I could fill a whole diary with my thoughts of Bob but this is how I feel
Bob (Hi boss) to me was firstly a journeyman that had as his hero's the top tradesmen that were around at the time - and there were a lot. His progression to becoming his own identity is history but really it was his ability to focus on the problem that was apparent that put him above most other rivals, sure it made him enemies but while that no doubt hurt him it did not hinder his ability to get the job done in the best tradesmanlike manner possible. Bob's attributes were 1 - he got the best out of people 2 - he lead by example 3 - he took the full responsibility 4 - he took chances to enrich others achievements 5 - sure he was not liked by all but loved by those that really knew him and I was one of those. Ken
Last fall about a month after his 80th birthday - Dad, Tom, myself and Emmanuel - Dad's guru - were all traveling by cab from the airport to a hotel in Boston. We had just passed a really beautiful new bridge in Boston that previously always made me think of Dad - a unique structure he would be interested in building himself. I was feeling happy to have him up north, sitting in the same cab, wearing his Norwegian sweater, fantasizing about bringing him home to my house. I think Tom and I and Emmanuel were in the back - god I don't remember exactly but suddenly Dad turns to Emmanuel with a big, light, blue eyed whimsical expression and asked " Do you think I'm crazy? I must really be crazy". Emmanuel simply asked , " What do you mean Bob?". At that moment there was a girl crossing the street - Dad said " Well , everytime I see a girl I think to myself ( and he got a funny look on his face) I wonder if I can get her. And every time I look at a guy I think - can I take him down? Don't you think that is sort of crazy?" I don't remember anyone's reaction but mine and I said " Oh Dad" in a sort of combination exasperated and amused way - thinking to myself " How can he be thinking that now?". (I SAID HERE.." No, Bob, I do not think your crazy...that is just the way you feel in this moment..and it's perfectly okay!")
On the short plane ride up Emmanuel was giving us lessons in meditating.
(I recall this clearly.The lesson was "the first" on breath control, pranayama, and entering the Quiet Mind--so all the chatter that goes on in the mind, especially during airplane rides, does not take over and become unbearable.)
Dad was completely focused on a book he was reading. Tom asked the great question of Dad, to make a list of everything that needed to be done to Wave Dancer to get her ready for an ocean voyage. That perked him right up and his bright blue eyes were full of excitement while in his face you could see all the details he was talking about and picturing. That was a really good list that brought us all the way to Boston. One other thing about that trip that was memorable - because it had never happened before and because I never expected it too. My entire life Dad always walked faster than me and faster than everyone. He was always in a hurry to get going - as if we were all wasting time - taking too long to do the simple thing - like getting there - because the important thing was to do the job - whatever it was - and we had to hurry to have enough time to do the good job.. As we were walking from the parking garage to the the street we were all walking fast - because we were walking with Dad and normally had to catch up, But on the stairs Dad said in a soft voice " Maybe you could walk a little slower for the old man". He said it in a way that sounded as if he wasn't sure he could or should say it or if he was even the older guy we should slow down for but he did say it. Only that one time in my whole life.
Just received an email that Bob Derecktor has died. I'm in shock. I think I figured he might live and sail and build things forever. I wish he had. I had great affection for him.
He was one of the most impressive men I ever met. Tough, testy, challenging, creative, a craftsman of extraordinary skill, and a genius at some things. He built great boats, innovative boats with round watertight submarine type hatches, or canting rudder systems, or dagger boards with 18-part tackles. His favorite toys were huge cranes. He would rather build a good work boat than a yacht any day. He was as willful as they come, a his-way-or-no-way guy. His way was usually the right way, but sometimes it got him in trouble.
You never faced off with Bob that you didn't suspect he just might throw a punch at you. Sometimes he did, a throwback to roughneck days. His heroes were guys who could design an engine, then cast the block and machine it and build it, then install it in the boat they had designed and built. His biggest hero was J.A. Roebling, who designed the Brooklyn Bridge. Bob's standards were high.
