Friday, February15, 2019

Remembering Chairman Bob

Bob Griffiths passed away on April 16, 2008 after battling a very rare but aggressive form of lung cancer. Chairman Bob was a well liked and known Master Mariner and friend that will sorely be missed. He sailed his vessel Eventide many times to the Channel Islands, so he was well known in Southern California as well. He donated Eventide, a well looked after vessel, to the Spaulding Center for Wooden Boats, both to support the center and to place the boat in knowledgeable hands. He was a graduate of the California Maritime Academy and worked as a marine engineer during most of his career. He also was a licensed Captain and when he was still a youngster he worked on fish boats. One had to pry the licensed Captain part from Bob; he never told anyone about it unless pushed. He is survived by his daughters Cathy and Beverly, and their families. He was on hospice care for a short time and went out in full command of his faculties, probably even picking the day after tax day . Dick Wren, Little Packet Chairman Bob Griffiths: I really don't know how Bob picked up the title of Chairman, but in wooden boat sailing circles that was how he was addressed. I got to know Bob some years ago through the Master Mariners Benevolent Association, where he served on the board and championed the L-36 class.

Bob bought his L-36, Eventide, in 1976, and he was an active racer and cruiser for the next 30 years. Never keeping the boat tied up for too long, he regularly sailed down to Southern California to cruise the Santa Barbara Channel Islands and on down to Catalina. At the end of each cruise he also sailed the boat back to San Francisco. To the non-sailor, that may sound pretty obvious. But as any sailor knows, the homeward bound trip to San Francisco is against the prevailing winds, and it's a lot colder, a lot wetter, seems a whole lot longer and is genuinely less comfortable. However to the veteran sailor Chairman Bob it was just part of the cruise and I never heard him remark about the difficulties.

2004 marked the 50th anniversary of the L-36 class. Bob thought that something ought to be done to recognize the class having hit such a milestone. At his instigation, Latitude 38 published a feature article on the class, with much of the history provided by Bob. He also began calling the owners of L-36's around the Bay and urged them to come out for the 2004 Master Mariners Regatta to sail together as a class. Not everyone was ready or initially willing, but his enthusiasm and persistence paid off. His success was measured in six boats turning out and racing together as a class for the first time in more than two decades. That we continue to race as a class each Memorial Day weekend continues to be thanks to Bob.

Bob was always upbeat, especially when talking to owners about how to keep these old wooden boats maintained and seaworthy. The lessons he learned along the way he freely passed on to others with characteristic modestly and encouragement.

We're going to miss Chairman Bob. But each time you see an L-36 out there, think of how many he touched and how fondly he is remembered by them. John Hamilton, L-36 Ole

Chairman Bob with his Crayfish Traps

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