My first memories of sailing were with my parents, working on wooden boats that they owned and sailing on the bay. Later we moved to Sausalito and lived aboard a John Alden cutter. I remember really loving working with wood and learning to have pride in your work. For me it’s more than processing material, it’s about knowing where the material comes from. It’s about understanding the different natures of different woods. I’ve had the great satisfaction of building a 12-foot wooden boat and seeing her come together, the thrill when you can see her sweet, sheer line, and then the great pleasure of launching her in the sea, her natural environment, the place she was intended to be. It’s an amazing feeling sailing a boat that you’ve built with your own hands.
With wooden boats, the wood comes full circle from being alive in the forest to being alive on the water with another hundred years or more of life ahead of her. I have a particular love for Clover, built along the lines of Bristol Channel cutters. To serve veterans, I wanted a boat that was strong and seaworthy and had a gaff rig. She’s built as a yacht so that she’s got dry and warm accommodation below and can take a sea and go further afield than smaller boats.
There’s something quite remarkable about being in a wooden environment at sea. It feels like an extension of yourself in a way; like it’s your second skin, keeping you safe on the water. A wooden boat is the closest thing humans can build to an animal; it has wings, and it flies over the water. It swims, and when you get it up to speed its rigging hums away like playing the strings of an instrument.
It seems like no coincidence that I’ve chosen this path in life to sail with veterans aboard wooden boats. When I look back at my family my great grandfather was in the British Army in WWI, and my grandfather was in the Irish Defense Force. My father was a master mariner in the British Merchant Navy. I served in the US Navy as an aviator; and my oldest son serves in the Marines today. I feel lucky to have learned from my family and to have been able to follow my passion, and I hope to be able to pass this on to others.
Veterans of a uniformed service are an often overlooked demographic in our society, but most Americans can claim to have one in their families. There is a silent crisis affecting Veterans, causing on average fifteen of them each day to take their own lives. This loss of hope and faith is silently killing our national treasure, those who have served to protect all of us.
Hope is the key product at WBFV. I am reminded of Scott Callahan's words in his book Adrift; 76 Days at Sea in a Raft; "Substantive and functional hope is not just passive wishful thinking but is something one creates through shunning denial and embracing reality, then taking small achievable steps, no matter how difficult, that can build towards the longer and larger goal”. I believe the sea offers human beings the opportunity to experience calm, become educated in the marine world around us, learn to master wind and water, experience the simple pleasure of bringing boats back to life, and do so in community and fellowship. Here we lift up Veterans, and give them an opportunity to be educators at sea.
We at WBFV believe that wooden boats in particular admirably support this mission. They have a soul all their own, which is metaphorical in many ways to the human soul. A wooden boat is a creation; it is formed and shaped and lovingly cared for by human hands; it requires sacrifice to maintain in healthy condition, and demands a destination to have purpose. So too does each one of us.
We have had a BUSY year so far, and while we build the newsletter we wanted to put out the highlights:
Finally, we want to extend a warm welcome to Charlie Hart - our newest Board Member. Charlie is well known to all in the Bay Area sailing and non-profit communities, and you can find out all about him on our website and a separate blog post.
Our upcoming events:
August 20th - All women veterans crew racing in the Sausalito Yacht Club women's only race
September - Farallons sail and ROLEX (hopefully)
October - Fleet Week
Veterans Day - Celebration and Open House aboard Clover.
To be truly great, you have to be ruthlessly consistent giving yourself over to the monotony of the same thing over and over, beautifully. It’s the discipline of attrition, and it’s why wooden boats and their restorations are such masterpieces of human endeavor.
Such is the case for restoring Ocean Queen V, the beautiful 55' Philip Rhodes yawl that WBFV is chartering. Since receiving the boat in April of this year, WBFV has been patiently attending to her needs. Having found a persistent and large leak from her rudder tube, and a rotted section in her mainmast, she is completing a three month refit.
Having ensured she swims, and that her rig is sound, WBFV will now turn toward her running rigging, sails, engine, and electrical systems. Look for Ocean Queen V back on the water soon!
By Matt Cline, WBFV Board Member, July 9, 2022
The needs of veterans as well as the desire of many to serve them knows no boundaries. All across the United States, there are more and more veterans service organizations beginning to realize that they have something to offer veterans who have been changed by their service, whether it is in peacetime or by far more drastic circumstances in combat. Wooden Boats For Veterans started its commitment to serving veterans in the San Francisco Bay area. But always, there is a vision to do as much as possible. This month, WBFV’s took another step in expanding its mission outside the San Francisco Bay area.
My association with WBFV’s is a role I cherish, both for being able to contribute to the well-being of our veterans and their families as well as restoring and maintaining classic and ever-more rare wooden boats. It has always been obvious to me veterans and wooden boats have so much in common. Wooden boats and veterans need each other because they can both take care of each other. With the help of WBFV’s, I am able to take that a step further here in Ohio.
