829 Southdrive

829 Southdrive

A New Jersey state of mind

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Changing Of The Guard

Yes, Tillerman, I was in Lumberton last night.
Skip Moorhouse was finally honored at his 
belated retirement party at the Moorhouse 
MacCausland sail loft, out in the virtual middle
of nowhere in south central New Jersey.
There was a nice group of sailing friends and
relatives, some of whom I knew and the rest
I wish I had.  It's not hard to assemble a bunch
such as them, when the honoree is so loved and
respected.  The night was exactly as I imagined. 
BTW, the following three video clips are watchable,
regardless of the black screen each one exhibits.

There were many stories and recollections, all of which
sounded so typically Skip that I was never surprised,
and often I imagined the punchline or moral well before
they were reached.  I'd always enjoyed listening to him
because he's a good storyteller, and sadly this may have 
been one of the last times I'll have the opportunity.

He's built sails for scads of Mid-Atlantic sailors and 
racers alike.  The Moorhouse Sailmakers patch is
a common sighting on Barnegat Bay, as well as
Chesapeake Bay, Delaware River, loads of inland
lakes and reservoirs, and farther than I can probably
fathom.  When you produce a quality product, your
reputation precedes you.

Skip is an everyman.  His sailing and sailmaking 
abilities aside, he's as down to earth as your next
door neighbor.  That's what originally attracted me
to him.  He can talk about the cut of your new
mainsail in one breath, then lament about the toilet
in the mens' room at the back of the loft.  One 
afternoon I was visiting him, around 3:30 or 4:00
in the afternoon, when out of the blue he said, 
"I think we ought to order some lunch.  Dave, 
you like wings?"  Better late than never.

I stayed until the bitter end last night, often having 
something to add but always hanging back, listening
to the others who were more aggressive with their 
additions to the story at hand.  It's okay, I'll tell this
one here.  Skip and Jill grew up on the north shore of 
Long Island, in a small town called Glen Cove. 
 Legend has it that Skip's school sat on a hill
overlooking the harbor. He'd constantly be busted for 
gazing out the window, down upon the sailboats 
moored in the harbor.  Is it any wonder that Skip 
wound up making a living from building sails that
would power the boats in his field of dreams?

When you're young, you often have people you look
up to.  And depending on the situation you're in, those
influential beings can mold the way you will deal with
life as an adult, as well as steer a sailboat around a 
racecourse. Skip was always an idol of mine. 
I have three men on my list of sailing mentors,  
two of whom were my Dad, Jim, and my stepdad
Bob.  Skip is my third.  I was always in awe of
him at Penguin and M-scow regattas, and after my
parents divorced, Mom married Bob and Dad 
married Skip's sister Jill.  Luckily for me and my
brother, everyone remained civil and friendly, and we
often had the best of all worlds.  I consider myself a
well-rounded sailor, though definitely not the sharpest 
racing mind.  It's okay though.  These men had a hand
in shaping  my ability to think on the boat, as well as on
 land.  Traits like those are invaluable inheritances which
many are never priveleged to  experience.

John MacCausland is the hands-down perfect person
for Skip to hand the torch to.  This guy's been around
forever, and is almost as big a part of the New Jersey
sailing scene as Skip.  But not quite just yet.  John,
you're on the right track though.  Best of luck. And
thanks for inviting me to the party. 


  1. Is that Newt Wattis in the middle clip?

    1. Yes. He got rather emotional after that speech. Do you know him?

  2. I've sailed with Newt at various Laser regattas down the Jersey shore and also at Laser Masters regattas all over the place. I think we and our wives had dinner together in Newport a few years back when we were both up from NJ for the New England Masters or something similar.

    1. I wish I'd known before I went on Saturday, but how would I have?

    2. There continues to be few degrees of separation between us, T, and I think we've just scratched the surface.