The painting depicts Marin-Marie at the helm of the double ender gaff rigged cutter in 1933 under heavily reefed canvas crossing the Atlantic with seas increasing ahead of an approaching storm. The mainsail is fully reefed such that it virtually resembles a traditional storm trysail, whilst the staysail is also fully reefed and the storm jib will shortly be taken down.
In his book, Wind Aloft, Wind Alow, Marin-Marie describes the approaching storm signals and how “… I have seen the first flash come out of one of those little white clouds at three in the afternoon, followed by a clap of thunder. Fifty minutes later the sky is black all over and the wind rising, and in ten minutes more the full force of it is on you with a roar. The entire sky is filled with thick cloud, heavily charged with electricity, completely masking the sun. squall follows squall in rapid succession, blinding, horizontal; the sea flattens, swept by the terrific wind…” And of sail changes, “… I had tried every conceivable combination of sails: No.2 jib, double-reefed mainsail, reefed staysail, storm jib, third reef in the mainsail, mainsail down (it was virtually down with three reefs in it); storm jib down, staysail unbent, mainsail unbent, gaff lashed on deck.”
Specifications and details of the Winnibelle:
French designed similar to Norwegian Colin Archer designed double enders.
Length overall 36ft
Engine – two stroke Societe Lilloise Diesel
Mainsail – Loose footed
Marin-Marie is the name of the marine artist M.M.-M. Durand de St. Front. Marin Marie initially trained as a French lawyer before pursuing a full time career as a marine artist. The yacht was named after his daughter Winnie.