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by Dave Lucas – Bradenton, Florida – USA

Roger Allen and the Buffalo Maritime Center

Rahj left us here in Fla and went up to Buffalo the get something started there. He's a genius at getting grants, free buildings, lots of help and tons of money. I can't believe that the people here in Manatee County let him go. They should have bent over backwards to get him to stay here but no, some politicians can't see beyond their next election. Roger was a perfect fit here at the hut, he always said what he thought and to hell with the consequences; us old retired guys can do that but it tends to annoy bosses sometimes.

Here is the latest from him:

You wouldn't believe how bad it really is! There's so much snow blowing around outside right now that I can't see the trees 25 feet in front of the house. They're warning folks that if you let your skin be exposed outside for more than 30 seconds you're likely to get frost bight. Brutal and as nuts as you say. ;o)

Hey Captain Dave, Still up here hanging out in the snow. After three days of it it's still falling right now. We're supposed to have about 2 feet of it down in the Valley but we haven't been able to get away from up here to go look. Work is crazy busy. This past week we started getting our machine shop together. We have a Bridgeport milling machine, 3 metal lathes, a surface grinder, power hacksaw, small metal chop saw, a 10 ton arbor press, a universal precision multi grinder, 2 serious drill presses, and some other stuff. All donated and all in great condition. Looks like Howard must have taken care of it. Otherwise we're still waiting on some pretty big grants that will let us fix up the outside of the building, and do some work on the inside as well. Still getting stuff together for the bronze foundry but am hoping that will happen shortly after the New Year. We're closer to getting the contract to build the 65' Erie Canal Packet Boat and I have a 21' cat ketch that I'm lofting up starting next Tuesday. The model shop is coming along and the Antique and Classic Boat Society folks have moved all 13 of their boat restoration projects into our middle shop. Everything from Chris Craft runabouts to a 38 foot Cabin Cruiser called a Liggett that was built in the 20s. We've got 9 kids from a local Charter School in building 3 little flatiron skiffs 2 days a week for two hours each day. Great kids too. I've also just finished up a project where we had 20 kids for three solid weeks from the local trade school doing demolition and rebuilding for our office area, really great hard working kids and they did a great job on the insulation (lots of insulation) and drywall. We've got a 23' No Mans Land double ender that we're doing a cold molding job on and a Kayak going together in the main shop. We also have the 30 Bristol Channel cutter hull that is slowly being turned into a War of 1812 Sloop of War replica. Crazy busy as I said. ;o) Lisa is busy with her new real estate business. Sold 4 houses in her first 6 months which supposed to be pretty good. She still loves it up here. Thanks for the good thoughts. Miss you guys. Rahj


I was 27 and my brother Charlie was 29 in 1975 and we wanted a big sailboat to party and take wild women out in. We hung out at the Tampa Sailing Squadron and sailed a lot with the "old guys" who had big boats. We wanted a big boat fast and didn't have any money. This didn't stop my brother, he can do the impossible. We picked out a simple, shallow draft hull from Howard Chapelle's "American Small Sailing Craft" and started building. The only considerations in construction were cheap and quick. These are the only plans we had to start with and this is the boat we ended up with 11 months later. It turned out to be the perfect shallow water boat. It had no plumbing, inboard engine, electrical system, kitchen, bathroom or debt. It did have a huge interior with lots of cushions and play space. We just took the things you would take on a camping trip. It was fast and fun, turned out to be the party boat for the whole squadron. Helen and I took our honeymoon in it. Named it "HELEN MARIE". The moral to the story is keep it simple and fun if you're looking for a boat to go sailing in.

That's an eight foot dingy pulled up on her deck.

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