After moving from
Grand Rapids, MI to Newport, RI in 1971, to operate a gallery quality Leaded
Glass business, Don began restoring a series of small wooden sailboats for
personal use. This led to repair work for others in the local boatyards,
learning his trade from shipwrights. In the mid 1970's, Fall seasons were
dedicated to yacht deliveries from Newport to various points on the Eastern
seaboard from Virginia to Florida , the Bahamas and Virgin Islands. Spring
seasons were spent sailing these yachts back to Newport. The documented time as
deck hand on these voyages was used to obtain an Operators License for the
Atlantic seaboard to 100 miles offshore.
In 1978-79 Don was
Captain on the Block Island Pilot boat , delivering Pilots to Oil Tankers, Oil
drilling rigs, and U.S. Navy vessels out of Newport ,RI, destined for ports from
New York to Boston.
After surviving two
winters on the North Atlantic, Don accepted a job as Captain on a 60-foot, 1968
Director ketch in Nassau, Bahamas. Outside of monthly cruises for the Florida
based owners, one year was spent continuously varnishing and painting gloss
coats, as well as repairs to the cold-molded, composite construction.
In 1980 Don took on
the job of restoring a 68-foot, 1947 Colin Archer ketch that had run aground in
the Bahamas, beating a 25-foot hole through her port side. After being righted
and brought to Florida , this vessel underwent an extensive two and a half year,
$440,000.00 restoration with a crew of seven under Don's direction.
In 1983 Don was at
the Norfolk School of Boat building, working under shipwrights and directing a
crew of 23 students on the restoration of a 117 foot 1913 Stowe & Stowe ketch
that had simply gotten old.
From 1985-90, Don
leased a floor of one of the Herreshoff Marine Museum buildings in Bristol, RI,
to start up his Glass business again but ended up gutting and rebuilding 19th
century houses and restoring the many Chris Crafts his father had begun
collecting, as well as many local sailboats.
In 1988 Don came to Grand Haven to direct the
complete reconstruction of
a 54-foot, 1921 William Hand schooner which required mostly new framework and
100% new 8/4 Honduras
planking , returning to his shop in Bristol, RI twice a year to produce carved
glass panels for a line of 200-foot dinner cruise ships built at Blount Marine
in Warren, RI.
Don moved his shop to Grand Haven, MI . Two months after purchasing the building
Don went to Maui, Hawaii to rebuild a 40-foot trimaran that had slipped anchor
on a calm day and gone up on the beach and torn out the bottom. A 12 x 35 foot
section of the main hull was replaced using West System ® laminations, in a
composite construction hull. A diesel conversion in sport fishing boat followed
this. Two months were spent sculpting for a local ceramics artist.
From Dec. 1991 to
June 1996 Don worked with Macatawa Bay Boatworks as an independent contractor.
During this 5 year period Don worked on the framing and planking of over forty
Don’s new shop is
in Manistee, Michigan, with 3 crew, and wooden boat restorations, mostly
runabouts, have risen to over 120 boats. An extensive photo library is kept to
show what does, and doesn’t last, in runabout construction and repair. It is
this gift of ‘hindsight’, seeing what lasts 20-years or more, that really allows
a learning curve in material use, as applies to contemporary construction of
antique and classic boats.
As a regular
contributing writer for over nine years, Don has written 50 articles for Classic
Boating Magazine on the subject of Mahogany Runabout restoration and repair
procedures, as well as articles for the ACBS Rudder and various ACBS Chapter
newsletters. Don is routinely invited as a featured guest speaker for ACBS
National and Chapter Seminars and meetings, as well as individual Boat Club
seminars and boat shows.
Don has written two
books for MBI Publishing, based on the Classic Boating articles, on Mahogany
Runabout restoration and repair, published in 2003 and 2005.