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Stone boat yard front office

Stone Boat Yard was really my alma mater. It still stands as one of the best jobs of my career, but there's a lot more to it than that. It was for me, my undergraduate education, starting a couple of years after I'd dropped out of art school. I worked there for just three years, although it seems longer than that, just on the basis of how much I grew while there, and how much learning I packed into the time.

It was, of course, a place where I learned a vast array of technical disciplines. But more, it was where I picked my life’s major, where I realized that my career lay in building things. It was a place where I learned how to learn, how to dig out knowledge and to study on my own. It was where I learned to work with other creative people in groups and coalitions to create larger results than a single person alone could achieve. I learned to trust other people to do their part of a job. It was where I built things of size and complexity a quantum leap above anything I’d ever done before in my life, suddenly on a scale that was on a professional plane. I learned I could do far more than I thought I could.

Group Photo
Photo credit: Acamar Photo, Alameda California

The day of the launch for the 58' ketch Natoma. Left to right, standing: Jimmy Linderman; me; Marc de Millengire (behind me, went by Karl at the time); Jack Ehrhorn; Joe Orowski; Phil; Jim Linderman (Jimmy's father); John Linderman (Jim's father); Chuck Gorch (on ladder) Dave Shaw; John Whitsett; Bill Zemer. Front Row, left to right: Cindy; Doug; Johnny Gunther. Absent: Lester Stone; Bud Shaw (Dave's father); Harold. If anyone knows the missing last names, please let me know.

The boat yard experience was much more than a job. I learned not just about what it took to build great things, but also the business structure of what I was involved in. I learned the real world skills of how to gauge the value of each piece of work I did, in dollars and cents, against the time it took to do it. I learned about the connections and relationships my work had with my own self, my coworkers, my foreman, his boss, the customers, the vendors who supplied us, and even the trade magazines who were interested in the work there at the yard. I learned about the business model that made a successful and robust enterprise in a field of technical endeavor.
Stone Boat Yarc circe 1985


I bought my first house while I worked there, and my son was born during that time.  I made at least one lasting friendship there.  The boat yard launched my adulthood.  I only really grasped it’s full significance in my life a few years ago when they finally closed the gates after 153 years continuously in business. 

The technical stuff, well, I haven't needed to work on any part of a wooden boat since leaving the yard in 1976.  But the ability to learn similar skills has always come easily since.  And I graduated: one thing I learned was that my problem solving ability and other thinking skills gained at the boat yard would be transferable to other fields of endeavor.  It shaped my life as no other experience, before or since.  It took the place of the college experience that was on another path I didn’t take.

group photo
Photo credit: Acamar Photo, Alameda California

With the sloop Rolling Stone, Standing, behind the staging: Me; Doug (next to me); Joe Orowski; Jack Ehrhorn. In front, left to right: Bill Zemer; Johnny Gunther; Bud Shaw; Chuck Gorch; Phil; Marc Millengire (went by Karl at the time); John Whitsett; Dave Shaw (Bud's son)
The longer story of how I came to work there, what I learned, and what I took away is on another page: The Boat Yard Story
     
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