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Shu

John Shumaker - Founder of Yankee Yachts

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I'm not sure if this is the right place for it, but here goes:

My father, John L. Shumaker, Jr. died Monday, October 5. He was 86.

He started his boatbuilding career in 1962, building the Sparkman & Stephens Designed 24' Dolphin in a yard owned by Joe Cummings near Marina Del Rey, California. The first boat was our family's, named Yankee. He built 3 more at that yard. The construction of those first 4 boats was fiberglass, but the deck, cabin trunk and all interior furnishings were wood. The masts were hollow laminated spruce. He and my mother decided to name the company Yankee Yachts, and moved it to an old steel building on Hindry Avenue in Inglewood, California in the mid 1960s. Subsequent Yankee Dolphins were build with fiberglass decks. While at the Inglewood plant, he commissioned S&S to design a 30 foot auxiliary, the Yankee 30 and a re-design of the Interclub dinghy, the 11-foot Minuteman.

In 1969 the plant was moved to a new facility in Santa Ana, California, where Dolphins, Yankee 30s and Minutemen were built. Added to the line were the S&S designed one-tonner Yankee 38 and a 1/4 tonner, the Yankee 26. The Dolphin was replaced with a 24-foot Seahorse trailer-sailer, designed by Robert Finch. The Yankee 28, a Robert Finch design was also built. At it's height, Yankee Yachts employed more than 100 employees, but in the 1974 recession, the business failed. After liquedating the company, Dad and Mom moved my sister and I to rural north San Diego County, and started raising avocados and horses. However, John always considered himself a boatbuilder. In 1999, he and I started a 14' planing dinghy design out of wood, one of his dreams being to build a wood boat from scratch.

 

I'll try to show photos and more details in subsequent posts. Any that remember Yankee Yachts (it was a long time ago) or have stories of my father are welcome to post.

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Sorry for your loss Shu.

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my condolences Shu and to your family. I am just about to get started doing some major storm repair work on a Yankee Dolphin at my YC.....love the boat, the lines and how well it sails.

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Thanks Raz'r.

Here are a few photos of his final project, the Shumaker 14. The first two photos show it with the original, single trapeze rig. The others show it sailing as an International 14 (it measured in!). The boat was a light air killer in the 14 fleet.

 

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SB, Decapo:

One of my Dad's sales techniques for the Dolphin was to take a client out for a sail and then casually leave the helm and sit on the cabin top while the boat sailed itself. The idea was for the customer to have a "hey, who's on the helm" moment.

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My friend Jim restored a Dolphin a couple of years back, and he has been killing it in the local PHRF fleet. He loves that boat, as do I. Very sorry to hear about your loss Shu.

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The boat that started it all, Yankee; Dophin hull No. 71. O'day built the previous boats.

 

 

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I've always LOVED the Yankee Dolphin, and remember a Yankee Dolphin named, I believe, Pharr Lap, in Alamitos Bay, that was absolutely beautiful!

 

I did the Guadalupe Island race in the 70's on an Islander 36. We came in first, a Yankee 38 came in second. I believe that the Yankee 38 then became the Catalina 38?

 

Sorry for your loss. Yup, some of us are old enough to remember Yankee Yachts. But I'll always remember Pharr Lap, as the prettiest boat on the gangway by a mile!

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VFTB,

Yes Frank Butler bought the tooling for the Yankee 38 in the liquidation sale. I was fortunate to sail in a bunch of one-ton series on Warlock, the company boat. I was 15, small and agile. I did bow. Overnight races around various channel islands off So Cal. No life jacket, no tether. It was a different era.

 

I'm ashamed to admit that I was a little embarrassed by the Dolphin as a kid. It didn't have the long overhangs the "cool" boats had. Now I must agree it is one of the prettiest boats ever.

 

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I met your Dad when the first Yankee 38, Whimsey Tres, was at the Long Beach boat show. He was a bit dismayed that we had a Ranger 37 on order. We had a lot of good races over the next couple of years.

