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I first met Tom as a teenager, when one of my brothers and I took a road/camping trip up to Maine in our VW Beetle. Somehow or another we took a wrong turn on Mt. Desert Island and ended up in Southwest Harbor, in a muddy parking lot that had hull moulds stacked about.

We weren't sailors then, so didn't even know what "Morris Yachts" was, much less who this amiable guy "Tom" was with whom we briefly chatted. A lost opportunity -- I'm sure if we had expressed interest (I think we merely asked for directions) he would have shown us around a bit.

We caught up with Tom again one cold, rainy, mid-November morning in a small coastal town on the Chesapeake Bay, about four or five years ago. After turning the company reigns over to his son, Tom had set off for a trip down the east coast in a little Morris 26 -- the original double-ended Chuck Paine design that put Morris Yachts on the map. As I recall, Tom had found a lightly-used example that he bought back from one of his clients, and done a refurb on it.

Tom was snugged up on a mooring just a few over from our boat. As I said, it was cold and wet with poor visibility, so before setting out we hiked over to the local general store for some hot breakfast. Tom was there, just placing his order, so we all sat down around the ancient kerosene stove and had a memorable gam.

Tom proceeded to share his fascinating life story, from his boyhood summers spent sailing in Maine, to all manner of insights about the boat building business and clients. One observation I remember clearly was his statement "I haven't delivered a boat with an overlapping genoa in years - don't ever expect to again."

Tom had good sailing sense too. When we told him we were heading out to cross the Bay that morning, he replied that he had planned to, but thought he'd just stay put by the heater for the day. We went out and proceeded to get more soaked and chilled than I'd ever been before or since. Should have listened to Tom!

Gosh, that's sad news. Fair winds, Tom Morris.
 
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