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Scuttlebutt: It’s Shorty Alderman’s fault.

by Stan Honey, Navigator, ABN AMRO One, VOR '05/06

(March 1, 2006) I grew up sailing at Los Angeles Yacht Club. Shorty Alderman lived in a room at the back of the club. Shorty had been the club caretaker but when he got too old to do much work LAYC just let him live out his years in his room at the club. Shorty had good days and bad ones. On the bad ones he mostly yelled at the kids or kept to himself. Occasionally, however, a few of us (then kids) could get Shorty to let us into his smoke-stained room and tell us stories of his years at sea.

Shorty had been the second mate on the Falls of Clyde, one of the last working full-rigged ships. Shorty had made several passages ‘Around the Horn’ and we were fascinated by Shorty’s stories.

Much later, after Shorty was long gone and I was navigating on Transpac races, I toured the Falls of Clyde which is now part of the Honolulu Maritime Museum and was warmed to see photos of Shorty as a young (and even then short) man, when he was second mate. Ever since those days I’ve wondered whether I’d ever get the chance to ‘Round the Horn.’

Shorty’s influence had quite an effect on me. Three times I’ve joined sailing projects that I expected to include ‘Rounding the Horn.’ As it turns out, however, Playstation broke down in The Race, and I ran out of time to navigate Cheyenne on the Round-the-World record.

The odds of my ‘Rounding the Horn’ are somewhat improved recently, but are still not a sure thing, as I sit at ABN AMRO ONE’s navigation station typing this as we are 500 miles from the Horn and sailing towards it at 25 knots. Shorty would be amazed if he saw this boat under sail.

My last memory of Shorty was when I left LAYC to sail my family’s sloop to the Caribbean. I was taking a year off from college for the trip with some friends. Several of us were among the group of kids that years earlier used to coax square rigger stories from Shorty. Shorty hadn’t been very clear-thinking for some years then, but he did remember us and understand that we were off to the Caribbean. Shorty took us aside to advise us to bring bigger ground tackle and to watch out for the naked women. Good advice both.

When I round the Horn, I’ll think of Shorty.

Stan Honey
Volvo Ocean Race 2005/2006

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