“I love the lines of this solidly-built old boat. She’s got sheer, and standing headroom below, with a sensible dining table that lowers to become a double bed without blocking passage forward.”
Stardust, Islander 32’
Interview with the Captain – Steve Cartwright
My story is both sad and hopeful. The boat was a joint project with my son, Joel, who learned celestial navigation and other skills while on a Sea Semester from Woods Hole to the Caribbean. We started fixing her up. We installed a new diesel engine, replacing the rusted-out Atomic 4. The sails and rigging were functional. My wife made new cockpit cushions and foam mattresses. Then my son died. My marriage ended in divorce. I couldn’t look at our sloop for a long time. But he would want me to keep sailing.
About the Boat
How did you come to find/locate her before purchasing (and what’s the boat’s history if you know it)?
Stardust is an Islander 32 built in Costa Mesa CA in 1964, and she’s an old friend. I’ve known her since childhood, and now I own this needy, somewhat seedy old boat. She needs a lot of love and has been on the hard for years.
Belonging to two uncles at different times, Stardust has sailed in many races, winning some of them. I’m no racer. I bought Stardust from an aging uncle who could no longer maintain her. I wanted a boat, the price was low, and what did I know?
Who first introduced you to boating/sailing?
I learned to sail around age 7 or 8, in a family that cruised from Connecticut to Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. I was a NYC kid who spent summers in Maine, and I now live year-round in the family cottage perched on the edge of Tenants Harbor…a favorite stop for sailors both motor and sail-powered, an unspoiled fishing village.
What are the features you like most about your boat?
I love the lines of this solidly-built old boat. She’s got sheer, and standing headroom below, with a sensible dining table that lowers to become a double bed without blocking passage forward. The boat can sleep six. She is sea-kindly, as old salts say.
How do you typically use your boat, and where do you go?
Both Joel and I got to sail Stardust a few times, and he took his Bowdoin College buddies aboard for an overnight on an island.
When Joel was just a toddler, my wife and I took him by plane to Little Abaco in the Bahamas, where my uncle let us live aboard Stardust for a vacation. We sailed about a bit, snorkeled, had great beach time and conch burgers.
Stardust sailed out of South Norwalk CT for many years, and carried my grandmother’s ashes out to sea. Fitting for my Mom’s family, that once lived aboard a schooner and built their own small sailboats and raced them. I have a silver bowl that my Mom and her brother earned by winning the Higgins Comet class championship in 1938.
I have another silver bowl that is a second-place finish for Stardust in the 1965 Sunshine Regatta, in Florida I presume. I guess this old sloop was fast. And had experienced skippers. I remember being young and applying anti-fouling paint to Stardust, beached in South Norwalk. My uncle was impressed. Now I’m old myself, and still applying bottom paint. I’m not impressed with that.
Stardust didn’t splash this summer (2021) but I remain optimistic. The alternative isn’t appealing. I’m a retired journalist, and yet it’s hard to find enough time to do all the work this sweet old boat requires.
What’s the story behind the boat’s name?
Oh yes; I don’t know why she has the name Stardust, but it’s a great Hoagy Carmichael song. It ends:
Though I dream in vain
In my heart it will remain
My stardust melody
A memory of love’s refrain
Click the gallery below for more photos and information about Stardust!