For some reason he tolerated me and my camera around his Mamaroneck yard.. We were friends for years. Then we had a falling out. Predictable. It got patched up fifteen years ago. He cared. Sail on, Bob. You leave an enormous empty space. I will sorely miss you.
I should like to see Scuttlebutt add a few further words of tribute to Bob Derecktor who added both quality and color to the world of Sailing. With many friends of his I attended a memorial service at the Mamaroneck yard last Saturday. I knew and admired Bob, first in 1937 when, still in high school, he had built a good little boat and he came to my house. After setting up his own yard he built many S&S designs and because I felt responsibility to the owner this was a sort of an adventure with my confidence in his quality somewhat offset by Bob's cavalier attitude toward the plans he was supposed to follow. If this was a little exciting the boats were always well built. Bob knew and loved boats and many friends knew and loved Bob.
I have many fond memories of Bob Derecktor. But sailing with him on the 1966 Transatlantic Race from Bermuda to Denmark was particularly memorable and characteristic. We were approaching the Flemish Cap on our great circle course and the weather was changing fast and getting chillier and foggier by the minute. The wind changed quickly and Bob roused us all out from below so fast we were doing sail changes in our bare feet and underwear. Soon we settled down with the masthead chute on Grey Goose, the little Derecktor-designed double-ended out board rudder 40-footer, and were screaming along at hull speed. Steering was hard because you couldn't see the edge of the chute in the dense fog, even with the mast light. Bob was tough throughout all this, but then we saw him rigging the life raft on the fantail.
Another rather unnerving thing he did was place a loaded Very pistol right by the wheel with orders for the helmsman to aim it right at he bridge of a freighter if we saw one, so they would know we were there. That, of course, would only be if they were about to run us down. That was a particularly harrowing night, but somehow Bob's presence and attitude made you believe everything would turn out all right. Bob was human and that night had fear like all of us. But he never let it stop him. In everything he did. They broke the mold when they made him
I just heard that Bob died recently, apparently of pancreatic cancer. I found the following on the web site of the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinal...
Robert E. "Bob" Derecktor, world-renowned yacht racer, innovative designer, and builder of America's Cup 12-meters, mega- yachts and U.S. Coast Guard cutters, died on Oct. 10. in Boston. He was 80. Mr. Derecktor started his first boatyard in Mamaroneck, NY, in 1947, with a railway, a shop and 10 trusted men where they built hand crafted wooden boats.
It doesn't begin to do justice to the man we respectfully called "Mad Dog," but it's all I can find for the moment.
Dear Bob, dearest friend, I've known you for many years, but your strong personality and big influence on my life makes it feel, I've known you all my life. Like a big, strong tree you're suddenly cut down, like in a hurricane. I still can't believe it; it's unreal and almost impossible that you're not longer with us. No longer with us? Your body won't, but all the memories we have, all the lessons you taught us, all the lectures you gave us will be there for the rest of our life's. In January '98 we sailed to Florida and would to stay their until may; at least that was the planning. But instead, in July when the hurricane season started, we sailed to the yard and stayed there ever since. Our boat was (and still is) docked next to yours, the 'Wave Dancer', only separated by a fender. Many, many memories! How many meals we shared? How often you climbed over the railing to join us for supper. "Bob, do you come over for supper tonight?" "May be, may be not." As Vince said: You always kept something in your sleeve! How often you took a friend with you or even invited somebody by telephone - most of the time a nice girl - while waiting for your spinach or what so ever. "Nels, can I have some bread and cheese? I'm hungry. You know, you should have your supper at five, that's much healthier." But when I was early there were Kong Fu lessons, a meeting or first you had some shopping to do. Once I asked you to let me know beforehand when you wanted to come over for supper, especially when you had company with you. "No problem, no problem at all!" That very same night you called