The Protagonist is a wooden, hand-crafted, open hull, 15-foot catboat with one huge tabernacle sail. The mast is mounted on the bow and the boom is as long as the boat. We found this beautiful sailboat when we moved to Gulf Shores, Alabama in 2016. Our neighbor, Bob McKay, built it in 1999. It is the perfect boat for day sailing on Bon Secour Bay, Mobile Bay, and along the Intracoastal Waterway.
Since the weather in Gulf Shores is perfect for sailing all year long, we wanted a small boat to sail when we are in Alabama. In 2016, we had an opportunity to buy a 30-foot Island Packet that was in excellent condition, but it was important to Michelle that we have a small boat that she could handle on her own when Maik was in Germany. It was important to have something that we could just take out for a couple hours of sailing on the Bay, or a sunset cruise, or to a local restaurant. The Protagonist fit the bill and it is moored in our home marina on Plash Island, which is also our front yard.
We’ve all heard the famous quote, “The big boats get the glory, but the small boats make the sailor.” We thought about this when thinking about purchasing The Protagonist. Michelle's ultimate goal was, and still is, to become a better sailor. If this is the goal, The Protagonist is the perfect sailboat. She has no instrumentation, no GPS, no autopilot. She uses a centerboard, which serves as a keel when you manually let it down, and there is only one sail. We later installed a small bilge pump and a depth sounder, both of which are powered by a rechargeable battery system. It has a very small four-stroke outboard motor that will help us maneuver in and out of the marina. But that’s it—you have to sail her!
The first time we took her out on Bon Secour Bay, the wind was swirling and the waves were white capping. She handled it great, and we knew instantly that she is very seaworthy.
When naming The Protagonist, it was important to use a literary term because Michelle is a journalist. We found a definition of “protagonist” online that we really love. “The protagonist is the one we root for in the novel—the character whose inner life we are given access to. A protagonist doesn’t always wear a white hat, and he doesn’t always fight a dude wearing a black one. The best protagonists are often the most complex—sometimes kind, sometimes loathsome, always engaging.”
She is the perfect little sailboat for day sailing with our seadogs, Cap’n Jack and Scout, on Alabama’s gorgeous Gulf Coast.