By Bruce S. Kershaw
By Bruce S Kershaw
Russ was the first, and is so far the only fellow BYYB
member I have had the pleasure to meet face to face. He is also a fellow Floridian, but
from "the other coast".
When we realized we were both at about the same stage of
construction, (Russ has since passed me by.) and both still needed to purchase our
glassing supplies, we arranged to meet at Raka, in Delray Beach, about a two hour drive
for each of us, but from different directions. We made our purchases, then headed across
the street to a sandwich shop, where we had a nice chat before heading home.
Russ lives in Melbourne, Florida along with his wife of sixteen
years, Marilyn, and his daughter Jessica, who is eight.
He works for Collins Avionics, a division of Rockwell
International. Hes been with them for about nineteen years, and is on a team that
designs navigation and landing systems for commercial and private airplanes.
Melbourne is on the eastern coast of central Florida, about forty
miles south of Cape Kennedy, where he says they have a spectacular view of shuttle and
satellite launches. We also talked about the sonic booms the shuttles make when landing.
Being further away, and only if the weather is clear, all I get to see is a puff of smoke.
Ive only heard the boom once.
Between Melbourne and the Atlantic is the Inter-coastal Waterway.
This is where Russ plans on doing the vast majority of his sailing. The ICW runs north and
south along the Florida east coast, for about as far as youd care to go. It is about
a mile and a half wide, where it passes through the Melbourne area. He does plan on taking
his Weekender out on the ocean, but only after extensive trials.
When asked how he got into sailing, Russ said, "Because of
the area, it is just about guaranteed that there is at least one sailboat race every
weekend. Ive found that it is really easy to get signed on as crew, which is exactly
how I got started in sailing many years ago. Over the years, I think Ive crewed on
just about every kind of boat there is, but never as skipper until I bought a Sunfish at a
garage sale, for ten bucks. I spent most of a winter refurbishing it. I raced it for a
couple of summers and even won, now and then, but I ended up selling it to pay for our
diving lessons." By this point he says, the sailing bug had really sunk its
Around the end of last September, the sailing season was about
over, and Russ was tired of crewing for someone else. He wanted to skipper his own boat
again, and he had always wanted to build one. With a few web searches, and allot of
reading, he came upon Stevenson Projects.
The three things that drew Russ to the Weekender were its
really good looks, promised ease of construction, and low cost.
Russ claims to be the guy Tim, the tool man, Taylor was created
from. He even has two "Binford Tools" hats. He says Norm Abrams just made him
sick with frustration since he would never be that good, or have a workshop like that. Now
he says, "Getting this far is somewhat of a miracle. Even my wife, who wasnt
too sure I could pull this off, is starting to cheer me on. That, or she just wants the
Because of the size of his garage, Russ next boat
("Yes there will be a next boat, just dont tell my wife.") will have to
built somewhere else. Hes hoping to go to WoodenBoat School up in Maine, later this
year or early next year. He is thinking he would like to try his hand at building a
"One of the benefits of building the Weekender," says
Russ, "has been the association. I want to thank all of the guys who put allot of
effort into making it a reality. I am convinced that I couldnt have built this boat
if it hadnt been for the BYYB. My personal goal is to continue to be a member, and
hopefully re-pay the help and support that I received, to someone else who is just getting
started. Its amazing. When I first started this whole adventure, I was scared to
death that I wouldnt be able to do this. I think that because of the great design of
the Weekender, and the BYYB, Im actually going to finish this thing and get it in
I have to agree with everything Russ says about the BYYB. Without
it and the BBS, I would be missing out on all the knowledge and information that is
helping me to build my boat. I also never would have learned that Russ and all the other
builders in Florida, who havent joined up yet, were out there.
So keep watching. Soon youll be hearing about the
"Florida Privateers" fleet, and all the fun were having!
Oh, and Russ... That thing about getting the wife to go along
with buying a big boat and living aboard... Lets keep in touch and compare notes
about that one. Maybe between the two of us, we can figure out how to convince them.
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