Dick Valdes Speaks

Dave Smith's report on the rendezvous:

                We had a great time too, but we were no where near full
                throttle in the Whaler!
                I have to admit, it was amazing how fast a 40 hp motor makes
                a 13' boat go in
                reverse. Yikes!

                For others, I thought it might be interesting to relate the
                following questions
                that were asked to Dick Valdez and his responses.

                Why did some boats have iron keels and some have lead, and
                how were the keel
                bolts installed on the iron keel boats?

                A: paraphrased)
                Lead keels are obviously better, but more difficult to build and more
                expensive. Lead was about 3x-4x the cost of iron at the time (I forget the
                cents/pound numbers he used). Using an iron keel was one of the ways they were
                able to make more boats affordable. The keels were drilled and tapped about 6"
                down, but you only need 5x the diameter to get full strength.

                Q: It's been said that the keels were glued on so well that you don't really
                need keel bolts. What's your opinion on that?
                A: Well Columbia had one of their other divisions design a really strong
                adhesive that was the consistency of peanut butter, but was really strong. I
                mean like 30,000 pounds/sqin tensile strength (this is about the strength of
                mild steel). If you spread that over alot of square inches it could indeed
                hold a keel up, but you'd better keep the bolts just in case.  In
                fact there was one boat they were building to order, and had it almost done
                when they found they had the wrong keel on it. They undid the nuts and tried
                to knock the keel off, but it wouldn't come loose. They had to use a saws-all
                and cut the keel off.

                Q: What was your favorite Columbia and why?
                A: Definitely the C50. It won so many races and was so pleasing to the eye.

                Q: What was you least favorite Columbia, or the "lemon" of the bunch?
                A: The C33. (He had a pet name for it, something to do with a cormorant, but
                I forgot it)

                Q: Why did some boats have a balsa core and some didn't?
                A: Fiberglass is a great boat building material, but it isn't very stiff. If
                you take a 1/4" piece of plywood and try and bend it, you'll find it is very
                stiff. If you take a 1/4" piece if fiberglass, you'll find it isn't. There
                are two ways to make it stiffer, one is to make it thicker, which makes it
                heavier and uses more materials, and the other is to add a core. It was his
                opinion balsa is still the best core material. The balsa core was a way to
                make a stiff, lighter hull that could still get a Lloyds certificate and was

                Q: With regards to all the custom C-50's and starcrafter models, when would you
                say a boat is no longer a C50.
                A: If it came from our factory, it's still a Columbia 50. Lots of people
                finished their own boats and probably found better ways of doing things, but
                it's still a Columbia.

                Other comments:
                Columbia made over 30,000 boats all over the world. You can travel anywhere,
                go to the water, and find a Columbia.

                In the "early days" resin was 16 cents a pound, now they pay $1.60 a pound for

                The reason some boats had A-4's and other's had Palmers was because they
                couldn't get enough A-4's. They would buy as many as they could get, 100 at a
                time and pay $450 each.

                He related he had a C40 which he would enter in the big Mexico races(Cabo, La
                Paz or Mazatlan, or Puerta Valerta). The boat had an A-4 in it and after each
                race they would motor it home (800-1000 miles). The gas in Mexico was so bad
                that they had to do a valve job on the motor when they got home. It was
                cheaper to replace the motor than do a valve job, so after each long race like
                that they would drop in a new A4.

                On their C26 production line, they put out one C26 a day. (wow)

                The most profitable boat in terms of percentages was the C43.

                He always thought there was a place in the market for a motor sailor, but they
                lacked the funds to make a new design. They had a different bolt on portion
                for the aft end of the C43 mold, and made the hull of the C45. It used the
                same keel and rudder as the C43. "We sold 450 of those boats!"

                There were lots of other interesting antidotes, but that's the ones that come
                to mind.

                We had two high points in the day. 

                #1) We were in the dinghy with Vince Valdez (Dick's son) going to pick up Mike
                Keers at the dock. We (Lisa and I) told him we were on the C45 anchored over
                there. He says, oh, so you guys have the biggest boat here. We explain no,
                we're on the 45, not one of the 50's. He grins, says no- you are the biggest
                boat here, obviously understanding some of the attributes of the C45.

                #2 Later, Dick Valdez drives his rented electric dinghy over to our boat and
                says he doesn't have much time, but he wants to come aboard for a tour. He
                came down stairs, sat in chair in the main salon and chatted with us for 15
                minutes telling us about the 45's, how he liked motor sailors, started Lancer
                Yachts, how nice our wood was! It was really neat! Molly liked him and
                pounced him. She would have licked his face if we let her!

                Three cheers to Doug Ward for putting it all together.

                David Smith
                C45 Total Eclipse

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