 

I have always been attracted to the Yankee boats, especially the Dolphin, Y30, and Y38. That recession was a tough one for a lot of socal yacht builders. A couple of us bid against Butler for the 38 tooling, which was very well done. Of course Butler had deeper pockets that day, hence the Catalina 38.

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Here is the graphic on the transom of our boat. That same graphic, modified slightly, became the company logo.

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I met your Dad when the first Yankee 38, Whimsey Tres, was at the Long Beach boat show. He was a bit dismayed that we had a Ranger 37 on order. We had a lot of good races over the next couple of years.

 

I have always been attracted to the Yankee boats, especially the Dolphin, Y30, and Y38. That recession was a tough one for a lot of socal yacht builders. A couple of us bid against Butler for the 38 tooling, which was very well done. Of course Butler had deeper pockets that day, hence the Catalina 38.

Did you have the light blue Ranger 37? I remember racing against it on Warlock; we were pretty evenly matched. Pretty boat.

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Here is the maiden voyage of the Yankee 30. This was hull No. 2, bought by Lindy Thomas. Hull No. 1, Independence was bought by John Linskey and campaigned very succesfully in So Cal. I forget why hull No. 2 was launched first. Lindy Thomas, my Dad, Olin Stephens, me, and I think one of Lindy's crew were aboard that day. This photo (sorry about the quality) was used for the brochure cover. For that cover, Ben Sears, the illustrator my Dad used, cut off my leg because it hid one of the cabin windows!

 

*edit* I think I recognize Ned Keonig, my Dad's sales manager sitting in the cockpit in front of Lindy Thomas on the helm.

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Left to right: John Shumaker, Olin Stephens, Lindy Thomas. Note Olin doing the flexed bicep pose. :lol:

Lindy took the boat back to Chicago and campaigned her successfully on the great lakes.

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Sorry to hear that - your dad built great boats. I nearly bought a 38 years ago but someone beat me to it while we were driving down to Shilshole from Vancouver.

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We have a Yankee 30 at our club that has sailed trans-Atlantic and through the Med back to Tampa Bay.

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Sorry for your loss. We loved our Dolphin. Lots of great memories with the kids and camping out. One of my favorite little boats, it was pure pleasure to jump on after a big boat race. Well built, most are still around.

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Sorry for your loss. There are a lot of Chicago area people that I'm sure are taking

a moment to pleasantly remember their time in your father's boats.

 

Lindy is still around Chicago. Saw him on "The Island" after the Mac Race this year.

And I think Wilmette Harbor still reserves moorings for Dolphins only.

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sincerest condolences for your loss steve. you honor him with every build you perform

 

 

kurt l.

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So sorry to hear about your Dad. He was a talented boat builder and built some of the highest quality, classic designs of his time.

 

If my memory serves me correctly, the original "Dove" that Robin Lee Graham started his famous circumnavigation on was a Yankee Dolphin. He finished that voyage in an Allied Seabreeze 35. Correct me if I'm wrong. I remember the Dolphins because they looked like a slightly down-sized Tartan 27, which is the boat that I grew up on. I think S&S just stretched the Dolphin when they drew the Tartan 27.

 

And wasn't the Yankee 38 the production version of Lightnin', the boat that Ted Turner so successfully sailed for a period of time?

 

Edit: I just looked at a photo of Dove and it has an "L24" insignia on the sail. So probably not a Dolphin, but it looks like one.

 

And I am wrong on the second boat too. "The Return of Dove" was a Luders 33, which looks very much like a Seabreeze.

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Steve, Sorry to hear of your fathers passing. Thankful I got to meet him at least once. You do him honor with each of your beautiful builds that you have completed and are working on.

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So sorry to hear about your Dad. He was a talented boat builder and built some of the highest quality, classic designs of his time.