at half past seven that you were on your way and … not alone! What could I do? I just gave up to 'educate' you. How much would I love it if you could do this just one more time. Sometimes when you had a problem you walked into the 'Nanna Suzanna'; may be the only place in the yard where nobody would find you. Certainly not after instructing me, that you weren't there. I made you a tea or gave you some orange juice and while you were thinking you asked me questions. You always asked questions. Not because anybody else's opinion was that important to you, but to get your own thoughts and ideas straight. Up to you there was only one real solution to a problem. Just like the right key for a lock. It is quite obvious that this was always your 'key'. You loved music. To your favorites belonged the songs of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. You always joined them, even when you were in a bad mood. I'll never forget the way you sang: 'Isn't it a lovely day', 'I put all my eggs in(to) one basket' and 'They can't take that away from me.' No, nobody ever can take that away from me!!! Later, for a very good reason, you liked to listen to Eric Clapton's song 'Tears in Heaven'. Would you know my name, Bob, when I saw you in heaven? Dear Bob, how we'll miss your straight and strong body. How we'll miss your stubborn and severe face, while walking over the yard. Almost everybody started to move a bit faster, when you were around. But how your personality could change within a second when a nice lady crossed your way. Your back became even straighter than straight and your face was just one big smile with twinkling eyes. Even your voice was different. Womanizer from tip to too! About eight years ago you stayed with us in Holland for Christmas. When I served my exquisite home made oxtail bouillon you took out a bag with fish powder and dropped in into your soup. An ugly smell filled the room, but you assured us that this was extremely healthy. I remember a walk we made in Katonah. It was winter and bitter cold. You lost your way but were too proud to ask somebody which direction to go. So we walked for four hours, which had meant to be half an hour. All at a sudden you stopped, looked around and said: "If we only were on the Indian Ocean, than I would know my way out!" Most of the time you were good company. Not always. Especially not, when you didn't want to be. Sometimes you made me upset, fiery! You knew how to drive people crazy, but it was impossible to stay angry for longer than an hour. Once you gave somebody your friendship, it was forever. I've been so blessed to be your friend. You protected me, you showed me your vulnerability, you were there whenever I needed you. I hope I've been there for you when you needed me. When you hugged me, you almost broke my back. Sometimes you called me 'stranger' but most of the time it was 'sweedy'. ' "When are you coming back?", you asked me recently, "We need to talk together." This memory hurts the most! Thank you Bob for your friendship, your hospitality, your love. If you only would know how much energy it costs me to write these memories down, how painful it is to go back and remember everything we shared and write some of it down. Thank you, we will never ever forget you!!!
Written by Jaeke Donahue - Bob's grandson
As you walk down the terminal towards your gate all you can think about is how you sick you get when you sail and how much this summer is going to suck. Once you are done bitching to yourself, it is too late to do anything about it now because you are already seated and as comfortable as you are going to get for the long 7 hour plane ride to Ireland. You quickly doze off and are awakened 7 hours later by the hits of your brother telling you that you landed. As you follow your mother through the airport you think to yourself why are we following her - she has no idea where we are going. Half an hour later you make it to the baggage claim relieved you made it. Shortly after there is a cab to take your family to Adare Manor where you will be staying for a few days before you venture out into the unknown with your die hard grandfather on his 72 ft. boat.
As you pull up to the gate of the hotel, you are amazed by the walls that surround the place and are even more amazed by the gardens that seem almost unreal they are so perfect. After already seeing enough to go home satisfied, you drive into an opening and see a large stone house. Out of the cab, you stand in awe, trying to take in all that surrounds you. As you walk inside you can't believe you are actually here.
