The appearance of Alera in Great Cove this week provoked thoughts about the special qualities that create lasting beauty, whether natural, human-made, or a combination of both.


Some lasting beauty is without physical shape (e.g., Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony). Some is two-dimensional (e.g., da Vinci’s Mona Lisa) and some three-dimensional (e.g., Michelangelo’s David). Some three-dimensional beauty is solidly stationary (e.g., Palladio’s Villa La Rotonda) and some combines complex movements and sounds (e.g., Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet ballet).


And then there is Alera. She’s 113 years old. To see her gracefulness in her natural element – beating into the wind; her canvas and rigging humming; her bow wave hissing – is to see a performance by a thing of lasting beauty that was created by a genius.


She was designed by Nathanael (Nat) Greene Herreshoff, the Michelangelo of sailboat naval architects. Alera, launched in 1904, was the first of his famous New York Yacht Club 30-foot racers, hence the “NY1” proudly displayed on her sail. (Brooklin, Maine)