Boathouses, Sheds, and Bunkers
Boathouses, Sheds, and Bunkers
Located on Memorial Drive close to MIT is the Harvard boathouse, also in Cambridge, Mass. This boathouse hovered between the “Boathouses” and the “Bunkers” lists, but was finally placed here because of a few deciding factors. Although there is an upstairs with a decently large room into which at least half of the teams can pack into, as well as a downstairs area with room for a couple more schools, there are no tables accessible, so delicate regatta food is likely to get stomped on by someone who realized that the other division is already headed toward the dock. Thanks to both the brains and brawn of Harvard sailors and their architects, some of their FJs are hung up at the end of the day. But after a tough day on the Charles River, full of auto-tacks and death puffs, the last thing I want to do is de-step a mast and then proceed to hang up my boat. The sinking feeling when you realize that your boat is to be hung is one that is felt at few other venues. Although Harvard has restrooms, sailors often trek across the street to invade a classy building in full spray gear.
The next school on the list could be categorized both as “Shed” and as “Bunker.” Notorious among NEISA sailors is Boston University, also located on the Charles River in Boston, Mass. The wind is shifty, the walk is long, and the rotation dock provides no shelter unless you bring a tent. The boathouse itself is well-equipped for wind or crew delays, with a large TV, a movie collection, a dartboard, and board games. There’s seating and a large board for announcements and the rotations, and a table for RP forms. Once the sailing has actually begun, however, A division sails almost a mile down the river while B division carries all the bags and food. Although I’ve never brought one, a little wagon would probably be ideal for the journey. Once at the rotation dock, you can choose to set up camp at one of a handful of picnic benches onshore (if you get there early enough), or settle down on the dock itself. If you want to go to the bathroom, you need to walk back to the closest footbridge and wander around until you find an open building (Admissions is open on Saturdays), or back to the footbridge close to the boathouse for the Law School restrooms. Neither trip is relaxing, as it’s not a short walk and missing a set is a constant fear. One highlight of the sailing site is the nearby parcourse; if you’re freezing during the offsets you can warm up with some push-ups or ab exercises.
Perhaps the most deserving of the “Bunker” label of all of the NEISA boathouses is that of Tufts University. With a striking resemblance to a concrete bomb shelter, the one-story boathouse is built on Upper Mystic Lake in Medford, Mass. Two boat bays contain 24 Rondar Larks and 3 Lasers, as well as one old windsurfer. While the masts go up and down each day, they’re carbon fiber and thus are a bit more manageable. Getting the boats onto the racks still takes teamwork and muscle, even though the hulls themselves are much lighter than FJs or 420s. The main room of the boathouse quickly fills up with gear during regattas, and the drawers are labeled rather cryptically so that only an upperclassman can quickly find the correct part or tool. The concrete patio above the boathouse sports a restroom with two stalls and assorted dolly parts, as well as various posters of other sailing venues. Although there are plans in the works to remodel the boathouse, there is at least one Tufts sailor who will miss this homely, boxy, bunker.
There you have it, then: a brief tour of the boathouses of New England. Pack your vans accordingly, and don’t forget to check the weather.
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