I have always had a desire to tinker with things ever since I was a small child….
I use to take my toys apart and put them back together.
I grew up around boats and always seemed to have a tool of some sort in my hand. My father and his family were drawn to the sea. My Grandfather retired in Miami in the late 1940’s and bought a 40+ foot fishing boat spending his time between Havana and Miami. My father spent 12 years in the Navy was on the USS Hornet with Doolittle’s raid on Tokyo, and later Army Air Corps - pre Air Force on a Crash Boat (PT - Type boat for the Army) with his crew of orientals mapping the coast of Korea before the war. He settled in the mid-west and we always had boats. Between time on rivers, lakes, and trips to Florida I inherited a love for the water.
As a young man I was a motor head. Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s it was all about the muscle cars. President Nixon convinced me to join the service by gracing me with a low draft lotto number and I went into the Navy Seabees as a Construction Mechanic. Along with all the military training of a combat unit I was trained as a heavy equipment mechanic. I received plenty of experience of working on trucks, cranes, graders, bulldozers, earth scrapers, rock crushers …plus I learned about explosives and how to scuba dive. Although I was in the Navy and basically lived just a few feet from the ocean the only ship or vessel that I was on were old landing crafts that took us from Mainland Puerto Rico to Isla de Vieques, Puerto Rico.
I learned to Scuba Dive in Okinawa, Japan with over 100’ visibility - really great diving. Later while on Vieques Island I continued to dive and became interested in sail boats. Vieques had a great beach named Green Beach. Sailboats liked to harbor in the gentle curved pocket of the beach with it's clear water, white sand, and line of tall palm trees that provided shelter. That part of the island was near a deep underwater cannon with strong currents so the water was always clean and filled with sealife. I use to pull lobster, conch, and fish out of there several times a week. Yachting Magazine rated Green Beach as 1 of the 10 best sailing “gunk holes” of the time. People and sailboats of all types from around the world would spend a day to a week there. Once in a while I would meet some sailors and it seemed like a pretty cool life style. After I was out of the service I went to school and studied Oceanography at Florida Institute of Technology. I worked at several boat building companies as a lay-up person. Later I ran a boat building company for a while then I decided if your name is not on the plaque above the door outside it is not the best line of work. I enjoyed the work almost like a sculptor but not a good way to make a living. Right about that time is when insurance sky rocketed I was offered a chance to buy the company but decided to move on. I've been messing about with fiberglass ever since. I bought a Nacra Catamaran and taught myself to sail in a small Midwestern lake, then started racing sail boats soon after learning to sail. When I moved to Florida I sailed for a factory team and was exposed to a great number of excellent sailors, people I use to read about and now I was sailing with / against them. How cool was that for a Mid-Western kid!
I’ve restored more then my share of cars and trucks. I do it all the mechanical, motor, body, electrical, paint, and interior work. Later I had a hobby shop with a friend and worked there on my spare time on his race car, and several historic car restorations of cars that we owned. The race car was a MGB SCCA - E production car, a few of the restorations were a MGA, and 59 Porshe convertible. Usually the older or faster the more I like to work on them. It's funny I would always hear can you do my car fast and cheap....I just smile and say go to a MAACO paint shop I'm neither. My other thing I like is when they have to bend down and look sideways into the sun to try and find a flaw I'd say look out when I kick you in the butt you'll make a big dent with your head. I was gifted with the ability (obsession) to feel, see, and make surfaces smooth and flowing.
The shop next to me repaired / modified boats. Later he took in molds and did the layup for a 28’ go fast island boat, later a 31’ ocean fishing boat. Then after several years he took one of the boats and cut it into 4 pieces spaced them out and built his own mold out of the pieces the process took 2 years. After he built the mold he hit it big when his boat took off after a famous golfer bought one. Later he sold the company for millions and retired. So I’ve been around this stuff for a while. I learned a lot from the guys next to me always willing to let me watch, give me advice, and tips on how to do things.
I had the chance to visit some impressive boat building operations, meet with boat designers, read a lot about boat building.. I spent two years recently working for a software development and systems integration company that made interactive TV systems for the cruise ship industry. I was the Project Manager / Team Leader on two new Cruise ship builds at Fincantieri – Cantieri Navali Italiani shipyard in Italy. We participated in the build out of the ship. I basically saw a ship from the laying of the keel to shake down cruise. It was very interesting work. We were involved in the networking infrastructure, cabin electronics, and basically over every inch of the ship. I was also involved in several ship refits and surveys. My travels took me worldwide. So I like to tinker with boats, boat building, and old cars it's been in my blood for a long time...The Man Shed