With my YouTube channel, “The Salvation Navy" showing people how to do repairs and maintain classic sailboats, I met someone who was struggling to continue to sail her beloved sailboat while dealing with health issues that were affecting her ability to do so. While some of the modifications I helped her with allowed my friend to continue to sail for a while longer, it had come time to find the boat a new steward. While not in the strictest sense a wooden boat itself, it is a wonderful design that is of classic wooden boat lineage and a pedigree from a classic naval architect. My friend’s boat, "Seneca Lee” was designed by the well-known and respected naval architect, Halsey Herreshoff. He is the grandson of the venerable Captain Nathaniel Herreshoff, who designed all of the America's Cup boats around the turn of the century. The family name is synonymous with exquisite design, elegance and performance.
A third-generation naval architect in the family himself, Halsey was commissioned to design several small boats for the yacht construction company, Norwak and Williams of Bristol, Rhode Island. While the hulls were made of fiberglass and the mast of aluminum, he insisted that everything else on the boats were to be as traditional as possible, with bronze fittings and ubiquitous varnished wood work. One of which was the “Eagle.” It is an homage’ to the New England Friendship Sloop. A beautiful little 22’ gaffed-rigged sailboat with a staysail and even a top sail. I personally own and am working to restore one of his Eagle designs that was rescued from the chainsaw. They were very few produced and regrettably even fewer remain after almost 50 years.
With my desire to try and serve veterans in my area here in Ohio, both on my local inland large lake where I sail as well as surrounding larger bodies of water like Lake Erie, my friend's boat suits itself perfectly to taking out a small group to enjoy a beautiful day of sailing. This mission also has been enthusiastically received by my local yacht club at Indian Lake. We are in the process of working out all of the details, but everyone on the board is looking forward to being able to do some wonderful community outreach. It’s a cause everyone instantly saw was good and a worthwhile endeavor.
The plan will be to do some minor work on the boat to have it ready for the 2023 sailing season at Indian lake as well as begin to build up contacts, relationships with veteran’s groups and schedule veterans for sailing opportunities at Indian lake in Ohio. For the time being, several members of the Indian Lake Yacht Club have offered to take veterans out on their own sail boats until the newly acquired "Seneca Lee” is ready to be used by several trained skippers as the program's designated boat for taking out veterans and their families. "Seneca Lee" has resided for all of her life in Cape Cod and she's being transported soon back to my backyard boat yard here in Ohio for some minor woodwork repair, varnishing, and just a little TLC to bring her back to grand condition. She will be a shining jewel, restored to her former glory very soon and ready to be of service to those who have served our nation.
While presumably primarily operating from the Indian Lake Yacht Club, the vessel is trailerable so that we can extend sailing programs as well as being a good outreach ambassador for wooden boats for veterans and places like Lake Erie for various veterans and memorial day events, like the Cleveland Tall Ships festival and more. It is our hope as well to bring much attention to the efforts of WBFV’s in San Francisco by being a charter program representative in the region.
Thanks to Wooden Boats For Veterans for sponsoring this outreach project, the "Seneca Lee" has been purchased and will be chartered as one of WBFV's fleet. This is an organization that is a living and vibrant example of their desire to serve veterans with unique experiences of sailing wooden boats. Everyone who is a part of it believes deeply in its mission and making it happen on a day by day basis. While regrettably not able to be more of a hands-on presence for wooden boats for veterans in San Francisco, I am honored to be able to take on this mission here in the Midwest. We will certainly be publishing more updates on the progress of the restoration and the sailing programs development as they progress. Thank you again to my friends and colleagues at Wooden Boats For Veterans for believing in me and supporting the resources to make this happen. I can promise you that if you invest your time and resources with this extraordinary organization and its people, you will be inspired as well.
- Editor's note: The entire board of WBFV is grateful for Matt's tireless efforts to open up sailing to veterans in the Midwest. His perseverance in putting this together was fantastic, and we can't wait to see what happens next!
As many of you know, Wooden Boats for Veterans has been getting vets out on SF Bay for over seven years, and with additional vessel donation(s) and Covid winding down we will be expanding this capability through the rest of 2022. But what about actually racing
wooden boats with veterans?
Our organization is more focused on providing the fundamental experience of sailing and the camaraderie that can help support our vets, most of whom have no prior sailing experience. Racing offers the opportunity for even more tightly coupled crew capability, a higher bar for preparation, and also safety. In short, racing pushes all of the basics that we normally practice to another level. So, how do we get there with an all vet crew ready that doesn’t have much racing experience?
