A client just gave me LEARNING TO CRUISE by N. A. Calahan. Published in 1945. I'll read the book and then I will send it to you. You will love it.
Let me know if you have it already.
Thank you for the generous offer. H.A. is always a great read. I do have a copy of 'Learning to Cruise', which is also included in "A Yachtsman's Omnibus" that I also have in my collection.
You have to love that picture of Calahan in his 'foul weather gear' with the scubbing pads tied on with twine, and his 'body and soul' strings. The other picture that I have always got a kick out of is the picture of H.A.'s outboard carrying rack hung on his spare tire. Great stuff!
I actually briefly met Calahan as a kid. He was a chemist, who developed a range marine products included "chiltered" (chilled and filtered) varnish. His business was on the Post Road in Manaroneck, N.Y., which was just down the road from the first yard where my family kept our first boat the first winter. Dad and I went in there to buy supplies and there he was. I felt like I had just met a movie star.
My favorite story of Calahan's(which I think is in that book) was when he bought his NY30 (or was it a NY40), and climbed up on deck for the first time while she was still sitting in a shed. I have always sympathized with his description of looking down the length of the deck, which seemed to stretch to the horizon, and humbly asking himself, 'How is possible that I will be able to handle a boat this big?"
I'm just jealous that you got to hang with those old guys. It must have been amazing. How old are you? 244? You don't look a day over 67.
That's funny....I'm only 63. I must admit that from the time I was a young kid, I have always been a yacht designer groupie. As a kid I was like the young fans who would stand for hours at the stadium door hoping to get a famous player to autograph his ball card. Instead of ball cards I collected old sailing magazines and went anywhere that I thought I might meet a yacht designer.
For example, I would work for free at the New York Boat show just to be there and get to meet designers. That was where I met Jack Holt, Ian Proctor, Hinterhoeler, both of the C's in C&C, and Carl Alberg (who was not at all talkative).
My pilgramadges to meet designers did not always go all that well. When I was 12-13 or so, I rode my bike over to meet Bill Tripp. I waltzed into his office back to his drafting table and introduced myself saying, "I am a big fan of your work and I want to be a yacht designer when I grow up." He glanced up from his drafting table and sized me up me for a second and said words to the effect of, "I am grown up, and I am a yacht designer, and I have work to do." and then motioned towards the door I came in through.
My time with Charlie Wittholz gave me a first hand glimpse into the various personalities in Rhodes and Alden offices of the late 1930's through the early 1950's. Charlie told his own stories about making pilgramages to meet designers including one of taking a train, and then walking miles to meet L. Francis Herreshoff, only to be sent packing in much the same way as Bill Tripp sent me on my way. Charlie also had great stories about guys like William Albert Robinson and the Colman's who built the Rhodes Bounty's.
I made a pilgramage to meet Gilmer and had a nice afternoon chat in which we agreed on almost nothing. I have met most of the Annapolis based designers.
I met a lot of designers in odd ways. I worked on "Improbable" at Direcktors Florida yard getting her ready for the Admiral's Cup. A very young Ron Holland was Gary Mull's on site representative. (I've told him this story a few years back.) The yard workers saw him as a pain in the butt. This was the first time that the yard has sprayed Awlgrip and something had gone badly wrong. We had spent a hectic week and a half cleaning up the mess and it was decided that we would spray the final coat on a Saturday when the yard was closed. To keep the dust down, all the shed doors were kept close. This was Florida in July. It was miserably hot.
We had gotten everything set up and ready to go, when Ron Holland walked into the shed. It was just me, the paint foreman and Ron, and I could tell the paint foreman was not happy to see Ron. The paint foreman told Ron that we would be another hour setting up and sent him to buy beer, giving him a **** and bull story about beer stores being closed on Saturday in that town and giving him bad directions to a place to buy beer in the next town. Ron went off in search of beer and by the time he got back we had finished most of the paint job.
I doubt you would recall this since I was but one of the large crowd who you would have met aboard that Valiant 42, but you and I met at an Annapolis Boat Show. I had asked Bernie Jakits if he knew when you would be at the show and made a point of being there at that time.
But of all the designers of all time, growing up Starling Burgess stood out as a bigger than life hero. The sheer inventiveness and multidiscipline nature of Burgess's creativity was inspriational to me. To me he was Leonardo Da Vinci who had died only 3 years before I was born. To me, Burgess was a giant with one foot standing on science and the other in art. I once bought a book on Glenn Curtiss only because it talked about Burgess.
I also was a huge fan of Nat Herreshoff for similar reasons.
I was a huge fan of Marchaj, for his ability to explain the science in a way that even I could understand, and Chappelle, for pioneering the preservation of sailing history. As an adult, I talked to him a few weeks before he died, and to George Stadel on that same landmark day.
As I type this, I have a renewed sympathy for my parents. I was a pretty strange kid. I guess I still am at 63.....