Newport Shipyard Personalities: Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

From Newport Shipyard's favorite smarties and beauties Loren Weakley (left) and Kate Werner (right). They're un-questionably Shipyard personalities, loved and admired.

Kate married potential future "personality" Justin in Jamaica last year. Admittedly, it took us awhile to get over that maneuver! She manages the office for Nautor's Swan, and Loren does the same at W-Class for Don Tofias.

Loren, as well, bartends at IYAC on Tuesday nights, and honestly can say things start out slowly at the Shipyard on Wednesday morning. It could be nobody wanting to leave IYAC.... or it may be (we're told) the hefty "pours" that Loren dishes out to un-suspecting sailors, preventing them from soaring with the eagles the next day.

We thank everybody for a great year. '08 looks amazing for all us yachties. New England apparently is going to be "in" next summer, with many great boats basing in Newport. Should be good. Come back.

Read More
Ryan WalshNewport Shipyard
Newport Shipyard Personality: Atlantide

ATLANTIDE is turning heads at Newport Shipyard. She has traveled in high circles since she was designed by British Naval Architect Alfred Mylne and built in 1930. She was purchased in 1998 by owner Tom Perkins and restored and re-launched, complete with a Bugatti tender, a year later in 1999. Perkins has just written an auto-biography, Valley Boy, which is a good read I might add, having just devoured it on my passage south. ATLANTIDE was TP's tender for MARIETTE of 1915, one of the "big seven" steel schooners designed by Herreshoff. What a pair they were........ stealing the show in Porto Cervo, Monaco, Cannes, St Tropez, St Barts, and New England. Our family raced on MARIETTE many times, and often enjoyed dinner afterwards on the fantail of ATLANTIDE. It just doesn't get any better...... or does it?

Along comes MALTESE FALCON (exit MARIETTE) and now ATLANTIDE sometimes shadows FALCON! It's almost more than us mortals can fathom, but hats off to the greatest show on Earth. ATLANTIDE from a bygone era, under the command of Capt Justin Christou, is definitely a unique Newport Shipyard Personality.

Read More
Ryan WalshNewport Shipyard
Newport Shipyard Personality: Keewaydin

Keewaydin has been Newport Shipyard's best customer year-in and year-out! I ran into her owner (and check writer!) Joe Fogg in Maine this summer and he asked me, "who's your best customer"? He was joking around, as he already knew the answer. We love the boat; it's right up our alley...... a good fit for the Shipyard. She's kept well, has great pedigree, an owner who understands what it takes, and Capt Pat Quigley's crew are competent and thoughtful.

Recently, the Keewaydin crew ordered 25 pizzas (veggie, Hawaiian, pepperoni, meat lovers, cheese) for everyone and then baked a cake that had the Shipyard logo on it! Now..... that's thoughtful. It brings everyone together in such a nice way. Keewaydin mixes the ingredients "just right" to keep focused and moving forward.

To Joe; we appreciate Keewaydin being our best customer and a Shipyard personality. Your Naples neighbor, 'Hap' said to me yesterday that he thinks he's closing in on your "best customer" status with Whisper. Ut-oh....... he may be. We hope your New year's resolution will be to remain "the champ"!

Read More
Ryan WalshNewport Shipyard
Newport Shipyard Personality: Chris "Sparky" Gamlin

Never in the history of Newport Shipyard have we ever -- ever -- had anyone come to us begging and pleading to be a Shipyard "personality." It was a humiliating experience for all of us, and yet we felt compelled to oblige...... fearing "Sparky" (aka Chris Gamlin) might melt into a puddle of tears if we turned him down. We think of ourselves as a "compassionate" Shipyard!

Chris is a native New Zealander and no stranger to Newport. He has worked on a handful of boats at Newport Shipyard, and the past two summers aboard USA-61. Chris is recognized first by his contagious laugh, louder than any yard equipment! He has a great sense of humor (we hope) and always a quick one-liner to throw into any conversation… whether or not he’s part of it.

We have to confess that “Sparky” is a skilled electrical engineer, and a respected sailor among his peers, even if he arrives at work each day on his mo-ped; the "chicken chaser." In spite of his many, many drawbacks -- he is a great guy to have around the yard and always willing to lend a hand. For this piece he "interviewed" numerous yard workers regarding their thoughts on "his" character! Clearly, his dedication and ambition has landed Chris as a "NSY personality," and thereby possibly a tribute to society? The jury is deliberating......