Enter Alex Salogub, an Air Force veteran with two decades racing experience on SF Bay. He donated his time to instruct members of WBFV team and provide a deeper understanding of all the tweaks that are done to the sails for speed, how to balance the pressure on the tiller with the mainsheet (for speed and safety), how to visually read wind shifts and current changes, and how to tune the rig for speed. In the corporate world we’d call this a ‘train the trainer’ approach, so that his knowledge can then be shared with a broader group of vets that find this type of higher intensity activity to be a positive emotional experience.
So how did the race go?
Moderate conditions of 15-20 knots and light 1’-3’ chop made for a good opportunity to
showcase some of the newly honed skills. Sunda was the first in her starting group to cross the line and she maintained good standing among the fleet of vintage wooden sailboats on the course that day. Eventually, she passed a few boats that had started earlier and ultimately spent the last few legs of the race in a see-sawing, back and forth battle with a single boat.
At this stage of WBFV growth, it was a win to have the crew and boat ready to compete and provide several other competitors a run for their money. It’s also a win that we can provide the opportunity for our vets who really get the sailing bug, a way to take their new skills to the next level. It is a stretch goal for our organization to continue building on this and ultimately have THREE or more classic wooden sailboats compete in the Master Mariner’s cup in 2024. But to get there we need your help.
Any folks with racing and sailing experience who want to help vets train on the water? Passing down some of your knowledge to vets who can really benefit physically and emotionally from the opportunity may be one of the most rewarding experiences you can have on the water. Contact us to get involved or to just get more info on our sailing program.
Wooden Boats for Veterans is proud to announce it has added Ocean Queen V to its fleet. Built in 1951 at the venerable Abeking & Rasmussen yard, she is a Philip Rhodes 55' yawl with a storied racing career. Through the sponsorship of the Demere family, and through the generosity of Westpoint Harbor and the Driscoll Family Foundation (a supporting organization of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation), WBFV will sail her for veterans and other groups in the south bay area. She arrived on Saturday March 26th and will host an Open House on April 30th at 2-4 pm. Keep a lookout for our upcoming schedule this year.
Since 2015 Wooden Boats for Veterans has given sail training to over 500 veterans, future veterans and their families on the water to provide physical, mental and emotional therapy for their injuries brought about by operational service. We provide three programs; sailing training, experiential sailing, and wooden boat preservation. Learning to sail and saving wooden boats are outlets for coping with PTSD, and traumatic injuries. At WBFV, teamwork, community and camaraderie is rediscovered through our educational programs in sailing, racing, voyaging, restoring and preserving.
Rob Jarman, Editor for Offshore Gaffer's Association, had an amazing chat with Mr. Brian Turner in Poole - who at 92 still remembers sailing in Clover with her owner Eric Thompson. We will shortly post the video he recorded in the conversation... lots of good quality info about Clover and Eric and Hamble and the yards and wartime and post-war activities - he's 92 but has a memory full of fascinating facts!
a few nuggets:
- Eric offered Clover to the Admiralty even before the declaration of war in 1939, but on condition that his skipper Fred Matthews was retained as the sole full time skipper during her use by the Admiralty.
- she was assigned to Coastal Command and based in Falmouth, and used as an inspection vessel for the expert assessment of convoy ships coming across the Atlantic as soon as they entered 'safe' water in the Western Approaches. Many of those convoy ships were damaged and the assessor decided where they should be taken for first safest landing so the cargoes could be salvaged. They took off valuable documents and money. Clover was adapted for this work by:
In 1945, Eric took her back and had all the rigging and original mast and sails re-fitted - Brian did not know which yard did the job - could have been in Hamble or IoW or Poole. Clover was kept on the Hamble mostly and looked after by Moody's yard, even though Eric sailed her also from Poole.
Brian joined as crew to support Eric and Fred when they started cruising again, from 1945. He was recommended by Luke's yard, as he had been working on the Hamble all during the war servicing and fueling the motor patrol launches and landing craft operated by the Solent Patrol - incredibly, whilst still at school... he was contracted by the local RN people to work for them, to free up the Navy for other work.
Brian was aboard Clover when the above photo was taken - definitely in the Solent, in 1947. Brian had several more photos from that shoot.
Eric liked to cruise down the Atlantic seaboard of France and to N Spain - they were the first cruising yacht after 1945 to sail down there, even though the waters will still mined!! to Arcachon and Santander, etc. Frank was the man who knew how to sail and handle a large yacht, Eric liked to work the helm... the 3rd hand worked on the sail handling and equipment, all made very easy by the mechanical gear that Eric had had fitted. Clover was a very kindly yacht to sail.
from about 1947 or '48, Brian joined the Merchant Navy as AB and travelled to Africa, Australia, NZ, Med etc for the next 40 years... Eric used to correspond with Brian's mother and tell her of his cruising plans, so that Brian could join the cruises sometimes. I asked whether any of that correspondence might survive and Brian said no, sadly... Eric did not keep a ship's log, which is quite surprising...
