Centennial of Sam L. Morse

A week ago I was confident that tomorrow (my tomorrow; time zones are tricky) Friday 6 April 2018 we would start celebrating the Centennial of Sam L. Morse.

Today, when I sat down to write this post, I did a quick search and found - shock! horror! - that the primary sources I had read years back have disappeared from the Internet. And instead a date for Sam’s birth 6 months after tomorrow is listed as his birth date. Or not, since that new date for Sam’s birth is just a US government record made in 1992.

So please take the following with a little uncertainty and doubt (but no fear).

  1. Some vitals:

Samuel Lewis Morse junior was born 6 April 1918 in the state of Washington to Samuel Lewis Morse senior and Helen Morse nee Goode.

Samuel Lewis Morse senior was born on 20 January 1887 in Bowdinham, Maine, to James Lewis Morse, a farmer, and Augusta Henrietta Morse nee Little.

Samuel Lewis Morse moved to Washington. And in 1915 in King County, Washington, married Helen Goode.

Samuel Lewis Morse junior, whom we know as Sam L. Morse, had a busy life which he thought of as “working for others”. Various sources describe him as working as a ship’s purser and later as a sales representative for Peterbilt trucks.

  1. Sam L. Morse Co.
    Sam retired in the 1970s and with his spouse Betty Morse looked for an enterprise they could undertake together, working for themselves.

Sam and Betty set up Sam L. Morse Co. in 1972. Sam judged that the idea of cruising was booming. And thought that a cruising design superior to the Westsail 32 would find a niche in the market.

In 1973, Sam visited Dreadnought Boatworks in Carpenteria, CA, where John Schaeffer was building his competitor to the Westsail 32, the Dreadnought 32.

John told Sam about Lyle C. Hess and suggested that Lyle’s “English Cutter” might be worth considering.

Sam visited Lyle, who had in the late 1960s been approached by Larry Pardey to redraw the lines Lyle had originally drawn for Hale Field’s yacht “Renegade”. Larry and Lin Pardey used those lines to build “Seraffyn”.

Larry had then introduced Lyle to Richard Arthur, of Arthur Marine. Lyle subsequently drew lines for GRP production of several boats for Richard, including the Balboa 20, Balboa 26, and Ensenda 20.

So Lyle was in 1972 familiar with drawing lines for GRP production. And he had those lines for “Renegade”/“Seraffyn” waiting for an opportunity.

Lyle redrew the lines of his English Cutter for production in GRP.

Sam took the lines to Bruce Meyers, who had created the Meyers Manx beach buggy, to create a plug and moulds for the hull and deck. Sam, Lyle, and Bruce worked to prefect the design for production in 1974-5.

In 1975, Sam L. Morse Co. began business with an office and a boatyard in the yard of Crystaliner in Costa Mesa, CA.

Sam retired from the presidency of Sam L. Morse Co. in 1992. He and Betty retired to Port Townsend, WA.

George Hylkema bought Sam’s share of the company and took over as president.

Sam died on 29 October 1992. The Seattle Post Intelligencer printed an obituary in its issue of 5 November 1992. I’ve not seen that obit and I’ve found it jolly difficult to buy access to the Seattle PI’s obits from outside the US (so if you happen to have access …).

  1. In conclusion

Back in 2012, I celebrated 100 years of Lyle C. Hess by putting together a first edition of my operating manual for BCC 116 Zygote. Since then I’ve cut some detail out of the operating manual and put it into other documents, such as Zygote’s Word List. And of course added more.

On this centennial of Sam L. Morse, I’m about to start work on a second edition of my operating manual. I’ve corrections and additions to make.

Happy Birthday Sam L. Morse! Happy Sam L. Morse Centennial to you!

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I had brief communication with Roger Olson, in which we discussed the Centennial of Sam L Morse.

Roger indulged me in reminiscence about the years in which Sam and Betty were building Roger’s first BCC, Xiphias. And after the launch of Xiphias, Roger kept in good contact with Sam and would stay with Sam and Betty when he returned stateside for a visit.

Roger restated views that I think he has made public on this site much earlier:

  1. that Lyle C. Hess was a special person who had the ability to design a boat that was beautiful and really worked as intended; and

  2. that Sam was a special person, totally committed to delivering quality over profit, who could build boats that stood up to Lyle’s dream design.

Roger asked me to pass on his regards and wishes to all.