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Circumnavigator III

January 14, 2007

Have you ever wondered what became of someone from your past who at the time meant so much to you? Maybe you lost touch with an old high school friend or the girl you dated in college. For P.A.E.’s president, Dan Streech, it was not so much a case of wondering the whereabouts of a long lost soul mate, but rather a long lost boat. A couple of years ago, Dan wrote a post to the What’s Happening column re-telling of a gritty cruise he took on board a weathered old Alden yawl, the Malabar VII. The cruise was a life-changer for Dan, who, with his entire family, sailed from Dana Point, CA to Ft. Lauderdale via the Panama Canal. Even though Dan and his father spent countless hours rehabbing the boat, it was still somewhat primitive and – by today’s standards – would be considered dangerous for ocean voyaging since it lacked proper navigation equipment. Still, the trip epitomized Dan’s passion for being on the water and the old boat actually became influential to future P.A.E designs.

It had been 36 years since Dan had seen or heard of the Malabar VII and he gradually accepted that she had been scrapped or sunk long ago…That is, until last week when he received an email from a fan who had read Dan’s story and e-mailed him with an update on the boat. “A few years back my son was a mate on the same boat in St. Thomas,” wrote Tom Burckell of Virginia. “Many of the things you talk about in the article, I have heard him curse about – albeit with affection.”

Dan was thrilled that the boat was still in working order and continuing to offer great adventures as she did for him. After all, she not only made an impact on Dan’s life, but on the future designs his boat company would manufacture as well. “The Malabar VII DNA has carried through to the present day at P.A.E. – we chose the ‘tri-cabin’ layout for the Mason 43 based on my experience with Malabar VII,” says Dan. “And, if you look closely at the Nordhavn 62, you can actually see that Malabar VII is its very distant cousin.”

Mr. Burckell noted that the boat, now called True Love and restored to its original form as a schooner, was on the market to be sold.

With only a brief thought of snatching up his beloved old boat, Dan decided his adventures on her were better left in the memory bank. What he didn’t know is that the old Alden had had quite a life aside from Dan Streech intervening in 1969. Mr. Burckell followed up a few days later to further notate the days of the Alden schooner as a movie star – playing opposite Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby in “High Society” – followed by its role as drug smuggling transporter after which it was seized by US Customs and sold at auction. In 2003, Malabar VII was beautifully re-built and restored by a team of shipwrights in Newport, RI. Incredibly, she is in better condition today than she was when the Streech family sailed her 37 years ago.This story reminds us of the amazing and wonderful phenomenon of how durable and long lasting a good boat can be.  Malabar VII is now 82 years old and still going strong. Despite the huge impact that Malabar VII  had on Dan, the Streech family only owned her for less than 3 years and were one of probably as many as 20 or more different owners. This boat has survived depressions, wars, neglect, storms, multiple owners, politics and much much more. Simply said, great boats outlast us…It is almost mind boggling to imagine that a new Nordhavn with its timeless design and beefy FRP construction will probably still be around 100 years from now with a log book full of adventure and drama but also as a silent witness to the personal, national and world events which lie ahead of us.




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