Restoring High Time

By Michael Putzel – member of The Carpenter’s Boat Shop Board of Directors

The first boat I ever sailed was a 21-foot Indian built by the famous designer and builder John Alden in the mid 1920s. The High Time was already an old boat when my father bought her in 1955. I was 13. She leaked incessantly and took endless scraping and caulking and painting every spring, but we sailed her all over Long Island Sound and even out to Block Island, which was quite a trip for a centerboard daysailer. In the early ‘70s, my father got a bigger boat for cruising and sent the High Time to my older sister and her husband in Quebec, where she was raced on a beautiful lake for a few years until she capsized in a storm and was left in a boat house for repairs that never came. She lay there, out of water, for about 30 years. With my siblings’ permission, I reclaimed the boat and brought her to Maine, where the Carpenter’s Boat Shop took her on as a restoration project  in 2014. Apprentices under the direction of Darin Carlucci carefully cut out rotten boards, removed rust-weakened iron that swelled and split the centerboard trunk, and rebuilt what they could not repair. Using traditional methods, sometimes augmented by new thinking and materials, they applied a new deck, stripped and varnished the old brightwork and reassembled the rigging and hardware that few still alive could decipher.

High Time returned to the water on June 23, 2014, looking prouder than I had ever seen her. She’s still sailing the midcoast waters a few miles from the Carpenter’s Boat Shop and returns there each winter to be introduced to a new class of apprentices, who keep her sound and get her ready for another season. Not bad for a century-old boat.         Note: In one bow to modern technology, High Time now sports a solar-powered bilge pump neatly hidden beneath her floorboards, just in case a little water still seeps in.

To see a slideshow of High Time before, during and after restoration, go to