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Santana. Even today a smile softens weathered faces at the mention of her name.
"She was beautiful." says William Solari, a San Francisco lawyer who owned her from 1966 to 1969. "The kind of boat you look at and think. I'll go anywhere in the world on that boat.' "
"Did I miss Santana?" says Emil (Babe) Lamerdin, who maintained her for almost a decade. "Oh. God, I couldn't even look at her for years afterward."
Humphrey Bogart owned Santana for 12 years, longer than any of her 11 other owners. He named his movie production company after her, and when he died a glass-encased model of Santana rested where a casket might have been during the memorial service.
Of all the attachments that sportsmen form—for dogs, horses, racing cars—perhaps the strongest is for their boats. A man's love affair with his boat is a form of legitimized adultery. He can lavish care and attention and money on the object of his obsession and still be indulged by a loving wife, children and friends, all of whom know they have no option. Lauren Bacall wrote of her late husband's mania in her autobiography. By Myself: "When he bought that boat he was enslaved—happily so—and truly had everything he'd ever dreamed of." Only extremely competitive yachtsmen, the kind who change boats as they change ties, seem impervious to the emotional entanglements of a yacht. And deep in their hardened racers' hearts, probably even they harbor a tender feeling for some long-lost dinghy named Rosebud.
Santana, however, seems to have had an exceptional appeal, an appeal that has intensified as the years have passed and lovely old wooden-hulled racing yachts with teak decks and graceful lines have become rarer. Nowadays, when a barrel of chemicals today is a boat tomorrow, the sight of a Honduran mahogany hatch cover gleaming with seven coats of varnish is soul food.
Now in her 46th year, Santana, the dowager queen of San Francisco Bay, rocks serenely at her mooring at the St. Francis Yacht Club, a yacht among boats. Behind her the glittering city rises on hills like a modern Cadiz, and at sunset of a clear day both are washed in gold. Looking at her now, no one would guess that only a few years ago Santana was a battered relic, abandoned by those who had cared for her. Had she not been rescued at the eleventh hour by two determined young men, Tom and Ted Eden, twins, architects and sailors, she would be only a glorious memory.
Santana began her life as a rich man's mistake. William Lyman Stewart Jr. of Pasadena, Calif. was the son of the founder of the Union Oil Company of California and was married to Julia Valentine, of the Pasadena Valentines. They lived with their two children, Margaret and Bill, on East California Street in a large Monterey colonial house surrounded by orange groves. Stewart had learned to sail as a child on a skiff at his family's summer home on Terminal Island in Los Angeles Harbor. As an adult he and his younger brother, Arthur, became involved in the ownership and renovation of a 62-foot schooner named Miss Tacoma, built by the Foss Launch and Tug Co. of Gig Harbor, Wash. The Stewart brothers and their families and friends cruised the waters off Southern California and Mexico, racing occasionally, until Arthur was sent on Union Oil business to China. At that point, W.L., an MIT-trained engineer, bought his brother's share of the boat, redesigned her, and eventually renamed her Paisano.
In 1934, when W.L. decided he was ready for a first-class boat, he and Julia traveled East to consult the young designer, Olin Stephens, of Sparkman & Stephens, in New York. Stewart wanted a schooner. Stephens suggested he might be happier with a yawl. Stephens had already designed the celebrated racing yawl Dorade, and the days of the schooners were numbered. But Stewart insisted on a schooner, and so a 55-foot staysail schooner it was. Pacific Motor Boat reported at the time,"...the general purpose of the design was to develop as fast a type of schooner as could be combined with good easy going qualities and comfort below deck."
The new schooner slid off the ways at the Wilmington Boat Works, in Wilmington, Calif., on Oct. 24, 1935. Wilbo, as it was called, was the most famous boatyard on the West Coast in those days. On the day of the launching, Julia and the two children arrived by car from Pasadena with lunches for the Wilbo people while W.L. came directly from his office in downtown Los Angeles. "As you can see," said Julia shortly before she died in 1977, peering closely at a photograph taken that day, "Mr. S-was not dressed for sailing." There was no wind that day and the waters of the harbor were flat and oily-looking. The relentless California sun beat down, and Margaret, a chubby little girl of about 10, wearing a plaid dress and dark felt skimmer and carrying a bouquet, looks hot and uncomfortable in the picture.