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Thread: R I P Charlie Whipple

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
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    Default R I P Charlie Whipple

    Twelve years ago I had not long finished the plans for Swaggie, an 18ft long junk rigged mini blue water cruiser, and had published a teaser on line. It had attracted attention from quite a few people, among which was a gent who identified himself as an American, living in Japan with his wife and family, and who I found out later wrote western novels ( among other genre) for a living.
    Charlie Whipple wanted to build a small yacht, but one in which he could circumnavigate, wanted to know if he could fit “this” and “that” into Swaggies solid little hull, and the emails flew back and forth until I said “enough”, drew a sketch of a 6.5m gaff cutter which had space for all of his wish list, and sent it off.
    The next email said something along the lines of “I’m arriving on ( this date), can you please help me find a shed and a place to stay?

    Hooboy! Denny and I were due to head out on an overseas holiday about a week after he was to arrive, and the boat only existed as a rough pencil sketch.

    He arrived, we had a little confusion about arrival dates and times but I managed to find him in the airport lounge, and on our way back to our place I noted on the side of the road, stopped and bought a little 10 ft caravan, and a few hundred yards along the road an old Mitsi station wagon. Bought that too. Abut two grand for transport and accommodation.

    We were in the middle of building our house, were staying in a campground nearby but the workshop was up and useable, so the caravan was duly set up in the campground, the car checked over to make sure it was all legal and we did the walkaround in the workshop so he’d know where everything was.

    I drew up the plans for the main and forward hatches, took him to the lumber yard and bought materials then headed out. It was the kids trip to Disneyland, a road trip through Las Vegas and down to Tijuana and all points in between. For us that’s a big trip, its an 11 hour flight each way from here to LAX .

    Got back and Charlie had made pretty good progress on the hatches, made friends at the campground, and was well settled in his little home on wheels, so it was nose to the grindstone for me, and drawing up the plans at least fast enough to stay a bit ahead of him.

    We had lots of adventures Charlie and I, some good, some, like him losing a finger and most of a thumb on my sawbench, not so good. But by the time launching day came around a bit over two years later he was a very good friend.

    The boat went in, and sailing tests, after a slight mod to accommodate some wire rigging with more stretch in than the suppliers suggested, were very successful. The fat little long keeled cutter was a lot quicker than most thought she’d be, her accommodation more than adequate, and she self steered on most points of sail with only sheet to tiller ( Thank you John Letcher, look up his book on that subject) to guide her.

    It was late in our summer that he headed out, friends standing on the rocks of Mount Maunganui in Tauranga, and we followed his reports avidly as he made progress toward Hawaii.

    But, he reported from about 200 miles north of New Zealands northermost point that he had a problem and was heading back. On his way though he made an error transcribing the GPS reading to his chart ( pre chart plotters being cheap enough to warrant buying) and the little ship, trucking along on her own, doing what she was designed to do, sailed herself onto the rocks at the base of a 200 ft cliff on the outside of Great Barrier Island. He’d been 50 miles further in than he thought, and had taken a short nap at just the wrong time.

    The chopper responded to his distress beacon, and he was lifted off, taken back to Auckland where we picked him up and kept him company until he could catch a flight home. Amazingly he had no injuries apart from a few scratches from climbing onto the rocks where he watched “Resolution” being ground to splinters by the surf, but huge injury to his psyche. Something that took him years to get over.

    He came back to NZ last year to visit friends, check some details for the book he was writing, and to visit the wreck site if he could.
    We, he and I did all those, except the wreck site. That part of Great Barrier Island is seriously steep and challenging terrain, and he, not in very good health, couldn’t make it up the first hill let alone the rest of the 5 km scramble over the peninsula to where the remains of Resolution lay. So I ran it while he sat and waited, managed to get down the cliff to the site, and even more of an effort, managed to climb back up with a 2ft x 3ft section of the cold moulded hull.

    He took that back home, planned to have it framed and put on his office wall. Still bright yellow, the wood still in good order, no rot, the epoxy still bonded and the stainless screws still perfect, it was a very appropriate memento.

    Charlie Whipple died this morning. He’d not been well for a long time, had heart problems but it was cancer that took him from us. It was relatively quick which I guess is easier, but he leaves a very big gap, in the lives of his family, his friends, the readers of his books and the boating world as well. We’ll miss him. Rest in peace Charlie, you may have only achieved half of your dream of building a boat and sailing around the world, but that’s so much more than most of us dreamers ever manage to do.

