Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Howdy Bailey, Boatbuilder with a Difference

Howdy Bailey is a long-time friend, from long before we moved to USA. Howdy had bought plans from me for the Pratique 35 and we visited him in Norfolk, Virginia, on our first trip to USA in 1983. I was a young designer, not yet through with my studies at Westlawn School of Yacht Design (now named Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology) and was totally unknown. Yet, based solely on the design that he had bought from me and a few hours chatting over dinner, Howdy Bailey had the confidence in me to commission the design of a 64ft charter yacht that was to be built for a consortium in Norfolk. That design is the Dix 64 and the boat was launched and went into the St Thomas charter trade as "Rising Sun".
Dix 64 "Rising Sun" shows off her exquisite finish.Howdy Bailey in the red shirt.
"Rising Sun" was beautifully built in steel, finished in flag blue Awlgrip that displayed her blemish-free surfaces to perfection. Rigged as a staysail schooner for ease of handling by a small crew, she surprised all who sailed on her with her speed under sail and characteristics.

Over the years and on opposite sides of the Atlantic, Howdy Bailey and I maintained a lasting friendship and worked together on many projects. They included the Echo 38 cruising tug "Echo" and the Little Creek 47 "Flutterby", now owned by Howdy's son Dylan Bailey.
"Echo" at home on a backwater of Chesapeake Bay.

Little Creek 47 "Flutterby" waiting to start a Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race
Howdy was instrumental also in me receiving the commission to design "Sabbatical II" as a custom design for a local businessman and friend. Howdy and his very capable crew turned her into a work of art, with beautiful detailing of a complicated boat.
The ketch-rigged "Sabbatical II" sailing in sloop configuration.
I have always thought of "Howdy" as a nickname, maybe short for Howard or some other name. Not so long ago I asked him what his real name is and he replied "Howdy". He was named Howdy at birth. Howdy's interesting name carries through to him being one of the most interesting people that I have had the pleasure of knowing in the boating industry. He no longer builds boats and instead works in the marine service industry. He and his small crew take on service work of all types, from rebuilding joinery to rerigging and new plumbing or mechanicals. Whatever you need done to bring your boat back to pristine condition, Howdy and his guys can do it. Custom metalwork is their specialty, able to produce aluminium and stainless items to a very high standard. They are currently completing the keel/engine support structure in steel for the Didi 950 being built in Ohio.

Howdy also has great community spirit. He introduced me to some surfing friends a year or two after we arrived in Virginia Beach and I joined their very informal Iguana Surf Club. Every year this club hosts a fun day on the beach as a fundraiser for the Norfolk-based Children's Hospital of the Kings Daughters, with surf contest, fun events and a big party afterwards. The past few years Howdy Bailey has really come through with large amounts of cash that has been donated by his customers and local businesses toward the fundraiser. Howdy has a big heart.

Ever since we met, he has done business from various buildings near to Cobb's Marina at Little Creek, an inlet off the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. It was always an interesting place to visit, with all kinds of fascinating bits and pieces hung on the walls or suspended from the roof. Howdy is a collector, not of "stuff" but of "interesting stuff". His workshop just wasn't big enough to display all of his eclectic collection.

City codes have now forced a relocation and Howdy Bailey Yacht Services has moved into a larger shop at 7527 Avenue J, Norfolk. This has much more open space and it has been put to good use to show off Howdy's collection of toys, bicycles, boats, signs, classic cars, old tools and a host of other things. The heavy items are on the floor and lighter items are hanging from the roof or along the walls. Even if you have no interest in boats or quality metalwork, Howdy Bailey Yacht Services is an interesting place to visit.
Main entrance to Howdy Bailey Yacht Services
Howdy in red shirt and Larry Foster, long-time colleague.
View of the shop from the front entrance.
Lots to look at, in every direction.
Howdy and I go back a long way and I look forward to continuing that way for many years to come. If you have some boat work that needs doing by competent people, visit Howdy's shop or call him on 757-480-0058.

To see more of our designs, please visit http://dixdesign.com/.