 

If my memory serves me correctly, the original "Dove" that Robin Lee Graham started his famous circumnavigation on was a Yankee Dolphin. He finished that voyage in an Allied Seabreeze 35. Correct me if I'm wrong. I remember the Dolphins because they looked like a slightly down-sized Tartan 27, which is the boat that I grew up on. I think S&S just stretched the Dolphin when they drew the Tartan 27.

 

And wasn't the Yankee 38 the production version of Lightnin', the boat that Ted Turner so successfully sailed for a period of time?

 

Edit: I just looked at a photo of Dove and it has an "L24" insignia on the sail. So probably not a Dolphin, but it looks like one.

 

And I am wrong on the second boat too. "The Return of Dove" was a Luders 33, which looks very much like a Seabreeze.

The original Dove was a Lapworth 24.

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Very sorry for your loss.

There were a few builders during this period that have the reputation of having 'done it right'.

Yacht Yachts was was one them.

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Shu,

I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your father. I used to race on a Dolphin in CT. It was a beautiful boat, handled well, and was a real mini-might in the fleets it competed in.

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Anyone else remember the yellow D24 Sea Fox owned by Lindy in Chicago? My dad had a little Cal 24 Sweetie Mouse and the battles with Sea Fox were slow motion but exciting epics. Lindy's Y30 Goblin eventually became Good News, and I had the good fortune to race on her a couple times as a youngster. Finally, here in Seattle the Y30 Moonshine continues to dominate its class, proving that boats can be well built, gorgeous and seriously cruiseable and don't need to require prods or a football team hanging over the lifelines to win races. If anyone ever calls a Y30 a 4 knot shitbox doesn't get it.

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I met your Dad when the first Yankee 38, Whimsey Tres, was at the Long Beach boat show. He was a bit dismayed that we had a Ranger 37 on order. We had a lot of good races over the next couple of years.

I have always been attracted to the Yankee boats, especially the Dolphin, Y30, and Y38. That recession was a tough one for a lot of socal yacht builders. A couple of us bid against Butler for the 38 tooling, which was very well done. Of course Butler had deeper pockets that day, hence the Catalina 38.

 

Did you have the light blue Ranger 37? I remember racing against it on Warlock; we were pretty evenly matched. Pretty boat.

Yes. Wings. We did have good tight battles! Some of the closest ever.

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I met your Dad when the first Yankee 38, Whimsey Tres, was at the Long Beach boat show. He was a bit dismayed that we had a Ranger 37 on order. We had a lot of good races over the next couple of years.

I have always been attracted to the Yankee boats, especially the Dolphin, Y30, and Y38. That recession was a tough one for a lot of socal yacht builders. A couple of us bid against Butler for the 38 tooling, which was very well done. Of course Butler had deeper pockets that day, hence the Catalina 38.

Did you have the light blue Ranger 37? I remember racing against it on Warlock; we were pretty evenly matched. Pretty boat.

Yes. Wings. We did have good tight battles! Some of the closest ever.

 

I recall one race where we were tight reaching into LA harbor. We were a boat length or so directly behind you. You had your starcut chute up and we had our double-head rig. You were seriously overpowered, with the rudder at a ridiculous angle. I can still see the water cascading over the top edge of the rudder. In spite of that we still couldn't pass. Maybe a few knots more wind would have done the trick... Anyway, that vision really got me to thinking that maybe these tiny transoms, long overhangs and wide waterline beams (i.e. early IOR) don't make for the fastest and most controllable boats.

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Here's Dad standing in front of a Yankee 38 nearly ready to ship. That's a Yankee 30 in the background.

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Thanks everyone for your kind words. My mom and I were talking a few days ago, and summed up the reason they weren't able to keep the company solvent: He was making Palmer-Johnson quality boats and trying to compete price-wise with Islander, Ericsson, Colombia, Cal, etc. Not that those were bad boats, his just had a certain level of attention to detail. For example, all the rudder hardware and keelbolts were Everdur silicon bronze. No stainless steel below the waterline.

