The Indigo Saga

Written by Curtis Rindlaub, Maine, USA

We have a 1974 Vindo 50, center cockpit ketch with a small aft cabin. This boat was sailed by its original owners from Sweden, throught the Med and the Suez and across the Pacific via Australia and New Zealand. It ended up in Seattle where it was eventually sold to a fellow who took it to Juneau ( I believe) and lived on it for several years. At this point she was named Dena, though I don't know if this was her original name.

This owner was transfered to Maine, and he had Dena trucked across the country. He moored her in East Boothbay, Maine. During a fall storm in '87(I think), a neighboring boat broke off her mooring and entangled her bowsprit and plow anchor in the port lifelines and rigging and beat Dena for most of the night. By morning, Dena's port cabin side was destroyed, and the small bulwarks along the port side had been chewed off. The boat was declaired a loss by the insurance company, and actiuoned by sealed bid.

I spent three of my years growing up in Sweden, and another in Oslo where my father owned a beautiful Vindo 30, so I was very familiar with the boats. I had also spent a brief period working in a woodenboat restoration shop in Norwalk Connecticut, so I was familiar with yacht joinery. I was living on Peaks Island, Maine, just off Portland, when I read the ad for the auction, and several days later, I drove up to see her more as a lark on a beautiful day than as an interested buyer.

What could be seen of her under her dark canvas tarp was a sad sight. Water had leaked in and filled the bilge to the floorboards, and the cabin was a disheveled mess of splintered wood and shattered glass, and the engine was in a state of mysterious disassembly. But as I drove away, I realized that everything I saw was repairable, and that all of the basics were fit and seaworthy. With less than 24 hours before the bid deadline, and without having looked at any of the sails and not much of the rigging or mechnicals, I decided to bid on the boat.

This was a period in my life, I might add, when I happened to have a little money, I wasn't yet married, and I was unencombered by children or a mortgage--circumstances that are about as common as the alignment of the planets. Two days later, the boat was mine, with my bid, I found out later, beating the next highest one by $200. Needless to say, the repair job was a lot of work, with time and money constraints stretching it out to several years, but there has always been some magic about this boat for us. Within the first few months of owning her, I had put the one and only small brass key to the Swedish lock on my keychain for fear of losing it.

That winter, I happened to be at a flea market in Portland and discovered a box of old keys, some of which looked just like the Swedish one. The keys were even numbered, and I happened to have mine on that keyring, so I pulled it out, checked its number, and pawed throught the box until I found an identical key in cut and number. I bought it for a dollar.

Even more magical has been the way this boat has changed our lives. Between the time we bought the Dena and relaunched her as Indigo, I got married, and in the subsequent years both of our two children have grown up on that boat, exploring the coast of Maine. Our explorations eventually led to us taking over the updating of A Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast, by Hank and Jan Taft, which, in turn, has led to a career as a small publisher (see

Soon we will embark on another great adventure--sailing Indigo to the Carribean next fall and winter.


Updated 2003-12-14