After seeing the sights around the hotel, you are off to Kinsale to meet up with your grandfather, who has just sailed his boat across the Atlantic Ocean. You arrive in Kinsale and have already spotted your grandfather's boat in the harbor. This 72 ft aluminum boat is a one of a kind boat that could only be made by your grandfather. You are led by your mother into a pub where your grandfather is supposed to meet you but he is nowhere to be found. As you walk through the pub weaving in and out through people, you hear your Mother say " There he is!". Your grandfather is sleeping between two couches in front of a fire place with lots of layers of clothes on - his bear suit. He sees you and your family and that huge grin appears on his face as he walks towards your mother to give her a hug .After their hugs and kisses are done, he looks down at you, your brother and your sister and hugs all three of you at once. " Have a nice trip? " he asks. You smile and nod and hug him again." We better get to the boat - we leave first thing in the morning for Dublin" he says with a grin. You realize what he has just said and you wonder what the next month will be like living on that boat.
Grr grr err, you look back at your grandfather and all the funny faces he makes as he is rowing you out to the boat. Not that the noises he is making are abnormal. If anything, they are normal sounds for him. After all, this is the man who had his head strapped to the front of the car at 6:00 in the morning because he had to work out and get in shape. You turn back around just in time to see another wave come crashing over the front of the canoe, drenching you and all your stuff. With a grin on your face you think about what a summer this is going to be.
As you pull up along side the boat, you hear " Good day mate" come from the cockpit and as you look up, you see Kenny Beaschel, a long time family friend, who will be joining you on the journey along with his wife Barbara. Kenny and Barbara are a couple from "down under" who have been friends with your grandfather for well over 20 years. They are two of the nicest people and you are pleased to see them on board. Once all the stuff was brought up on deck from the canoe, it is time to haul the canoe on deck too. We did this many times during the trip because my grandfather never pulled up next to a dock - so we always rowed ashore - like Vikings.
" Jaeke" your grandfather yells to you from up above. You pop your head up through the hatch and answer in a cheery voice " Yeah Pop." " Get over here and hop in the canoe". You move as quickly as possible trying not to make him wait. " Ok" you say." You hop over the railing and plop down into the canoe. " Take this and hook it onto that canoe". As he says this, you think for a second and look to Kenny for help, because you are not sure where to tie the rope, and are a little scared to ask your grandfather. Kenny helps you out and motions to the rope lying in the middle of the deck. You quickly tie a boland knot and are pleased with yourself after doing it on the first try. . You jump back out and hop on deck and go over to watch what your grandfather is doing and this is where you make your first mistake. As your grandfather ties the rope around the winch, you accidentally step on the button for the winch and it starts turning. Before you can blink an eye, your grandfather turns around and whacks you. " Jesus Christ you could have ripped someone's fingers off, this isn't a playground". As your grandfather keeps on yelling, you zone out as your eyes start to water because you are scared shitless of what he might say or do next. You quickly say "Sorry Pop" and run to the safety of down below with your mother and Barbara because you don't want your grandfather to see you cry. After clinging to your mother and crying for a while, you cannot help but think what the rest of the trip is going to be like and how many more times you might cry. You try not to think about it as your grandfather comes down the ladder to see if you are alright. He comes over to you and sits down and wraps his huge arm around you and pulls you close. " I'm sorry buddy, you just have to be a little more careful. alright." You nod as he says this, apologize, and go back up to help finish the job. As the canoe settles into place on deck, you look at your grandfather and he smiles back with a big grin, assuring you everything is ok.
That night as you all crowd around the dinner table your grandfather announces you will be leaving at four in the morning so everyone should get a goodnight sleep tonight. You sigh at this statement and are thankful because you know your sister is sleeping over the engine and you are in the back where you will at least be able to get some rest when the motor is on. After dinner, you crawl into bed and lie there for a couple of minutes smiling to yourself because you have survived day one, without throwing up and only crying once. Then you fall asleep and start dreaming about whatever it is 10 year olds dream about.