 

He often took me on warranty repair work. Usually, it was a deck leak, so we would be rebedding genoa track or a stanchion. It was a two-man job, so having me along helped keep the overhead down. Years later, he told me the leaks were usually on one side of the boat. He said the guy on that side probably got kudos from the foreman for finishing quickly, while the guy that did it right had to spend more time cleaning up the excess sealant. I think it was a constant battle of his to get the workers that came from one of the other manufacturer's (all those named above were within a few miles of each other) to understand the level of quality he expected.

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So sorry to hear about your Dad. He was a talented boat builder and built some of the highest quality, classic designs of his time.

 

If my memory serves me correctly, the original "Dove" that Robin Lee Graham started his famous circumnavigation on was a Yankee Dolphin. He finished that voyage in an Allied Seabreeze 35. Correct me if I'm wrong. I remember the Dolphins because they looked like a slightly down-sized Tartan 27, which is the boat that I grew up on. I think S&S just stretched the Dolphin when they drew the Tartan 27.

 

And wasn't the Yankee 38 the production version of Lightnin', the boat that Ted Turner so successfully sailed for a period of time?

 

Edit: I just looked at a photo of Dove and it has an "L24" insignia on the sail. So probably not a Dolphin, but it looks like one.

 

And I am wrong on the second boat too. "The Return of Dove" was a Luders 33, which looks very much like a Seabreeze.

The original Dove was a Lapworth 24.

 

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Steve, Sorry to hear of your fathers passing. Thankful I got to meet him at least once. You do him honor with each of your beautiful builds that you have completed and are working on.

Thanks Brad. I was working on the latest boat this morning. It seemed the right thing to do. That and posting on this thread give a great deal of comfort.

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House,

You are right, My Dad said the Tartan 27 was a "blown-up" Dolphin. i.e. each dimension was proportionally increased.

 

On the same note, he was dissappointed that S&S designed the Yankee 30 with 9' beam, but the Tartan 30, designed concurrently, had 10 feet. The Yankee 30 was the better boat though.

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Shu,

I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your dad. His boats were certainly beautiful and well built. When I was a young buck I was lucky enough to sail quite a bit with Hugh Rogers on the 38 Whimsey Tres out of Los Angeles YC. Also remember John Reynolds Yankee 30 Ghost. The 30 was one of my favs, beautiful lines.

 

Rob W.

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Here's the last boat my father had, A Laser 28. It was also named Zapatero (shoemaker in spanish). We sold it recently, here is the new owner enjoying it now.

 

The boat was quite tender when sailing short-handed, so Dad had the Farr office design a bulb, which he added to the keel in his usual craftsmanlike manner.

 

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Shu,

I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your dad. His boats were certainly beautiful and well built. When I was a young buck I was lucky enough to sail quite a bit with Hugh Rogers on the 38 Whimsey Tres out of Los Angeles YC. Also remember John Reynolds Yankee 30 Ghost. The 30 was one of my favs, beautiful lines.

 

Rob W.

The Yankee 30 was designed prior to release of the IOR rule if I recall correctly, but I'm sure Olin Stephens had it designed to the rule. I think this was what he had hoped an IOR boat would look like. It had much better manners than more extreme subsequent designs.

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Shu, your dad must have been a good guy - he built sail boats and didn't cut corners. I'm sure you'll miss him. My dad died 35 years ago and I miss him every day.

 

BC

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House,You are right, My Dad said the Tartan 27 was a "blown-up" Dolphin. i.e. each dimension was proportionally increased.On the same note, he was dissappointed that S&S designed the Yankee 30 with 9' beam, but the Tartan 30, designed concurrently, had 10 feet. The Yankee 30 was the better boat though.

The Tartan 30 looks like it was was just designed for MORC, which had a 30' LOA limit in those days.

 

The rig and hull were definitely non IOR.

 

When they put an IOR rig on them, the Tartan 30c rated over 24', so they were 3/4 tonners.

