Remembering Villiers and the Conrad

Remembering Villiers and the Conrad

I was so pleased to read “Here … All Men Mattered” in “The Cape Horn Road” in Sea History 91 that I read it out loud to my brother Bob,

Remembering Villiers and the Conrad who was visiting at the time.

We were both surprised to find that our visual memories of visiting Alan Villiers aboard the Joseph Conrad with our father.

(AlfLoomis, longtime columnist for Yachting magazine) were sharp and clear.

We must have known ir was to be an unusual moment in our lives.

We were not abl e to be at the Battery in lower Manhattan for rhe dedication of the Bruce Rogers Joseph Conrad figurehead on 31January 1935.

Our father was distressed that he was not able to attend that event and had therefore made arrangements to visit Mr. Villi ers aboard, perhaps the day before.

Father drove us down to one of the Battery ferry slips and we were met at 1O AM sharp.

by a small open boat with an inboard moror- probably off the Conrad and manned by one of the crew.

The Conrad was at anchor out in the roadsread off the Battery.

Bob and I recall that the tri p our was bitter cold, just as you wrote.

Bob has a clear mental image of us rounding under the Conrad’s stern and coming up smartly on her starboard side.

Remembering Villiers and the Conrad Shortly we were in the warmth of the captain’s cabin .

The only thing I recall about the conversation was rhar Mr. Villiers said he didn’t kn ow when he would be back, maybe in three or four years, he said.

My question ro myself at age 11 was how someone in a well-found boat with a crew could just leave and not know when he would be returning,

showing I didn’t really understand Villiers’s mission or his home port.

My oth er recollection was rh ar the Conrad seemed so small.

Farher was also an ediro r of the English magazine Yachts and Yachting and covered part of the summer racing season in the Solent every year or so and often rook his family with him.

Thus I had my own 11-year-old’ s idea of what size boat one crossed the Atlantic in. The Conrad’s 93 feet didn’t measure up at all.

Since then I’ve done it myself in 52 feet and know that small er is better.

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