    Charlies book is available on Amazon, it’s a very good read.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/17...t_bibl_vppi_i1

    RIP Charlie.
    John Welsford
    An expert is but a beginner with experience.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Hell
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    98,270

    Default Re: R I P Charlie Whipple

    i remember this saga well, well enough to immediately recognize his name in the thread title

    thanks for the remembrance
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Uki, NSW, Australia
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    30,420

    Default Re: R I P Charlie Whipple

    Good story John, may he Rest In Peace.
    Trump, a man who can't hold a coherent thought till the end of the sentence.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Portland, Maine
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    18,546

    Default Re: R I P Charlie Whipple

    Fair winds, Charlie. Peace.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    San Diego
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    170

    Default Re: R I P Charlie Whipple

    Fair winds Charlie. RIP.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Bay of Islands,N.Z.
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    25,794

    Default Re: R I P Charlie Whipple

    That is sad and I'm sorry to hear it.
    I remember the events unfolding when he lost the boat as if it were yesterday.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    New Zealand's Far North
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    8,853

    Default Re: R I P Charlie Whipple

    RIP Charlie.
    Money may not buy happiness, but it can buy a boat that will pull right up next to it!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Sound Beach, NY
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    4,021

    Default Re: R I P Charlie Whipple

    It sounds like a compelling story. I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. In time I hope the smiles of memory outweigh the tears of loss.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Caribbean cliff edge
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    21,398

    Default Re: R I P Charlie Whipple

    That man lived his dream.
    It may not have ended the way he wished but he built and sailed his yacht.

    RIP Charlie Whipple.
    I live and drink rum where other people vacation.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    central cal
    Posts
    20,136

    Default Re: R I P Charlie Whipple

    I remember his adventures.

    Peace to you, John, and Charlie's family. Mayhaps you can all rest easier knowing Charlie is safe, now, and at peace.

    May his memory remind us all how to live, and inform us to do so...

    Peace,
    Robert

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Deer Isle, Maine
    Posts
    1,623

    Default Re: R I P Charlie Whipple

    An appealing, though brief story of Charlie Whipple. (and an intriguing insight into john welsford. )
    Thanks.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Port Townsend WA
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    13,211

    Default Re: R I P Charlie Whipple

    It was a life well lived!
    Sailing is permitted in Fiddler's Green Charlie!

    Jay

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Brisbane QLD,Australia
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    571

    Default Re: R I P Charlie Whipple

    Sad news, may he rest in peace. I enjoyed following through his boat diaries and also his blog when I found it, and it pushed me down path I had dreamt of for years.

    I am now in the final year of following in Mr Wipple's footsteps, with my timeframe dictated by children and family life rather than a circumnavigation and still on track. I credit his thorough documenting of the build, along with advice from John Welsford, for ensuring I kept moving along.

    I was lucky enough to get an email from him once, with compliments and an observation of how my efforts bought back fond memories for him of Resolution. It was a very pleasant surprise and kind of him to take the time to encourage me.

    When I launch, I will raise a glass in his honour. Inspiration comes from many sources, he was one of mine.

    Mal
    Quest

    Moving slowly towards a Welsford Sundowner.

    Hobart Wooden Boat Festival 2017, or maybe 2019ish??

    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...undowner-build
    http://sundownerbuild.blogspot.com.au/

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
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    Dorset, UK
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    Default Re: R I P Charlie Whipple

    I followed Charlie building Resolution. I remember first seeing the design in a corner of Watercraft i think with orange and yellow sails. For a man to build his dream and set off, as so many of us would like to, then see her founder on rocks so soon, must have been undescribably painfull for Charlie as it was to watch for us on the TV clip. Most circumnavigators even the famous ones, have their moments when they could have lost the boat but just got lucky. One day the sea will try to kill you, is the motto dad drummed into me from an early age, so prepare for it. The sea tried to take Charlie on those rocks on his trip out, showing what a cold, cruel, heartless mistress the sea can be. She was a good boat and well built. Charlie was a dooer and left the shore for his trip of a lifetime, and I salute him. My best wishes to his family.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    northwestern Wisconsin
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    Default Re: R I P Charlie Whipple

    I'm sorry to hear it, John, but I appreciate that you took the time to let us know.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Location
    Fife UK
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    51

    Default Re: R I P Charlie Whipple

    John

    In a week where I had learned the hard way Welsfords second theorem, and had cause to be thankful for the third, your post prompted me to visit Amazon to download “Ship of Dreams”, with the intention of adding it to the summer holiday reading pile.

    Curiosity got the better of me on Friday evening, and now on Sunday night it’s finished. The £3.01 that I gave Amazon for the e version left me feeling slightly guilty - a great read for less than the cost of a pint seems wrong somehow. I’m grateful to you for the suggestion, and sorry for your loss. Charlie must have been an interesting lodger to have in your workshop.

    For those who haven’t read it I would highly recommend it. Many thanks.

    Robert
    He turns his head but in his ear the steady trade winds run
    And in his eye the endless waves ride on into the sun.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
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    Whangarei, New Zealand
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    1,034

    Default Re: R I P Charlie Whipple

    Thanks John, I too have followed Charlie’s adventures through your posts here and in the news.
    Time goes so fast.
    Zane

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Sound Beach, NY
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    4,021

    Default Re: R I P Charlie Whipple

    I ordered a paper copy of the book and read it. It's instructive and engaging.

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