 

I suspect S&S were having a two way bet with the Yankee 30.

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Thanks everyone for your kind words. My mom and I were talking a few days ago, and summed up the reason they weren't able to keep the company solvent: He was making Palmer-Johnson quality boats and trying to compete price-wise with Islander, Ericsson, Colombia, Cal, etc. Not that those were bad boats, his just had a certain level of attention to detail. For example, all the rudder hardware and keelbolts were Everdur silicon bronze. No stainless steel below the waterline.

 

He often took me on warranty repair work. Usually, it was a deck leak, so we would be rebedding genoa track or a stanchion. It was a two-man job, so having me along helped keep the overhead down. Years later, he told me the leaks were usually on one side of the boat. He said the guy on that side probably got kudos from the foreman for finishing quickly, while the guy that did it right had to spend more time cleaning up the excess sealant. I think it was a constant battle of his to get the workers that came from one of the other manufacturer's (all those named above were within a few miles of each other) to understand the level of quality he expected.

 

I recall that it was pretty widely understood back then that Yankee went under because the boats were "too well built". Your comments confirm it.

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My condolences as well.

 

My first two Chicago to Mackinac Races were as foredeck on an Yankee 30, named Good News (1976 and 1977). The first year we were 3rd in section and the second year we won our fleet. I have absolutely great memories of that boat and still have friends that I originally made on Good News. And some of their children later came to sail with me on my boats.

 

Robin

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Condolences to you and your family. The Yankee 38 was one of my favorites when I was growing up. We had one at our yacht club. Everything just seemed perfect on it.

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Shu, sorry to hear about your Father's passing. Condolences to you and your family.

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Very sorry you lost your Dad Shu. Sad times.

Thanks for recounting the history of Yankee Yachts. Very nice story.

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Steve, Sorry to hear of your fathers passing. Thankful I got to meet him at least once. You do him honor with each of your beautiful builds that you have completed and are working on.

Thanks Brad. I was working on the latest boat this morning. It seemed the right thing to do. That and posting on this thread give a great deal of comfort.

 

Here's a photo of said boat project from this morning. Another I-14. Rather mindless work filling the nail, screw and staple holes. Always takes me three rounds of epoxy filler and sanding to get it right. But it's good just sanding and filling away, knowing that the work I'm doing is making the hull faster (fairer) and prettier, and thinking about my Dad.

 

I couldn't get BWR's link to work. You can find the threads in the General Forums of the International14.org site. One is "My New Boat" and another is "Boat in a Box". Be forwarned, they are long threads. You can also see Kris Henderson's boat building magic on the B6 in the same forum under "The New B6".

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A life well lived. The best any of us can hope for.

 

Sorry for your loss, but you no doubt have a wealth of great memories and tangible links to your father in the form of the boats he built to sustain you.

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Took a trip to the mountains with my wife. I could say that we went away just to reflect and all that. But the truth is, we wanted to go camping, and I just wanted to get away from my responsibilities for a few days.

 

I found these photos of the Minuteman dinghy on the interwebs. I think that's my Dad and I sailing it. I recognize the life jacket on the kid, and the position of the right hand looks like my Dad's. The Minuteman was an update of the Interclub by S&S. As pedestrian as it looks by today's standards (heck, it was pedestrian by the standards of the time), it was quite quick and planed easily. The major fault, in hindsight, was that even though it had a false floor, the cockpit was not self draining. Few dinghy's from that era had a self-draining cockpit though, as I recall.

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Yankee 28:

This one was designed by Robert Finch. Notice the larger, more powerful transom compared with the Yankee 30, 38, and 26. I didn't like it back then, but it looks good to me now.

