes has plans for all that boat knowledge he’s been taking in: “I’d like to be a marine surveyor, really.”

Chain plates bereft of rigging.

It’s not just the sailing he enjoys, he says. “I fell in love with working on the boats, too.” While he could make a career out of boat and engine work, Wes reasons “that’s a lot of work to do for your entire life, and a marine surveyor is kind of right in the middle. And it’s fun to run your own business.”

After high school graduation, Wes plans to head to Florida for marine surveyor school.

Meanwhile, he hones his skills on restoring and reselling boats.

And what makes a good boat? For reselling, it’s “keep your mast up, your keel down.” He also recommends staying away from highly customized vessels, but seek out those that need simple fixes – like an upgraded electrical system. Wes says he does not recommend new sails for a flipped boat.

Waiting for attention.

As for his personal tastes in sails, mid-range is fine.

“So you have your base Dacron cruising sail. You have mid, they’re a little stiffer, they don’t last as long. I don’t really like the carbon sails as much, because in light winds they don’t even move. You have to pop battens, and they’re so expensive. So the mid range I like the most.”

And for his Sunfish – a used sail in good condition is best. “It’s painful to sail with crispy sails.”

Wes has some different ideas for cruisers, specifically the cruiser he wants for himself in the future: a Bristol 45.5.

According to Wes, they’re well-built. While they’re not the most expensive boat, they’re also not cheaply built.

“You could get an older one, repower it, get new electronics, that kind of thing. They have good space and swing keels,” though he says he doesn’t love a swing keel, the benefit of a four foot draft is appealing.

And they’re easy to single hand or cruise with friends and family. And he wouldn’t want to change much.

Wes Barbour.

“I think the designers are very smart. They knew what they were doing.” So equipping his future Bristol for offshore sailing might be the extent of his upgrades.

Between now and marine surveyors school, Wes plans to keep restoring boats, sailing, and learning all he can while posting his work to his YouTube channel.

Related Information
Barbour Boatworks on YouTube

Posted Sunday March 10, 2024 by Allison DeWeese

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