Watch this space for the full video.
Clover's Original Sail Plan vs. Current Dimensions
True to our vision for her restoration, Clover is returning to a gaff-rig. In the 1970's she was converted to a Marconi masthead rig; 14 feet of Douglas fir was added to her mast, and 3 feet was taken off her boom.
Her original sail plan as shown in a 1938 issue of Britain's Yachting magazine looked like this:
Her resultant plan today, given that we have shortened the mast and retained the boom as altered in the 1970's, would look like this:
A number of issues present themselves. First, the resultant sail area is 100 s.f. less in the mainsail. This has the combined effect of driving the lateral Center of Effort farther forward and slowing the boat down, giving her a large amount of weather helm; how much is difficult to project. The boat has a 50 ton displacement, which requires the sail area to drive her. On the other hand, she has a long full keel to counteract a large amount of lead in the Center of Lateral Effort, and may do just fine with a reduced sail area.
Also of interest is the difference in the staysail stay, which results in a loose footed staysail with an offset between the tack and the forward end of the staysail boom. Clover's samson post came later in her life, which accounts for the shift in the position of the staysail.
What to do? It will be interesting as we look into this further to decide whether to take the current dimensions of the boat or to make further adjustments to get her closer to her original configuration.
Recently the good people of Westpoint Harbor and the Demere Family hosted WBFV’s Board members in celebration of OCEAN QUEEN V becoming the flag ship of the harbor. Over 100 guests came out to celebrate. It was a gorgeous day of getting to know each other, touring OQV, and other beautiful boats that call this lovely harbor, Home. They even had a special craft beer created just for the occasion!
All of us at WBFV are so happy to have OQV and all involved in her care, in support of our programs to bring the beauty, peace, and therapy of wooden boats to veterans.
2021 At a Glance
44 Veterans Introduced to the Sport of Sailing during a year of COVID restrictions
1,420 volunteer hours
1 Trip offshore to the Farallon Islands
4 Sailboats Added to the WBFV Family
1 Sailboat added to WBFV via Vessel Donation
I Veteran scholarship awarded for Sail Training
1 Veteran Recommended for acceptance into IYRS School of Boatbuilding
Here are the many accomplishments this wonderful foundation was able to complete this year on its journey toward a national sailing and restoration organization for veterans:
Finish Deck for D-Day Event
Mast Re-shaped and Repaired
Basic Electrical begun - schematics and AC/DC design
Cockpit Improvement Phase begun
Boat moved to Richmond to facilitate stepping the mast
Cockpit Phase completed
Schematics and Parts List
Carl Moyer Grant Application Submitted
Stepping the Mast; Beginning the engine re-power; rigging the boat
Mast stepped in Richmond and boat moved for re-power.
8/21 Board Appreciation Get-together aboard CLOVER
Metrics and Scorecard Established
Drafted Business Plan and Funding Plan
2020 Tax Filing
2022 Budget Planning
Present 2022 Financial Plan
Created Cmte Charters
Complete Board Skills Matrix
Report ofSkills Gap Analysis
Added 4 Members on Cmtes
Created Outreach and partnership overview plan
6/6 - D-Day Event
Latitude 38 Article
8/26 - Chamber Event in Fairfield
10/3-10 Fleet Week
10/13 St. Francis YC Speaking Event
10/23 - Gold Star Family Event
11/13 - Veterans Day Event
$2500 milestone in Giving Tuesday
6/19 - Bay Sail (Rascal)
7/21 - Farallones (Rascal)
8/8 - Bay Sail (RASCAL & SUNDA) with STP
8/28-9 Receive SUNDA and bring her to her new berth
9/11 - RASCAL & SUNDA sail
9/25 - SUNDA sail
10/9 - Navy Fleet Week (RASCAL)
10/16 - Jessica Cup (St. Francis YC) - Cancelled
11/12 - SUNDA sail
11/13- Annual Fundraiser
Here are the Goals for 2022:
We envision a bright and impactful future for Wooden Boats For Veterans. Our location in the Bay Area can grow with additional boats that can be donated and refurbished by veterans. These boats and their crews of veterans can be deployed for more missions of service and workforce development. The quality of life for more veterans in the bay area and Delta can be a reality. This can lead to additional WBFV chapters in other areas of California with bays, rivers, and lakes.
WBFV will continue to build impact and deliver valuable service in the following ways:
Thank you for your support of our mission to give back to the veterans and future veterans who have sacrificed to defend our nation.
Terry founded WBFV in 2014 to build a community of veterans and their families around wooden boats.
Service, Sailing, & Community