Friday, February 17, 2012

Author announcement # 2: Jim Sharp

Captain Jim Sharp is a man that has been interested in sailing vessels from the get go.  He at age 12, sans  his parent’s knowledge much less permission, pilfered the family skiff, bed sheet from the guest bedroom, two broom sticks, with bristles still fanning the end, and dreaming of things of the sea, rigged up that cock-a-shell like a clipper and sailed the thing across Dredge Harbor playing the part of a Cape Horn crusty captain.  He then realized he had to row all the way home -up wind- to face his father’s  stern eyes and glaring daggers that were already gathering at the youthful affront.

Life, however, after that altercation was good to the “would be” captain.  He swallowed the salt water with many happy hours on his father’s power boat, learning seamanship and discipline from a fair, but demanding disciplinarian who unfortunately passed at an early age.  This forced Jim, seeking survival, into an unexpected business endeavor in finance.  Not being his forte, escape from the “suit and tie” world was imperative.  He had gathered enough to purchase an old 44’ Alden classic yawl and set out for the Bahamas to become a charter captain.  Hard times, near starvation, working from one job to another, he finally came to Maine to discover the Windjammer fleet out of Camden. Here, with a summer as mate on the leaky, ancient,  skin-boats of the original Swift fleet, he decided- come hell or high water- he would settle and carve out a career.

His first was the Schooner Stephen Taber, oldest commercial sail vessel in the U.S.  She leaked volumes both through the bottom and the decks.  Accepting her salt water circulatory system he sailed that first season without disaster and found that it was “the best thing I ever did”. Vowing to remain in the windjammer business, he bought the poor decrepit schooner Adventure, a thoroughbred, hidden under flaking paint, short rig and questionable reputation.  A major rebuilding ensued and while in that fit of inertia, he went to work on the Arctic Schooner Bowdoin saving her from death and destruction by the museum of Mystic.  Then followed the Schooner Roseway  and a string out of over 30 vessels, sail, tugboats, freight boats and just about “anything that would float” kind of boat.  It even included a Dutch built canal boat In Europe where for ten years he and his wife, Meg, had cruised the intricate system of waterways in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.

Retirement came early and Sharp went for it with reckless abandon. Cruising around the world, crisscrossing the U.S. on lakes and rivers, writing his memoirs, (strangely enough called “With Reckless Abandon”) donating his beloved Schooner Adventure to preservation in Gloucester, he, for almost 20 years was occupied with a thousand retirement issues.

He then flunked retirement!

Purchasing the old Outward Bound Property in the South end of Rockland, he proceeded to renovate the buildings and create a little jewel of a museum called the Sail, Power & Steam Museum, Children’s Museum, Professional Office building, marina and boat shop. 

Some call it “Reckless Abandon”, others would call it mentally unhinged.         

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