Asbury Church yard sale treasures include boat that’s been around world

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A dinghy that has been around the world will be for sale at the Asbury United Methodist Church’s Yard Sale this Saturday. Asbury has been hosting yard sales for about forty years and without question the dinghy is a first.

The story of how the dinghy came ashore at Asbury Church dates back to 1990s when Jack M. Thompson, a newspaper reporter, editor and former professor of journalism at the University of Rhode Island, took an 8-year voyage around the world on his boat, Turtle Dove. Initially thinking it would be a 5-year project, Thompson set out building his 37-foot, ocean-going wooden sailboat. Its construction took 12 years, which was followed by its triumphant launching on April 23, 1988.

Kathleen Martin-Estus, Asbury’s Yard Sale chair, learned about Thompson’s dinghy since he is a member of Asbury Church.  She hopes Thompson’s story and the proceeds from the yard sale will greatly benefit the church.

“There are a lot of treasures in the yard sale. In fact, you could almost outfit your home with the valuables and variety we have,” Martin-Estus said. 

The church’s main goal is to welcome, nourish the mind and body, and unite. Martin-Estus added, “I think it’s just the philosophy of trying to be good neighbors in the area and being an open and welcoming church.”

Thompson recounts his inspiring journey with 33 volunteer crew members in his memoir, Turtle Dove, which was published in 2008. “[The trip] was a very satisfying enterprise. I liked it, and I liked the idea of going on such a massive journey,” said Thompson, now 88 years old and residing in Warwick.

While on his voyage, Thompson made sure not to lose touch with humankind. He came back to the states for Christmas and to visit his grandchildren. In fact, for short periods of time, Thompson enjoyed the journey with some of his own children as well as several European students.

In all, Thompson visited over 40 different countries during his 8-year trip.

“Some places I stayed overnight; some places I stayed for quite a long time, sometimes over a month,” Thompson explains.  “I stayed in Spain for the longest time during the journey, and in a later trip, I spent about a year in Spain.” He also visited New Zealand during the winter months since the northern hemisphere’s winter is the southern hemisphere’s summer.  However, Thompson continued to explain that his most memorable experiences were in Kenya and Indonesia, which he stated are future locations for tourism. He remembers the African people the most vividly because of their hospitality, agreeability, and friendliness.

The extended voyage wasn’t all easy going, and due to the rough, rainy weather, the most difficult part of Thompson’s trip was sailing along the Red Sea into the Suez Canal.

Upon beginning the short interview, Thompson humbly stated that he wanted his story and the selling of his dinghy to help the Asbury Yard Sale. “I really want to promote the yard sale and Asbury Church’s continuing efforts.”

“I didn’t think I was interested in boats very much as a teenager, but at some point, along that stretch of my life, I did become interested in boats. I had several smaller boats, and then I had the idea I’d like to build a bigger boat. I didn’t necessarily think that I would want to sail around the world, but I had the idea that I would really like to get to the South Seas, which I heard a lot about. Once you get through the Equator, you’re better yet to sail with the wind behind you, and if you do that, you’ll wind up eventually going around the world.”

Thompson’s dinghy that made it around the world will be for sale at the Asbury Yard Sale this Saturday, May 20, on 143 Ann Mary Brown Drive, Warwick from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Over one-thousand items including artwork, electronic appliances, exercise bikes, anchors, nautical ropes, boat bumpers, household goods, books, CDs, furniture, garden hoses, and various outdoor other items will be sold at the yard sale as well. All proceeds will go to Asbury United Methodist Church.

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