Altair was designed by R.P. Derring and the original owner, and built of steel by Wm. Schwartz in Wisconsin, in the early 60’s. She was sailed from Chicago to Bahamas via the ICW, to Nova Scotia, to the U.K., to the Mediterranean via the canals of Europe, back to West Indies, through the Panama Canal, to San Francisco, to Alaska, and to Seattle where the previous owner purchased her. In Seattle, she was stripped to bare hull, and completely restored, then sailed down the west coast, through the canal again, to the Caymans, and to Florida. She left Florida in April of 2006, and is back out cruising “about” the world.
She, and the original owners, are mentioned and photographed in the book “Cruising Under Sail”, by Eric Hiscock, c 1965.
After Altair had transited the Panama Canal, the first time, and had sailed up to San Francisco, the vessel went trough a series of sales. In San Francisco during the Vietnam war, the boat’s documentation was “surrendered” on 5/8/1975. At the time, having a “documented” vessel meant that your federal taxes were forgone on your property, but at the expense of leaving your vessel vulnerable to seizure by the Federal Government for purposes of national security during times of war. This could include “use” as a military vessel, or simply cutting the steel into scrap to make bullets. As a form of protest, the vessel’s documentation was “surrendered” (possibly burned).
The new owner sailed it to Alaska where it stayed for a time in Elfin Cove (in the islands near Juneau).
Later it was sailed to Seattle. Somewhere outside of seattle it was acquired by Elmer N. Lago, who had it towed to Bainbridge Island where he pulled it out of the water and planted it. Elmer began telling tales of his sailing adventures that included everything that the original owners(the Grey’s) had done. His tales and wisdom seemed so great that he eventually became president of the Seven Seas Cruising Association. After his death, it was discovered that not only had he never sailed Altair around the world, but he had never really sailed at all. He sent hundreds of would be cruisers out into the world armed with his armchair wisdom and book knowledge. According to Marta (the last owner before me), there is a plaque on the bar/hotel/restaurant near where Altair was resting saying something to the effect of : “Elmer Lago, Master Storyteller”.
When Elmer died, Marta bought the boat. It had been neglected for quite some time, so Marta stripped everything out, ground the entire hull down to metal, sandblasted it, zinc sprayed it, and built everything back up over the next four years, including building the cabin top, the aft deck area, the mast, and everything inside. The interior hull was sprayed with a two part industrial foam, applied by an old guy named Klause who shook slightly because the mixuture that was applied was toxic and contained cyanide. Klause had been working with the substance for a long time, and was a master at evenly laying down layer after layer of the insulation. The substance is only toxic before it has completed drying. When the boat was rebuilt, Marta tried to stay true to the original design, copying most things exactly. She was an amateur woodworker, so she designed and constructed all of the interior joinery herself.
In 1994 Marta set off down the pacific coast, cruising through Central America, through the Panama Canal, and eventually to the Cayman Islands. Most of this was single-handed, with her dog Skipper. It was on the passage to Cayman when Marta and a female sailing friend who had by chance joined her for the passage, were caught in Hurricane Lenny. Altair faired well, with no major damage, and made it to the Caymans. In the caymans she met with family and got work to replenish her dwindling cruising funds, bought and installed the new diesel engine, and met her current husband Al. Some time in 2002/2003 Altair was sailed to Fort Myers, Florida, where she lived until we found her, still being sailed from time to time and last taken out by the owners. While in Fort Myers, Altair survived a near miss from Hurricane Charley, riding it out tied up to the dock and mangroves on the canal behind Marta’s house.
On January 10th, 2006, Altair was purchased by the nearly 30 year old world traveler Nathan, with the intention that he and Ana would return Altair to a seaworthy state, and sail her. Altair has spent the last two years sailing around the North West Caribbean and is currently headed up to the Chesapeake, so that Nate and Ana can earn some money so that they can continue their adventure.