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Dockwalk’s 20th Year: Tales of Time

Sep 29th 16
By Hillary Hoffower


In the last installment of “Dockwalk’s 20th Year,” veterans of the industry reminisce on the best tales from their experiences — the funny, the memorable, and the life changing.  


What’s the most memorable or significant experience over the course of your career? 


“In the early nineties I had the unique opportunity and honor to serve one of the first Russian clients on the Côte d'Azur. The yacht on which I was a captain, [the] Russian gentleman bought in a few hours. After a very busy season, the question was, what is the best brand name in the world? Of course, my answer was Feadship. The very next day we were in his private jet en route to the Netherlands meeting the yard people. To their great surprise (yard), the question was whether the Russians are buying yachts? Before the end of the week, a contract was signed for the mega yacht project!” — Capt. Baldo Gjurasic, 80-meter build project 


“My best memory was from the early ’90s. I was in Newport, Rhode Island, for the summer on a large sailboat. We were moored out by Fort Adams near the J boat Shamrock V. I would ride the launch every day with the crew to the mooring Field, so I got to know them pretty well over the summer. I was invited to 

sail aboard and then asked to crew in the Newport Classic Yacht Regatta. I got to meet Elizabeth Myers, the owner of Shamrock V and visionary behind the 

resurrection and restoration of the J Class as well as many professional sailors that day.” — Capt. Chas Donahoe, M/Y Tera-Byte 


“I was extremely fortunate to work for a world-famous musician who treated us really well. He wrote an album on the yacht. He brought family, friends, musicians on the yacht and also insisted we all, the crew, were to come ashore when they did and visit ruins in Greece and Turkey, or tour each Caribbean island we visited going to nutmeg factories, sugar cane factories, visit each of the islands in the Seychelles that we sailed to, the list goes on….” — Chef Polly  


Taking the motor yacht Black Knight, a former 1983 America’s Cup Committee boat to Cowes, England, including the Med, with 36 classic 12 meters for the Sesquicentennial (150th Anniversary) of the America’s Cup with royalty as cargo. 

Thank you, Charlie Dana, for that memory and your inspiration as Commodore of 

the New York Yacht Club. I left M/Y Continental Drifter II after four years of grand adventure for twice the work load and half the pay to be a part of it.” — Capt. Chris Harris, M/Y Cachee 


“Near-death experiences are the ones that come to mind. Being whipped off the back of a towed dinghy and watching the mother ship start to sail away, listening to the whish of a 212² hawser passing an inch behind my head, mountainous seas, and no engine or sails off the coast of Portugal, the guy in a bar in Athens who said pay up OR pay up, that block that hit me in the head. Of course, those were early experiences. In truth, the good experiences are so numerous as to pale into insignificance but they still leave a smile on my face.” — Capt. David R. Pines 


“I've been fortunate to have had many memorable experiences over the years. 

In 1980, I had delivered the owner of a large Hinckley sailboat to his host's Palm Beach dock for an evening party.  While waiting for the owner to return (somewhat like a chauffer waiting); late in the evening, we had an unannounced showing of the craft to Jackie Kennedy Onassis.” — David Smith 


“If I had to pick one, I would say that sailing out of Falmouth Harbour, Antigua, on board the schooner Adela in March 1998 to begin the planned voyage around the world was an unforgettable experience. The captain and crew of Adela had many friends in Antigua, and there were numerous farewell events in the days preceding our departure, which all added to the build up and excitement. Personally, I had to pinch myself at times to believe that I was actually going to be sailing around the world on board such an amazing yacht. Many of us had already been crew together on board for a long time, some since when the boat was rebuilt and relaunched as Adela at Pendennis in Falmouth, Cornwall. We were used to sailing the boat in all conditions, and were a close crew. On the day of departure, as we left the dock, and slowly made our way out through the crowded anchorage, first one and then another yacht gave a blast on the ship’s horn until it seemed every yacht in Falmouth was sounding [its] horn in farewell. Looking around at the other crew, you could see the emotion and tension of the long awaited departure in everyone's faces. To add further poignancy to the moment, the volcano at Montserrat was also erupting, and the air was full of volcanic ash from the dust cloud. The volcano created a dramatic backdrop to our departure. It felt like a spectacular send off, and was a fitting accompaniment to the sense of adventure and anticipation that we all felt on board as we sailed for the Pacific and beyond.” — Capt. Greg Butler-Davis, S/Y Victoria 


“After a bitter argument with the skipper, the deckhand prevailed and purchased a twenty dollar natural sponge to clean the vessel (a small sailing yacht build in Taiwan). We were becalmed in the middle of the Indian Ocean for some days. The deckie lost the precious sponge overboard; listening only to his sense of duty (and his fears of skipper's retaliation) he jumped overboard and swam to retrieve his treasure...but the yacht only seemed to be unmoving; she was still slowly drifting at maybe half a knot. Having swum a distance to his sponge, he could not catch up with the boat and started to scream. Fortunately, after what seemed an eternity, the skipper showed up in the cockpit, gunned the engine and salvaged both sponge and crew. ‘Whoa, Skip, happy you heard me shout!’ ‘I didn't, I just came out for a pee.’” — Jacques Maeder, M/Y Paolyre 


“When I ran Monte Carlo in [the] early 2000s we had lots of Hollywood actors and singers on board. Kind of entertaining being entertained by an entertainer, if you will. Rod Stuart taking us out for drinks at the Eden Rock, Mariah Carey and her eccentricities of only playing her music while on board. Getting caught fishing in a park zone with Pierce Brosnan and son. Talking music with Roger Waters. Plenty more...” — Capt. John Olson 


“My first two transatlantic trips within five days of each other. I sailed aboard Never Say Never in the 1997 Trans-Atlantic Challenge from NYC to Lizard Point, Cornwall, UK. It was a cold, rough, and wet race. Never Say Never was forced to drop out due to rig damage. I spent a few days in Falmouth and then hearing that a captain I knew was on a new job in Southampton, I hopped on a train to go say hi and see a bit of the English countryside before returning home to Florida. Upon meeting him I was invited to do the delivery on that vessel MIKADO (47-meter ketch), back across the Atlantic to Florida via Madeira, Azores, and Bermuda. I jumped at the chance, and it was a memorable voyage, including a practice helicopter evacuation with the UK Coast Guard and a real helicopter evacuation with the Azorean Navy, another story.” — Capt. Karl Joyner 


“Definitely surviving Hurricane Hugo aboard an 87-foot Sportfish in the British Virgins on the hook. Never so glad to see the sun and calm water after that experience.” — Capt. Tedd Greenwald 


“Cruising Alaska and British Columbia whilst it was beautiful and the wildlife and scenery amazing. I also remember the navigating be[ing] challenging due to rapids, logs, fog, ice, and very, very deep anchorages [more than] one-hundred meters deep within 1.5 cables from shore.” — Capt. Vaughan Hill, M/Y 11.11




Photo: Capt. Tedd Greenwald 

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