Based on the survey findings, Pearson
employed the office of the famous naval architect John G. Alden to design their new model, slated to be named the Countess 44. A
master of the art, Mr.
Alden delivered Pearson a beautiful, seaworthy design that would sail
like the devil, but also had the
auxiliary power and spacious interior to rival a powerboat. This
was not a boat intended for a hoarde of salty male crew, surviving
on canned food and sterno, taking bucket baths and sleeping in narrow,
cramped bunks while they tossed their way across an ocean.
Heeding well the survey's results, Alden's Countess was
a boat to be crewed by a civilized couple or two, an elegant
little group who held high in esteem matters of privacy, comfort,
hygiene and dining, but who still wanted to travel far and
Alden gave the Countess a ketch rig to keep the sail area
manageable for the hypothetically small crew, and a beefy 109 HP engine
to ensure that the Countess would skip along whether a breeze was afoot or not
the changes were agreed upon by all parties involved, the Bell's custom
Countess was built by Gruman Allied Industries in Portsmouth, Rhode
Island. It was 1965 and she was the 4th Countess built, unique
amoung her sister ships as the only sloop. Mr. and Mrs. Bell
christened her SARABANDE.
George Bell went on to become a special assistant
to President Nixon under the President's counsel Charles
Colson, known as Mr. Nixon's "hatchet man" and whom the Watergate
scandal exposed to be not a nice man, to put it mildly. Mr.Bell passed away in
The boat was purchased by the psychologist Dr. Howard Kern of Norfolk, Virginia. Dr. Kern promptly moved aboard and sailed to the Carribbean to lauch a successful new career chartering tourists on happy jaunts around the islands in conjunction with a luxury hotel. No doubt SARABANDE contributed to many a fantastic vacation throughout those sunny years!
Around 1990, Dr. Kern, like George Bell, also
passed away at a relatively young age, and the boat was again offered at an estate sale. She was purchased by Mr. Joseph Sanacore of
A serious lifelong sailor, Joe outfitted SARABANDE with all the
modern sailing conveniences, important safety features, and the latest in
navigational technology. He spared no expense, and his choices did much
to rejuvenate the 25 year old boat. He spent the next 16 years sailing SARABANDE
We met Joe Sanacore in the fall of 2005 because he was cleaning out his
basement. Walking home from work one evening in
the next few weeks, the sailing stuff continued to appear on the curb and we
grew more and more interested in meeting whomever was tossing it. At
last, one night we spotted a salty-looking gentleman on the stoop. He was gazing abstractedly at the
most recent garbage batch, wreathed in cigarette smoke and enjoying the early evening air.
"Are you the one who's been throwing away all the sailing stuff?", we asked.
"Are you the ones who keep digging through my trash?" he replied.
Joe invited us in, introduced us to his lovely lady Janet, and we had a fascinating night sharing sailing stories and talking boats. At the time, we owned our little CAL 25, and we had just put her on the hard for the winter. Toiling in the marina yard to winterize our little boat, we'd seen the travelift bring a very tough-looking bluewater boat up on land; she had everything we'd read about in cruising books, she was huge, and we were extremely impressed by her. We’d window-shopped for plenty of cruisers, but we’d never seen one quite like this one before, and we wondered about this amazing boat.
"About 45 feet long? Red bottom paint?
That would be my boat," he said casually, gesturing to a beautiful painting of SARABANDE on his wall.
Joe was our new hero, and the friendship was off to a great start.
Incredibly, one year later, erroneously believing himself to be getting older, and not wishing to fall prey to the possible “curse” that befell George Bell and Howard Kern, Joe chose us as SARABANDE's new owners. She needed a little work, and we agreed to bring her back to her former glory. Joe’s amazing generosity has changed our lives in such a dramatic way that we bless him nightly, and our grandchildren will know his name and what a wonderful kindness he paid us. Joe knows every inch of SARABANDE and all her quirks, and he's been such a fantastic source of advice and technical know-how. We can't believe our good fortune, and we won't let him down in our promise to take her out on the ocean where she belongs in all her glory.
What exactly is a 'sarabande'?
A "sarabande" is defined by Merriam-Webster as "a stately court dance of the 17th and 18th centuries resembling the minuet". Sounds a little boring, eh? Yet her second owner Howard Kern described a sarabande as “a lively Spanish Dance” in his charter brochure. Music historian Carl Engel, in his 1922 essay "Jazz: A Musical Discussion" for The Atlantic Monthly agrees with Howard, asserting that it was a rather risque dance before turning more respectable: