More than 70 of my stories have been published in The Boston Globe, Hemmings, Sailing World, Fine Homebuilding, Newport This Week, and numerous digital magazines. I'm always looking for beautiful stories that have not been told. Sources are given the respect of a read back of the final story for accuracy.

Laser Sailor
Fall of 2015
SHABANG! Peter Hurley is back

Peter Hurley became the number one headshot photographer in the world by focusing on his career. But when the almost 45-year-old stepped on the scale in January of 2015, it wasn’t a pretty picture.

Hurley once won the O’Day Championships, the Laser Radial North Americans, and was a member of the 200 US Sailing team after finishing fourth overall at the trials. The man who was once 183 pounds of chiseled muscle had become 230 pounds of middle-aged spread.

He knew he needed motivation to return to fitness. In the past, there were only two things that motivated Hurley to hit the gym: racing Lasers and being a model, which was an attempt to fund his Olympic campaign.

Back in 1995, the famous fashion photographer Bruce Weber photographed Hurley for Abercrombie & Fitch, Polo, and other campaigns. Hurley hit it off with Weber who suggested he should give the other side of the camera a try.

By then, Hurley was friends with many other models, so he started shooting them in his spare time. In the Laser, tiny changes can make a huge difference in the outcome of the race. So too is the case in photography.

If the subject leans back instead of forward, their neck looks fat. If the photographer does not make the subject feel comfortable, the subject looks like a deer in the headlights instead of confident, approachable, and cool.

The most important training Hurley received as a photographer was his preparation for the US Olympic team as a sailor. Simply put, he stuck with what worked, abandoned what did not, and through trial and error, willed himself into becoming the most accomplished headshot photographer in the world.

But in January of 2015, his work behind the camera was not going to help him behind the tiller. The man who once modeled for Haagen-Dazs now looked like he had been eating barrels of Haagen-Dazs.

Hurley said, “I missed sailing the Laser. I knew age 45 was coming up, I was 230 pounds and the Laser Masters’ World Championships are going to be seven hours away at Cork, where I’ve sailed 10 times. I’ve got to get in shape, this is a no brainer. My goal was to hit 190.”

As a business owner, husband and father, Hurley was time starved. He had no idea how he was going to get into shape until one of his celebrity actress clients who was training for a feature film suggested he reach out to trainer Joel Harper.

Hurley said, “I never had a trainer before, I didn’t like them. But I was at the stage where I don’t like gyms, I don’t like running. So I did one session with Joel and the thing about him is having the support of my wife. It would be the two of us and sometimes a friend would come.”

Harper, who has just published a book, Mind Your Body by Harper Collins, trains his clients to listen to their bodies. He said, “Everybody is different. When I take on a new client, I ask them to work on a scale of 1-10. 1 is easy, 10 is hard.”

Harper’s first goal is to get each client “in balance.” Hurley had some shoulder tension from working with cameras, so stretching opened that area up. Next, he focused on hydration. His formula is take your body weight in pounds and divide it by two. That’s how many ounces of water you should be drinking a day. During strenuous activity, add another ten ounces per hour.

The workouts, which focused on legs and core, pushed Hurley into the 8, 9, and 10 zone of difficulty. As a former Olympic campaigner, Hurley was physically out of shape, but he was still mentally tough. “Peter had the focus and the discipline already. Peter had a deadline and specific goals. I told him how he had to eat and how he had to drink,” said the trainer.

Hurley got the result he wanted, proving once again that the best coaches and trainers are beautifully polished mirrors, reflecting back the energy and dedication the athlete puts into them.

As Laser sailing is an equipment intensive sport, it was time for Hurley to update his boat and gear. As an aspiring Olympian he was sponsored by Colie Sails, so he returned to the store to see if things had changed.

Clay Johnson, the owner of Colie Sails appreciated the Austin Powers time warp aspect of Hurley’s gear, but he figured it was time for an upgrade. Johnson said, “Peter was a fantastic sailor in the late 90s and early 2000s, but he was sailing a 20-year-old Laser with 20-year-old gear. He came in to get a new boat, and we upgraded all his gear and went over some of the new equipment options. We took out some purchase systems from his cunningham and vang. We streamlined his outhaul a little too, and I showed him a simpler, more effective way to rig up his hiking strap adjustment line.”

Then they turned to the clothing rack. “I set him up with the Zhik Power Pads II, Zhik Hybrid pants, and Zhik 560 boots. The advantage to the Zhik gear is that you can dress for the exact condition you have. If it's hot, you have your light-weight hybrid suit. If it gets colder, you still wear the pads but with a warmer suit. Maneuverability is also tremendously increased with the Power Pads. The Zhik 560 boots, paired with the new Zhik Grip II hiking strap, really let you connect to the boat.”

Hurley loved his new Laser and his new gear, but there is no substitute for time in the boat. He focused on three events leading up to the Worlds; a Saturday around-the-buoys regatta, the Orange Coffee Pot regatta, and a PHRF event where he finished 18th out of 31. With a chuckle, he said, “Hey, you do two Olympic campaigns, stuff can come back to you really quickly if you are in shape.”

Then it was off to the Laser Masters’ Worlds. As an artist, Hurley claims he is 90% therapist and 10% photographer. He feels the same way about sailing. It’s 90% mental, 10% mechanical. He said, “Going into the Masters’ Worlds, I didn’t have an expectation. At the beginning, I would have hoped to be in the top 5. As the regatta went on, the confidence built. By the end I felt good.”

There are many technical terms in photography including f-stop, shutter speed, and ASA, but the term Hurley is known for is, “SHABANG!” He said, “For some reason, I yelled “SHABANG!” in a video once. Whenever I would get a good picture, I would say, “SHABANG, that picture is awesome!” On the race course, if I win a race, I scream, “SHABANG!”

At the Laser Masters’ Worlds, Hurley won the 8th race of the series and a “SHABANG!!!” was heard all the way in the inner sanctums of the Kingston Penitentiary, which looks out on the lake. He also won two races at the Nationals in Brant Beach, New Jersey.

At the Worlds, Hurley was pleased to escape the wrath of the on-the-water judges, who handed out yellow flags for rule 42 violations like irate prison guards doling out solitary confinement to impudent inmates.

The return to sailing was also an opportunity to reconnect with old friends. Hurley said, “I’ve been sailing Lasers on the national level since I was 17. For me, it doesn’t matter how many years go by. If you’ve sailed against somebody for 28 years, they know you. I saw Peter Seidenberg and gave him a hug. He is a huge inspiration to me. The guy is 77 and he is still sailing a Laser. Being at the Worlds, seeing the guys I campaigned against was really cool.” In the future, Hurley would love to see his old friends on the water such as Stefan Warkalla, John Torgerson, Steve Bourdow, Nick Adamson and Andy Lovell.

Overall, Hurley is thrilled with the results from his effort. He said, “I was at 230 pounds. I have a website with over 7,000 photographers I coach, and I put it all out there so I had to lose the weight. I can’t believe I pulled it off. I look better, I feel better, my self-confidence is through the roof and that translates into my sailing. The feeling now is like a bug that’s caught me. I want to get as fast as I can with the limited time I have and do as many events as possible against the best. If you sail against the fastest guys you are going to up your game.”

There’s only one word for the feeling you get from coming back to the Laser and rediscovering the fitness, the fun, the competition on the water and the camaraderie on land. As Peter Hurley would say, “SHABANG!”

Joe Berkeley is a freelance writer who rigged up next to Peter Hurley at the Laser Masters’ Worlds and finished well behind him. His work is at

Sailing World
September, 2015
Milly’s Navy
by Joe Berkeley

The International 110 originated in Marblehead, Mass., in 1939, and today it is experiencing a rebirth, 3,000 miles away from its East Coast origins, in the even smaller seaside town of Inverness, Calif., located at the gateway to Point Reyes Peninsula, with two parks, one national, one state, that are populated by more elk, mountain lions, whales and dolphins than sailors.

The town has a population of 1,304 people who live surrounded by natural beauty. It also has an immigrant population of 110s, led by TK-year-old Milly Biller, who has been at the helm of a 110 since she was 5 years old. When her father, an astrophysicist, took her sailing, and then dove into the water, leaving her alone in the boat, instead of feeling alarmed, she felt liberated, and excited. She was hooked on sailing.

According to Biller’s older sister Laura Alderice, their father was preoccupied with his work, and one day, while he was lost in thought, young Biller handed him a type written piece of paper and asked him to sign it. He did, not realizing his young daughter had created a deed, thereby transferring rights to the 110. Biller named the boat “Big Pink,” after the home where The Band composed their debut album. With bright pink topsides, it’s easy to spot on any starting line.

One-design fleets elsewhere in the country are shrinking, but not Biller’s. She built the fleet from two boats to 23, one boat at a time, by using traditional tactics, such as email blasts, but also experimenting with new methods. Recently, for example, 10 members of the Inverness YC, all of them artists, donated watercolor paintings to the fleet. Once the paintings were sold at auction, there was enough money in the kitty to host Nationals in 2016.

With proceeds from other fundraisers, Biller purchased boats that needed work. Using skills she acquired from a career restoring homes nestled in the woods of Inverness, she’s rebuilt at least one herself. There are plenty of fleet members who offer to help, however. “This fleet is such a tight group,” says Biller. “If I asked anyone for a mast or a boom, I’d probably end up with three.”

Will Laidlaw, a landlocked 110 sailor from Berkshire County, Mass., has been with the class for 35 years, and says Biller’s attitude has done much to boost participation nation wide. “Some people can be off-putting when they try to recruit you,” says Laidlaw. “Something about Milly’s approach really makes you want to do it.”

As President of the 110 Class, Biller is always seeking ways to grow the fleet. New fiberglass boats are available, but the 110 DIY’er spirit prompted some members to explore a kit boat. Ross Weene and Eli Slater, yacht designers and co-skippers of the 2013 National Championship team, are creating CAD drawings of the 110 that can be programmed into a CNC machine to cut the parts out of wood. “If that comes to fruition I would probably be one of the first in line to build one just for the fun of it,” says Biller.

Such dedication warrants the unconventional double-ender a “cult boat.” Kurt Fleming, of Marblehead, who won the National Championship with skipper Jack Slattery in 1981 and 1982, and was so moved by Biller’s mix of enthusiasm and persuasion, he recently made a pilgrimage to Inverness to sail with the fleet.

“Milly greeted us warmly and with a knowing smile promptly told us ‘go for it! You’re gonna love it… the first time is free,’” says Fleming. “We set off in the fully rigged ‘teaser boat. The cult, and the charismatic leader always promise to bring you nirvana. Yoga/meditation retreats, vintage car track days, golfing the great courses, all strive to bring you to this higher mind-space. In a 110, wind and water come together with hull and sail, skipper and crew, trim and angle when the boat lifts you, literally, to a higher plane. Effort and challenge come together until all at once, things go quiet. Satisfyingly quiet, until somebody says “Whoa yeah! That’s the stuff.” It is the chakras aligned with a bright flash, the vintage car hooking up perfectly out of a turn, the perfect golf shot…that flash-of-light moment that keeps you coming back…Milly is guiding me in from this addiction jag. Whoa, that’s the stuff.”

Another once and future 110’er, Peter Huston, from Put-in-Bay, Ohio, is headed west to visit the 110 Mecca of Inverness. Biller will be ready. “We will definitely party him big time,” she says with a laugh.

Peter Shope takes Laser World Championship
Newport This Week
July, 2015
by Joe Berkeley

When Peter Shope clinched his first Laser Grand Master World Championship in Kingston, Ontario, 1988 Olympic gold medalist Lynne Jewell-Shore shook his hand and said, “Congratulations, Peter. You earned it.”

In many boats, victory can be purchased with a fat checkbook or finessed with a wily interpretation of the rules. The Laser is not one of them. Shope’s prior preparation paved the way for his perfect performance. He won the regatta with scores of 1, 1, 1, 1, 3, 4, 5, 1, 1, 2, (DNC) (DNC). His sailing was so strong he did not have to sail the final two races–hence the two DNCs for “did not compete."

Shope knew he was competitive going into the Worlds, and as a new member of the Grand Master class, for athletes 55-65 years old, Shope, 55, was as young as he could be in his division. Some older competitors in his age group referred to him as “the whippersnapper.”

After winning the first four races of the regatta, Shope had some selfdoubt. “I had a little bit of a mental breakdown," he said, "knowing that I had sailed well to that point. My deepest fear was that I was going to screw it up. I talked myself down, did some deep breathing exercises and calmed down.” Instead of thinking of what could go wrong, Shope said he focused on what could go right if he stuck to his game plan. It was based on two rules: Start in a place where there was a bit of room to sail in clear air off the line, and stay away from the corners of the race course.

Many would say this victory was six years in the making. It all started in 2009, when Shope arrived at Sail Newport for a day of frostbite sailing with Newport's Laser Fleet 413. He had not set foot in a Laser in more than 25 years.

The fleet welcomed the prodigal sailor back, provided him with some equipment, and when he was doing well in a race, Steve Kirkpatrick screamed from behind, “Go Shope!”

Those two words of encouragement were all Shope needed to come back to the sport he loved. The return to sailing was also a return to fitness and happiness. He went on a strict diet, lost 45 pounds to bring his weight down to a fit 180 pounds, and met the love of his life, Christine Neville, a Laser sailor with Olympic aspirations.

Shope attributes much of his success at the Laser Worlds to frostbiting Lasers in Fleet 413. “Frostbiting is the greatest Laser practice there is for the Worlds," he said. "Every seven days you have a chance to figure out how to win the regatta for 27 weeks in a row. In addition to repeating that cycle and sailing, you get to analyze how Ed Adams is sailing.”

Fleet 413 has been referred to as the “Home of Champions” and Ed Adams is one of the many. Adams was a Laser Master World Champion, a two-time Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, and is quick to share his knowledge with others. From Adams, Shope learned to sail conservatively to maximize his chances of winning the regatta and minimize his chances of sailing a bad race. He also learned the importance of practice. Of his precocious pupil, Adams said, “I wish many of the young sailors I coach trained as hard and as often as Peter. The results prove that it makes a real difference.”

This summer, Shope turned to his favorite practice venue, Third Beach in Middletown. By practicing twice a week with former world champions Wolfgang Gerz, Peter Seidenberg, Scott Ferguson and other fleet 413 stalwarts like Dan Neri, Shope knew he would be on par with the world’s best Laser sailors.

Shope's love of Third Beach, with its varied conditions and stunning scenery, inspired him and Neville to move to Middletown a few years ago. “We found this house. It was a ramshackle cottage, but we said, 'Look how close it is to Third Beach. We can be there in five minutes!'

If there were a competition for Middletown's most finely manicured lawn, Shope would not be a favorite to win. In fact, he may well be disqualified. When the breeze is up and the lawn needs mowing, Shope goes sailing and the lawn waits. His priorities are in order.

Fleet 413’s Mark Bear is a professor at MIT who, by virtue of finishing third overall, shared the podium with Shope at the Worlds. Professor Bear remarked, “Peter didn't just win, he dominated. Those of us who have the pleasure of racing against him locally saw this coming. And by having Peter to sail against, all our games have been raised. He also found through Laser sailing the fountain of youth! He gets younger, fitter, and faster every year.”

The Great Spirit of Comanche
Windcheck magazine
July, 2015
By Joe Berkeley

If sailing fans in Newport, RI are depressed by the departure of the Volvo Ocean Race boats, the presence of Comanche should cure what ails them. The 100-foot sailboat, built to be first to finish in every race she enters and break records when the weather cooperates, is preparing for the Transatlantic Race 2015, which starts in Newport on July 5.

To steer Comanche in breeze is to understand what it feels like to be a king. When I took the helm, I stood upon a canting platform that flattened out her sharp angle of heel. I had several digital readouts to provide me with information like velocity, heading, and degrees off the wind you are steering. A push button control changes the angle of the canting keel.

For such a big yacht, Comanche has a light helm and I could change her course with very little effort. It would be possible to steer her with two fingers, but as the newcomer, I kept both hands upon the wheel, as I did not want to embarrass myself in front of her world-class crew.

Casey Smith the Aussie boat Captain who relocated to Portsmouth, RI with his wife and kids, ducked below to grab a spray top, as the wind chill of going upwind at 13 knots was significant. Upon his return, Casey gently admonished me for pushing the bow down. “I know you want to go fast,” he said, “but keep her closer to the wind.”

Behind me, Stan Honey fed data into his iPad and kept an eye on the depth of the water. Comanche draws 22 feet and no one wants to conduct a geological survey with her massive canting keel.

One of the premier navigators in the world, Honey was the Director of Technology for the America’s Cup and the Chief Technology Officer of Sportvision where he was responsible for the yellow line on NFL games. His accomplishments are enough to fill a book, let alone a magazine.

He is not alone. Everyone on this crew has sailed in the America’s Cup or the Volvo Ocean Race. They are the best of the best and they do their work with a cheery, businesslike demeanor.

There are three bowmen suited up in harnesses that are not for show. Even something as simple as hoisting the mainsail requires Juggy Clougher to go aloft and guide it up the mast.

When sheets need to be trimmed, the crew does more grinding than a Dunkin’ Donuts on a Monday morning. Twelve crewmembers grab the double handles at six grinding stations. One of them is Keats Keeley, a Newport resident who chose his words as carefully as he rigged Comanche’s 4,850 meters – three miles – of cordage.

Keats, whose title is Rigging Manager, explained that he had no room for error when he created Comanche’s rigging. He said, “With the Volvo 70, you have a baseline. You can go back and check and cross-check against other colleagues. With a boat like Comanche, some theoretical numbers have been presented. You have to build in the safety margin. You’re going at it first-time, fresh out of the box. You don’t have a second chance.”

John von Schwarz is a grinder who also crews on Star boats and finished second at the Worlds in 2013. He is responsible for the maintenance of the winches, and he is pleased with the performance of the ceramic coating on the drums, which he said, “makes the winches grip the sheets better.”

His favorite part of sailing on Comanche is “when we get the boat rumbling, you just look up after grinding for a minute and you’re cruising along at 20-plus knots, and you go, ‘Wow!’ Also the crew…being able to experience these world-class sailors, hear about their ideas, their vision, and just learning.”

Everyone takes their turn grinding, but no one spins the handles with more speed or strength than Joe Fanelli, a powerhouse of a man who is light on his feet and quick to bust the chops of Westy Barlow, the Nipper, or young guy on the boat.

When his teammates give him a ribbing, Barlow, who is from Narragansett, just smiles, for being low man on the Comanche totem pole is still a lofty perch. Westy was recently featured in a glossy spread in Sailing World and he is grateful to be surrounded by the best sailors in the world.

Kenny Read is the skipper of Comanche, and when he steps aboard he is not so much a sailor as he is a rock star of an internationally famous band. He chose the designer, Guillaume Verdie, and the project manager, Tim Hacket.

An Australian who is now based in Portsmouth, Hacket is a wizard with carbon fiber who is responsible for turning the designer’s vision into a boat that can be pushed to the limits while remaining in one piece. Having supervised the build with Brandon Linton at Hodgdon Yachts, Hacket is pleased with Comanche’s performance. “The boat really lights up in the right conditions, that’s for sure,” he enthused. “It certainly shows potential for what it was originally built and designed for transatlantic and 24-hour attempts.”

Aside from being the skipper of Comanche, Read is also the President of North Sails. The logo of the company is a royal blue circle, but it may as well be a royal crest. North is the most advanced sail making company in the world, with more World Champions than any other. North has lofts in North America, Europe, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Africa, the Caribbean, South America, Australia, and New Zealand, so the sun never sets on her empire.

Once just a maker of sails, North has evolved into a technology company, intimately involved in collaborating with the boat designers and builders at every phase of development. JB Braun of North’s Design Services played in huge role in placing Comanche’s mast so far aft, a position Read says is more traditional on a multihull.

The sails North builds for Comanche, called North 3Di, are nothing short of spectacular, each shaped to be as fast and light as possible. But even with modern technology, each sail requires the full strength of several crewmembers to move them about on Comanche’s sleek, smooth deck.

If Kenny Read is the front man of this rock band, Kimo Worthington is the Keith Richards, the glue that holds the group together. He was the general manager of Read’s Volvo Ocean Race PUMA campaign, and he is one of the few sailors who has worked on a winning America’s Cup team and sailed on a winning Volvo Ocean Race team.

On this sail-testing day, Kimo is not on the boat because he broke a bone in his right foot, which is in a cast. Did this injury take place during a record-breaking crossing? Was he careening through speed barriers? Well, sort of.

The incident involved a party aboard the 295-foot yacht Athena. Commander Kimo was enjoying the festivities when he attempted to surf down an inflatable slide while standing upon an inflatable mattress shaped like an alligator. He estimated his velocity at approximately 30 knots at the time of his wipeout.

Read, who knows a thing or two about boat speed, was unable to confirm or deny Kimo’s velocity, as he was laughing so hard he had tears in his eyes.

Despite the fact that Kimo has endured pain, emotional distress and the endless taunting of fellow crewmembers, he has not filed a lawsuit against the maker of the inflatagator. With a broad grin, he said, “I have only my own stupidity to blame.”

Kimo is excited about Comanche because “people follow the boat.” He believes that the incredible speeds that Comanche achieves are trickling down to other boats. As he pointed toward Comanche tied up to a dock at Newport Shipyard, the record-setting trimaran phaedo3 bobbed in her berth, almost willing herself off the dock. Behind her, Elvis, the Peter-Johnstone-created Gunboat, stood at the ready to spirit her owners around in high-speed luxury. With all due respect to the clipper ship era, perhaps this is the Golden Age of Sail.

Kenny Read has called Comanche a “horse for a course” and Kimo believes that 20 knots of breeze is just right for her. When the breeze is less than 8 knots, Comanche drags her massive booty in the water and there is no pair of Spanx large enough to give her a lift.

But light air is not the stuff of big dreams or transatlantic crossing records or stories that are told and retold until the end of time. The heavy air potential of Comanche is what inspires this crew.

He has seen it all and done it all, but Kenny Read is still blown away by the limitless possibilities of Comanche. “A boat like this tells such a big story,” he said, “and hopefully that attracts more people to our sport.”

Joe Berkeley is a professional writer and an amateur sailor. His work is at

Team Oracle Architect Sails Small Boats, Too
Newport This Week
By Joe Berkeley

For a living, Scott Ferguson is a naval architect and project manager in the America’s Cup for team Oracle Team USA. For fun, he races Laser sailboats.

The Jamestown resident, who was the designer of the last two America’s Cup winning campaigns and has won the Laser Master Worlds in 2009 and 2010, was back in town Memorial Day weekend to compete in Lasers.

Former Olympian Carol Cronin and Karen Neri ran the Race Committee. A dozen or so competitors enjoyed an informal regatta with a spirited southwest breeze with surfable waves in the waters off Fort Getty.

The reigning US Masters National Champion Peter Shope got the better of Ferguson in the informal regatta so the first question put to Ferg was about Laser training. Ferg has moved to Bermuda for the next two years to focus his attention on the Cup. There was some concern that he would not get enough practice time in his Laser.

Worry not. Oracle Team USA is a handsomely equipped campaign, and one of their team boats is a Laser. He managed to get away from his computer screen three times in the past month for training sessions in Bermuda, but it is not as often as he would like.

One of the most difficult aspects of this next America’s Cup is a rule change: a push to make the event more one design than in the past. As a naval architect, Ferg is the first to point out that he is biased when it comes to this issue.

He said, “There are so many one design classes and events, like the Olympics. The America’s Cup is unique in that it is all about technology.”

The 72-foot catamarans in the 2013 America’s Cup foiled above the water and raised the expectations of viewers. Originally, the 2017 America’s Cup was going to be held in 62-foot catamarans.

Following a majority vote by the challenger committee, the next edition of the Cup will be sailed in 50-foot foiling catamarans. The rule change is intended to boost participation by making the boats more affordable and practical. These smaller contenders can be disassembled to fit into a standard 40-foot shipping container and will only require a crew of six rather than eight on the bigger boats.

For Ferg, the Auld Mug should be all about the newest ideas. He said, “If this decision was made in 2007 to go more one design, we’d be sailing around in huge, slow lead mines (keel boats.)”

While the “design box” is smaller in the 50-foot catamaran, he is quick to point out that there are lots of areas open to exploration. The dagger boards are open to development, as are the appendages. And the way in which the wing is controlled is open. There’s still plenty to tweak.

It takes a big team to win the America’s Cup and he enjoys the collaboration with the sailors. I love the discussion, batting stuff back and forth. Sometimes I’m teaching them about the technology, sometimes they’re teaching me about the performance of what’s happening on the boat.”

Ferg has been with Jimmy Spithill, the skipper of Oracle, on every one of his campaigns since 2004 and considers him a good friend. Off the water, there is a lot of good-natured competition. The two have squared off on the basketball court, the paddle tennis court, any activity that is available becomes a test of skill. Except for one. Thus far, Spithill has declined any and all invitations to compete with Ferg in Lasers. When asked why, Ferg said, “He’s afraid.”

Ferg also enjoys working with Rome Kirby, the Newport resident who was the only American onboard Oracle Team USA when they won the Cup in 2013. Ferg said, “I’ve watched Rome grow up as a sailor, it’s pretty cool to see him grow into a role where he’s gone around the world in the Volvo Ocean Race and won the America’s Cup with Oracle. The dangerous part is he is going out with my daughter.”

While Ferg couldn’t get away from Bermuda for the Volvo Ocean Race stopover in Newport, the St. George’s School Hall of Famer was pleased with the turnout. He said, “It makes me proud to see my homeport do so well.”

For Scott Ferguson, one of the most rewarding parts of the job is being involved at the beginning of the project then following through to the part where he gets to go sailing. He said, “A lot of engineers and designers don’t get to see the result of their work. To go through the whole process in a short period of time is a lot of fun.” For now, there is plenty to do. The work of an America’s Cup designer is never done.

Click! Photography Fame Instantaneously
Newport This Week
By Joe Berkeley

Click. In a fraction of a second, the Volvo Ocean Race changes lives forever. It has always been this way.

In 2012, Sam Greenfield was an aspiring videographer. He worked on a video for four months, where he talked about why the Volvo should hire him. The video was good enough to get him a job with the organization, where he made numerous short films, including a beauty about Charlie Enright becoming skipper of Alvimedica.

All was going well and Sam was doing his work at headquarters. Then the onboard reporter on Dongfeng, Yann Riou, had to be replaced on the leg to Sanya due to unfortunate circumstances at home.

Click. Sam was on the boat as the replacement reporter.

Since he joined the Volvo, Sam’s video, photography and writing have evolved from serviceable to sublime. Now he is giving Alvimedica’s veteran onboard reporter Amory Ross, he with the toothy grin, beautifully composed imagery, slick video and lyrical blog posts, a run for his money.

In this race, no matter how good you are, no matter how driven you are, there is always someone behind pushing you forward. That’s what brings out the best in these onboard reporters. They’re every bit as competitive as the skippers.

Consider this excerpt from Sam’s treatise on “Home,” written at sea while aboard Dongfeng:

“I wish you could see Pascal’s face right now. He’s sneering. He’s glowering at Azzam (the name of Abu Dhabi’s boat) with such cold, grim distain that I wouldn’t be surprised if she lit up and sank in to the sea.

He’s looking at them as though they’re giving off a smell too rank to describe.

He’s not in a mood for quotes:

‘Right now Abu Dhabi is faster and I need to fix that.’

And he’s off, checking the boards for seaweed and adjusting the water ballast.

It’s not just Pascal; I’ve never seen the gang so focused and intense.

When we won leg 3 into Sanya our lead was comfortable. This time Azzam is right over our shoulder and breathing down our dry-seals.

To win this Volvo Ocean Race, Dongfeng Race Team simply can’t let Azzam beat them, ever again, it’s such a large point spread.

Last night we punched through the wild currents of the Gulf Stream in good fashion, averaging 20 knots –with rides up to 26 SOG- through lumpy, confused seas.

The sound of water rushing across the top of the deck was almost violent and this morning the water was darker and the sky grey. No more crystalline blue seas or Portuguese man-o-wars.

I haven’t been back to the U.S. since November and it’s pretty damn exciting.

The guys are focused on winning the leg.

I’m focused on charging batteries and organizing hard drives and upcoming Live arrivals and all that crap, but my mind keeps jumping to friends and family and a cup of hot chowder at Zelda’s in Newport.

Now I’ve never paid much attention to the sound of the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF channel 16.

Usually we try to avoid run-ins with them out on the water back home. That’s here.

They’re chattering about the channel up the Thames River in New London, Connecticut, just around the corner from my home in Groton.

Strange, or maybe not, it’s enough to make me smile, because for the first time in half a year I’m not the one with a strange, unintelligible accent.”

Click. Sam and the crew arrive in Newport first aboard Dongfeng after a nail biter finish. Home is the same. Sam Greenfield is different.

Joe Berkeley is a professional writer and an amateur sailor. His work is at

Newport This Week
“The smell, the sight, the taste of home”

By Joe Berkeley

Imagine you are a Volvo Ocean Race sailor. This is no easy task. Sure, this being Newport and all you know a lot of people who are sailors, who kind of look like Volvo Ocean Race sailors.

But comparing a club racer to a Volvo Ocean Race sailor is like comparing a whiffle ball enthusiast to David Ortiz, a flag football fan to Tom Brady, a pond skater to Zdeno Chara.

These sailors are different, consummate professionals, the best of the best, able to endure the agonies of competing on the edge while living with eight other people in a space very similar to the interior of a wet dumpster.

Consider the adventures of hometown heroes Corinna Halloran, Charlie Enright, Amory Ross, Nick Dana and Mark Towill, the Hawaiian who was adopted by Rhode Island when he attended Brown University.

They have experienced champagne sailing conditions and also endured minor indignities. Onboard reporter Amory Ross writes, “Discomfort, however, has taken a new form lately with everyone coming down with the itchies. An obviously common side effect of ideal sailing conditions is that we’re always wet, but what’s new this leg is the high temps to go with that. It’s insanely damp down below and with all the hatches sealed nothing has had the opportunity to dry. Our skin has been hot, soaked, and salty for days, and the forearms, legs, and joints—really any areas that chafe against skin or wet gear--have erupted in rash.”

On another day, May 1, in 22 knots of wind the team steams along, making 450 miles in 24 hours, which sounds like a beautiful day at the office. But wait a moment, what’s that sound? It’s a large clump of Sargasso Weed catching on the keel and rudder. To remove the weed, the helmsman carves an S-turn, which resulted in a wipeout.

Onboard reporter Amory writes, “Anytime now I’ll be on my back, camera cards, GoPros, and batteries pouring down from my work desk on top of me. It’s already happened a few times this hour. Yup—cavitation on the rudder, no steerage, here comes the wipe out & spin up…..extreme heel, abrupt flatten and the bear away, soon on my back…………. Annnnd we’re done, I can reach the keyboard again.”

But what is unique about this leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, the Alvimedica team is not just racing toward a port, they are sailing to their homeport.

The bowman and boat captain for Alvimedica, Nick Dana wrote, “Racing home. Not a very common feeling when sailing into Newport. Many races start in Newport, but not a lot have a finish line there…Us locals and the rest of the boys could not be more excited to be coming home to Newport. Hopefully we luck out with the weather and get a big turn out for the event.”

It will be an exciting moment when the Volvo Ocean Racers get close to Newport. Approximately 50 miles from shore, they will smell land and experience channel fever, the desire to be in port. Ten miles out, they will see land. Then it will be an emotional moment as they round Castle Hill and make landfall in Narragansett Bay, protected from the insanity of the Atlantic, welcomed home by friends, family, and fans.

With all due respect to a football game that takes place in November, the sensation of arriving in Newport by water is a homecoming that goes back to the beginning of time.
Thousands of years before the arrival of the Volvo Ocean Racers, the Narragansett Tribe navigated through these same waters, returning from fishing trips to the shores with sustenance from the sea.

Charlie Enright the skipper of Alvimedica, the only American entry in the Volvo Ocean Race is proud to call Newport his homeport. He’s offered his thanks to Sail Newport for all the legwork they’ve put in to making this stopover, the only stopover in North America, the best yet.

Creating a world-class welcome has required the work of a world-class shore team. Brad Read, the Executive Director of Sail Newport is also the Director of the Volvo Ocean Race Newport Stopover.

This is a welcome that has been more than two years in the making. Read has been focused on a million little details, and as a former College Sailor of the Year and J24 World Champion, he has used everything he learned on the water to prepare this event on land.

He said, “This stopover represents two years of work, with the bid process for everything from security to concessions to creating great interactive exhibits featuring the health of the ocean. We had eight subcommittees with the primary focus of making the event great, from creating a sustainable green event, to the marine side to making sure boaters are safe, to logistics and concessions.”

The Volvo Ocean Race village is made up of 100 containers that were shipped from Auckland, New Zealand to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From there, the containers were trucked to Newport. Cranes carefully place each one in a precise spot.

“It’s like a giant game of Jenga,” said Read. He cannot do this job alone, and his shore crew is as accomplished as any bowman aboard a Volvo Ocean Race boat.

Before he submitted Newport’s bid to the Volvo Ocean Race, Read made sure a woman known as “Suma” was on his team. The Volvo Ocean Race Village Manager, Sue Maffei Plowden stands just 5’ 4” tall but is a giant in the world of international sailing event management.

A graduate of URI, Suma ran the America’s Cup World Series in Newport in 2012 and has played an instrumental role in making sure the welcome in Newport is prepared before the arrival of the Volvo Ocean Race boats. “She has an amazing way of getting things done,” said Read.

Suma, who has produced America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race events all over the world is thrilled to be working in her own backyard. She said, “This is such a fantastic venue. The sailors love Newport. It’s historical and unique, there’s nothing really like it.”

One challenge the shore team faced is the fact that the Volvo Pavilion is an 8,400 square foot structure, which must be erected on a flat surface. On short notice, Allan Megarry of Sail Newport had to work with state engineers to source concrete footings to level out the three-foot drop in the parking lot.

Megarry is also responsible for the myriad of approvals and paperwork that must be processed. He makes sure all of the insurance is in good order, for the boats, the structures and the teams. According to Read, “it’s a massive undertaking.”

Janice Kennedy and Margaret (Muggsy) Skinner volunteered to lead the small army of volunteers, more than 500 strong, who stepped up to make the event happen.

The opening ceremonies and all of the public events are the responsibility of Katie Barker whose to-do list included this enviable task, “hire friendly clowns to walk through the village.”

For the past two months, the preparations for the Volvo Ocean Race Newport Stopover have been nonstop. More than anything, the hometown sailors hope to see you in the village for their arrival. Except for Alvimedica reporter Amory Ross. As soon as he hits the shore, he’s bee-lining over to Newport Creamery for an “Awful Awful,” then a stop at Dunkin’ Donuts for an extra large coffee and two glazed donuts.

Joe Berkeley is a freelance writer and amateur sailor. His work is at

Newport This Week
"The Race Home"
By Joe Berkeley
Photos by Amory Ross / Alvimedica

The race is on to get to Newport first, but Nick Dana on Team Alvimedica isn’t just racing the other competitors in the Volvo Ocean Race. Unbeknownst to him, he’s also racing his parents.

Charlie and Rose Dana have left Charleston, South Carolina in their 70’ aluminum ketch, “Saint Roque” and hope to get to Newport before Nick, not to steal his thunder, but to be there to welcome him.

Reached by mobile phone on Saturday, April 25, 2015, Charlie Dana, the owner of Newport Shipyard said, “Right now, Alvimedica is 1590 miles out. We are hopefully going to intercept the Volvo boats on the high seas. That would be high on my bucket list.”

Charlie went on to explain that the Volvo boats travel twice as fast as his boat when the wind is up, but when the wind gets light, “Saint Roque” is faster, as she motor sails while the Volvo boats wait for breeze.

The amenities aboard the Dana’s vessel are a bit more comfortable than those aboard the Volvo Ocean Race boats, but Charlie and Rose have fewer crew for their 850-mile passage. There are just two of them. “We’re three hours on and three hours off. We call it the “marriage tester.” We’ve done this trip together a long, long time. This is our 41st since 1974.”

When the Dana siblings were kids, in the summer the family would head off for three and a half weeks or so on passages to destinations like Grand Manan, Reversing Falls, or St. Pierre off the coast of Newfoundland.

Nick’s sister Belle Dana Ridall said, “At the time, we all sort of rolled our eyes. “We have to leave Newport in the middle of the summer and leave our friends?” Then as soon as we got offshore we loved it. Looking back now, I have two little boys, and I’d be so lucky to do that with them. I think it teaches you a lot about self-reliance and the world. It changes your perspective on things. It’s definitely a different breed of people who can go offshore and feel at peace.”

Putting great trust in his children’s abilities, Charlie would ask them to stand watch and run the boat. But just in case something happened, he slept in the cockpit with his head upon their feet, so that if they moved, he would wake up to help.

One night off the coast of Nova Scotia, Belle was on watch, her father was asleep, when she noticed a blip on the radar. She got on the radio and asked the captain of a Greek freighter to divert course, which he did.

While other youth sailors were learning how to make Optimist dinghies go fast, the Dana kids charted a different course. Charlie Dana believes that there is a certain self-reliance his kids developed from these summers cruising together at sea, which also helped them be better teammates. They learned how to help each other out because, well, they had to.

The Dana kids also raced on big boats. As a young boy, Nick Dana sailed with Peter Goldstein aboard his 57-foot Derecktor sloop “Flying Goose.” Reached at his citrus grove where he was about to enjoy a glass of rum with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, Peter Goldstein had warm memories of five-year-old Nick Dana with a cigar in his mouth at the helm of “Flying Goose” crossing the finish line first, ahead of arch rival Lee Loomis in “Northern Light.” With a chuckle, Goldstein said, “The Loom didn’t take it too well when a five-year old kicked his ass.”

At St. George’s School, Nick made an unusual choice to play lacrosse rather than go out for the sailing team. Nick’s friend Brett Barker explained that, “Nick played attack with his cousin on the lacrosse team. He genuinely liked lacrosse and he liked the culture of the team. In the summertime he was able to sail on big boats.”

So how did a young Nick Dana make the transition from amateur sailor to professional? David Ray, the owner of Bannister’s Wharf and Nick’s godfather, said, “The one thing about Nick is when he makes up his mind about something, it’s full speed ahead. He’s a very competent guy. Plus he’s the coolest guy in the room, which he got from his mother.”

Volvo Ocean Race veteran Jerry Kirby believes it all came down to Nick’s work ethic, which inspired him to jump into any situation with both feet. Kirby is an expert on the subject.

As a young man, at the age of 19 or 20, Jerry Kirby was attempting to curry the favor of a beautiful young lady. Her appearance was so mesmerizing; time stopped for Kirby, and before he knew it, he was late and the boat he was supposed to be racing on left the dock without him. In the distance, Kirby could see the spinnaker getting smaller as the boat sailed toward the Newport Bridge.

Jerry thought it would be wise to drive to the Newport Bridge because he could communicate with his teammates from the span. En route, the apple of Jerry’s eye expressed some concern that his crewmates would not be able to hear him, as the roadway was approximately 215 feet above sea level.

Inspired, Kirby came up with a plan. He climbed over the rail of the bridge, down to the structure below the roadway, and hung by his hands. When the boat was close to the bridge, he just let go, which he said, “seemed like the right thing to do at the time.” His team pulled him out of the water, Jerry made the race, and his place in the history of yachting was secured for eternity.

Kirby said, “I’ve known Nick since he was a kid. Nick was part of our shore crew when I did the Volvo in 2008 and 2009. He’s a kid who could’ve taken short cuts but he was the hardest working kid in the whole program, bar none. He took on the worst jobs. I did a lot of sailing on the big J boats and the maxi-boat Rambler with Nick. He’s a hybrid, an all-around guy. He’s the perfect Volvo Ocean Racer. If I were going to get a team and go around the world right now, he’d be one of the first calls I’d make.”

As part of his preparation for the Volvo Ocean Race, Nick took courses to become a medic, and a communications expert. His experience working at Newport Shipyard, and in the previous Volvo Ocean Race as shore crew gave him knowledge to fix just about anything.

The skipper of Volvo Ocean Racer Puma and the President of North Sails, Ken Read, agreed with Kirby’s point of view. He said, “We were looking for a “Nipper” (young sailor) for the first PUMA project and Nick came highly recommended. We took a chance on the kid and he became a go-to shore crewmember in short order and never looked back. Nick’s been on the shore team, an on-board reporter, and sailor in three Volvo’s in a row. An amazing resume and he has earned everything he’s gotten.”

Nick Dana was born on February 6, 1986 and lives by the motto “go hard or go home.” He is the bowman aboard Alvimedica. Similar to a center linebacker in football, the bowman is a position that calls for great physical power, speed, and athleticism as well as intellectual acumen to anticipate situations before they occur. Nick organizes the crew during sail changes, goes to the top of the mast when necessary, and during starts, calls the distance to the line for the skipper Charlie Enright.

He’s also the boat captain of Alvimedica. If skipper Charlie Enright’s job is to push Alvimedica as hard as possible, as boat captain, Nick’s job is to keep her from falling apart. He receives lists of daily maintenance tasks from the shore team and keeps things running as smoothly as possible.

Improving the spirits of his teammates is one of Nick’s unofficial responsibilities, and he takes his pranks very seriously. To celebrate the 50th birthday of Alvimedica navigator Will Oxley, Nick prepared a special moment. As Will navigated from down below, Nick on deck used a handheld radio to contact him.

After identifying himself as the captain of a cruise ship, Nick asked Oxley what his intentions were. Oxley replied that he could not see the cruise ship on his radar, but since he was onboard a sailing vessel, he intended to maintain his course.

Nick then informed Oxley that he as the captain of the cruise ship, he was prepared to offer senior citizens discounts, and asked Oxley if he had “any 50 and older crew members onboard.” Oxley realized he had been had, and with a laugh, Nick exclaimed, “I got him!”

Jimmy Correia, the Marine Hoisting Engineer at Newport Shipyard, was not surprised. When they worked together at the yard, Jimmy was often the victim of Nick’s pranks, including the time Nick attached fireworks to the muffler on his truck.

Not to be outdone, Jimmy used the 50-ton Link Belt Crane to carefully place Nick’s Ford pickup truck on top of a pile of containers. There is no small amount of controversy regarding who got the best of whom. Jimmy said, “Me and Nick will work it out later.”

Jerry Kirby is well aware of Nick’s legendary reputation as a prankster. He said, “Nick is one of the funniest guys, that’s what makes him such a great offshore sailor. He’s the perfect guy but you got to be careful. You could end up with hot sauce in your bunk. Nick has a sense of humor, is humble, and works hard. What more could you ask for?”

Joe Berkeley is a freelance writer and amateur sailor. His work is at

Yacht Club Hut Drifts for Freedom, Crashes in Hull

By Joe Berkeley
Special to | 02.27.15 | 7:56 PM

The hopes and dreams of the Cottage Park Race Committee Hut, which broke from its moorings in Winthrop and appeared to be determined to visit Ireland, were dashed upon Hull’s Nantasket Beach on February 15.

According the Cottage Park fleet secretary Linda Epstein, the hut, which was used to run races and store gear for the fleet, probably broke free at three or four in the morning during the storm when the wind shifted to the north. Epstein, a research scientist with a PhD as well as a sailor, wasn’t sure if the force of the wind ripped the boards off the hut, or if the mooring chains sawed through the wood.

This wasn’t the first time one of the club’s huts ran aground. A previous hut broke loose from its mooring in Marblehead harbor and was wrecked upon the shore during the No Name storm of 1991. After that mishap, the Boulter family of Marblehead donated plywood and other materials for the resurrection of the fleet hut.

When the Marblehead frostbite fleet relocated to Cottage Park, so too did the hut. That hut watched over numerous frostbite fleets since 1995 and served the fleet well for almost 20 years. In 2010, when the hut was at the end of its lifespan, fleet architect-in-training Julia Marsh from Peabody designed the new structure. It was built in sections in fleet technical chairman John Pratt’s garage in Stoneham with the assistance of John Laiosa from Marshfield.

Epstein of Arlington, Bill Rothwell of Peabody, and Bob Coyle of Woburn loaded the sections into a U-Haul and drove the pieces to Winthrop. Construction foreman and Race Committee member Tom Robinson assisted by Richard Kaeseler, Andrew Davis, and John Laiosa supervised fleet members in the hut-raising party. The structure was towed out to its mooring, where it spent five years weathering the elements.

After the hut broke free, the Coast Guard posted the above photo. Facebook fans cheered the hut on as if it were a runaway bride escaping from a hastily arranged marriage. More than 3,000 people “liked” the image and there were numerous comments.

“This is awesome. If it’s full of buoys and doesn’t break up, it will probably make it too,” wrote Dirk Schwenk, an attorney from Annapolis, Maryland. John Hart, a freelance copywriter, commented, “New listing! Cozy beach house, 100 sq. ft, stunning harbor views!”

Alas, the hut’s escape did not conclude with a storybook ending. The Cottage Park Yacht Club hut was smashed upon the shores of Point Allerton in Hull, and the debris stretched down Nantasket Beach.

A piece of plywood indicating “course 2” was salvaged as well as two race committee signal flags. Two Executive Choice #2 Pencils donated by Judith Krimski and half a bottle of raspberry vodka were discovered on the scene. The spirits were left on the beach.

On Saturday, Epstein led an expedition to retrieve non-biodegradable items in the wreckage strewn across Nantasket beach. Wearing crampons upon her boots, and assisted by a heavy line tied to a fence post, Epstein, John Laiosa and a correspondent belayed down the ice-covered steps to retrieve blue styrofoam flotation devices. Pam Laiosa helped them load it up into their pickup truck.

The fleet has announced a fundraising site to help defray the cost of building a new hut. Thus far, they have raised $3,500 of their $10,000 goal.
December 24, 2014
Laser Sailing: Never Too Old
by Joe Berkeley

If there are fifty ways to leave your lover, there are probably a million reasons to leave a sport like sailing: too much work, the demands of parenting, lack of crew, lack of time, lack of resources.

I stopped sailing because of love. In my late 30’s, I fell head over heels in love with bicycle riding. Sure, it started out as a way to get fit for sailing, then it became something I did in addition to sailing, then it took over my life. How far could I go? How fast could I go? How light could I get?

After riding the entire Tour de France route as a fundraiser and the Mt. Washington Hill Climb as a race, my cycling coach said, quite frankly, “Look, you’re never going to get any better. You’re never going to catch the guys who rode competitively in college. You should probably go back to sailing.” But even that didn’t push me back onto the water.

At the time, I still had a Laser hanging from the ceiling in the garage. I left its little trailer down at the yacht club where it sat in the parking lot. It wasn’t fancy, nothing more than a galvanized frame with a wooden box I built on top. I always looked at it as I rode by on my bicycle—until one day, it was gone.

I’ve never done well with loss, so I made it my mission to track down my little trailer. The club steward explained that a parent of a youth sailor had “borrowed it” and she was sure to get it back. Sure enough two days later, the trailer was back at the club.

I took it home immediately and decided to restore it, with a sense of purpose that bordered on the maniacal. I replaced the bearings, sanded out the wooden structure, repainted it, and replaced the rusted third wheel that was broken.
Then, since the trailer looked so good, I decided to go sailing again.

The Laser was lowered down from the rafters and placed upon the trailer. I drove to next regatta, the Laser Masters’ New England Championship, and joined a fleet of 25 competitors.

The trailer was shiny, but I was very rusty and I spent a significant amount of time swimming. It didn’t matter, because the competition and the camaraderie were great. I rekindled old friendships and made new friends by the fleet load. After the regatta I went home, whimpering and smiling.

The event had been a terrific beating but it had also been a terrific time. The Laser fleet welcomed me back with open arms and all of that time on the bicycle was forgiven, if not forgotten.

I don’t regret my time on the bicycle. I learned things I’ll never forget, and experienced all the Alps, the Pyrenees, and Mt. Washington have to offer. But I’m even happier I returned to sailing.

I’m sure there are many stories like mine of those who left the sport and later returned, the born again sailors who come back with the enthusiasm of evangelicals. Wouldn’t it be inspiring to read those stories, rather than one more study drilling the lack of participation and the demise of competitive sailing into our collective consciousness?

Onne van der Wal
biography for various social media channels
by Joe Berkeley

Onne van der Wal is one of the most prolific and talented marine photographers in the world of sailing. He was born in Holland on a Friday, February 24, 1956 and raised in Hout Bay, South Africa. Before he learned to walk, he learned to sail aboard his grandfather’s boat. After he progressed through youth sailing training programs, he discovered his passion, ocean racing.

As the bowman and engineer aboard the Dutch maxi-boat Flyer II, van der Wal won all four legs of the 1981-82 Whitbread Round the World Race. Along the way, he took his camera with him everywhere he went to document the experience, even to the top of the mast and the end of the spinnaker pole.

Keith Taylor, the former editor of SAIL magazine met Onne in Marblehead by chance in 1979, and reviewed some of his photos. He said, “These are pretty damned good, you better visit us at the office and show us more.” After that meeting, the editor was so impressed, he reached into the SAIL magazine refrigerator, pulled out a brick of Kodachrome film, and said, “Shoot at the boat, shoot at people, and when things go to shit, keep your camera with you and shoot, because that is when no one else is shooting.”

This image of Conny Van Rietschoten, “the Flying Dutchman” at the helm of Flyer II is the sort of iconic photography that Onne captured during the assignment. Taylor said, “Bernie Goldhirsh who started SAIL was an avid sailor who insisted that every cover put the reader inside the sailing action. I’ve seen a lot of photography from the Southern Ocean, but it didn’t come together. This particular shot had it all, the boat, the people, the sails, and this great foaming wake stretching up across the horizon, with mountainous waves behind them.”

During the Whitbread, Onne’s skipper Conny Van Rietschoten suffered a heart attack while Flyer II was winning the race. A stern disciplinarian whose rules stated, “no shouting, no swearing, no complaining about the food,” Conny informed Onne and the rest of the crew, “If I die, just throw me over the side. Don’t divert. Keep racing!”

The skipper survived the heart attack, the team won the Whitbread, and Onne’s visceral images launched a new career. SAIL magazine editor Taylor said, “Onne has always been able to see the moment, then seize the moment. He’s also a gregarious soul, easy to meet and his personality stands him in good stead. He is able to walk up to somebody, tap him or her on the shoulder, and get the photograph he wants.”

Many admirers of Onne’s work believe that his background as a world-class sailor informed the artistic choices he made as a world-class artist. During the 1979 Fastnet Race, when the winds reached 85 knots, Onne shared a watch with Steve Colgate, the owner of Sleuth, a 54-foot ocean racer.

Colgate said, “We only had maybe two people steering on each watch, me and Onne …we got our sails down to a triple-reefed mainsail and a small stay sail jib and were able to ride through it on a beam reach…we’d have the cockpit filled with water almost every other wave. Onne was just a stalwart support. He is a very centered, caring person. I remember he was very calm and smart about racing.”

Peter Wilson, a project manager for Super Yachts, who was also a crew member aboard Sleuth during the Fastnet said, “I think what makes Onne’s work different is he has been there at sea in all sorts of different circumstances: flat seas with no wind, then in storms in the teeth of a tempest. And that is what separates him from his colleagues. They don’t have salt water in their veins as Onne does.”

Doris Colgate, co-founder of Offshore Sailing School, where more than 130,000 people have learned to sail, believes Onne’s extensive experience, which includes 10 Atlantic ocean crossings, gives him the ability to see things that other photographers do not. She said, “His composition and lighting are phenomenal. Onne takes a lot of risks getting his photos, but because of his sailing experience, he knows how to manage that risk. He captures the essence of sailing really, really well.”

In addition to editorial work, Onne, who is based out of Newport, Rhode Island, has shot for blue chip commercial clients, including the likes of Hinckley Yachts, J Boats, Sperry, Patagonia, North Sails, and Harken. Kate Geskos, a professional art buyer, said, “Even when Onne captures his action shots, they are shot in a very painterly fashion. He shoots the neutral tones and the amazing skies so you can envision them as a 20th Century painting. Onne’s work is so graphic, all of his images present the sport in a majestic manner.”

While he has an artist’s eye for composition and color, Onne is also a perfectionist when it comes to the technical aspects of his craft. As a member of the elite Canon Explorers of Light, a group of the most influential photographers and cinematographers in the world, he is always pushing the equipment and the technology forward. He was one of the first marine photographers to go all digital, and is an early adopter of shooting with drones to get that unique perspective that is higher than a stepladder, but lower than a helicopter. He often works with equipment manufacturers to improve stabilization technology and shot the 2013 America’s Cup with a prototype Canon 4K video camera.

Steve Inglima, the Professional Products specialist who is the administrator of the Canon Explorers of Light Program and was on the America’s Cup shoot, said, “The very careful nature of what Onne includes and excludes, which is composition, is so well presented in his work. Onne’s also willing to take a certain amount of risk in order to get professional images. We were struggling to keep up with the America’s Cup boats and we were in a chase craft that had dual 200 horsepower motors.”

Inglima was impressed with how friendly Onne was. He said, “When I just started working with Onne, I told him I was going to spend some time touring New England. My first stop was Block Island. My only problem was I was going to Maine after the vacation for a seminar and I didn’t want to drag the cases and cases of camera equipment onto the ferry. Onne said “Oh, leave the gear at my house in the living room. I won’t be there. But it will be fine.” Onne is remarkably open and generous and kind. He is just a wonderful human being and his family reflects that as well.”

Sailors appreciate van der Wal’s attention to detail. Brad Read, former College Sailor of the Year, J24 World Champion, and the current Executive Director of Sail Newport, has followed Onne’s work for more than 30 years. He said, “You know you’re at a very important regatta when Onne van der Wal is shooting.” Read believes what sets Onne’s work apart is the unique angles from which he shoots. He also stated that van der Wal “does more than just shoot pretty pictures of spinnakers.” He said, “His work from the Antarctic and South Pacific is among some of his most incredible.” In fact, Read’s favorite image from Onne’s collection isn’t a sailboat at all; it’s a tuna with a drop of blood on its jaw.

Gary Jobson, who won the America’s Cup as tactician aboard Courageous and served as an on-air commentator during the last Cup said, “With Onne’s pictures, you feel like you are either on board or you want to be on board. He’s not the portrait photographer; he’s the motion photographer. The cool thing about our sport is everything changes, all the time: the wind, the waves, the light, and the sail trim. Onne anticipates those changes to capture beautiful images.”

Harry De Zitter, a professional photographer who was educated in South Africa and is a naturalized American citizen, is a peer of Onne’s and a fan of his work. He said, “I think with Onne’s point of view, there’s always tension and beauty at the same time. One thing is tension can be partly aggressive, the way a boat tacks, then there’s the elegance of the sails. Onne is able to read situations in sailing and still have the wherewithal to capture the moment in a millisecond. His work is spectacular.”

Despite all of the accolades and accomplishments over a career that has covered more than three decades and all seven seas, Onne van der Wal is always looking forward to the next assignment. With a smile, he said, “There are two things I need to do great work. One is wind and the other is sun.” To see more of Onne van der Wal’s work, visit

Laser Sailor Magazine
Fat Boys Regatta
By Joe Berkeley

The Fat Boys Regatta was won by the most slender of margins. Steve Kirkpatrick beat Peter Shope by one skinny point to take home the most prestigious trophy in all of sport.

After sailing, at the award ceremony at the International Yacht and Athletic Club, Mark Bear reflected upon the origins of the Fat Boys Regatta. It should be noted that Mark Bear is a highly accomplished individual.

Not only has he finished upon the podium at the Laser Master Worlds, he is also a Ph.D, Picower Professor of Neuroscience as well as an Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, as well as one of the authors of the textbook, Neuroscience, Exploring the Brain, currently on sale on for $107.51.

But of all of Dr. Bear’s extraordinary accomplishments, inventing the Fat Boys regatta is the one for which he is most admired by the members of Laser Fleet 413.

The inspiration for Mr. Bear’s opus came as a brainstorm following yet another frustrating RIISA regatta in Barrington, Rhode Island in June. The start was early in the day, before the sea breeze filled and the event was a light air flail-a-thon until the afternoon when it was time to sail to shore. That’s when the sea breeze would fill, after the racing was over.

Tired of being beaten by sailors who would be well suited to serving as jockeys aboard racehorses or coxswains in crew shells, the big and tall Mr. Bear, who named one of his Lasers “Fat Bastard” and the other “Pork Chop,” took matters into his own hands.

Along with long-time friend John Bentley, Bear invented the Fat Boys regatta where sailors would compete for one day during the best breeze of the day. Rather than flop around on the water, the competitors waited on shore for the sea breeze to fill then went out and raced like men until the sunset.

After the inaugural Fat Boys regatta, which regatta co-creator Mark Bear won, there was a very large party. Those who attended the party called the event spirited. Those who lived in the vicinity called the authorities.

All of the competitors survived the first Fat Boys regatta party, but at least one marriage did not. These things happen. The institution of marriage is a mystery and it may well be that if one enthusiastic party can break it, well, it was going to break anyway.

The Fat Boys Trophy is remarkable for its beauty as well as its desirability. Steve Kirkpatrick was duly honored. He described the key to victory as a “no holds barred, full risk, not conservative at all” approach to the regatta.

In the second race of the day, Kirkpatrick observed the breeze going right, so he made it his business to win the boat at the start, and “snuck through a hole on the starting line that was so small it was scary. But I made it and shot off the line.” His advice for those in the middle of the fleet was to keep you bow pointing toward the mark and always sail in pressure. Easy to say, hard to do.

Kirkpatrick concluded his remarks with a note that frostbiting in fleet 413 starts next weekend. The entire season costs something along the lines of $140, which Steve said is, “the best value in sailing.” Throw in an Intensity sail and you have an enviable program for all of $250. Don’t have a boat? Steve believes you can find a nice, gently used Laser for around $2800 on craigslist.

One point behind Steve Kirkpatrick was Peter Shope in second, Ed Adams was third, Dan Neri was fourth, and Christine Neville was fifth.

There was some controversy at the regatta. The Fat Boys Runner Up Trophy, known as “The First Loser” has gone missing. The trophy is just as desirable as the winner’s trophy, and is engraved with some of the top names in sailing, including Paul Elvstrom, Dennis Conner, Paul Cayard.

If you know where the trophy is, please post its location in the notes section below. All of the competitors were grateful to have Moose McClintock as RC, assisted by his sister. Moose runs perfect races and everyone was honored to be on his racecourse.
Laser Masters: Be careful what you wish for
Published on September 15, 2014
by Joe Berkeley

Be careful what you wish for. After four light-to-medium air races in Rochester, New York, the fleet was pining for more breeze. Lake Ontario, the 14th largest lake in the world, obliged.

Prior to the fifth race, the black storm cloud on the horizon moved from left to right. Against the black sky, 90 white Laser sails waited as the RC posted course D, a windward, leeward, windward, reach, gybe, leeward, finish. At the gun, the breeze had filled in at a solid 20 knots. Up the first beat, the breeze increased to 30 and then to 35. Rain fell in a great white sheet and visibility became near to zero. There were no atheists in this race; everyone said a prayer.

While some made deals with their particular Gods, and others struggled to survive, two were out to kill. Tracy Usher of San Francisco started at the pin, and with his hiking strap as loose as possible, he hiked and hiked and then hiked some more. Peter Shope of Newport started closer to the boat, and with his strap just as loose and his legs just as straight, joined Usher in this display of big wind domination.

In the 35 mile per hour breeze, Scott Pakenham observed that Shope was actually tacking on the shifts. His red yacht named Fluffy, a tribute to the cat sleeping in his Toyota minivan, was a red burst against the white out conditions, going up the breeze not so much sailing as flying, pressing the bow down driven by adrenaline that had been locked away during the previous races. Shope would go on to win the race and the regatta with a 2, 1, (8), 5, 1, 1, throwing out a race that many sailors in the middle of the fleet would love to pluck from the discard bin and call their own.

At the weather mark in race 5, one boat missed the layline, tacked, and capsized. Soon, there was a multi-boat pileup of carnage, boats stuck together, upside down. The more humble competitors overstood, sailed around the carnage and focused on survival.

Downwind, the waves had kicked up to five-foot steep moguls and the leaders were dancing down them with loose vangs, sitting in the back of the cockpit, rooster tails flying from the transoms. For these sailors, like Mark Bear who sailed to a third in race 5 and a second overall with finishes of 4, 3, 12, (20), 3, 3, “Master” is a term of sailing skill rather than one which denotes entrance into that august organization, the AARP.

Scott Pakenham and Peter Hopple, who travelled together, are among the characters in the class. If you could outfit their pickup truck with go-Pro cameras, you could have the makings of a great reality TV show.

Hopple, who sails with whatever clothes he can get his hands on, reflected upon the fact that when he first returned to the Laser fleet, he didn’t pay much attention to gear. He often sailed with a wooden tiller and rather than buy hiking boots he just laced up his construction boots. After one heavy air day, where he had a couple of strong races, Dan Neri, the man of very few but very powerful words, approached Hopple with a question. “You beat me? With. A. Wooden. Tiller?” The question was rhetorical as Neri did not expect an answer and turned on his heels and walked away.

Between races, I came up with an idea worthy of consideration. During postponements when the fleet is waiting, when the race committee flies Code Flag V, it is an invitation for the fleet to vote. By sailing to the left of the committee boat, you are voting to sail in and cancel for the day. By sailing to the right of the committee boat, you are voting to stay out and wait for breeze. The vote is not binding, but informs the committee’s decision. The thinking is Master sailors are not youth sailors. The centuries of wisdom on the starting line is worthy of the race committee’s consideration.

As always, the camaraderie on land was quite good and it was great to have competitors from all over the country in the mix. The housing was first rate, the RC figured out how to get 6 races off in tricky conditions, and the staff of the Rochester Yacht Club was hospitable.

July, 2014

By Joe Berkeley

Back in 1984, I became the owner of a Pontiac Trans Am 15th anniversary special edition car. Given that we were in the middle of the eighties, the performance was…totally awesome.

Oh yeah, she’s got a 305 cubic inch V8 with 190 horsepower! Check out the aluminum alloy wheels with Goodyear Gatorback tires you can spin ‘at a traffic light. And if you think the stereo sounds gnarly now, just wait until I click the power boost button!

Today, when I drive the car, it takes me back to a time when there was an afro on my head, a beautiful blonde named Heather sitting on the Recaro passenger seat, and the Talking Heads on the cassette deck, belting out “Pyscho Killer, Ques Que C’est, fa fa fa fa fa fa fah!”

The illusion is sustained until I pull up at a convenience store. Inevitably, some down on his luck middle-aged guy wearing a wife-beater tee-shirt, smoking a Parliament will walk by and say, “nice cahhhhhhhhhh!” As Massachusetts is my home, there is no “r” in the the word “car,” and the more the gentleman admires the cah, the harder and longer the “h” is pronounced.

The appeal of the 80’s is not lost on women of a certain age. In the presence of the mighty TA, stressed out matrons filling up mini-vans at gas stations put down the smartphone and share their memories of the F-body they took to concerts and parties and how they can’t believe they lived to tell the tale.

Many of the women in my life have encouraged me to sell the car and get something less dated than a Wang Chung music video. But the White Dragon, as my friend Patrick refers to it, has stood by me, for better or for worse, in good times in bad, for richer or poorer long after all of the women but one have come and gone.

There was an awkward moment during my courtship with the woman I would marry when the White Dragon tore down the pea-stone driveway of her parent’s home. She comes from an import-loving family and it was difficult for them to see me as Mr. Right when I was driving a car that would be more suitable for Miss Budweiser.

I was on shaky ground with her father until the tires on his Jaguar XK8 were low on air. When my Craftsman compressor arrived in his garage, the fact that it was delivered under the watchful eye of the screaming chicken logo was all but forgotten.

Popular media also conspired against me, mocking the pride of TA owners. In “Old School” Frank “The Tank” Ricard played by Will Ferrell took the restrictor plate off his TA “to give the Red Dragon a little more juice but keep it on the down low because it’s not exactly legal.” I could laugh that one off.

Then there was the atomic bomb of satire, The Onion piece, “Shirtless Biden washes Trans Am in White House Driveway.” It’s not possible to read that story, where Biden states, “My mean machine needs to be cleaned,” without laughing out loud both at The Onion and myself.

Like all car nuts, I subscribe to all of the car mags, visit all of the websites, watch all of the car TV shows, and think about what life would be like with a different car. I have a horrible weakness for a Cayman S, 911 S, Mustang, or Corvette.

All of the modern cars go faster, stop quicker, look better and are more socially acceptable than the White Dragon. But my 1984 Trans Am is the only car on earth that can travel back in time, and for that one trick alone, it gets to stay.

When Joe Berkeley is not waxing his Trans Am, he is a freelance writer. He can be reached at

Newport Laser Fleet, Home of Champions
Windcheck magazine
By Joe Berkeley

How far would you go to sail in Newport’s Laser fleet 413? Christine Neville moved 3,090 miles across the country. The aspiring Olympian, who stands an athletic 5’ 11” tall, enjoyed the temperate climate and spirited breeze of San Francisco, but longed for the crowded starting line of fleet 413. Neville said, “It’s the best and the most fun sailing education. I learn more from racing against this fleet than anywhere else.”

And it is not just aspiring Olympians who are attracted to the keen competition and 45-boat fleets. On many days, two generations of the same family compete on the same course.

John Kirkpatrick is a high-school student at St. George’s School who races radials in the summer and full rigs in the winter. A sparring partner of Christine Neville’s, John finished second in the Laser Radial Atlantic Coast Championship this past summer.

John often rigs up next to his Dad, Steve Kirkpatrick, a Master sailor who has won the day, three weeks in a row. A graduate of the Wharton business school, Steve finds frostbiting in Lasers in Newport to be “the best value in sailing.” Storage and dues are just $140 per season. Kirkpatrick was also quick to point out that gently used boats can be found for around $2500.

Just don’t tell that to Dwight Escalera. A marine surveyor for Executive Marine Services, based out of Wakefield, Rhode Island, Escalera bought a Laser he found on craigslist for, and this is not a typo, $650. The powder blue yacht, named “Improve,” had been stored in a basement for 35 years. His sail number, 13222, is the real hull number, which is remarkable considering that more than 200,000 Lasers have been built.

Another father/son campaign is made up of Larry and Parker Colantuono. Larry is the General Manager and Vice President of Brewer Boatyard in Wickford Cove. His son Parker is a freshman at Portsmouth High School who has the sort of height that makes him look more like a freshman in college. Parker enjoys sailing against his dad, but even if he has a great day on the racecourse, there is no trash talking in the truck on the way home.

Dan Neri, the Chief Operating Officer of North Sails, is a former fleet captain and a fleet 413 stalwart. An astute observer noted that during the season, Neri often switches between his red Zhik lifejacket and his white Slam lifie. When asked why, Neri said, “You know how some fans wear Michael Jordan’s basketball sneakers? Well, when Scott Ferguson beats Peter Shope, I wear the Zhik lifejacket to be like Ferg. Lately, Shope has been beating Ferg, so I wear the Slam to be like Shope.”

Ah, well, fans can be fickle and one can only hope that Ferg, who designed the masts for the America’s Cup winner Oracle, won the Laser Masters Worlds twice, and was inducted into the St. George’s School Hall of Fame, isn’t taking the slight personally.

Ed Adams, the 1987 and 1991 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year and former Star World Champion is no stranger to the front of fleet 413. After racing, he is often greeted on shore by his happy Labrador retriever Bodie who is, according to Adams, “all brawn, no brains.” Adams is quick to share his top tips and insights with competitors after sailing.

Mark Bear, a professor at MIT, is one of the many who has benefited from being a student of Ed’s. In 2002, Bear finished second at the Master Worlds following numerous coaching sessions with Adams, who won the Worlds that year. Of all the sailing Professor Bear does, frostbiting Lasers in Newport is his favorite.

Then there is the man of iron, nine-time Masters World Champion, Peter Seidenberg. According to Peter, the Laser is a “simple, complex boat. Little adjustments can make a big difference.” The reason he loves the Newport fleet is the racing offers “simple, pure, man-against-man sailing.”

Despite the presence of numerous former World Champions, Olympians and collegiate All Americans, all of the regulars point to the fleet captains as the reason the organization has stayed strong over the years. This winter, Peter Shope and Jack McVicker share the privilege and responsibility of running the fleet.

Shope is focused on making the racing as competitive as possible. He was the Fleet Champion last season, won the Masters Nationals this summer and finished third at the Masters Worlds. His goal is to create a guide for running races so the quality is always high and people know exactly what to do, as each weekend a different fleet member is responsible for doing RC.

Jack McVicker, a real estate agent for Re/Max, has deep ties to the Newport community and is keen to get as many boats out on the water as possible. He also keeps score for the season, which can be a daunting task. Last season, more than 77 sailors participated in approximately 150 races. McVicker’s duty was made easier when local computer whiz and Laser 2 Champion Avram Dorfman wrote a program that simplifies the scoring process.

The entire fleet is grateful for the race committee leadership of Moose McClintock, who runs more races than anyone else. A veteran of two America’s Cups as well as a world-class sailor, Moose runs perfect races. Wearing his headphones and sunglasses, he constantly squares up the course to make sure the racing is proper. And when Moose is calling the shots, there is no grousing, respect is shown.

If there is a secret ingredient to the fleet’s success, it may well be the gathering after racing at the IYAC bar, the International Yachting and Athletic Club. The establishment was voted the “#1 sailor’s bar in the world” in 2011 by the reader’s of

As the changing facilities at Sail Newport are the backseats of the sailors’ cars, the welcome at the IYAC feels that much warmer, the food tastes better, and the adult beverages wash away any regret from the day’s performance.

With the sincerity of a competitor begging for room at the leeward mark, Ed Adam’s Labrador retriever Bodie looks deeply into your eyes in the hopes you might share a bite of crust. For at the IYAC, salty sailors and salty dogs are all treated like family.

At the Laser Master Worlds in Hyeres, France in October, there was some heated debate as to where the best Laser fleet in the world is. Those from Newport’s Fleet 413 displayed their pride. At the same time, members of the Royal Canoe Club in Sweden stated they may well have the premiere organization.

Thomas Whitmore, the only sailor who has been a member of both fleets dodged the issue like a wily politician hoping to get votes from both sides of the debate. On the Fleet 413 Facebook page, Whitmore wrote, “Wednesday nights are the main event at the Royal Canoe club with 50-60 boats (Lasers) on the line. It seems to be a bit different than the 413 set up. One 75-minute race with a rabbit start (they have bunch of 505 world champions in the fleet and those 505ers love their rabbits starts.)”

Joe Berkeley is a member of Laser Fleet 413 and a freelance Creative Director. His work is at

The Boston Globe
Necessity becomes mother of retro craftsmanship
by Joe Berkeley
Globe Correspondent
Photo by Pulitzer Prize winner David L. Ryan
April 27, 2014

HULL — They don’t make them like they used to, but try telling that to Jim Reineck.

Reineck is making a living working bronze by hand out of his home in this coastal town, creating boat parts that were designed more than 100 years ago by Captain Nathanael Greene Herreshoff, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1870 and legendary naval architect who designed motor yachts, sailboats, and five winning America’s Cup yachts.

Reineck said it all started 20 years ago, when he needed some period-correct parts for his antique Herreshoff sailboat. To him and other Herreshoff fans, putting modern-looking gear on their vintage sailboats would be like putting new radial tires on a Model T or wearing a tuxedo with sneakers. But after reviewing the quality of what was available, Reineck said, he decided to make his own.

Using drawings from the Haffenreffer-Herreshoff Collection at MIT and working to a tolerance of five 1/1000s of an inch — about the thickness of the paper this story is printed on — he set out to build parts that would be true to the originals, but more functional whenever practical.

Inspired by a piece of modern sailing gear, which he showed to a visitor, for example, he added 36 ball bearings to the inner workings of the Herreshoff-designed blocks, or “pulleys” as a landlubber might call them, to make them run more smoothly. He was careful to make the modern improvements invisible, so the exterior of the parts appeared historically correct. He loaned three of his prototypes to a boat builder, who liked them so much he paid Reineck the ultimate compliment: He refused to give them back, and sold the boat he installed them on, Reineck says.

Word of Reineck’s craftsmanship traveled quickly, and in the fall of 1997 he received an inquiry from a restoration shop in Porto Santo Stefano, Italy. He said he sent the owner of the shop a prototype block and wrote, “This is an example of what I do. If you trust me, I will make everything to this quality.” The shop owner took a leap of faith, and several months later Reineck sent 130 pounds of custom-made gear in bronze — more than $12,000 worth of various blocks and attachments, and other boat hardware — to Italy, packed in boxes of 25 pounds each to reduce the chance of breakage.

Soon Reineck would quit his engineer office job, seizing the chance to turn his passion into his profession. “It’s satisfying, to find your own way,” he said. His biggest sellers are still the Herreshoff blocks, he says.

As a mechanical engineer with a degree from Northeastern, Reineck admired Herreshoff’s attention to detail. “He was a real engineer; he documented everything,” he said.

Reineck’s own attention to detail has been noted by many Herreshoff experts, including Halsey Herreshoff, a four-time America’s Cup defender and grandson of the famed designer.

“Over the years since my grandfather designed the Herreshoffs, there have been a number of imitators,” the grandson said recently. “Reineck is entirely different from the rest of them. Reineck builds them carefully and authentically, and as far as I can tell his blocks and fittings are every bit as good as the originals. I give them very high marks.”

The craftsman marks each of his parts with an “R,” for Reineck, and will repair any block so marked. “I wanted to get credit for what I did. And I wanted to not get credit for work I did not do,” he said.

While Reineck has had much success, it has not come without failures. He showed a visitor a large bronze winch that ended up in the scrap heap after it cracked as he worked on it. And there is a lot of scrap. Eleven 5-gallon pails brimming with bronze shavings line the floor of his shop. According to Reineck, each pail is worth $100 at the metal recycler.

But the hard work has largely paid off, and Reineck’s creations are highly sought after today in the relatively small world of wooden boat enthusiasts.

“Jim is generally appreciated as making the finest Herreshoff reproduction hardware available now. That’s my opinion, and that’s shared by a lot of classic boat builders and restoration artisans,” said Kurt Hasselbalch, curator of the Haffenreffer-Herreshoff Collection at MIT.

Customers agree. Andre Betz, proprietor of Bug Editorial in Manhattan, N.Y., and the owner of a Herreshoff Watch Hill 15 named Orphan, said recently, “When you are the custodian of a classic wooden sailboat, it is criminal to use anything but Jim’s hardware.”

Taking a break at his workbench surrounded by boat drawings, boat parts, and tools, Reineck acknowledged with a sigh that he will be very busy from now until the end of August. It’s sailing season, and with so much to do, he said, his favorite Herreshoff sailboat of all time may not make it into the water this summer: his 1916 Buzzards Bay 15, named Flickamaroo.

Joe Berkeley can be reached at josephwilliamberkeleyjr@
So your wife left you. Now what?
By Joe Berkeley
January, 2014, more than 1000 Facebook shares

I didn’t want to write this. There were so many other things I wanted to do. Go for a bike ride, work on the house, hang out with my Labrador retriever, spend time with family and friends, go to the gym, wash the car. But I had to write this.

Frequently, when I met another guy around my age, which is 44 years old as of this writing, I’d hear the same story. “Everything was fine. I went out with my wife on a Saturday night and we had a good time. Then Tuesday, she woke up and told me we had to talk, she wasn’t happy, we were going to get divorced. I was completely blindsided.”

If you’re in a similar situation, let me begin by saying I’m sorry. I know what you’re going through. I came home from work one night and the furniture was gone. In its place was a typewritten letter informing me that my wife had moved out and moved on and all communication should take place through her attorney.

I realize there’s no way my pain can be like yours. Every divorce, every case, and every battle with the agony of an unanticipated separation is different. But I hope there are a few things I learned along the way that can help you.

First Steps
If you can still talk to your soon-to-be ex-wife, and you’re sure that it’s over, the first thing you should try to do is go to an independent mediator and settle your divorce as soon and as practically as possible.

One of the most expensive lessons you can learn is that the court system doesn’t care about your divorce. Every day, overworked judges deal with serious problems.

There are drug addicts who don’t want to give up custody of their kids. There are abused women seeking restraining orders from abusive spouses. There are people who are mired in legal muck while wanting to adopt a child.

Compared to these cases, your divorce is trivial. And the fact of the matter is, a mediator could cost you 66% less than paying two attorneys. That means there’s more money to split, or less debt, depending upon how you look at it.

The best thing you can do is to see if you can get your soon-to-be-ex-wife to go to mediation. You’ll both save a lot of money, and if nothing else, divorce is all about money. Come up with an agreement you can live with, then get on with your life.

Well, that didn’t work
So you tried to go to mediation and you learned that your wife wants 80% of all of the assets. She wants the house, the car, the furniture, the 401(k), the IRA. After much hand wringing, she is willing to give you the sleeping bag you’ve had since high school, the Schwinn bicycle you bought at a yard sale for $17, two pairs of blue jeans, one T-shirt, a can of peas, and your childhood baseball card collection.

Now, this is where it gets difficult. You are going to feel angry that you have received what you consider to be an unfair proposal. This is natural. The anger may drive you to do things that you will regret. Resist that urge.

Doing bad things is only going to give you bad juju and prolong this unpleasant process. Instead, you have to channel all of your anger into doing your work. Your first order of business is finding a good divorce lawyer. Easier than finding a unicorn, not as easy as finding a competent, honest plumber.

Finding Your Lawyer
Start by looking for a lawyer who usually handles cases that are your size. If you have a net worth of $12,987.42 you don’t want to go to a big firm that usually handles high-net-worth individuals like professional athletes.

You may be tempted to represent yourself. Bad idea. You should have taken your best shot at mediation by now. If you can’t get it done with a mediator, you can’t represent yourself. You will screw it up and regret it for the rest of your life.
More bad news: precisely when money is tight, the lawyer will need to be paid. Most will want a retainer up front. Somehow, you have to come up with a tidy sum.

The sad reality is one of the only things you can do to keep your lawyer happy and interested in your case is to pay him or her promptly. Your lawyer has more cases going on than just yours. Some of the people will be whiners. Others will be spectacularly incompetent, unable to complete any assigned tasks such as gathering documentation.

You want to stand out from all of the other clients by being the best client your lawyer has ever met. Do your work. Pay your bill. Don’t ask your lawyer to be a therapist. Be professional, not emotional. Write down all of your questions before meeting with your lawyer.

When it comes to divorce lawyers, I prefer one that owns his or her own firm, who works in an office with an unspectacular view, who is calm and rational, and wants to reach a settlement sooner rather than later. Here’s why. The lawyers who work in large firms are forced to come up with as many billable hours as possible to justify their salaries and the overhead.

If the law firm is in a skyscraper, someone has to pay for it. If you volunteer for the job, just know what you signed up for—every time that lawyer reads an e-mail from you, it’s going to cost you $75. When the lawyer says, “How was your weekend?” that just cost you $5. Every millisecond of time is billed at a rate of near $500 an hour for senior partners, $350 an hour for junior associates.

You should like your lawyer at the beginning of the case. Consider how you really like the carpenter at the beginning of the renovation, but by the end you’re ready to stick sharp objects under his fingernails to get him to finish rebuilding the deck and leave. A divorce lawyer is worse, because every time you visit, you get charged enough to pay three carpenters, maybe four. And when it’s over, instead of having a better house, you probably won’t have a house at all.

A lot of what the lawyer will say to you is the same boilerplate he says to everyone who walks through his doors. You can avoid having to listen to a lot of it, and having to pay for it all, by educating yourself on the basics. Read what you can about divorce on the website

Misery Loves Company
You’re spending money you don’t want to spend. Maybe you’re living in some rat hole while you get yourself together. What can you do?

You have to get out there and find a guy who’s going through the same thing so you can commiserate. Everything you are feeling right now is 100% normal, and those who are going through the same experience have an understanding of divorce that spectators, theorists, and pundits do not and never will.

Since a startling number of marriages end in divorce, it shouldn’t be too hard to find someone. Ask around. There are also divorce support groups at local churches. Do a Google search and you’ll find plenty.

At the moment, this legal transaction is a large part of your identity. Have faith. One day, — not today, but one day, this whole situation will be a memory, like that horribly unreliable car you used to own in your early twenties.

For me, it was an Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser station wagon. It was red with a tan interior and it used to spew radiator fluid at the most inopportune moments. The brakes were dodgy. The transmission expired once and left me stranded. Every time I turned the ignition key, I did so with a mixture of fear and dread.

The fact that your clunker car was unreliable was not your fault. It was a clunker. It was what it was. The fact that your wife just checked out is pretty much the same deal. It happens all the time and you can’t beat yourself up over it.

Do your work
For two months, I woke up every day at 4:00 a.m. to find all of the documents I required before work. My theory is that as the client, you don’t know what piece of information is going to make a difference in the case, so gather it all in a neat, tidy manner. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but get some manila folders. Label each one.

Yes, gathering your documentation is a pain in the neck. But the easier you make it for your lawyer, the better your outcome will be. And the smaller your bill will be.
Lawyers pay paralegals to prepare their files. Be nice to the paralegal. He or she is going to do most of the work on your case. No paralegal wants to get a shopping bag filled with a pile of jumbled papers. Everyone in the legal system wants to receive orderly files where there is no ambiguity.

Stay in the Circle of Competency
At some point, you are going to be ready for a little bit of release. This is when I want you to stay within the Circle of Competency.

When I was going through my divorce, I was tempted to a) buy a used motorcycle or b) become a spinning instructor at a fitness center.

In college, I owned a motorcycle and was driving it home one day when a woman in a white Pontiac Fiero hit me from behind. I Superman-ed over the handlebars, the Suzuki was totaled, and I was lucky to walk away from the wreck. Since the Motorcycle Gods had already given me a free pass, I didn’t think asking them for another was a good idea.
So I decided to become a part-time spinning instructor. I was going to the gym anyway, and it provided me with a release as well as $28 an hour. As a bonus, the gym gave me a free membership, which saved me $32 a month.

What is right for you depends on your skills and interests. If you’ve always liked playing softball, dive into a league. If you like reading books, join a book club. Be true to yourself. You may feel sad and shattered and ill but you have to remember you had a life before divorce and you will have a life after divorce.

Another great emotional release during divorce is a pet. Adopt a kitten. Befriend a neighborhood dog. Get a goldfish. Volunteer at an animal shelter. My Chief Morale Officer was and still is my Labrador retriever because, no matter what, he is always happy. He’s not the smartest dog on earth but he may well be the happiest, and with what you’re going through you don’t need deep and real, you need happy and lots of it.

The Legal Process
This is not a guide to the legal process. It’s a view of at the horse manure that is a byproduct of the legal process. Again, if you want to know more about the facts and figures, read But this is the fertilizer that you’re in for, and there’s enough to fill a dump truck.

One of your first tasks will be to create your Financial Statement. This is where both you and your soon-to-be ex-wife will list income, assets, and expenses. You will write down the cable bill, the phone bill, the car payment, etc.
Your wife’s lawyer may counsel her to stretch the truth as much as possible. She may minimize all of her assets. She may say that the diamond ring you paid $10,000 for is really worth $9.99. She may shrink her income. This may be a long list of lies.

You will employ a strategy that appears to be tomfoolery in the short run, but will prove to be brilliant in the long run. You tell the truth.

Collect all of your receipts and your bills. Get a stack of white Xerox paper and some Scotch tape. Tape each receipt or bill to the piece of paper and write down what you spent, the date, and what it was for. Document everything.

Do the same with your financial statement. Collect all of your assets and the paperwork that proves what they’re worth.
You’re going to get really upset when you read her financial statement if it’s all lies. In the short run, the lies will appear to work in your ex-wife’s favor. In the long run, the truth is the best policy.

What you can do to get this done
Tell your lawyer to get a trial date, right away. The lawyer will say, “Don’t worry about it.” Tell the lawyer you’re the client and you want a trial date and you want him or her to apply for it right now. If he refuses, threaten to fire him or her.
Because 95% of all divorce cases settle before the trial. But if your soon-to-be ex-wife procrastinates, the settlement isn’t going to happen until right before the trial date.

For the lawyers, your divorce isn’t an emotional event. It’s a game. Like in a lot of games, there is a game clock. The object of a lot of lawyers is to milk the clock, and the client’s wallet, until the buzzer. That’s the court date. So at the last minute, instead of going to trial, which the judge isn’t going to let you do anyway, the lawyers agree to strike a deal. Both will act surprised but they knew the outcome of this contest long before it started.

If your soon-to-be ex-wife thinks she’s going to get everything and you’re going to get nothing but the weed whacker and the pasta strainer, it puts her lawyer in a great position to squeeze every cent out of her. “Yeah, you have to pay me a couple of more thousand in fees. But I will get you everything!”

Pre-Trial Conference
Before you get to sit down with opposing counsel and reach a settlement, you’re going to go to a pre-trial conference with the judge. This is where the judge reviews memos from both attorneys. For instance, your wife’s counsel may present a very different view of the facts. That’s what lawyers do. On the same day, they could argue both sides of a legal precedent for two different clients. That’s their job and boy, do they love it.

Your lawyer will present your view of the facts, preferably in a calm, rational manner. The judge is going to look at both memos, and after a few minutes of disinterested introspection, tell you both that 1.) you both have excellent representation 2.) you both have risks and 3.) you should go work this out between the two of you. The lawyers know this, and will both act somewhat surprised when the judge suggests you split the difference between the two of you.

Because in divorce court, the Judge almost never lets anyone run up the score. While there are perfect games in baseball and blowouts in football, there is no divorce case with regular people where one party gets everything and the other gets ooma-la-gatz.

The judge went to law school. The judge practiced law. The judge got appointed. And the judge figures if the method of “split the baby in half” was good enough for King Solomon, it’s good enough for him.

The settlement negotiation will give you a headache. And you’re going to have to pay for the privilege of being legally drawn and quartered. But the reason you accept this indignity is it will slow down the ticking on the lawyer’s never-ending meter and it will cost less than a full-blown trial, which is never going to happen anyway because the judge will keep rescheduling the trial until you learn your lesson and settle.

Rebuilding Your Life
You have to get over the fact that you can’t go out and get new everything. If the toaster still works, and you have it, who cares if your ex-Mother-In-Law gave it to you? Over time, the memory of Mother in Law will fade and your appreciation for toast will continue.

You may need to buy some things to survive in the short term. Try to do so as inexpensively as possible because one year from now your life is going to change a lot. The purple La-Z-Boy recliner with cup holders and your favorite team’s logo on it may look quite sweet today, but you’re not thinking clearly at this moment. can be a great place to find short-term furnishings for short money.

Some things you should buy new.
Don’t pay top-dollar retail prices, but do treat yourself to the essentials. A good set of pots and pans will pay for itself, and you can’t cook if you don’t have any. Get a decent, new set at a value-oriented store like Wal-Mart or Target.
Purchase a decent set of new sheets. They don’t have to be the best, but something in the middle of the range is going to be just fine.

Buy some cleaning supplies and give the place you’re living in a thorough scrub. Make the bathroom so clean you could eat off the floor. Living in a clean place will give you a sense of dignity and establish some order in a life that is filled with chaos.

If you own a bicycle, get it tuned up. If your helmet is more than three years old, buy a new one for short money on Your bicycle will get you around town and save you money on gas. You’ll be more likely to meet new people, and the activity of turning the pedals over will be good for your morale. If you don’t have a bicycle, buy one on or at your local bicycle shop.

Treat yourself to good, fresh food from the supermarket. Buy enough groceries so you can pack a fresh lunch every day. By making your own lunches, you will eat better and become healthier. Avoid the food in the company cafeteria and the restaurants around your office that sell unhealthy food at big prices. If you can do it, this is a great time to give up soda and junk food. The first few days will be difficult. Then you’ll get used to it and you’ll feel better.
New life, new goal

One day, this divorce is going to be over. It’s going to be a somewhat strange celebration, as you are celebrating the death of a relationship that you once thought was going to be positive. A good way to turn this ambivalence into a positive feeling is to come up with a 100% positive goal that will be at the same time the divorce is coming to a close.
You can participate in a road race, walk across the state, swim across a pond, climb a rock, lose 15 pounds, build a bookcase, paint every room of the place where you live, learn how to scuba dive, or do 100 pushups without stopping. What is important is that you set a goal you have a chance of achieving, and then go about preparing for it in a professional manner.

For me, it was the Mt. Washington Hill Climb. I like riding bicycles and the event represented a challenge. Eight months before the event, I started training. I knew I was out of shape, so I had to lose 18 pounds and increase my strength. My goal for the event was to ride my bike to the top of the mountain in less than one hour and twenty minutes.

As I rode up the mountain, the sweat poured out of me and landed on the road, leaving the toxic karma of divorce behind. I rode my race, at my pace, and was pleased to arrive at the finish line in one hour, seventeen minutes, and seven seconds. I accomplished my goal, achieved a healthier lifestyle, and left the past behind.

When you set your goal, it should be something that you can achieve if you try really hard. Don’t make it too easy, like, “My goal is to eat an entire box of Devil Dogs… with no milk!” But don’t make it insane, either. My goal could’ve been, “I want to become a professional athlete.” But you know what, at this age, it’s not going to happen.

After you set your goal, tell your family and friends what it is. By discussing your objective, it becomes real. You become accountable. Speaking about it makes you visualize it. When you visualize it, you can achieve it.

During the difficult moments, it’s good if you have a little mantra you can repeat to yourself. Mine was, “I ride like the wind, I climb like the angels.” Now, keep in mind I don’t ride like the wind and I don’t climb like the angels. But this was my vision of being a better version of myself, and if you repeat it enough, you believe it. If you believe it, you can become it. And while you’re going through the wretched, awful, miserable transaction that is divorce, more than anything else, you have to believe in yourself.

Let it go, again
This is the most difficult part, and it’s going to take more courage than you think. No matter what happened, you have to let it go. All of it.

You might not like it, but you’re never going to know why your ex-wife did what she did. Even if you ask her, the answer isn’t going to make you feel any better. So don’t bother.
The greatest gift you can give yourself is to call your ex-wife and forgive her. Don’t expect her to say anything when you do. This isn’t about her. This is about you leaving the past in the past.

When you meet someone new, and you will, she doesn’t want to hear about how bitter you are. So forgive your ex-wife and do your best to forget about her. Make a pledge to live a simple, happy life, free of drama and nonsense. You will soon be in a better place than you are right now.

You just have to do your homework, be honest, stay rational, and don’t let the miserable, agonizing, screwed-up divorce process define you. One day, it’ll be a distant memory, a gale force storm that you endured and survived. I wish you well on your journey. Godspeed.
How to Make Even More of a Difference When You Work Pro Bono
Join the Non-Profit's Board and Gain Access to Resources and Expertise
November 21, 2013
By Joe Berkeley

One of the most inspiring things you can do as a creative person is to craft a pro-bono campaign. It's an opportunity to change the world for the better, discover new talents, build a new team to solve a new challenge and expand your comfort zone.

As money will be tight, chances are you will take on many different roles. On various jobs, I have found myself being the account planner, the creative director and the writer -- as well as the lunch maker, the van driver, the camera rig builder, the talent recruiter, the motorboat driver and the guy who picks up the trash at the end of the day. You are going to get your hands dirty.

While you're at it, you might take on one more job that can make an even bigger difference. Become a member of the board for the cause you are inspired to serve. You'll have to attend one meeting a month and give more of your time, but speaking from experience, I know you will get more out of it than you put in.

The board you will join probably has certain types of people already on it. There is usually a person who is an organizational genius, a person with a golden Rolodex who has contacts everywhere, and a person who understands the cause inside and out. There may even be someone who has achieved spectacular success in business. But chances are there is no creative person.

There should be. You bring something unique to the cause that most nonprofits sorely need: the ability to crystallize a message and make it memorable, moving and effective.

Most importantly, you will have a seat at the table -- the boardroom table. That way, if people on the board have concerns about the strategy, the creative, the photography, the music or any element that goes into the campaign, you will be there to help solve the problem. You will be collaborating with some very successful people who have accomplished great things. Best of all, you will be their equal, rather than their supplier whose voice is filtered through a representative.

The journey from concept to finished work is made difficult by the lack of resources. But when you're on the board, the other members will help you. They have rich contacts that you can tap into.

For example, I was working on a campaign for a nonprofit, and the photo usage costs were so high that the campaign could not be produced. A member of the board happened to know the CEO of the stock house. He made a phone call and the estimate for photo usage was reduced by more than 80%. Without my being on the board, without that contact, without that phone call, the campaign never would have gotten out the door.

This kind of networking isn't new to you. As a creative person, you are collaborating with more people than ever. At the day job, you work with writers, art directors, user experience people, account people, planners, producers, even other agencies on projects for large clients with numerous relationships.

From a practical point of view, most nonprofit boards are always looking for new members, as volunteers can be expected to serve only for a limited time. According to, there are currently more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States. One of them you care deeply about will be happy to give you a try; all you have to do is ask.

Rest assured, you will not be the first. Dan Wieden sits on the board of directors of Caldera, a nonprofit arts education organization and camp for at-risk youth. Jeff Goodby is on the board of directors for the National Audobon Society. Bob Greenberg is on the board of the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

It's time for more creative people to start collaborating with board members at the big table. It's good for the cause. It's good for the board. It's good for the creative people. And most importantly, it's just good for the work.

Joe Berkeley is a group creative director at Hill Holliday.

Copyright © 1992-2013
Crain Communications | Privacy Statement | Contact Us

Ad Age
Cleaning up Crime in Boston
How Hill Holliday Is Making a Difference Working With Partners

Published: August 18, 2011
Joe Berkeley

The only thing that's more fun than making good advertising is making a difference with good advertising. Like a lot of people at Interpublic Group of Cos.' Hill Holliday, I was born and raised in Boston. So when I take on a local cause I believe in, I like to stick with it for more than just one campaign.

In 2007, violent crime in Boston was rising while trust between the police and residents was crumbling. Whenever a murder happened, the police would go to investigate and witnesses refused to talk to the cops because of fear of reprisal. A code of silence was helping criminals get away with murder.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis wanted fresh ideas for reducing violent crime, but they didn't turn to a criminologist or a think tank. They called Hill Holliday.

At our first meeting, the commissioner told us that while no one would talk to the cops at the crime scenes, everyone was constantly texting their friends. The commissioner challenged us to use new technology to tap into that behavior.

That's when the idea hit us. What if we invented an anonymous text-a-tip program? Residents could provide the police with information without having to reveal their identities. The commissioner and the mayor gave us the green light.

A campaign that included police cruisers spread the message. Together with a trusted mobile vendor, we wrote, designed and built the first anonymous text-a-tip program in the country and launched it three months later. To spread the word, we developed a campaign to encourage people to participate. Radio was an efficient way to spread the word. Boston police cruisers were part of the media buy.

The police received hundreds of new tips, which helped solve crimes. In the process, text-a-tip proved to be 100% anonymous. That's critical. If one tipster's identity had been revealed, the whole program would have fallen apart.

Research for the summer 2010 campaign began the previous winter. One of our account planners went into the neighborhoods and spoke with members of the community, gang members and police veterans. The strategy that emerged was to remind people of text-a-tip and to create opportunities for the cops to build trust with residents, especially kids.

We explored a pile of concepts. The idea that rose to the top was a mashup of an ice cream truck and a police cruiser. The commissioner, who loved the idea, recruited another Boston-area company, HP Hood, to be our partner. It donated the ice cream truck and thousands of Hoodsies, the iconic, 3-ounce, vanilla-chocolate frozen cup of goodness that's recognizable to local kids of all ages.

Our designers burned the midnight oil to create a vehicle that was half ice cream truck, half police cruiser. On hot summer days, when crime traditionally spiked, Operation Hoodsie Cup rolled into at-risk neighborhoods heavily armed with fun graphics, free ice cream and friendly uniformed police officers. Custom napkins asked residents to "Have a Hoodsie with me," and the copy reminded them to text-a-tip anonymously. Boston kids were jumping-up-and-down excited, and cops with 25 years on the job were fighting over who got to be on the truck.

For our third Crime Stoppers effort in 2011, we wanted to demonstrate that the program had momentum. People all over Boston were participating. The work features portraits of community members with pixilated faces. Each concept highlights a different message that reinforces the 100%-anonymous aspect of Crime Stoppers and pays it off with the call to action. A Web-based concept brings the idea to life by allowing viewers to see just how anonymous they will be.

To make it happen, we needed a new partner, and AT&T Inc. joined the team at just the right moment. It donated $85,000 to support the work and help cover the annual cost of keeping the anonymous text-a-tip line up and running. Another partner that knows something about teamwork, the Red Sox, gave us free media space to run this spot on its JumboTron before the game.

According to Commissioner Davis, our work for Crime Stoppers has generated almost 4,000 tips, reduced crime and helped to solve cases. I am immensely proud of the fact that my agency answered the call and stuck with the cause for the past four years and counting.

One person and one agency can make a difference. But by collaborating with a group of partners -- including a mobile messaging company, an ice cream company, a telecommunications company and one of Boston's most beloved sports teams, we were able to make a much greater impact. It was a great honor to work with such a diverse group of partners that wanted to give back to the communities that make their success possible.

Joe Berkeley is group creative director of Hill Holliday, Boston.

Copyright © 1992-2011
Crain Communications | Privacy Statement | Contact Us

Words from home boost airman's morale
Brother starts e-mail campaign

By Joe Berkeley, Globe Correspondent | March 27, 2005

When Hull's Sean Peterson was deployed to Iraq with the Air Force's 621st Air Mobility Operations Group, his brother Jim wanted to make sure he got plenty of mail.

So Jim printed Sean's e-mail address on small pieces of paper, and put them next to a sign on the counter in the family's bakery in Hull. And once again a Peterson family campaign to ensure that one of its own is not forgotten while overseas has made a homesick serviceman happy, and grateful to his hometown.

''One of the customers started a little chain: She wrote to me, then her friend, then her friend had one of her friends, who was a teacher from Hull High a couple years back. I like what has turned out," said Sean Peterson, who graduated in 2003. ''It's a lot easier than paying 75 cents or more a minute for a phone call, or waiting 11-plus days for a letter to make it here."

Several young women have even sent photographs of themselves with their e-mails. ''I wasn't expecting that," Peterson, 20, said with a chuckle during a recent telephone interview.

Jim Peterson, 25, said his brother's e-mails are brief. After all, he said, the airman is kept pretty busy loading and unloading cargo planes.

Said Sean Peterson: ''I'm on the ground all day. The planes fall out of the sky constantly. I work some crazy hours. I went to work at 11 in the morning, it's 1 a.m. now. So that's a 14-hour shift."

He said he chose the Air Force because he's always loved planes.

''The planes I work with are pretty amazing: C17s and a lot of C130s. Big cargo planes," he said. ''A C17 will come in here with 18 pallets, and all of them weigh 10,000 pounds. That's 180,000 pounds."

Jim Peterson said he has a good idea of how hard his brother is working. A former Marine sergeant, he was among the first units sent to Afghanistan in November 2002 in the US attack on the Taliban government.

To boost the Marine's morale, his father, Paul, posted his picture and address at Weinberg's, the family's bakery on Nantasket Avenue, and even offered to pay for postage if people would take the time to write.

''When I was in Afghanistan, everyone wanted to help and send stuff over, so I got a big pouring of letters from the town," said Jim Peterson, now the general manager of Weinberg's and a student at Bridgewater State College, where he studies business management and marketing. He said he believes Americans view his brother's mission in Iraq differently than his deployment in Afghanistan.

''Our reasons for going in [to Iraq], they weren't really proven, and I think people have a more negative attitude toward it in general," he said. ''It seems like everyone's put the flags away. It seems like the news is carrying it a lot less. It's becoming an out-of-sight, out-of-mind type deal."

Sean Peterson said he is happy to be unloading much-needed supplies in Iraq. ''A lot of the trucks here are still hillbilly rigs. They just welded metal on them. You still see trucks running out with bald tires -- they're just accidents waiting to happen. All of the [new] armor and bulletproof glass [and tires] will help," he said.

The e-mails he has received have made a big difference in the way he feels about being over there. ''They've been amazing, definitely a morale booster," he said. ''People are thanking me for what I'm doing over here. It makes it a lot easier, you know. About half the people, I can't put the name to the face, but it means a lot to me."

He said hearing from people in his hometown has also helped him cope with his feelings of homesickness. He often thinks fondly about friends, family, customers at the bakery, even winter.

''I'd rather be in a snowstorm than a sand storm any day," he said. He also yearns for the smell of the ocean off Hull. ''I never imagined I'd miss that. But I definitely miss that right now."

Peterson is looking forward to returning home on leave, which is expected to be sometime between late April and mid-May.

''I'm going to go home, relax, eat a nice steak, and hang out with my dog [a golden retriever named Foxwood] and my family," he said.

In the meantime, he is grateful for the messages from home. Since his brother put up the appeal at the bakery, he has received e-mails from at least 32 people, as well as six care packages and nine letters. ''I thank my brother all the time for setting that all up, because every time I receive an e-mail or letter from someone back home, I realize that this is not a thankless job, and the people back home support me 100 percent, no matter what their political views are," Peterson said.

He said he replies to all e-mails, though his response may be succinct.

''We have a couple of morale computers at work," he said. ''Basically, we get half an hour on them at a time. I just type away as fast as I can. I only type with two fingers, so it makes it hard."

Airman Sean Peterson, who is stationed somewhere outside Fallujah, can be reached at
© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

State acts on missing bridge bolts
Daily inspections of structure ordered

By Jenn Abelson and Joe Berkeley, Globe Correspondent | October 31, 2004

The Massachusetts Highway Department has directed workers to conduct daily inspections of the pedestrian walkway on the temporary Fore River bridge after it was discovered that some bolts holding parts of the pathway to its supporting structure were missing or loose.

After MassHighway was alerted to the situation, spokeswoman Judith Forman checked with agency staff members, and said traffic vibrations had caused the bolts to loosen. She added that the structure, which carries Route 3A between Quincy and Weymouth, requires regular inspections. She said the Middlesex Corp., which is responsible for maintaining the bridge until next year, examined the structure on Monday and replaced any missing or loose bolts.

"Under no circumstance would we leave open an unsafe bridge for public use," Forman said.

MassHighway has instructed staff members to walk the bridge's pedestrian path daily, collect debris, and notify the contractor of any situation requiring immediate attention.

Bob Mabardy, executive vice president of the Middlesex Corp., declined to comment on the findings of his company's inspection or the missing and loose bolts. Mabardy said his company was working with officials from the bridge's manufacturer, Acrow Corp., to address the situation. The $53 million vertical-lift bridge, designed to be dismantled once a permanent replacement span is completed, opened late last year.

"Ultimately, we're responsible," he said.

On Tuesday, a Globe examination of the bridge found that the missing bolts had been replaced.

Before Middlesex's inspection this week, however, there were numerous holes that were missing bolts and circled with white paint, according to the Globe's examination. In some of the panels, some of the replacement bolts were smaller than the original hex-head bolts.

The temporary span is made of panels held together by 10,000 panel pins and 60,000 structural bolts, according to information on Acrow Corp.'s website. The structural bolts are larger than those found missing or loose.

The loose bolts on the bridge were noticed earlier this month by a reporter, who decided to take a closer look. He found 18 three-quarter-inch bolts that fasten the pathway's metal panels to the structure were missing; 81 similar bolts were visibly loose and could spin freely in the panel hole; and three bolts were lying on the walkway, sheared in half and with rust stains on the freshly exposed metal.

Construction on the bridge began in 1999. The bridge weighs about 10,000 tons, is 2,500 feet long, and is intended to last up to 15 years. About 45,000 cars cross the bridge every day.

The former Route 3A drawbridge, which was constructed in the 1930s, was shut down last year because of increasing deterioration. Initially, state officials had hoped to rehabilitate the permanent bridge, but studies concluded that wasn't possible. So, the temporary bridge was built.

MassHighway expects to take over responsibility for the maintenance of the temporary bridge on March 15, the contract completion date, Forman said. The remaining work includes installation of navigation lighting and additional storage racks for replacement ropes for the lift section. The ropes are to be stored in a maintenance building under the temporary bridge.

Quincy City Councilor Francis X. McCauley said he was unaware of the missing and loose bolts, but said they raise concerns about the bridge's integrity.

"This could be serious . . . we should be very careful to keep an eye on it," McCauley said.

Globe Correspondent Joe Berkeley uses the Fore River bridge frequently in his commute between Hull and Boston.

© Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Saluting a smooth ride
By Joe Berkeley | October 28, 2004

To commute by boat from Boston's Logan Airport or Long Wharf to the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy or Hull's Pemberton Point this time of year is a treat. The weather is (mostly) fine, the tourists are gone, and the views are spectacular.

Yet some trips on the MBTA's high-speed catamaran seem vastly superior to others. It all comes down to the captain. There are many captains in the MBTA's lineup. Some are regulars, others are substitutes who don't know the vessel all that well.

Sadly, it seems many of them approach the dock with a look of terror in their eyes, as well they should. Boston Harbor's tight quarters, strong tides, and merciless winds create a formidable challenge.

Anyone who has ever learned to pilot a boat has heard the oft-repeated story that a good landing should be soft enough that an egg placed between the boat and the dock wouldn't break.

Apparently, there are more than a few skippers aboard the Harbor Express, which runs the boat service for the T, who have not heard of this goal, or regard it as the lore of amateurs. They crash and bash their way into the dock, jostling passengers, cracking and scrambling more proverbial eggs than the International House of Pancakes on a busy Sunday morning.

They don't even have the decency to make an announcement before their landing to ''Brace, brace, brace!" At the point of impact, elderly patrons shuffle to keep their balance, pilings shudder, weekend mariners shake their heads in disbelief. The crew members who open the gates and collect the tickets look off into the distance.

And then there's Captain Fred Durling. A compact man who is fit and trim, with a look in his eyes that says he has seen all the sea has to offer and then some, Durling elevates his job to an art form.

It matters not if he is on the bridge on a cold winter day, or a perfect summer afternoon. It makes no difference if the wind is dead calm, or screaming out of the northwest at 30 miles per hour. The fact that the tide is flooding or ebbing is noted, but is no cause for concern.

To watch Durling dock the boat is a joy. He sets up his landing two boat lengths from the dock, and anticipates what the tide and wind will do to his vessel, adjusting his motors to correct his course.

When his boat is one egg length away from the dock, she moves forward as if on her own, to gently kiss her old friend the dock. The crew members on the deck of the catamaran stand a bit taller, and proudly welcome their passengers aboard a well-run ship.

Up on the bridge, Durling's expression is unchanged. He doesn't smile, he doesn't pump his fist, he doesn't do a celebratory end-zone dance. He has made a million perfect landings in his career and he will no doubt make a million more.

The passengers who know a bow from a stern can't help but look up and smile at Durling. They know they have just witnessed the work of a master mariner, and that they are in good hands for the ride home.

If only everything in life would go as smoothly as a ride on the good captain's ship.

Joe Berkeley is a freelance writer who commutes from Hull.

© Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company


Author: By Joe Berkeley, Globe Correspondent

Date: 09/12/2004 Page: 10 Section: City Weekly

Judge a Boston baked good by its cover and chances are you're on to something bigger than the perfect brownie.

Brown paper or wax, plastic wrap, boxes inside them lie some of the most divine of earthly bites for the city dweller, and something more.

Take the chocolate-chip cookie available at the snack bar on a Boston-bound Amtrak train. The cookie, the size of your out-stretched palm, is covered in clear shrink-wrap.

This is a bad sign. For shrink-wrapping, a technology that has been adapted to a variety of grim tasks, including winterizing houseboats at Chelsea Creek indicates a certain industrial approach to the craft of baking.

Yet as a hungry traveler with a horrible weakness for baked goods, you put hope ahead of experience and purchase the cookie.

Before you eat, you must first pierce the protective plastic.

Improvisation is necessary. A ballpoint pen is called forth from the satchel to puncture the edge of the wrapping. Minutes of fumbling result, only adding to the anticipation.

At first bite, the disappointment is instantaneous and overwhelming. Despite the high-tech package, the cookie is dry, crumbling, stale, a baked good that was baked badly, far away and long, long ago.

After three bites, you doubt that a baker had anything to do with this sad imposter. Indeed, you speculate that the factory that mass-produced this wretched thing could instead, by spinning a few dials and slightly altering the ingredients, mass-produce NHL-approved hockey pucks.

According to those in the know, to find a baked good that is actually worth eating, you must follow the paper trail.

The wax-paper trail, that is.

One block from the Back Bay Station where you left the Amtrak train with a bad taste in your mouth, you find the Nashoba Brook Bakery and Cafe on Columbus Avenue.

After you choose a delectable morsel, a kind woman behind the counter reaches for a piece of wax paper, gently picks up your treat, and places it in a bag, also made of wax paper.

The sensation of your hand on the wax-paper bag makes your mouth salivate. Since 1872, when none other than Thomas Alva Edison invented wax paper, it has been a good omen for veteran bakery customers.

All these years later, the people who make wax-paper bags are still proud. In all caps, the "DUBL-WAX CARRY-OUT" bag logo stands as a lonely protester to so-called progress.

If the feeling of caressing the bag right before the moment of consumption isn't enough to turn you into a paraffin aficionado, a line of type on the bag reminds, "You can reuse this bag as a lunch bag or freezer bag and it repels `soak through.' "

As you devour the fresh, tasty, moist chocolate-chip cookie, you may ask yourself, "Is this as good as it gets?"

No, it gets better.

For while wax paper is the sign of quality, there is one type of packaging in the world of baked goods that trumps all others.

It isn't the mere bakery box. For a great many bakeries have boxes, which they seal with tape or foil stickers. There is only one surefire indicator that you have walked through the portals of the most sublime bakeries on earth.


That's precisely what you find at Mike's Pastry on Hanover Street in the North End. In long, glass-topped cases suitable for displaying jewels, an astonishing selection of cookies, tiramisu, biscotti, cannoli, and the like tempt the sweet tooth.

After you drool on the glass and make your selection, a baker places your baked goods in a box.

Then the magic happens.

Pulling a long piece of white and blue speckled string from a spool, the baker quickly, effortlessly, beautifully wraps your box and secures it with a knot.

To walk around the streets of Boston with a string-tied Mike's Pastry box dangling from your hand is to invite envy.

Eyes pierce your box. Hands tremble. Men, women, and children of virtue think about grabbing your baked goods and running like they've knocked over a museum.

Only later, when you get home, cut the string, and share the treats with the most important people in your life, do you realize that the key ingredient isn't flour or butter, chocolate or eggs.

Like anything else of the utmost import, a fine baked good is all about love. And there is nothing that says, "I love you," like beautifully baked cookies, carefully packaged in wax paper, or best of all, a box wrapped in string.

Joe Berkeley can be reached at

All content herein is © Globe Newspaper Company and may not be republished without permission.

Urban Diary
'Tis nobler to suffer umbrellas, or take arms against them?
By Joe Berkeley, Globe Correspondent | July 18, 2004

Forget about the potholes. There's a more serious threat to health around here that goes virtually unnoticed.

You can't see it on a clear day. Only when the sky darkens and the rain falls in great sheets does this particular recidivist appear on sidewalks all over Boston.

An umbrella is out to get you.

There you are walking down Boylston Street clad in a raincoat and an old friend of a baseball cap, when a pedestrian with umbrella up and head down comes barreling toward you with the enthusiasm of a college linebacker out to make the New England Patriots.

You can't get out of the way. There's no time to politely ask the assailant who gives Mary Poppins a bad name to alter course. Your only defense is to thrust your arm up in front of your face. The forearm can endure the collision that the eyeball cannot.

The offenders come in all shapes and sizes. The worst are the golfers in the Financial District, who have bumbershoots the size of pup tents, some complete with double roofs. Knowing they are a menace to society, they attempt to make their assaults more appealing by choosing clown-like primary colors for their instruments of torture.

Although not as large as the golf umbrella, the corporate-trinket umbrella is just as lethal, festooned with a logo of some global behemoth. Why would any company want to put a logo the size of a pizza pie upon an umbrella and then beat Bostonians walking through the Common about the head with it? The only good thing about the corporate-trinket umbrella is that if you lose an eye, you know whom to sue.

Saddest of all umbrella users are those with the foldable variety. Designed to be lightweight and compact, the ubiquitous foldable umbrella is the ill-conceived kite that jerks to and fro while sporting metallic ends, an accident waiting to happen.

The only safe umbrella users, a rare breed that, are those who sport caught-in-a-time-warp, bubble-shaped, see-through-plastic umbrellas. They know where they're going and they avoid direct contact with your cranium at all costs.

The umbrella crimes against humanity do not go completely unpunished, however. First of all, it is human nature to forget one's umbrella, forcing mean-spirited umbrella users to scrounge up another.

But there is little solace in that thought.

To truly enjoy the spectacle of the world getting even with all of those who have punished you mercilessly, you must stake out a position at the John Hancock Tower. It is advisable to choose a spot upwind. Justice is sweet and swift.

Umbrella users walk around one side of the building where the breeze is blowing about five miles per hour. As they round the corner, a gust of 40 miles per hour on a slow day, perhaps 60 miles per hour on a good one, grabs the umbrellas. Users struggle to stick the top of the umbrella straight into the wind, but the fight doesn't last long.

If you're lucky, you'll see the umbrella blow inside out and straight up. Shocked and defeated, the umbrella users inevitably drop them onto the sidewalk and keep walking. If they can't hit you in the head with their umbrella, maybe they'll just trip you with it.

© Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company


Author: By Joe Berkeley, Globe Correspondent Date: 07/11/2004 Page: 4 Section: City Weekly
Adam Ford, the fastest bicycle messenger on Earth in 2003, had to settle for a new title this year: fastest bicycle messenger in North America.

Ford, a South End resident, finished third overall in both the sprint and the main race behind competitors from Switzerland and Denmark, in the 2004 Messenger World Championship held July 1-5 in Edmonton, Alberta.

The competition featured some 150 couriers from all over the globe, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, France, Spain, and Canada. Ford was looking to defend his first-place finishes in last year's sprint, a 250-meter test of raw speed, and the main race, a longer event held on open roads.

Chilly temperatures and torrential downpours made the riding treacherous, said Ford.

"After two days of rain, half the course was under water," he said.

Many riders couldn't see the submerged ruts in the road and potholes. Some got off easy with a flat tire.

Others according to Ford as many as 10 percent of the field crashed out of the race.

While the weather was harsh, the citizens of Edmonton were welcoming, according to Ford.

"When I was riding around the city the first few days getting oriented, whenever I'd pull over and pull out a map someone would stop and ask me if I needed any help," he said.

To train for the Worlds, Ford rode his bicycle every day, first on long training rides in the morning, and again in the afternoon as a courier for RS Express in Boston. Last year, he logged 20,000 training miles.

As far as words of wisdom for the casual urban cyclist, perhaps riding a mile from apartment to coffee shop, Ford said, "as always, vigilance is the key to safety in riding in Boston. And wearing a helmet is absolutely imperative."

All content herein is © Globe Newspaper Company and may not be republished without permission.


Author: By Joe Berkeley

Date: 02/12/2004 Page: 8 Section: Globe South

Getting into the snootiest country club would've been a cakewalk by comparison.

Through sheer determination, I have joined one of the most exclusive organizations on Earth: I have become a client of the best house painter on the South Shore.

Let's just call him Mr. C.

Mr. C doesn't advertise. He has no listing in the Yellow Pages. His name is not on the side of his truck, his jacket, or anywhere else. Mr. C, of Hull, has no need for business cards.

He travels the South Shore cloaked in anonymity, leaving a trail of beautiful work in his wake.

His world is a secret society.

Sure, his identity is known among the well-groomed and finely landscaped members of a certain exclusive garden club south of Boston. But you have a better chance of cracking the FBI witness protection program than hacking into that group. Garden clubbers know a fraud looking for a great painter when they see one.

And even they, those who have been with Mr. C for decades, must wait patiently upon his list.

Some have suffered there for years. Many newcomers never crack the top three. All inquirers are given the same response by Mr. C: "You're on my list."

No one has ever seen the list. It's not committed to paper or burned into a computer hard drive. The list is in Mr. C's head, and he moves customers up and down it at his whim. Ask too many questions, and you'll be bumped to the bottom.

To be so wanted is incomprehensible to those who make a living sitting at a desk in a large organization. No one waits for the services of the desk-bound.

All of those who have an employee number on their paycheck and a bar code on their company ID know they could be replaced by someone else who would be happy to sit at their former desk to push their former computer keys around before their former chair even got cool.

But not Mr. C. The law of supply and demand is written squarely in his favor.

There's one of him. There're so many of us living with the cracked walls, the chipped trim, the unfortunate color choices of the previous owners.

Thus, to stand out of the crowd of beggars and secure Mr. C's services, a full-scale campaign was necessary. It began with a visit to his home.

Ironically, while Mr. C is in the business of making other peoples' houses look beautiful, his abode is not a candidate for the cover of Fine Housekeeping magazine. A lifelong bachelor, Mr. C takes an unconventional approach to chores.

On a day in the summer when his grass was over 4 feet tall, I arrived with my lawn mower and gave it a good mow. His neighbors were thrilled. Mr. C was unmoved.

On another occasion, I took it upon myself to give Mr. C's house a thorough cleaning, its first in years.

His brother was impressed. Mr. C was indifferent.

A steak dinner with all of the trimmings had no discernible effect upon the artist either.

His response to my initiatives was the familiar refrain delivered with professional indifference: "You're on my list."

Then one day this winter, when I least expected it, Mr. C arrived to paint the interior of my home.

There was no estimate. There was no negotiation. Mr. C bills $35 an hour plus materials. He is not to be questioned. He is not to be rushed. The job will be done when it is done, and that is all there is to it.

Admiring the work, friends and family ask me for my painter's name.

Greedily, I reply, "Oh, you probably want to find someone else. . . . He has a very long list."

Joe Berkeley lives in Hull.

All content herein is © Globe Newspaper Company and may not be republished without permission.

Words can hardly describe how cold it is

By Joe Berkeley, Globe Correspondent, 1/25/2004

Boston is freezing its A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y off.

A bitter early morning stroll, stretching from Rowes Wharf to Mass. Ave, revealed two indisputable facts: One, it is exceedingly cold, and two, the letters in signs around town are missing.

Perhaps the adhesives are cracking. Maybe the fasteners are snapping. Or it could just be that during one of the coldest winters on record, it's too frigid to effect repairs.

Whatever the cause, it seems to this perambulator that vicious winter is displaying a sadistic sense of humor.

According to the UBS corporate website, "UBS is a premier global financial services firm offering wealth management, asset management and investment banking services to individual, corporate and institutional investors." However, after being stripped of a vowel, a sign on the company's building in the financial district read, "The BS Building."

While customers arrived at the Profilo Hair Design shop on High Street, the sign above the store read "Profilo Ha r"-- having had a very much wanted vowel unceremoniously yanked from its name.

As one might suspect, winter has a healthy disrespect for that deeply loved yet tragically short season, summer. A sign on 87 Summer St. had lost an E so it stood defamed: "87 Summ r Street."

The mean-spirited season doesn't limit itself to consuming vowels. It also has a healthy appetite for consonants. On the boulevard that sings its praise, Winter Street in Downtown Crossing, the awning over Judy's Card Shop displayed a wounded J, sliced in half horizontally.

Another consonant was missing in action on Boylston Street where "Office S ace" is available.

Cruel and unrelenting, winter pays no heed to Boston's interest in religion and reading. A sign above The Christian Science Reading Room on Mass. Ave had lost its I-S-T-I-A-N. Farther up the avenue, it appeared winter may hold hot gourmet beverages in high regard: the A from a Starbucks sign had been removed so customers were met with what appeared to be an abbreviation for Saint Rbucks Coffee.

While many would say winter is heartless, few would be so bold as to say it is uninformed. In the midst of a going-out-of-business sale, FAO Schwarz on Boylston Street suffered yet another indignity. The F in the FAO Schwarz sign had lost its luster, stripped of its gold and its stature.

A few blocks up Boylston, winter cracked another knee-slapper. Like a drunk weaving down the sidewalk, clinging to parking meters and light posts, the sign above Clarendon Wine on Boylston Street barely stayed up. Three-quarters of the C was gone; most of the E was lost. The W hung upside down -- winter's version of the old cocktail-party-lampshade-on-the-head gag.

Even the aged weren't spared the wrath. Shreve, Crump & Low, which describes itself as "a Boston tradition since 1796," had lost an O from a sign bearing its name. One could almost hear Old Man Winter snickering, "1796, hah! When you were still wearing short pants, I had been wreaking havoc for thousands of years."

One might surmise that despite all of the bad press winter receives, it doesn't really care what anyone thinks.

Rather than warm up to New England's largest daily newspaper in an effort to improve its battered image, O.M. Winter poked yet another powerful institution in the eye. The sign on the north side of a very large brick building on Morrissey Boulevard read, "The Boston Glob."

© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.


Author: By Joe Berkeley, Globe Correspondent Date: 11/02/2003 Page: 4 Section: GLOBE SOUTH

It was a normal Friday commute. I got on my bicycle in Hull at 6 a.m. and began pedaling to Boston. Then I reached Weymouth.

The road was torn up from the repaving project on Route 3A, which extended from St. Jerome's all the way to the Fore River Bridge. Vast crevasses appeared to be larger than the craters on the moon.

Soon enough, I came across a man who was pulled over with a flat tire. I asked him if he needed a hand and he replied, "Yeah, that would be great. My name's John."

We attacked the flat and figured out how to change it in about 15 minutes, which is about how long it takes to change a flat on my bicycle, a procedure that is all too familiar to me.

When the tire was changed, John asked if I wanted a ride. I declined, explaining that I needed the training miles on my bike. But he could do one thing for me, I said.

Since I was riding in Lance Armstrong's Ride for the Roses in Texas to raise money to fight cancer, I would greatly appreciate it if he could write a check to the cause.

He nodded and went his way. I went mine.

A few miles up the rode, traffic had thickened and I got sideswiped by a pickup making a right turn without a signal.

Cursing the situation, I thought to myself there is some truth to the adage, "No good deed goes unpunished." Shaken up but not injured, I returned to my commute.

Three days later I was sitting at my desk when I was notified by the Lance Armstrong Foundation that a gentleman named John Drew, CEO and president of the John Drew Company, had made a $250 donation to the cause.

Later, I received a handwritten note that said: "Hey Joe, if you ever need a ride, let me know."

The glass that is my soul had precisely the same amount of water as before the incident, but once again it is half full.

Joe Berkeley got to participate in a private ride with Armstrong during the event last month.

All content herein is © Globe Newspaper Company and may not be republished without permission.


Author: By Joe Berkeley
Date: 10/26/2003 Page: 1 Section: CITY WEEKLY

Adam Ford went to the 2003 Cycle Messenger World Championships in Seattle a humble bike courier from Boston. He returned a world champion.

Among a field of 700 competitors, the 5-foot-10-inch, 155-pound Ford won both the sprint -- a 250-meter dash from a dead stop -- and the Alley Cat -- an event held at night in traffic to determine which messenger can go the fastest navigating open city streets.

The day after earning his world champion title, Ford was back at work at RS Express in Boston. His job as a bike courier there does not offer paid vacations, health insurance, or a guaranteed salary; it does create, he says, a visible stab of envy in those who would rather be riding but are chained to corporate cubicles.

Ford has earned a living as a bicycle courier for a decade, collecting commissions of 50 percent of the delivery charges for every trip he completes. For a 6-mile ride -- considered a long one by courier standards -- billing a $12 fee, Ford keeps half, or a dollar per mile. For a short trip, say, from an attorney's office downtown to a client a quarter-mile away, the bill would be $6.50, with $3.25 going to Ford -- an impressive $13 per mile.

Given the economics of the job, it would be more profitable for Ford to make more short trips than long ones. But he prefers the long trips. His life has never been about making the most profitable choice.

Ford chose his vocation after graduating in 1993 from Wesleyan University in Connecticut with a dual degree in studio arts and pre-med. It is, he says, ''one of the few ways to get paid to ride a bike.

''I realized riding a bike for a living was a lot more worthwhile to me than going to grad school and going into that kind of profession,'' he says. ''[It's] an honest living. Every single dollar I made, I've earned, and that means a lot to me.''

On an average work day, he puts in 50 to 60 miles on the bike. One day each weekend, he goes for a long ride of 75 miles or more, for a weekly total of about 350 miles. In a normal year, he rides enough miles, 18,000, to cross the country five times and then some. During the course of his career, he estimates he has ridden about 180,000 miles -- the same as spinning around the earth seven and a half times.

If Ford, 33, continues to turn the pedals over at his current pace, he will have ridden the equivalent of the distance from the earth to the moon by his 36th birthday.

It is a testament to Ford's skill as a cyclist, his tough Australian heritage, and his decision to wear a helmet that he hasn't become a long-term patient of one of his Wesleyan classmates who did attend medical school. Being a courier, especially a courier in Boston, is a dangerous job.

In 1999, the International Federation of Bike Messengers named Boston the worst city in the world to work as a messenger. That same year, Bicycling magazine designated Boston as the worst city for bikers in the United States and Canada.

Boston is also a dangerous place to be a pedestrian, partly because of the couriers. In the most publicized case, William Spring, a vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, was struck and seriously injured by a bicycle messenger in 1997 while crossing Comm. Ave. The incident prompted legislation to regulate couriers, requiring them to be insured and have visible license plates on their bicycles.

A 2002 study by Jack Dennerlein and John Meeker at the Harvard School of Public Health titled ''Occupational Injuries Among Boston Bicycle Messengers'' found that ''most working couriers have incurred an injury resulting in days away from work (70 percent) and in visits to a health-care professional or hospital (55 percent).''

Ford is no exception. He has been ''doored'' twice -- had a car door flung open as he rode past, causing him to plow into the door or rocket over it. Last year, he was struck by a Jeep. On two other occasions, he says, he was hurt badly enough to be taken away by ambulance.

Remarkably, he has sustained no catastrophic injuries and considers himself lucky to get off with a few severe lacerations on the throat, the occasional post-concussion disorder, and sprains and strains too numerous to count.

As a result of all his riding, Ford has a resting heart rate of 50 beats per minute, far better than average.

That beat spikes to an impressive 195 when he pushes his bike to the max -- known in cycling circles as the redline.

He thinks the thing that has protected him for 10 years on the savage streets of Boston, including last winter's cold and slush, is his keen sense of observation.

''When you're in traffic, you look at stuff, like what the driver is doing. Because more often than not, they're not looking where they're going,'' he says. ''They're not using their directionals. They're talking on cellphones. You have to look for little things. The way they move their hands can tell you which way they're going to go.''

Even at rest in a coffee shop, Ford's observation skills are on alert.

During an interview, he notes everyone who walks into the shop, keeps an eye on the clock and makes sure his bicycle, a stunning Independent Fabrication cyclocross bike with custom flame paint job -- is safely tied to a post.

Following a 70-mile ride on his day off, the South End resident took a moment to apply those skills to Boston and Seattle and to choose the more desirable city based on a number of criteria. Like making the decision on whether or not to go into an opening in traffic, Ford reacted instinctively, with no hesitation.

From a biker’s view: Which city wins?

“Seattle. The road surfaces in Seattle were almost flawless. No potholes or broken pavement. The only thing they did have that wasn’t perfect was big metal plates downtown that are slippery.”

“Seattle. In five days of being in Seattle, I didn’t get honked at once. People in Seattle use their turn signals. They don’t drive aggressively. They don’t use their cars as weapons. They don’t use their horns as communication devices. It’s unbelievable. Out there they do everything normally.”

“Seattle. Pedestrians out there obey the law. You see very little jaywalking. And if someone does, they look both ways. Here not only are pedestrians ignorant of the law, but they feel that it’s their prerogative to do whatever they want in the street, which baffles me because half the population of Boston isn’t even from Boston.”

“Seattle wins. You can get a good cup of coffee in a gas station in Seattle. They have a million Starbucks out there, too. But it’s not your only option.

“Seattle has the better weather. …In the summer, they don’t have awful heat and humidity. Their winters don’t last as long as ours, and it only rains in the winter. Take last winter (in Boston). Winter here lasted 10 months last year.

“Boston wins. We have the largest density of lawyers in the country outside of New York City. Law firms produce so many packages a day. For the most part, they’re envelopes. The worst clients are ad firms and architects because the packages are big flats that stick out of messenger bags.

Bike shops
“I stripped a bolt out on my stem when I was in Seattle and I needed a top-end stiff stem. So sure enough I had to go to four bike stores before I found the one I wanted. Boston has to win on bike shops. We have Community Bicycle, which is a great medium-sized, neighborhood shop. Then we have International in Allston, which is huge. And then further out, ATA in Cambridge is awesome and then Wheelworks of Belmont. They’re all incredible shops. Also, all the stores around here usually offer courier discounts, which is always helpful.

Bicycle manufacturers
“Boston. Independent Fabrication out of Somerville builds my bikes. They’ve been looking after me since ’96, which is really very much to their credit considering this was the first time I was able to bring them a first-place finish. That’s the kind of guys they are, they get behind you and they stay there. I couldn’t imagine riding for anyone else. When they built this bike for me, they even put my courier number 244 on the top tube without me even asking for it.

City Government
“Seattle, based on the fact that they were allowed to have the race there. It’s a city that’s not quite so possessed by knee-jerk reactions. The city of Seattle looked at the event reasonably, and they decided they could make a lot of money from it. The police details were paid (by the organizers) and there were 700 kids coming to town renting hotel rooms and spending money. Back in 2000 we tried to bring the Worlds to Boston and the Office of Special Events wouldn’t give us a straight answer. I have to assume Seattle city government isn’t as resistant to progress as ours is.

Bike racks
“Neither. There’s a dearth of bike racks in both cities.

Post-ride parties
“Tie. The party after the race in Seattle was really good because Pabst Blue Ribbon was the sponsor. It’s probably the only time I’ve ever been to a courier party where the beer didn’t run out. But there’s a handful of Boston bars that look after couriers.

Tattoo artists
“Tie. I think it’s about even now that it’s legal here in Boston. This is an example of something that’s really good in Boston despite the average Boston Puritanical prudishness. You can get some really good ink in this town. Not just good, but I’ve seen some tattoos from local artists where I’m surprised you can put that kind of art on someone’s skin.

“Well, Seattle is the home of Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain. I think they’re going to get the leg up. Nirvana, SoundGarden, in the ‘90s Seattle was insane. So many good bands were coming out of Seattle. Boston’s made a bunch of good bands in the past, but I think Seattle has to have a leg up on them.

Cost of living
“Seattle. Out there has to be better, it has to be. I rode all over the city and the views were spectacular. It looks like a tenant’s market out there. Boston has one of the worst rent increases in the country. I read a story in the Wall Street Journal where they had (figures on rent increases) versus the increase of salaries and in Boston rents were growing faster.

“The reason I started working nights behind the bar at Pho Republique is I was in my second apartment in the South End that was getting sold out from under me and I didn’t have the spare half million dollars lying around to buy it. So I needed extra money to come up with the four months of rent they needed. To be honest with you, if I didn’t work at Pho Republique nights I wouldn’t be able to live in the South End.

“Tie. Well, that’s a good one, that’s a really tough call. On the one hand, Seattle seems to be a well-intentioned city, they have a West Coast sensibility, the landlords aren’t allowed to be as greedy as they are in Boston. I am biased because I live in the South End and again, there’s a big change (in my attitude) when I started working at Pho, I started connecting with the community and it’s made me much more aware of the strong community that does exist here. It’s hard to say in Seattle I saw that kind of community despite the fact that Seattle is so homogenous culturally. I seriously doubt Seattle’s political system and elected officials could rival the nepotism in Boston. The good stuff in Boston seems to exist despite that.

Pro rider
“Boston. When Lance went down in stage 15 of the Tour de France it wasn’t just his recovery, it was watching Tyler Hamilton (of Marblehead) yelling at the other guys like Jan Ullrich to slow down. It was nothing short of heroic.

“Seattle is prettier. But Seattle doesn’t have the historic neighborhoods. The South End is beautiful. The Back Bay is beautiful. But as a whole, Seattle has great architecture. Spectacular views. There’s nothing like that in Boston where anyone who wants to have a view of the water can have it.

“The police in Seattle were relaxed. To be honest, I didn’t really see many cops out there. The only ones I saw were the ones who were paid to marshal the race. In five days, I saw two. In Boston, you can’t go a block without seeing a cruiser.

Sense of community
“Boston. RS Express has been a good company (Ford’s courier company), but working at Pho Republique has had as much to do with my success as anything. Because of the unbelievable moral support I got from customers. They wer psyched. I came back, the articles were cut out, every single one of my regulars were shaking my hand, bringing me presents. Working there in Pho is when I really started to feel more connected to Boston as a whole and this community in the South End.

Have lawn mower, will travel

By Joe Berkeley,
Globe Correspondent, 10/9/2003

HULL -- There was a time when I was a law-abiding suburban gentleman. I mowed the lawn. Voted in local elections. Smiled at the neighbors. Then one day, something inside of me changed. I became a trespasser, a criminal, a man above the law.

I became The Lawn Mower Vigilante.

It wasn't enough to mow my lawn and take pride in it. No, I had to mow where no man had mown before.

The state has a small piece of property adjacent to mine. It's covered in grass. Many a Saturday can pass before the state of Massachusetts shows up with a lawn mower. So I took the law into my own hands and I mowed.

In that moment, I became a new brand of outlaw. If I was a neo-Butch Cassidy, my trusty Honda was my Sundance Kid.

When we stepped back to admire our work and smell that fresh-cut grass, we knew we had done right.

How could something that felt so good possibly be wrong?

Having mowed the state's property, Sundance and I were content. For awhile.

Then we noticed some greener pastures. The piece of town-owned land on the other side of our fence.

A man can wait a long time for the town to mow its little strip of lawn.

We took care of the town lawn in record time.

As the sun set over our shoulders, we had become heroes.

Thus far, The Lawn Mower Vigilante had been righting wrongs, helping the less fortunate like the governor of Massachusetts (Hey Mitt, my treat!) and the town of Hull, which are both facing dire budgetary situations, so we could justify our actions as public service. No tax deduction, just a goodwill gesture.

Sundance and I reckoned no jury of our suburban lawn-loving peers would find us guilty.

That was when we crossed the line. Our neighbor, who is a wonderful man, has the most impressive lawn mower ever seen.

A sit-down with many speeds, a cup holder, and a new-fangled steering system that isn't a wheel but rather two bars that he holds, one in each hand.

When he climbs atop the fire-engine red Toro, he also reaches the top of the neighborhood pecking order.

Then, tragedy struck. The big, red, beautiful dream machine broke. The part was on order for months. This pleased Sundance mightily because he always felt slighted.

Now, this gave us a choice. We could stand aside and watch our neighbor's lawn become a pasture.

Or we could do what a man has to do. In broad daylight, we trespassed. We mowed. Again and again, weekend after weekend, with not an ounce of remorse.

Other neighbors shake their heads and frown. Professional landscapers are organizing a posse to make a citizen's arrest. But we can't stop.

If the situation gets too hot, Sundance and I will be heading out of town. We're gonna mow every blade of grass from here to Mexico, and back.

Joe Berkeley, who struggles with moderation, can be reached at He also has a snowblower.

© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.


Author: By Joe Berkeley Globe Correspondent Date: 09/28/2003 Page: 5 Section: City Weekly

Boston's swans of the boat variety are back in the garage.

According to Lyn Paget, a fourth-generation member of the Paget family that has run the swan boat business since 1877, the most important part of decommissioning Boston's trademark swan boats each season is to disassemble and label each part.

The reason for the meticulous labor is that no two boats in the Swan Boats Inc. fleet of six are identical; the parts from one -- such as the brass bumpers on the bow and the stern -- won't fit on boat number two, three, four, five or six.

And there are quite a few parts. Each boat has two pontoons, a deck, six benches, a swan, a wheelhouse that surrounds the paddlewheel, and a rudder that steers the boat.

With each of the 30-foot long pontoons weighing between 800 and 900 pounds, it takes a week just to move all the parts back to the company's Jamaica Plain garage. Three pontoons fit on the back of a truck from the Daley & Wanzer moving company -- coincidentally, also a fourth-generation family-owned business.

This year, the move began Sept. 15, about a week earlier than planned, because of concerns that Hurricane Isabel might do damage. The boats are expected to be back ferrying passengers on April 17.

From late September until April, Lyn's cousin Phil Paget manages the repair program. His first job is to make sure the pontoons the swan boats float on are watertight. Tiny cracks in the bottom of the pontoons, crafted of copper sheathing over wooden frames, are noted and the appropriate repairman called, in this case, a plumber.

''A lot of people look at the boats and think they are simple,'' said Paget. ''But there are a lot of little complicated things. They're so highly specialized everything is custom.''

Every painted surface has to be refinished. The oak slats on the benches are sanded and covered with fresh coats of varnish. The swans are cleaned and repainted with marine paint as needed.

The original swans were made of copper. Because of the costs, replacement swans are made of fiberglass. Today just one copper swan still graces the fleet.

Beneath the swans sit the power plants of the boats: the wheelhouses. The boats are driven by the pedaling action of the operators.

The paddle wheel, which is a miniature version of the same item in a steamship, is directly attached to the two pedals. The two pedals connect to a circular shaped metal frame with wooden paddles.

After six months of footwork, the pedals on all of the swan boats must be replaced. The metal frame of the paddle wheel is inspected and broken wooden paddles are repaired.

Because of this careful off-season maintenance, the swan boats have been running strong for 127 years.

''We have a boat now that my grandfather built in 1918,'' said Lyn Paget. ''The nice part about it is when they were built and designed, it was done right. As a result, there hasn't been too much to change.''

This story ran on page 5 of the Boston Globe on 9/28/2003.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.


Author: By Joe Berkeley, Globe Correspondent Date: 08/31/2003 Page: 1 Section: Globe South

Quincy Police Officer James Dentremont was patrolling on his bicycle recently when his radio came to life with a call for officers to be on the lookout for a silver BMW operating erratically.

Minutes later, Dentremont saw the car turn into the Stop & Shop parking lot on Southern Artery. He called for back-up, then pulled his bicycle up behind the BMW. The driver, it turned out, was operating an unregistered, uninsured car, and Dentremont wrote a citation in the Aug. 2 incident.

But while officers on bicycle patrol do make such traffic stops from time to time, it's not why Quincy adopted the two-wheelers for police work. Lieutenant Bill Stenmon, who has been with the force for more than 33 years, says the department uses bicycles to get officers closer to the community they serve.