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Finally, the Yankee 24, or Seahorse. This was a trailer-sailer, and replaced the Dolphin. It had a pop-top for headroom. This was also designed by Robert Finch. The boat never appealed to me. Here is a brochure, and it looks like it had a lot of well-thought-out details, like the fold-out transom, which served as a bracket for mounting the outboard. I recognize Yankee's sales manager, Ned Keonig in the brochure cover photo.

http://www.dolphin24.org/images/yankee24bro.pdf

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Condolences, Shu. I sailed with John and Ev Wilson on Double Trouble a number of times and it was always a good time. Lots of great stories. Your dad and/or Ev would drop off bags of avocados at my office and we'd chat about what they were up to.

 

Sail on, John. You were one of the really good guys!

 

Cheers,

 

Chris

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Snapper,

I sailed with Ev on Double Trouble a few times myself. Ev died a few years ago himself. He put his hand to boat design and construction himself, when Double Trouble was T-boned in a race and his insurance compane totaled the boat. He repaired the damage, and while he was at it stretched the bow forward and widened the transom for a longer, more powerful waterline with a finer entry. He also added a bulbed keel, complete with kelp cutter. He did a beautiful job, but had trouble with the paint job and never finished it. His widow sold that boat to someone shortly after his death. It should be a great boat.

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A local PM'd me about a more "colorful" side of my Dad. He could swear a blue streak. It was usually directed at at an item he was working with that was not cooperating, or the imaginary person or imaginary race, political persuation or religion of the person who manufactured the item. It was pretty frightening at times. I came to realize it was always directed at the thing, or someone "off camera", so all in attendance were safe from his effusion of vitriol. He was definitely not P.C. Kind, respectful, generous, yes. PC, no.

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Stu,

 

great amazing story, thank you. What do you think the volume was out of the Santa Ana shop in numbers of boats per year ?

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Stu,

 

great amazing story, thank you. What do you think the volume was out of the Santa Ana shop in numbers of boats per year ?

I think they were putting out one Dolphin and one Yankee 30 a week. Fewer for the other boats. I guess that works out to more than a hundred a year. I will ask my mom, perhaps she will remember, as she was very involved with the business side of the business.

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Never had the opportunity to sail on one, but I always thought the Y30 was a great looking boat. I was a teenager back in the 70s and thought if I could get myself a 30 I could go anywhere. Saw one in Fry's at Santa Cruz Island a few years ago, still looked good to me.

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Bump. In case any of my Dad's old friends and associates were away from their computers a couple weeks ago. I suspect most of his contemporaries don't do interwebs though.

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Thanks for the bump- I was away when this first came out. My condolences to you and your family.

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Great Read Shu! I just found this... The boat building is in your genes - I get it now.

 

One of my friends recently bought a Yankee 24. He's new to sailing and loves the boat.

See you on the water soon.

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Irrational,

Thanks. Which Yankee 24, the classic Dolphin, or the 70's era trailer-sailer Seahorse?

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dude,

The Yankee 30 was always stellar going to windward in big conditions, so I think a lot of them naturally gravitated to SF bay. I have a vivid memory of sailing our Yankee 30 close hauled in the usual 18 to 20 between the east end of Catalina and west end of San Clemente Island. I was 15 I think, and driving the boat with the wheel from the weather side. In spite of having a wheel, the helm was very sensitive. It was one of those special moments in the late afternoon, where the wind, waves and light were magical. The boat and I were in tune with the wind and we were carving our way up and over the quite substantial wind waves that occur in the westerlies offshore of California. I think it was what people call zen-like.

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Here's the Eulogy I did at my Dad's memorial service last Sunday. It has a little more detail than the opening post of this thread. Jim Hokansen, an excellent retired sailmaker who made the "factory" sails for Yankee was there with his wife Phyllis. Larry and Elinor Johnson, who bought their Yankee 30 about 15 years ago on advice from my Dad. They both had interesting stories to tell about my Dad.

