Marvin Creamer, a sailor who performed a seemingly miraculous instrumentless circumnavigation in the mid-1980s, has crossed the bar for the last time. A former geography professor at Rowan University in New Jersey, Creamer died on August 12, at age 104. Born in 1916, Creamer was long associated with Glassboro State College in New Jersey (later renamed to Rowan). He received his undergraduate degree from the school and later founded a chair in geography there in 1970.
Creamer was also a sailor, and he melded his interest in geography and sailing to dive deep into the science and the art of navigation. He was interested in the observational navigation techniques. He made several transatlantic voyages and decided on something bigger.
Creamer decided, at age 66, to do a circumnavigation aboard his 36-foot sloop Globe Star. He had no sextant, no compass, no watch or radio at the nav station.
Creamer’s circumnavigation started from Cape May, New Jersey in December 1982 and proceeded to Cape Town; Hobart, Tasmania; Sydney, Australia; Whangara, New Zealand; the Falkland Islands and back to Cape May. Globe Star returned on May 17, 1984 to a hero’s welcome.
In the process, Creamer went down in the record books as the first sailor to circumnavigate without instruments of any kind.
The longtime president and CEO of Catalina Yachts and the man who put tens of thousands of Americans into sailboats, Frank Willis Butler died on November 15, 2020 in California at age 93.
A US Navy veteran, Butler owned a small machine shop in North Hollywood, Calif. Butler was an avid dinghy sailor and ordered a new boat from a small boatbuilder. When the builder didn’t deliver, Butler finished the boat himself. He became interested in boatbuilding and ran boatbuilder Wesco Marine, which he later renamed Coronado Yachts, before selling the company. In 1969 Butler founded Catalina Yachts in Hollywood, Calif. In the 52 years since, Catalina has built more than 85,000 boats.
Butler founded the Westlake Yacht Club in Westlake, Calif. And in 2013 he was inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame.
West Coast women’s sailing pioneer Jocelyn Nash, 91, died on April 8, 2020. Nash, who was born in San Francisco in 1929, developed an early interest in sailing. Her first boat was a plywood Mercury. She later moved on to bigger boats and in the process established several important milestones for women sailors.
In 1955 Nash was the first woman to compete in the Transpac Race. In 1963 she was the first woman sailor to compete and win the North American Sailing Championship – The Mallory Cup. Also in 1963 she was the first female winner of the International 110 Championships. And perhaps the most impressive in terms of ocean sailing, in 1982 Nash was the first female participant in the singlehanded Transpac Race.
Well-known ocean sailor and author Larry Pardey died on July 27, 2020 at age 81. Pardey and his wife Lin were the co-authors of numerous books about offshore cruising and together sailed more than 200,000 ocean miles.
The Pardeys met in California while Larry was building the 24-foot Lyle Hess design which they named Seraffyn. The two spent 10 years sailing Seraffyn on a circumnavigation before returning to California to build a second boat, a 30-footer, also designed by Lyle Hess, named Taleisin on which they performed another circumnavigation including a doubling of Cape Horn.
The couple later settled at Kawau Island in New Zealand where Larry ran a small boat repair business he called Mickey Mouse Marine. In his later years Larry suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and suffered a stroke in 2018.
Along with Lin, Larry co-authored 12 books and won numerous sailing awards, both singly and with Lin, including those from the Cruising Club of America, the French Sailing Association, the Royal Institute of Navigation, Ocean Cruising Club, the Seven Seas Cruising Association and others.
Noted yacht rigger and author Brion Toss died from cancer on June 6, 2020. He was 69.
Brion operated his rigging shop, Brion Toss Yacht Riggers, in Port Townsend, Wash., and was well-known as a master rigger. Brion was also a writer — Ocean Navigator published an article of his in 2016 — and authored a treatise on rigging called The Complete Rigger’s Apprentice, which graces the bookshelves of many a sailor. Brion was the prime speaker at rigging workshops, and the first recipient of the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival’s Maritime Hall of Fame award. Brion’s business partner Ian Weedman said, via email, the shop won’t close, “…we are keeping the Brion Toss Rigging shop alive.” n