It was a postcard-perfect day for the Master Mariners Wooden Boat Show, elegant wooden masts stretching into the sky, flags flying. There was almost a fairy tale quality with charming antique boats and a grand luxury yachts on display, the majestic Corinthian Yacht Club in the background. Touring these exquisite boats on such a gorgeous day there was a bit of magic in the air.
The wooden boat show is a once-a-year-opportunity to see, touch and learn all about the grand dames of San Francisco Bay. Unlike many other wooden boat shows, attendees here are encouraged to come aboard to chat with owners. All forms of woodies participate, from little day sailors to 115’ schooners. It’s heaven for those who appreciate classic maritime design. Talking with the owners is a special treat, chatting about loving restorations and hearing salty tales makes for a fun day.
Tim McGowan, skipper of Simpatico, a William Gardner-designed beauty shared how when purchased in 1980 she was completely painted. Now Simpatico’s brightwork gleams in the sun in original condition. Below the brightwork also sparkles, amazing brass sink and counter the centerpiece.
Legend is another boat with remarkable brightwork. The classic Sparkman & Stephens yawl recently relocated from Charleston, where she sailed in all the classic yacht regattas.
Dannebrog, a gaff rigged cutter owned by Peter Ogden would have to win the charm award. Built in 1961 by Maas Sheeps in The Netherlands, she sports whimsical design flourishes seldom seen in modern boats. Dannebrog was named after a spirit that came from the sky and helped the Danish people win in battle. Today the Danish Royal Yacht is also named Dannebrog.
This Dannebrog is rather regal as well. She is delightful in many ways, some of my favorites being the admiral figurehead, sea horse woodwork detail and turned balustrade.
Each boat has a little bio attached and Peter’s was a creative and entertaining read. The big news is Dannebrog is for sale. Given her good looks and Peter’s wit I’d be surprised if Dannebrog doesn’t have a new owner by now.
A special treat was meeting Hank Easom, skipper of Yucca, that legend of the SF Bay. Yucca was designed in 1936 by Nicholas Potter for Commodore Bartholomew of Newport Beach Yacht Club and in 1964 Hank bought her. They are celebrating 50 years together. What a fruitful collaboration it’s been, Yucca has won just about every race on the SF Bay. Shadows were too strong in my photo of Hank, so I’ve included a nice shot by Latitude 38.
Lest you think wooden boats appeal only to a “mature” demographic, meet Dean Christian, 34, and Jessica Hauser, 25. Dean is the proud owner of Pampero, a lovely Kettenburg 43 that celebrates her 50th birthday this month. The infectious laughter and Clancy Brothers music signaled this was the fun boat of the show.
Another beautiful classic now often helmed by the younger generation is Brigadoon. Lindsey Klaus, daughter of owner Terry, recently skippered Brigadoon, a 65′ Herreshoff schooner, to victory in the Master Mariners Regatta.
The star of the show was the sleek and sexy Schooner Eros. She began her life in England in 1939, built for the daughter and son-in-law of a British Lord. During World War II she was commandeered by the Royal Navy and after that became the private yacht of the first international billionaire Stavros Niarchos.
Present owners, Bill and Grace Bodle, acquired Eros in 1992 and have completed a museum-quality restoration. Eros is simply stunning.
Attendees enjoyed strolling the 103′ long deck, perhaps imagining what it would be like to sail this beauty. I enjoyed watching them.
It was such a glorious day, everyone was having such a wonderful time and taking advantage of some great photo opportunities. I loved the variety of boats, their history and charm and especially chatting with the owners who care for these sailing works of art.
Each year’s boat entries are a little different, so mark your calendars for next year!