Stenmon said that when his career began in the 1970s, officers were isolated inside cruisers. "Our job was to get the call, service the call, move on to the next call," he said.

Now Quincy is one of a handful of departments in the state - most in larger, urban communities, including Boston - that regularly deploy bicycle patrols. Of Quincy's 160 patrol officers, 12 work the streets on bicycles, all of them voluntarily. Officer Bob Edgar is one of them.

With 32 years on the job, Edgar, or "Officer Bob" to those on his beat, has just one more year of service before he retires (to Florida, he says). But instead of an air-conditioned cruiser, his vehicle of choice is a Cignal mountain bike equipped with a headlight, a radio, and a trunk pack filled with citation tickets and other papers.

On the road, cars stop to let Edgar into traffic. Drivers usually wave him across their path. Apparently, everyone wants to share the road with a bicyclist - at least when the rider's shirt reads "Quincy Police" across the back.

On a recent day in a Southern Artery ballfield, a group of youngsters playing baseball got a wave and a "Hi, how are ya!" from Edgar as he pedaled by. The kids waved back. With a grin, he exclaimed, "Can you believe I get paid to do this?"

The first stop on Edgar's beat was 80 Clay St., a home for senior citizens. After rolling up onto the sidewalk, he removed his helmet and replaced it with a baseball-style "Quincy Police" cap.

Elton John Hanraty, a resident sitting on a park bench, said, "Hey Rob, how you doing? Nice day to ride a bicycle."

When a second bicycle patrolman, Ralph Radzevich, rode up to the residence, Hanraty greeted him too by name.

One reason the residents know their names is that the officers store their bikes nearby at night. Radzevich leaves his Trek in a locked maintenance room at 80 Clay St. Edgar parks his at Squantum Cutters, a barber shop.

Later on patrol at Wollaston Beach, Edgar cruised the sidewalk, sprinkling "Hi, how're ya!" greetings on mothers with babies, bikers in Harley-Davidson T-shirts, and shirtless men out for a stroll. Everyone had a smile for Edgar, too.

One woman said, "You got a tough beat, huh?"

Edgar smiled and replied, "I hear that comment at least 10 times a day."

Bicycle patrols aren't limited to Squantum and Wollaston Beach. The community policing effort also extends to upscale Marina Bay.

Finding the right key on a crowded ring, Edgar opened the gate to the Marina Bay dock. With a thump, thump, thump, he rode down the ramp onto the dock.

Several residents, some reclining on power boats, greeted him warmly. One party, gathered around a large buffet, offered Edgar an overstuffed sandwich, but he declined.

During the 15-minute-long stop, Edgar discussed several recent break-ins with the boaters. He told them he would visit the marina more often, and noted that the police boat, now kept at the end of the dock, should help deter petty theft.

Back on the Marina Bay pier, Edgar met up with fellow officers Greg Mar and Kent Yee, who work the North Quincy beat and serve as translators to the city's growing Asian population.

"Bobby's got the luxury beat," Yee said, looking at the surroundings.

"Hey, seniority has its privileges," Edgar replied.

Yee has been a cop 16 years, nine in Quincy. He became a bicycle patrolman when the department was going through cutbacks. As a beat cop on foot, he concluded he could cover twice as much ground by bicycle; he has been on one ever since, most recently a Peugeot, which he says proudly is "the only one on the force."

Yee estimates that he and his partner ride an average of 35 miles a day.

"A lot of the guys say, `Wouldn't you rather be in a cruiser?' But I enjoy it," Yee said.

He also enjoys the stealth aspect of working from the bicycle.

"Me and Greg have snuck up on people on our bicycles smoking joints in the bushes. You really don't hear us," he said. "And when you're riding your bicycle around, you've got all your senses open."

Both Yee and Mar say bicycles also get them through traffic very efficiently. But it is not the practicality they enjoy most, they say, but the chance to meet the people who live and work on their beat.

"Kids love to ride around the neighborhood with us. They think they're on patrol, too," Yee said. "It's a more friendly atmosphere."

Their community work doesn't end when their shift is over. The pair, both holders of black belts in karate, teach a karate program designed to get at-risk youths off the street.

Yee said he has found that if he gets to know youths at an early age, they are more likely to share information with him about a serious situation when they are older.

The efforts of the bicycle cops are welcome by many local merchants, among them Paul J. Fucile, proprietor of the Village Gift and Photo Shop at Marina Bay.

"I think it's tremendous," said Fucile, a former South Boston resident. "It brings me back to when I was a kid growing up in Southie and there were police on the beat. It's very valuable."

Yee and Mar both wear protective vests under their police shirts, and on hot days they can become soaked with perspiration. But many businesses, like the local 7-Eleven, are happy to let them refill their water bottles.

At Squantum Point Park, Yee asked a family with a camera if they wanted him to take their picture. They smiled even before he had the camera in his hands.

On a pier in the park, a group of young people on bicycles were getting ready to leave after a swim. Yee recognized one and asked, "Hey, is that guy still shooting at you with a BB gun?" The youth said no.

In a parking lot, the officers spotted a car with its motor running. No one was in the locked car, the air conditioning was on high, and a large bowl of macaroni salad sat on the front seat.

"Caterer," Yee concluded.

"Another crime solved," Edgar joked.

While the public relations aspects of bicycle patrols are attractive, so too are the economics.

"We figure with uniforms and everything else, it's about $1,500 all in all. Once you have the initial investment, it's almost maintenance free. Maybe a tune-up once a year for around $100," said Stenmon, who estimates the cost of a police cruiser at about $25,000.

Leaving the bustle of Marina Bay behind, Edgar pedaled to Squantum, and saw an older woman in a Chevy Monte Carlo rolling through a stop sign.

He flagged her down, saying, "Hey, I just want to remind you to come to a complete stop."

He let her go after she said, "Oh, but I always do."

He then paid an unscheduled visit to a family that had been the victim of vandals. "Call me anytime," he said, offering them his cell phone number. "And I'm not just saying that."

After the half-hour-long visit, the homeowner, who asked to remain anonymous, said to Edgar, "You coming down here is more than we could hope for. Thanks for stopping by."

As Edgar saddled up to ride away, the man, who looked about 10 years younger than the officer but not nearly as fit, added: "You know, I should really go for a bicycle ride myself."

All content herein is © Globe Newspaper Company and may not be republished without permission.


Author: By Joe Berkeley, Globe Correspondent
Date: 08/03/2003
Page: 1 Section: GLOBE SOUTH

As the Paragon Carousel on Nantasket Beach in Hull celebrates its 75th anniversary today, its restoration artist, James Hardison, quietly takes pride in the fact that his work is halfway complete.

Hardison has now restored more than 30 of the carousel's original 66 horses. Originally carved by hand in the realistic "Philadelphia style" by the Philadelphia Toboggan Co. in 1928, the horses are stunning to behold.

When people have a reverential response to the freshly restored horses, there is good reason: Before Hardison began his work on the carousel in 1993, he restored liturgical statues, like those depicting the Virgin Mary and St. Michael slaying the dragon.

The man, as some might say, answers to a higher authority.

In his restoration of the Paragon Carousel, Hardison says he has been pleasantly surprised by the lack of rot. He attributes this to the fact that the carousel has been kept running for three-quarters of a century.

However, he has come across some slipshod repairs. After stripping excess coats of paint with a heat gun and scraper, he says, he often unearths hasty, onsite repair jobs that used various combinations of corrugated fasteners, nails, auto body filler, or steel rods.

"These are a no-no," he says. He removes all of the dissimilar materials and puts the horses back together using only the original materials - wood, glue, and dowels.

During the paint-stripping process, he carefully works his way down to the bottom coat of paint, documents the original colors, and recreates them using "Japan-style artist colors" that the painters first applied in 1928.

Most fans of the carousel have a favorite horse. But Hardison adamantly maintains he does not.

"They're all my children," he said in a recent interview. "As with all families, some are problem children. I have a couple here that I have to take off a leg and make a repair or two. Other than that, they're all good."

The restored horses make Hardison proud. He noted that, after six months of work, it is "absolutely satisfying to have a completed horse."

When he dismantles parts of the carousel during the winter to strip and repaint them, Hardison is often able to piece together a bit of history. While working on the motor surround, the housing in the center of the carousel that encloses the motor, he once removed a mirror and found a copy of The Boston Globe from May 1928 staring back at him.

News of the day included fashion tips and a sale at Filene's, Hardison recalled. He also found a ticket from when a ride on the carousel cost 5 cents. Today, a ticket for a ride costs $1.75, while a book of 10 tickets is available for $15.

"I'm still hoping to find a diamond ring," he said with a chuckle.

Hardison's latest restoration, made possible by a $9,000 grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, is one of the two chariots that ride on the carousel.

The chariot's body is finished in sea foam green. A cherub holds a harp on one side while the original Philadelphia Toboggan Co. logo is on the front. Twenty-three-karat gold leaf from Giusto Manetti Firenze, gold beaters since 1820, adorns the top railings. The restored chariot sits in a well-lit workshop next to the carousel, in the clock tower building, facing Nantasket Beach.

The impressive piece of craftsmanship was originally assembled in a factory.

"We think of the carousel as an art these days, but it was built in a factory atmosphere," said Hardison. "Although the horses were carved by hand, there were up to a dozen artisans carving."

Hardison says this is why the chariot is spectacular on the outside and plain on the inside - people who saw the inside had already paid for their tickets.

Hardison's restoration work is made possible by the Friends of the Paragon Carousel, a nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping the carousel at its original location. Basic membership in the organization costs $25. Six members have "adopted" a horse for restoration by making a $10,000 donation.

The carousel opens for weekends on Easter Sunday, and during the summer, it runs every day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. After Labor Day, the carousel is only open on weekends. Traditionally, it closes for the season after Halloween.

After a long winter of single-handed restoration work, when he typically restores two to three horses, Hardison is joined in the summer by up to a dozen college students who help him operate the carousel. While the students sell tickets and greet patrons, Hardison keeps the carousel going. He grew up around his father's automotive shop, so he's not afraid to get his hands dirty or greasy.

While many people believe that the carousel rides on wheels beneath the circular deck, it actually hangs from a 27-foot-tall mast, called the center pole. The entire carousel is suspended from a bearing at the top of the center pole, called the pole cap bearing.

A decidedly low-tech device, the pole cap bearing and many other parts of the carousel need to be greased and oiled by Hardison every other day - more often during a heat wave, when the grease gets drippy.

The 66 horses and two chariots are kept running by the carousel's original 15-horsepower electric motor.

Hardison had the pleasure recently of talking to John Ring, who operated the carousel as a teenager in the 1940s. Ring told Hardison he was amazed to see that the ride looked exactly the same as when he was young. The only difference, he noted, was the mechanical timer Hardison installed to clock the duration of each ride at five minutes.

Asked how he timed the ride back in his days, Ring, according to Hardison, said, "Well, we'd let everyone get on the ride. Then we'd start the ride and walk around the carousel to collect all the tickets. When we finished collecting the tickets, the ride was over."

Hardison said he believes that part of the beauty of the Paragon Carousel is that it is low-tech. He thinks that's why it's still running, after 75 years of service.

"As long as it's maintained, it should keep running for another 75," he said.

After 10 years on the job, Hardison says he has only one complaint about his position. He recalled that his 5-year-old daughter, Louise, was playing with a friend, who asked her where her father was. Hardison said with a grin that his daughter replied, "My daddy lives at the carousel."

The work of a carousel restoration artist, it seems, is never done.

All content herein is © Globe Newspaper Company and may not be republished without permission.


Author: By Joe Berkeley,
Globe Correspondent
Date: 07/17/2003
Page: 1 Section: Globe South

In an age when e-mail boxes overflow with missives important and trivial, there are still many South Shore residents who believe that the proper medium - especially for an important message - is the handwritten note.

Despite the sluggish US economy, area stationery stores are doing brisk business. And across New England, according to Peter Hopkins, a spokesman for Crane's, a stationery manufacturer in Dalton, sales of fine boxed stationery in New England are exceeding the trend at the national level, which has been demonstrating steady growth.

The industry has consumers like Patsy Dean of Cohasset to thank. Dean is a woman of letters, a great many letters. On average, she writes two notes a week, more than 100 a year.

"I think it is very important to write thank-you notes," she said. After she has been to a friend's house for a party or to an important function, she follows up with a handwritten note.

To her, the choice of stationery, the choice of ink color, even the choice of stamps, is just as important as the choice of words.

Her stationery changes with the seasons. If she's writing a thank-you note in October, her note cards may feature a pumpkin. This time of year, a flower motif is more appropriate.

Before putting pen to paper, she matches the color of the ink to the tone of the stationery. If the card features purple pansies, she chooses a purple ink. If the tulips are pink, she reaches for the pink pen. Depending upon her mood, she will print the note or write in a cursive script.

After all this effort, not just any stamp will do. Dean will search for a unique stamp that matches her envelope. Lately, she's been making the trip to the post office for the colorful new stamps commemorating lighthouses.

For Dean, this attention to detail is "what makes note-writing fun," she said. It's also what makes her handwritten notes leap out of mailboxes, which for many are often stuffed with bills and unwanted solicitations.

Dean shops for her writing necessities mostly at Accord Stationery in Hanover, where proprietor Barbara Cellucci says she is doing "as well as we were last year" in sales.

Cellucci said she believes smaller stores like hers are holding their own against large competitors because they're able to provide a high level of customer service.

Cellucci has been selling stationery for almost nine years, and she said she believes "stationery is definitely not a dinosaur." Recently, she said, she has observed teenagers leaving home for college with a laptop filled with e-mail addresses - and a box of stationery.

Cellucci believes most students use e-mail to send friends a quick note and save their nice stationery to tell their parents about their college experiences and to ask for money.

While Cellucci acknowledged that e-mail is a great way to communicate quickly, she said, "You should never use e-mail to send a thank-you note or a note of condolence."

For customers who can't find exactly the stationery they desire on the shelves of a store, there is the custom option.

Love of the written word inspired Maureen Sheehan, a Hingham resident, to open a business that prints custom-designed, hand-set stationery.

"My grandmother Olive had the best handwriting in the whole world - that crazy, loopy handwriting - and I remember everything she ever wrote to me," Sheehan said. As a tribute to her grandmother, she named her business Dear Olive.

Many of her customers grew up writing notes. "The older generation, they write the best letters," she said. Sheehan said she has also noticed that young people are discovering the fine art of the handwritten note. Recently, she said, she printed 100 thank-you cards for what would seem like a very sophisticated 2-year-old.

Sheehan prints her stationery on a half-ton Chandler and Price press that was built between 1930 and 1945. The technique she employs, called letterpress, stamps the letters and images onto the paper to create a three-dimensional quality. It's one of the oldest forms of printing - the Gutenberg Bible, for example, was letterpressed in the mid-1400s.

Aficionados of letterpress revel in the character of their stationery.

"Letterpress is imperfect because the metal type face wears over time," said Sheehan. "Some letters get used more than others, so they wear more."

One of Sheehan's customers, Dr. Estelle Stetz-Marcus of Hingham, says she enjoys writing notes because she spends all day on the computer. She sees the process of physically making contact with a nice piece of stationery as a release.

"With the computer, the content is there, but somehow the way you write on the paper says something about yourself. And we're losing that in this mechanized age," she said.

Stetz-Marcus said she believes the handwritten note has the power to inspire. When her daughter was young, Stetz-Marcus tucked little notes in her lunch box before sending her off to school.

"I think that my daughter turned out to be a happy person because of those notes," she said. "She has become a kind and thoughtful person."

Today the daughter, who is also a doctor, writes as many handwritten notes as her mother, a practice that makes the mother proud.

"Although my daughter is at an age where she could really be a computer junkie, she is not," the mother said.

Handwritten notes have been around since the year 105 A.D., when paper was invented in China, and people have been saving them ever since.

Electronic mail, on the other hand, wasn't invented until 1971 by Ray Tomlinson, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate, and users have been subjected to jokes, photos of questionable taste, and "spam" ever since.

Halfway between the classic handwritten note and the bulk e-mail is the fill-in-the-blank thank-you note. One, with Scooby-Doo on the cover, reads, "Thank you

----- for the groovy -----. From, -----."

It's not exactly a handwritten note. But to many it is still preferable to an e-mail whose subject line might read, "Lose Weight Fast with Diet Patch!"

Joe Berkeley may be reached at 55 Point Allerton Ave., Hull, MA 02045.

All content herein is © Globe Newspaper Company and may not be republished without permission.


Date: 06/08/2003
Page: 1 Section: City Weekly

As a commuter cyclist who frequently makes the bone-chilling ride from Hull to the Back Bay, I do what I can to protect myself.

I purchased a headlight system with optional flashing taillight. A neon-green jacket also increases my visibility.

However, I had a problem beyond visibility: How to be liked by motorists.

While most of my fellow travelers behave in a professional and predictable manner, a minority do not. Some become enraged that I occupy up to 18 inches on the far right side of the lane. Drivers of trucks, commercial vans, SUVs - even compact cars toting four to five hormonally driven youths - have all at one time or another hollered at me, uttered oaths that couldn't be repeated in a family newspaper, and questioned my sexual preferences with the enthusiasm of a lynch mob.

I theorized that if I proved to this group of angry motorists that I am not some freak clad in spandex, but a regular guy, just like them - someone who shares their pain, understands their challenges - I would extend my life expectancy.

But how? Finding an American flag on a roadside one day, I fastened it to my rear rack and started pedaling madly. The theory of this experiment was "You, Mr. Chevy SUV driver, are an American, and I am an American. We have a lot in common. From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans . . ."

The angry drivers were just as angry, just as nasty, just as likely to question my patriotism. Down came the flag.

Having spent an enormous amount of time riding past vehicles that later pass me on the commute, I have observed the following stickers on the back windows of those most likely to yell at me:

"I am the NRA"

"Go Sox"

"Semper Fi"

Using my desktop publishing skills, I mocked up similar signs to fit on the back of my bicycle. Before posting them, I showed them to a noncyclist co-worker named Kevin.

We decided that the "I am the NRA" sign could lead to a shooting incident. Mounting a shotgun rack on the back of my bicycle would add an air of authenticity, but the added bulk would be problematic.

The Red Sox approach was also complex. When the Sox win, sure, I could be given a bit more respect on the road. But what about when the Sox lose a close one? One bad bounce and I could be driven off the road. Until the Red Sox win a World Series, this idea was on the back burner.

"Semper Fi" appeared to be a strategically sound approach. Everyone loves a Marine, so that's good. Marines know how to kill people who mess with them, so I could inspire fear. However, what if a real Marine saluted me in traffic? I would be a fraud. Back to the drawing board.

I knew I had a winner on my hands the second I penned it:

"Ex wife got car"

"Yeah," my co-worker Kevin said, nodding his approval. "Pickup truck guys are always mad at their wives."

One Friday evening, I tested my inspiration, affixing it to the back of my bicycle. Guess what I got: an abundance of knowing smiles from my core audience - angry men driving pickup trucks, hormonally enraged young men traveling in packs while crammed into small cars, homophobic van drivers, as well as petite women in gargantuan SUVs.

I got plenty of thumbs up, too. And nods of approval.

One morning, a plumber and his sidekick rolled by in a rusty pickup. The sidekick rolled down a window, nodded sagely, and said, "Yeah, and I bet you're still paying the insurance."

Other men have said, in family newspaper-speak, "I have been similarly imposed upon." And a few women have actually pulled over - not to hit me, but to hit on me.

Most importantly, all of the drivers who can actually see where they are going are giving me another inch of room on the road. You can't ask for more than an inch.

Drivers who can't see where they're going, like those helming the Grand Marquis Presidential editions or Cadillac Broughams, just keep steaming along as if I didn't exist.

You do what you can in this world.

Joe Berkeley, a creative director at Hill, Holliday, always wears a helmet while riding.

All content herein is © Globe Newspaper Company and may not be republished without permission.