Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Randy Boatshu: The Story Continues

This is a story that is actually hard to write. Why you ask? Well, it's long and complicated and to fully appreciate it you have to have read several articles that were written at different times. Below are the articles for those of you who want the full story:
  • Cruising to the 63 - A Boating History 10/20/14
  • More about Magnificent Wheeler Yachts 8/17/14
  • Unbelievable coincidence - Days 189 to 191 - Stuart, FL 4/9/11
  • Nantucket Adventures: Exploring Nantucket & Wheeler History 7/20/14
This story starts with an email from a gentleman named Steve Deane. Steve explained that a friend of his had ran across my blog and had discovered my interest in Wheeler motor yachts. Attached was a photo of the throw-able marine life ring from the Randy Boatshu.  Steve wrote "a picture says a thousand words I guess."

I guess!!!

Marine throw ring from the 65 foot Wheeler yacht the Randy Boatshu
But his next two statements blew my mind. 

Statement #1: "I think from when I owned her." 

Statement #2: "One of my high school friends was Jimmy Pompeo and it was his grandfather (Pompeo Motors) who had her built in 56 and did her haul-outs at Quincy Adams Yacht Yard in Town River"

You will appreciate the significance of these statements after I provide the background below.

BACKGROUND:

In the late 50s, I became involved with Lester Glawson, the captain of a 52 foot Wheeler motor yacht named the Randy Boatshu. Lester was friends with my uncle, Louis Schlager, the owner of an Old Town Lapstrake 20 runabout with a 75 HP outboard that I "captained."   

Explanatory Note: I took Louis and his friends fishing on weekends during the summer, which involved driving the boat and cleaning up the fishing mess. In exchange for my "services," Louis allowed me to use the boat during the week and paid for my gas. This was quite a deal for me at age 16. I had the free use of a brand new lovely little "speedboat" (it could do 25 MPH). Today, having passed the exams for the 100 ton captains license, I now know that what I was doing was, technically, illegal according to USCG regulations (i.e., Louis' paying for my gas was compensation). Oh well at least the statue of limitations has run-out.


This is the only artifact I have ever found for the Lapstrake 20
I was fascinated with Lester's knowledge of the sea and eventually I became the "unofficial" first mate on the 52. The 52 was owned by the Randolph Manufacturing Company, the maker of a boat shoe from which the yacht derived its name (and, which, at the time, competed with the Sperry Topsider). Bobby Cohen was the president of the company and he used the yacht to entertain clients, most of whom were shoe buyers. It was great fun. I got to go on evening cruises to local restaurants, like Hugo's Lighthouse in Cohasset, and weekend trips to to places like Nantucket, Martha's Vinyard and Falmouth on Cape Cod.

I actually rode out Hurricane Donna with Captain Lester, a category 1 storm, in September of 1960 on the 52 footer. But that's another story.

The following year, Bobby Cohen replaced the 52 with a 65 foot Wheeler "Promenade Deck Motor Yacht with Cockpit" (see advertisement below). It was 1961 and I just graduated from Newton High School. That summer I worked as "official" first mate on the 65 - a heady experience for an 18 year old. However, when the summer ended, Bobby invited me to help Lester take the boat to Florida as first mate on a full time basis. I declined and went back to School (which in retrospect turned out to be a very good move - as I would not be living on a 63 foot motor yacht).


1956 Advertisement for Wheeler 42 and 65 foot Promenade Deck Motor Yachts
I lost track of Lester, his lovely wife Annie, and the Randy Boatshu after the summer of 1961, which also marks a long time hiatus of my boating adventures.

Fast forward to 1984 in Chicago. I sold my airplane (a 1969 V35A Beechcraft Bonanza) and bought a 1977 38 Hatteras Flybridge Double Cabin which I cruised on Lake Michigan for two summers. A divorce in 1986 brought that boating saga to an end.

My boating adventure resumed in 1999 with the purchase of 1993 Sea Ray 440 Sundancer in partnership with my good friend Jim Kargman. It continued with the solo purchase of a new 48 Sea Ray Sundancer in 2006. On October 3, 2010, six months after retiring from The Warranty Group (after a 38 year career), Diana and I departed on the 48 for the 6,150 mile Great Loop adventure (See over 100 blog articles).

The Great Loop adventure concluded on September 12, 2012 when we "crossed our wake" at Chicago's Belmont Harbor. Within two months we sold the 48 and contracted to build the 63 Outer Reef.

