Gouvernail

Brought On Some Tears

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My dear old buddy Bill Howard passed on last year. 

He was a proud, thorough, brilliant guy who did things like building runways for B-52s to use, designing dams, and the man could overbuild anything. 

In his later years his mind was failing him but he still loved to “fix up” his Columbia 9.6. It didn’t need any fixing. 

As his boat says BIll was senile in so many ways, and I understand cleaning it out after ten years of love administered by a senile father /grandfather would be just plain brutal for the family...

I hauled it out and brought it to my shop with the understanding , “I am going to need to do this in short bursts on days when I can handle the emotions.”

The family response was, and remains, “Thank you!! We simply couldn’t do it. Please take your time.”

so....

Today  I spent a few hours cleaning and sorting. (Realize, all this stuff is in the boat.)

There are about twenty winch handles. Eight were still in new plastic display wrappers. Bill probably dropped one overboard. 

There were at least  six new sets of dock lines. There were five -three packs of nice big bumpers..(. the ones with the blue ends)

Everything having to do with preparedness, had been purchased three to five times. 

There are multiple rebuild kits for winches and many filters for the diesel. 

There are multiple sets of tapered wood plugs for pounding in through hulls should a hose break.

somebody probably knows why there are forty  caribiner hooks stashed all over the boat.  I don’t. 

Many tools were there in triplicate or more. 

I am certain he forgot and re-bought. In fact, I had a deal with the folks at west marine to call me if he walked in so I could tell them If he already had something.  

 But ... Bill knew about Cabellas, Academy, Sears, and various boat dealerships. 

Bill had a San Juan and Columbia Dealership in the seventies and at least the old  guy’s at most dealerships knew him. Younger guys sold to the nice man who knew EXACTLY what he wanted. 

There must be forty life jackets on the boat.

anyway ... before he was senile he was mechanically brilliant. As he bought this old boat in 1979 there are remnants of Bill’s very best ideas.

so... I picked up an old flat green box with a faded permanent marker label.

it said “Complete set of 3/8 sockets SAE and Metric up to 1” and 25mm, and a magnet on a string. Open with this side up.”

so I turned it over to look.

On the bottom it had bright yellow  lettering, probably done with  a tiny artist’s brush.

”DO NOT OPEN! THIS IS THE BOTTOM!

It takes a magnet on a string and most of a six pack to retrieve all these sockets from the bilge.”

I am certain that was written after all six foot six of Bill had spent an afternoon retrieving scattered sockets. 

He  not only made sure it wouldn’t happen again, he made a plan for when it did. 

That Bill has been gone since the nineties. 

Anyway. That did me in. I quit for the day  and worked on other projects. 

My goal is now to get the boat back to how he kept it in the eighties and nineties. I want to make it so that finding that tool box will bring a smile to his son’s face. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Great story. Death is such a bitter experience with moments of sweet as we sort through the best memories. My dad left 6 flip phones, and a whole lot of weed. His mind was perfectly sound though.

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4 hours ago, Gouvernail said:

My dear old buddy Bill Howard passed on last year. 

He was a proud, thorough, brilliant guy who did things like building runways for B-52s to use, designing dams, and the man could overbuild anything. 

In his later years his mind was failing him but he still loved to “fix up” his Columbia 9.6. It didn’t need any fixing. 

As his boat says BIll was senile in so many ways, and I understand cleaning it out after ten years of love administered by a senile father /grandfather would be just plain brutal for the family...

I hauled it out and brought it to my shop with the understanding , “I am going to need to do this in short bursts on days when I can handle the emotions.”

The family response was, and remains, “Thank you!! We simply couldn’t do it. Please take your time.”

so....

Today  I spent a few hours cleaning and sorting. (Realize, all this stuff is in the boat.)

There are about twenty winch handles. Eight were still in new plastic display wrappers. Bill probably dropped one overboard. 

There were at least  six new sets of dock lines. There were five -three packs of nice big bumpers..(. the ones with the blue ends)

Everything having to do with preparedness, had been purchased three to five times. 

There are multiple rebuild kits for winches and many filters for the diesel. 

There are multiple sets of tapered wood plugs for pounding in through hulls should a hose break.

somebody probably knows why there are forty  caribiner hooks stashed all over the boat.  I don’t. 

