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Any story telling session among sailors out here on the West Coast will not go long before someone mentions Sterling Hayden. Writer, Actor, Father, and mostly Sailor, he was a larger than life character who touched the lives of many, but perhaps especially those concerned with boats and sailing. So it was with Sterling and Wanderer. She was launched as the Gracie S. She was named for a niece of her first owner, sugar baron Claus Spreckels.
But that time was drawing to a close and the steam schooners were fast replacing sail. So she was relegated to the life of a pilot boat in San Francisco, were she worked the harbour entrance under cut down rig for 52 years. Between being owned by Sterling, the Gracie S. One especially interesting detail was the corner of a teak skylight coaming rotted next to the fir deck which was still sound. Garden outlined her general arrangement….
The after 12 feet is Lazaret with access through a door under the main companionway. Next forward is the engineroom to port of the mainmast and a messroom to starboard. Construction scantlings……. Rail cap and top timbers are teak.
In defiance of a court order, aboard were his four children, a mostly amateur crew, but a good hand in Spike Africa as mate, along with his family. The California court claimed Wanderer was old and rotten, too small and dangerous to take innocent children to sea.
Yet these are the ships that do the work, year after year, no holds barred when it comes to weather. Eventually Sterling sailed Wanderer back to Sausalito, and he moved ashore to write a book called Wanderer; an autobiography named after after his ship or his life. Wanderer was chartered and sailed twice more to the South Seas with young crews of escapists.
Then in the dark on November 1st of , rounding the southern tip of Rangiroa Island in the Tuamotus, she went hard aground. In 20 minutes the 11 crew-members abandoned ship in a rubber boat. She was a total loss almost instantly in the high surf on a coral reef. Her skipper, William King, stated afterwards that he should not have been there.
But Wanderer was were she belonged, sailing the South Pacific. Your email is never published nor shared. New design in power , sail and naval architecture services. Powered by WordPress.
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Fire in Sausalito
Any story telling session among sailors out here on the West Coast will not go long before someone mentions Sterling Hayden. Writer, Actor, Father, and mostly Sailor, he was a larger than life character who touched the lives of many, but perhaps especially those concerned with boats and sailing. So it was with Sterling and Wanderer. She was launched as the Gracie S. She was named for a niece of her first owner, sugar baron Claus Spreckels. But that time was drawing to a close and the steam schooners were fast replacing sail.
The movie actor with the face of a wooden Viking—and the acting ability generally associated with that substance—has dropped the wheel of his famous schooner long enough to produce an autobiography. When amateur actor turns novice author reason dictates that the same motive force is at work in both jobs— the need for money. Indeed, Hayden is honest about it. Hayden is honest about everything. It is the honesty of the man that saves the book.
For a free drink, each one offered to tell me the story. And now, a new book by Lee Mandel, sheds some additional light on this gripping sea saga. In the 50s, Hayden was a reluctant movie star embroiled in a brutal custody battle with his ex-wife Betty. He decided that drastic action was called for. After turning down several film opportunities, Hayden decided to act on his instincts. In March of , he began to arrange his break from Hollywood. In June, he hired a first mate, Spike Africa, an unconventional free spirit not unlike Hayden.