Friday, May 06, 2005

"Houses are for landlubbers." - Warwick "Commodore" Tompkins Jr.

During my nearly five years living and in San Francisco I learned the legend of the 85-foot North Sea Pilot Schooner Wanderbird originally owned by Warwick Tompkins Sr. Both Spencer Tracy and Clark Gables famously voyaged aboard the schooner, but it was home to the Tompkins family, Warwick Sr, his wife and two children, Warwick Jr and his sister Ann. The Marin Independent Journal covers now 73 year old Warwick Jr’s “retirement,” and recounts some of the history of his family as well as his long, well established association with boats as a Sausalito-based rigger, consultant and the “most experienced delivery skipper in the world.” The sum of Warwicks life is a genuine tableau vivant of sailing. His recollection (in the article) of the watershed moment where he decides he's had enough of caring for other people’s boats, resonates with me. It’s this exact feeling that led me to quit crewing on the Maxi (and to postpone my goal of a USCG Captain’s license), though his subsequent decision to design/build his own boat "Flashgirl" in no way mirrors my descent into sterile, fluorescent lighted cubicledom. Warwick Sr wrote a tremendous account “Fifty South to Fifty South" detailing the Tompkins family's 1936 voyage in Wanderbird from 50°S to 50°S in 28 days - well worth the price of admission. Have a great weekend!

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