Read More
Ryan WalshNewport Shipyard
Newport Shipyard Personality: Meteor

The 170' schooner METEOR has landed! She is breathtakenly beautiful and was celebrated at Newport Shipyard August 11th. WOW...........

This is a yacht that has grabbed serious attention both sides of the Atlantic......... so far!

Watching the Cup she was very noticable on TV. In the background blur of spectator boats, there was "one" we all noticed. Ernesto Bertarelli called recently to talk about the Cup, and the 1st words out of his mouth were "have you seen METEOR yet........ and wasn't she something?!"

Newport Shipyard salutes Dan Meyers and John Risley for building this incredible yacht, the work it took, the pedigree it has: Diijkstra-Alden, Munford down below, and Huisman. It just doesn't get any better........

Visit the Meteor Web site for more details.


Read More
Newport Shipyard Personality: Chris Harris

Newport Shipyard's newest "personality" is Chris Harris..... husband of Madeline, and father of Jack. He will handle special projects and just about every facet of our operation. Chris and I have known each other for years and battled the whole time on the tennis court (contact C Dana for "results"). The other battle has been to get him just to come with us. I've hoped he would for several years. Chris is a real problem-solver with a captain's perspective and a mechanic's know-how.

Chris started out working in a shipyard and then was on some amazing boats for 23 years...... Black Knight, Teel, Jimmy Buffett's Continental Drifter, and Cachee. He always seemed to end up running "programs", in that his owners had various other boats, complicated houses, and in one case even a sea plane. Chris understands pressure and deadlines, as his work always involved both.
On a purely personal note, Posy and I gave Chris and Madeline tickets to the "ball" at the (America's Cup) Jubilee at Cowes in 2001.... held in Queen Victoria's former and quite opulent digs on the Isle of Wight. It was their first date!

Read More
Newport Shipyard Personality: Bluenose II

Built in 1963 in Lunenburg, Nova Scota, the Canadian Gaff Topsail Schooner Bluenose II is calling Newport Shipyard home during the Amica Insurance Tall Ships Rhode Island festival from June 27-July 1st. The original Bluenose, built in 1921, was designed for typical Nova Scotia Grand Banks fishing and participating in the International Fisherman's Trophy racing series between Canada and the United States. She became a national icon after remaining undefeated under Captain Angus J. Walters of Lunenburg, and is today depicted on stamps and the Canadian ten cent coin.

The 143-foot wooden schooner now servers as a goodwill ambassador for Nova Scotia, participating in Tall Ships events throughout the Western hemisphere. With 18 crewmembers, her beautiful lines and traditional looks make her one of the most beautiful boats among those visiting Newport for the Tall Ships event.

For more information on the Tall Ships event, visit

Flag: Canada

Rig: Gaff topsail schooner

Homeport: Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada

Normal cruising waters: East Coast of Canada and the United States

Length: 143'

Sparred length: 181'

Draft: 16'; Beam: 27'

Sail area: 11,139 square feet

Hull: Wood


Read More
Newport Shipyard Personality: Billy Black

Marine photographer Billy Black is a familiar and always smiling face around Newport Shipyard. Billy covers Shipyard events, documents refits and does brochure shoots for many of the beautiful yachts the Shipyard attracts during the year. Billy believes that the atmosphere at the Shipyard is like family, only better. "It is one of the best things about Newport," he said. "It could be a stuffy place but instead everyone is friendly, helpful and welcoming. It also attracts all the great events, the best boats and Belle's is one of my favorite places to stop for lunch."

Billy started his career in the New York fashion industry but soon realized he preferred being on the water to being in the studio and moved to Newport. He arrived on his sailboat, an Ericson 39, in 1986 and put down his anchor here for good in 1991. "Newport harbor has changed a lot in the last 20 years," Billy reflected, "I miss lots of the working waterfront but imagine what would have happened if the Danas hadn't rescued this key property."

Look for Billy, and his assistant Gretchen and dog Millie (pictured) on the photo boat - We're Here!