 

Dad was born March 17, 1929, in what was known as the stone house in Liverpool, Pennsylvania, a small town on the banks of the Susquehanna River. His parents named him John Landis Shumaker, after his father. March 17 is St. Patrick’s day, so Dad grew up with the nickname “Johnny Pat”. He was the only boy, having 5 sisters; three older and two younger. Later his family moved 30 miles down-river to Harrisburg Pennsylvania. There he sang actively in the St. Stephens Episcopal cathedral choir, first as a soprano, and later as a tenor. At St. Stephen’s he met my mother, Portia Whitaker. In addition to his kind, likable personality, I think she fell in love with his amazing tenor singing voice. They started dating in the early 1950s. He being 6 years her senior, Mom’s adoptive father called him “grandpa”. With the war in Korea, Dad enlisted with the army, and was stationed in Nome Alaska as a radio operator, listening in on Soviet Union transmissions. While there, he formed a barbershop quartet, which won the All Army Singing Contest. He loved his experience in Alaska, but when his commitment to the Army was complete, he came back to Pennsylvania and continued courting my mother.

Under the GI bill, he started attending Dickenson College in Carlisle Pennsylvania. Carlisle was about 22 miles west of Harrisburg, but more importantly, only 19 miles west of Camp Hill, where my mother lived with her family. In 1956 he and Mom got married and not too long afterward they moved to Denver, Colorado, where Dad completed his education at the University of Denver, earning a bachelor of science in business administration. In Denver they bought a house, had me in 1958, moved to another house in Bowmar on the outskirts of Denver, and had my sister Elaine in 1960.

When my sister was 6 weeks old, they moved to Playa Del Rey, California, a coastal community in Los Angeles, where Dad took a position in the payroll department of North American Aviation.

Now you must understand that my Dad loved sailboats. It helped that my mom’s family had a small highlander sailboat, and in Denver, where his youngest sister lived, he started sailing small 15’ sailboats called Snipes with his Sister Nancy’s husband Don. Around 1962 or 1963, Dad started building a 24’ keelboat called the Dolphin. One thing led to another, and he ended up quitting his job at North American and started building the Dolphins commercially. The first one was our family’s. It had an eagle flying across the transom, with a banner reading “Yankee” grasped in its Talons. Dad was a meticulous craftsman, and the quality of the boats he built was one of the highest in the industry. Yankee was launched in 1965 I think, and one of my most vivid early childhood memories was going to Catalina as a family for a 5 day vacation on our little yacht. I loved to fish and Elaine loved to swim, so our many subsequent weekend trips to the Island are my most cherished childhood memories.

He also continued to sing, and was often called upon to sing at weddings of friends and acquaintances. Those are my earliest memories of his singing. It took me many years to appreciate his singing abilities, but eventually his voice was the standard against which I would measure the singing talents of famous tenors. I am prejudiced, certainly, but very few compare favorably.

Back to boats. His business, named Yankee Yachts after that first boat and my parent’s love for their country, continued to expand, and he moved the business to a larger facility in Inglewood, where my mother joined him as office manager, once both my sister and I were in school. He added a 30 foot keelboat and an 11 foot sailing dinghy to the line, and before long needed a yet larger facility. The company was moved to Santa Ana near the hub of the early 1970’s fiberglass boat building industry, and the family moved to San Juan Capistrano. Our latest family boat, a Yankee 30 was berthed in nearby Dana Point Harbor, which was brand new at the time. We cruised that boat, named Zapatero (Spanish for Shumaker), and raced the boat successfully. One particularly fond memory was an overnight race my Dad, I, and a few friends did from Dana Point around San Clemente Island and down to San Diego. We had a great time, and won our class.

While in San Juan Capistrano, my parents succumbed to my sister’s pleading for a horse, and before long the whole family had horses. After a year or so, I was the first to lose patience with these immensely strong beasts with the obedience quotient of a two year old, but Mom and Elaine continued stronger than ever. More on the horses later.