Many tools were there in triplicate or more. 

I am certain he forgot and re-bought. In fact, I had a deal with the folks at west marine to call me if he walked in so I could tell them If he already had something.  

 But ... Bill knew about Cabellas, Academy, Sears, and various boat dealerships. 

Bill had a San Juan and Columbia Dealership in the seventies and at least the old  guy’s at most dealerships knew him. Younger guys sold to the nice man who knew EXACTLY what he wanted. 

There must be forty life jackets on the boat.

anyway ... before he was senile he was mechanically brilliant. As he bought this old boat in 1979 there are remnants of Bill’s very best ideas.

so... I picked up an old flat green box with a faded permanent marker label.

it said “Complete set of 3/8 sockets SAE and Metric up to 1” and 25mm, and a magnet on a string. Open with this side up.”

so I turned it over to look.

On the bottom it had bright yellow  lettering, probably done with  a tiny artist’s brush.

”DO NOT OPEN! THIS IS THE BOTTOM!

It takes a magnet on a string and most of a six pack to retrieve all these sockets from the bilge.”

I am certain that was written after all six foot six of Bill had spent an afternoon retrieving scattered sockets. 

He  not only made sure it wouldn’t happen again, he made a plan for when it did. 

That Bill has been gone since the nineties. 

Anyway. That did me in. I quit for the day  and worked on other projects. 

My goal is now to get the boat back to how he kept it in the eighties and nineties. I want to make it so that finding that tool box will bring a smile to his son’s face. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Excellent ! 

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Bill wasn’t a hoarder.. He was so senile he kept buying stuff multiple times. 

I sent him back to the store with many thousands of $$$ worth of fittings 

He knew his memory wasn’t right. His wife finally hired a full time “companion.”  Bill called him “My babysitter.” 

*****

Today I ran across one of his creations from the mid nineties. 

He had a couple self tailing Lewmar 43 winches for his Genoa sheets. 

This is a loose quote of his explanation : 

“I am not as strong as I used to be and I really like using the highest gear ratio for trimming the sheets. I can’t sit down and crank all the way around the circle. With a regular winch handle I would have to lift the handle out and reposition it in the ideal position where I could simply pull.  I built these”

he produced two - half inch drive Craftsman ratchet handles for use with sockets. . They were about 18 inches long.  He had modified a couple 1/2 to 3/4 adapters so they would fit in his winches. 

He created two winch handles he could pull to use the best gear ratio, then simply push pack a few clicks and pull again 

 

He told me, “They don’t work anywhere near as well as I had hoped but I almost had a great idea.”

****

This thread really heeds a few photos of some of his creations. Maybe over the next few days.... 

 

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You could buy ratcheting winch handles - I had a couple of Barients a few years ago. I think they were meant for reel winches.

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Actually... I am enjoying the trip duwn memory lane 

and sharing it here because some people might be inspired to be a little bit like him. 

****

He bought the boat  from Steve Colgate  when Steve started switching his sailing school over to the Colgate 26. 

This 32 foot boat has all the rigging fir a fifty foot boat. Bill and I didn’t days and days trying to figure out how to use every feature. 

Example: He had two sets of spinnaker sheets so you could move the pole while flying the chute with the other line. It was silly overkill but fun just to do it. 

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Story made me kind of sad, yet thanks for sharing. Many old sailors with stories reminds us how the world was once and is now.

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My Mom went through several episodes of hoarding, which I had to clean up.  There was definitely a pattern - certain items that she'd buy over and over again.  I kept thinking that there must be some special meaning to those items, but have never figured out what it was.  

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You honor your friend with these stories - tell them and keep his memory alive for another generation - That generation of boaters is aging out and it is doubtful they will be replaced,   at all.

 

 

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huge KUDOS Gov , may the bluebird of happiness crap all over you . :D

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You're truly a good and loyal friend Gouv.

That's becoming harder and harder to find as everyone seems to become more selfabsorbed.

Carry on.

 

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My dad bought medicine by the case. When the jar he was using ran out he bought another case.........We threw away many thousand dollars of old supplements after he died.

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Good on ya, Gouv. Thanks for telling the story so well. We all should be so lucky as to have a friend like you.

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