Crash! You awake to the sounds of the bow smashing into the waves and think to yourself - oh man - I feel sick. You rush up on deck and start the day off right, with a nice healthy puke of last night's dinner. You look over and see Pop laughing at you. You jokingly tell him to shut up and he answers with" Don't worry buddy, your sea legs will come soon enough". After a full day of sailing night time rolls around and you are happy to crawl into your bunk.
The next morning you are awakened by the same crashing noises only this time it is not followed by the same nauseas feeling as the day before. You are able to make it to the bathroom and have a bite to eat before the feeling of nausea comes over your body once again and you are forced to run up the ladder. As the day passes and you sit on the sail feeling sick, you are pleased to hear your grandfather say that you are almost to Dublin. As you pull into the harbor and drop anchor you are happy to see land and cannot wait to get ashore. The plans for Dublin are to stay two days until a new crew member is found. After three days of interviewing different sailors we found Brian, an 18 year old Irish man who was a cool kid .
That night your grandfather went to pick up another of his friends and would not be back until later. A few hours later, you hear voices and see your grandfather and his special lady friend come down the stairs. You lie in bed silently and watch them across the boat as he shows her, her bed. After he says goodnight and gives her a kiss, he goes to bed. Thinking everyone is asleep the woman starts to undress ,removing her shirt and bra .At this point, you are so amazed, this being the first real pair of breasts you have ever seen. You can't take your eyes off her and then she turns off the light. You know you are going to like her and think "This will be a great adventure". The next day you set out for Scotland and that is a whole other story
Bob, Jaeke, Bryan, Adam
Story written by Jaeke Donahue last May 2002 ,age 15 - 5 years after this sailing voyage on Wave Dancer . His grandfather was 74 at the time - his brother Adam was 12, and his sister Izabelle was 8 and I was 41. During the first part of the trip the Beashel's and a young New York couple, having an outward bound experience, were with us. They got off the boat in Dublin where we were joined by two other women about my age and by Brian - the Irish lad. When we sailed across the North Sea, Dad stayed awake for four days and whenever we asked him if he was ok he'd say " Just keep feeding me". He ate a lot of rice and beans and oatmeal those four days. I had never really prayed much before but I sure prayed crossing the North Sea as I lay in my bunk listening to everything shake and crash every time the boat hit a wave. I prayed for all of us. During that crossing Dad's eyes were like two burning blue marbles, shining out from his weathered salt encrusted skin. He was in his glory - invincible it seemed. Though it was on that trip, that I saw fear in his eyes for the first time in my life and I was in awe of that mixture of fear and fearlessness in him. I was also in great awe of the elements - the energy and power of the waves and wind - how small and inconsequential we are in the universe compared to that.
The day we arrived in Risor, Norway - our destination, was a day of days. By the time we saw land we had run out of water and food - the engine had given out as well as the electronics - so we sailed in to the harbor, under sail - a favorite thing Dad used to love to do - into the Norwegian Boat show and put our anchors down - right in the middle of the traffic. Every boat had to go by us to come into or go out of the harbor. So we were in the middle of all the excitement
I remember the amazing sense of elation arriving - all alive and in one piece . I understood at that moment, a little tiny bit of how people feel when they climb a mountain or win the Olympics - or anything that takes great courage , bravery and determination.
This story has been written by one boy about his grandfather but many of you knew and sailed with Bob Derecktor. I'm hoping after reading this that you will share some of your stories . You can send stories to this web page - or send them to Thedancingspirit@aol.com
Hermann Hinrichsen, Bob's foreman in Rhode Island and real boatbuilder in his
own right, paid me a lopsided compliment once when he said I was "the only
person ever to work for Derecktor twice." Possibly true at the time if no
longer (I know Hermann went back to "Derecktor's" after working at
Newport Shipyard), anyone who knew Bob or worked for him will know what Hermann
meant. I never heard Bob called "Mad Dog" in Middletown, but he was
always sure to let everyone in the vicinity know he was Top Dog.
Copyright © 2001 The Dancing Spirit. All rights