The construction of the 63 was completed in December of 2013 and she arrived in Fort Lauderdale on February 3, 2014. Seven days later, Diana and I signed papers and moved aboard. Construction of the 63 added over 100 articles to the blog.

In May of 2014 we arrived at Hingham Shipyard Marina for our first New England summer. In July of that year a serendipitous meeting took place with Jane Wheeler at the laundromat across the highway from the shipyard. Jane was the ex wife of Eugene Wheeler whose father had owned the Wheeler Shipyard that build the 52 and the 65. Serendipitous you ask? First, we did not frequent laundromats as we had a washer and dryer on board. The exception, that day, was to wash some small area rugs in their machines rather than ours. Second, there would have been no meeting if Kodi had not been there. Diana and Jane started their conversation when Kodi, our Social Director, greeted Jane. That led several weeks later to a telephone discussion with Eugene Wheeler where I learned that he had worked on the Randy while she was under construction. The meeting with Jane and the conversation with Gene led to the blog articles referenced above (which include photos and plans generously supplied by Gene Wheeler).

NOW BACK TO THE ORIGINAL STORY

Steve invited me to call him and I did. That's when I discovered that she had been built for Jimmy Pompeo's grandfather who at the time was the owner of Pompeo Motors. So it appears that Bobby Cohen bought the boat, used, from Pompeo. I thought Cohen had contracted with Wheeler to build her. Definitely new information.

I also discovered that Steve had followed Lester to Florida on a Chris Craft Constellation during a yacht delivery. I further learned that he came into possession of the yacht circa 1964 in conjunction with the unfortunate demise of the Randolph Manufacturing Company. The following year she was restored in Onset Massachusetts and then used by Steve in the charter trade. Steve sold her in 1968.

Steve's next recollections involve an incident in 1972 off the Outer Banks, perhaps Cape Hatteras, where the 65 encountered gale force winds and high seas. According to Steve, the yacht experienced warping of the hull and started taking on water. The Coast Guard dropped pumps and the boat was towed to safety into Morehead City. 

Explanatory Note: The 65 Wheeler was a wooden hulled unstabilized semi-displacement motor yacht. According to Steve, she was not built for open ocean conditions. In fact, Steve was clear that the bi-annual north south transit was always made on inland waters. That means that Lester would have followed a route that included Long Island Sound, The Delaware River, The Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, the Chesapeake Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway to Miami. Lester would have also carefully picked his weather for the transit off the New Jersey Shore. Apparently the subsequent owners were more aggressive and made runs on the open ocean. This is not a problem except if you encounter high winds and big seas which can happen when storms suddenly occur. 

Apparently she was successfully repaired after the 1972 incident. Steve said she participated in the 1976 NYC tall ships festival. His last contact with her was sometime in the 80s when he thought he saw her in a Miami Vice TV episode.

I asked Steve for any memorabilia he might spare and he supplied the Wheeler flyer above and Randolph Manufacturing post card that you see below with Captain Lester Glawson standing on the aft deck. I've been searching for a photo of the Randy Boatshu for years, Getting one with Captain Lester was a bonus.

Captain Lester Glawson in full regalia on the Wheeler 65 Promenade Deck Motor Yacht with Cockpit
from the photo of image of a post card supplied by Steve Deane

He also supplied the photo below of the Randy Boatshu in Florida fully decorated for Christmas. According to Steve, this photo appeared on the Christmas edition of a yachting magazine.


So, a VERY BIG THANK YOU to Steve Deane. Steve, I hope you enjoy this article and that it motivates you to search out additional memorabilia and, should the spirit move you, to write me about your ownership of this magnificent vessel and your friendship with Lester.

BELIEVE IT OR NOT: A coincidence is "a remarkable concurrence of events and circumstances without apparent cause or connection." On Friday July 21, 2017 at around 1:00 PM, Diana announced that the rug in the master head was again in need of cleaning and I volunteered to take it to the laundromat across from Hingham Shipyard. I arrived at the laundromat and moments later, at 2:17, Steve Deane called. Another fact.  I was sitting in the same chair that Diana sat in when she met Jane Wheeler, the ex-wife of Gene Wheeler, whose father owned the Wheeler Shipyard in New York. What are the odds of two conversations about a yacht from a by-gone era occurring in the exact same place. I plan to visit the laundromat every day from now on. Who knows who else will try to communicate with me (e.g., Bobby Cohen, Lester Glawson, Louis Schlager, or Mr. Wheeler himself)? I'd love to chat with any of them.

Written by Les.

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