In the meantime, the company, Yankee Yachts, continued to grow, building 11, 24, 26, 28, 30 and 38-foot sailboats. At its peak, more than one sailboat was shipped from the Yankee plant a week, and over 100 workers were employed. Unfortunately, the 1974 recession hit Yankee Yachts particularly hard, and the company was liquidated. With the proceedings from the liquidation, Dad and Mom purchased some prime farming land in the hills east of Bonsall, and started raising avocados, as well as getting into the horse breeding business. At its height, they had more than 30 horses on the property, and Mom and Dad would travel as far as Idaho looking for good breeding stock. Mom and My sister Elaine also travelled all over the state showing quarter horses, earning various championships while Dad helped out, but kept his primary focus on the avocados.

Eventually, my parents got out of the horse business, and converted the horse pasture to yet more avocados. Dad renewed his interest in sailboats and bought a red 24’ trailerable sailboat named Farr Better, and also sailed with neighbors Ev and Nancy Wilson on their boat, Double Trouble. He also began singing in the Villageaires, a Vista-based barbershop singing group. A quartet, with Dad as tenor, formed within that group, and won a number of awards in various singing contests. During this time I married my wife Kim and we started bringing grandchildren into Mom’s and Dad’s lives, with Elaine getting married not too much later and adding yet more grandchildren. Now great grandchildren are coming onto the scene.

Meanwhile, Dad and Mom formed a trio and had as their accompianist Pat Stinton. They performed at various functions around San Diego county. Sometime in the 1990s, St Stephens cathedral, back in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, had a special celebration featuring its excellent choir. Past members were invited and a recording was made, featuring Dad as Tenor soloist. Mom has the recording. In his mid 60s at the time, it was some of his finest work.

Dad sold Farr Better and bought a 28 foot sailboat, making extensive modifications and naming it Zapatero, just like our Yankee 30 many years ago. And just like the old Zapatero, the new one was berthed at Dana Point. Mom and Dad, and sometimes me and other members of the extended family would sail the new Zapatero over to Catalina, where Mom and Dad had a condo. The condo became a place where the now quite large family would gather for a week or weekend (with the help of nearby rented condos) every year, usually over the fourth of July. It became a family tradition. Dad loved to just relax at the condo, spending hours reading, or using binoculars to check out the many sailboats coming and going from the island.

Dad was not satisfied buying boats built by others however, and wanted to build a boat completely out of wood. He bought some plans for a 14’ sailboat and encouraged me to modify the design, based on some ideas I had. That was another special memory for me, spending time with Dad building that boat. He also encouraged me to design a larger, 38-foot sailboat, but his health issues kept that project from getting beyond the material procurement and set up phase.

When I was in my late teens, I decided to become a follower of Jesus Christ, about the same time Dad joined the Mormon church. We had some interesting theological discussions. Over two decades later, in a memorial service similar to today’s celebration of life, Dad indicated to the pastor conducting the service that he had decided to follow Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

Perhaps, not readily evident from this history of his life, family, and accomplishments is the special man he was. Kind and helpful, always trying to help. I think he conveyed a sense that he really liked being with you. When I was working in La Jolla, and Later in Carlsbad, Dad would drive down frequently and take me to lunch. We would talk about all sorts of things, boats mainly, but what I remember is the two of us just enjoying the time together. Dad had a temper and at times could erupt in a string of profanity, usually directed at some uncooperative object he was working with, or directed at the imaginary person that manufactured the object. It could be frightening at times, but when you realized it wasn’t directed at anybody in the room, you could relax a bit and wait for the storm to subside.

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Sounds like a life very well lived.

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Small world - I was born & raised in the Harrisburg area and know St. Stephens well - it was near my dad's office. Good write up Shu.

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Again, thanks for the kind words everyone. I was talking with my Mom last night, and she told me something my Dad would say at Yankee which I had not heard before. Whenever the conversation turned to things that would compromise the sailing qualities, quality, or strength of the boats, he would say,

 

"The ocean doesn't understand that."

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Excellent line - hope it isn't copyrighted. :D

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