Read More
Newport Shipyard Personality: Robin Campbell

Robin Campbell's first task in the marine industry was scraping seaweed off the slipway in a small boatyard in his native Scotland, so he can reasonably be said to have experienced the industry from the bottom up. His career has included 15 years with Berthon International on the UK's south coast, starting as a trainee broker and ending up as the Director. He is a Director of Oyster Marine, which he joined fourteen years ago, moving to Newport run the company's US operations in 2002.

When not in Newport he's generally to be found (true to his nationality) trying to negotiate free upgrades on his all too regular trans-Atlantic trips.

Editor's note: his "nationality traits" extended to his bringing Oyster to Newport Shipyard. We've never advertised or gone after potential tenants, because of trying to create an atmosphere at the Shipyard.... having people who want to be here. People who recognize and appreciate what it means to be in New England's #1 yachting hub. By definition, that means coming to us! Robin was very interested, but "just couldn't bring himself" to accept our terms as he labored through the details of setting up shop. I found myself chasing him in the end. He earned his stripes right in the beginning to be "Personality of the Week" and has not let us down since.

Read More
Newport Shipyard Personalities: Jimmy & Josh Correia

The crew of Puma Racing would like to nominate both Jim (left, above) and Josh (left, below) Correia as Personalities of the Week.

They definitely gave more than a little extra this last week to help us reach our goals. From their willingness to accommodate our schedule, their professionalism and positive attitude in helping us get everything done, working until 10pm on a Saturday and well past 11pm on a Sunday, all the while doing their job to high standard of safety and making it happen.

Their efforts are greatly appreciated by the Puma team. The Shipyard should recognize them for what they do so well.

The Puma Racing Crew

Read More
Newport Shipyard Personality: Rich Franklin

Newport Shipyard has a unique management structure with three yard managers sharing identical titles, who each also head up their own departments, and collectively manage as a team. Rich Franklin's "other hat" is being head of the Machine Shop. Newport Shipyard has one of the best machine shops on the East Coast, thanks in large part to Rich. 

Rich started at the Shipyard 27 years ago as a machinist; he has "seen it all"! He made the transition easily from the commercial side to mega-yachts. Not only did he make the transition, but he triumphed by bringing his no-nonsense style to the forefront that impressed our customers and kept the yard crew looking up to him as a leader.

The other two yard managers are Steve Figueiredo, head of our electrical shop, and Dockmaster Eli Dana. We've managed this way for three years and, to my knowledge, there has never been a raised voice between them. It has been amazingly smooth. Here's how it works: Rich says, "done" to everything discussed.... knowing completion is just around the corner; Steve says "I'll take care of it" to so many things that no human being could possibly ever get through it all, and Eli says little and calmly pushes ahead without claiming anything!

When Rich isn't "checking in" on the Shipyard on any given blustery weekend, he can be found riding motorcycles all over Aquidneck Island. He and his wife, Sheryl, have two grown children and live in Middletown. Rich's motorcycle is always on the ready, which puts him on our Security's "speed dial" for any number of situations in off hours. One of the most responsible and kind-hearted people you will ever meet, we are proud to present Rich Franklin as "Personality of the Week."

Read More
Newport Shipyard Personality: Ildeberto "Al" Amaral

You can always hear Al coming before you see him, as he whistles his way into sight......

Al has been in the forefront of everything we've done for 30 years.... well before Newport Shipyard came into view. It all started when Al "cold called" at our farm in the spring of 1977. He drove in and said it looked like the farm we'd just bought needed paint. I agreed it needed painting, but told him he didn't look like a painter to me. To which he replied that I didn't look like a guy who'd just bought a nice farm like that, either! We've been together ever since.

Al defines "team player" at Newport Shipyard. He gets everybody marching in the same direction..... happy and smiling. He understands politics better then anyone I've ever worked with, and can cut the baloney out of a job without offending anyone or even having them realize they've been re-directed. He can handle a wide range of tasks and approach them equally; big and small, important and maybe not so important. I always say he's a "jack of all trades" but a master of one: painting. He approaches every thing and everybody with enthusiasm and kindness.

Al is a deserving recipient of "Personality of the Week" who is constantly moving us forward. He has seen it all, and has become as key a member of the Shipyard community as he has been to our family for so many years. He lives in Dartmouth, Mass, close to where our paint-needy farm was. Each day he and his son, Cliff, drive to the Shipyard together. Cliff is the next generation!

Read More
Newport Shipyard Personality: Craig "Figgy" Mitchell

It's not often that Craig Mitchell, aka"Figgy", doesn't have a Ticonderoga shirt of some kind on, even if he doesn't in this picture. He worked on Ti a few years ago. Big Ti's owner, Scott Frantz, is a good friend who happens to give me a lot of "clothing" as well. Sometimes, I have to remind Scott at Christmastime to make sure there are no slip-ups with holiday delivery, but Figgy and I usually pull through in the end......

Figgy runs the yard paint crew and is incredibly good at what he does. This winter he is lovingly restoring Thor for my daughter, Belle, and her boyfriend, Andy. He has brought a bit of Ticonderoga with him in his advice and judgements along the way. We talk constantly about whether a bulkhead should be white, interior varnish should be matte, gloss, "silk", etc. He has great sensibilities -- cares a lot -- and makes the process fun. He couldn't be more deserving of "Personality of the Week."

One bit of trivia: Posy and I sailed offshore with Figgy on Saint Roque when we headed south a few years ago. He was cool, calm, and collected and we had some "active" autumn weather to contend with. Yes, I had to keep telling him "everything would be OK", but he made it just fine! Kidding aside, it was a privilege to get to sail with someone you enjoy working with so much.

Read More
Newport Shipyard Personality: Steve Figueiredo

"No problem, I'll take care of it"... the seven sweetest words spoken at Newport Shipyard - even on Valentine's Day! Fortunately for all of us, that is Steve Figueiredo's mantra and he does "take care of it" with his unflappable demeanor. We joke that he can't possibly pull off something.... only to be proven wrong every time.

Steve plays two very important roles at the Shipyard; he is yard manager and head of the electrical department. Newport Shipyard divides its managerial responsibilities amongst three people... Steve, Rich Franklin, and Dockmaster Eli. This has worked incredibly smoothly, in large part because Steve has set a standard of 'nothing is too much when it comes to our customers.' Not just idle talk..... in eight years, I cannot recall a single complaint on anything Steve has done. Amazing. 

At the end of the day, often after seven at night, Steve drives home to Marion, an hour away. It makes for a long day and we admire Steve, a renaissance man, who even cuts his own hair. Try to cut the back of your head sometime..... !? That's Steve.

Read More
Newport Shipyard Personality: Andy Ridall

Andy Ridall's story is a good one. He grew up in Toledo, Ohio and Atlanta, not exactly yachting capitals, but found his way to the water by meeting my daughter Belle (of Newport Shipyard's Belle's Cafe fame) and becoming a Shipyard dockhand for Eli while in college.

It doesn't end there. He grew to love boats so much that he and Belle bought the 42' THOR (Rhodes, Abeking, '55, pictured Oct 10th in this column), which is being restored right now at the Shipyard. Check out her restoration progress on our "THOR Shipyard Cam".

What Andy didn't know, which was plenty, he has since absorbed like a sponge. He's smart, he reads, and he's bitten badly by the sailing bug! He may be incurable.

Elizabeth Meyer helped in his search for just the right classic. Elizabeth knows her stuff and kept asking "where" and "how" did Andy pick it all up? Andy's dispatches evaluating this boat or that boat never cracked an egg! How did this guy get to where he is? We don't know..... but we're keeping an eye on him and naming him "Personality of the Week" to tip our hat to his morphing into a sailor right under our Shipyard eyes.

Read More
Newport Shipyard Personality: Mindy Gregson

Mindy Gregson started at Newport Shipyard four years ago as a dock hand and has worked her way up to her current position as assistant dockmaster. Having recently graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in Marine Affairs, Mindy works full-time at the Shipyard and will help implement our new software program (DOCKMASTER) that will seamlessly integrate the dock office, yard services, ship's stores, Belle's Cafe and tenant relations into a smoothly organized operation by next season.

Whether on the VHF guiding in a new customer or dealing with professional yacht captains and crew, Mindy is cool and competent under pressure. She is also well-known within the Newport Shipyard community for helping Eli organize the popular crew & staff BBQ's that were held frequently this past summer.

Read More