Hull #8, POLA BEAR


It was a bright, sunshiney day on the Bay as J. Vincent and his bride of 60+ years were enjoying lunch at the Berkeley Radisson hotel. While gazing on the Berkeley Marina a sail kept going back and forth in front of the window, the boat itself being obscured from view by one of the Hornblower dinner vessels. The boat was POLA, Bear Boat hull #8. POLA'S owner of 21 months, Steve Barber, was practicing take-off and landings from his berth. (The Berkeley Marina is home to two other BEARs, one of which is hull #9!)

Mr. Vincent thought the sail number and the familiar silouette of the symbol of California he noticed was familiar. "Could it be?," he thought to himself and remarked to his wife. Rushing to finish lunch and make his way to dockside, J. Vincent asked a passerby if he could help gain access to the gated berths. Ironically, the passerby was none other than Steve's lifelong friend, sea scout chum, and fellow sailing novice, Jon Newsom. Jon told Mr. Vincent that he had just stopped by to visit with the very owner of the boat he so anxiously wanted to inquire of.

When Steve opened the gate to greet his friend, Jon introduced him to Mr. Vincent with "Steve, this man says he built your boat 60 years ago!"

Indeed, J. Vincent, a retired Chevron engineer who was on the team that developed the industry benchmark diesel motor oil , DELO, spent the better part of 1937 and 1938 building BEAR hull #8 in a Richmond point shed he crafted from the discarded windows of a demolished Santa Fe RR repair facility. The story of POLA's maiden voyage is well chronicled in WoodenBoat magazine #50 in a story by Bear Boat trust founder Bill Jilliffe. J. Vincent owned and enoyed POLA for the next 13 years.

Steve and J. Vincent have committed to a long conversation over dinner, a good sail together and swapping photos. As the oral history of BEAR boats in the 40's unfolds from the lips of J. Vincent, the anedcdotes and information will be added to the Record section of the page. For now, here are some pictures of J. Vincent and his creation, POLA, Bear Boat hull #8.

J. Vincent's first touch after 50 years was to prevent the luffing mainsail from knocking him off the dock.

J. Vincent as he steps aboard POLA.

BearBoat #8, POLA, gets a fond, reminiscing look from J. Vincent, her builder.

POLA's builder signs the logbook started by her current owner.

Mr. Vincent told Steve that the total cost of materials to build POLA was about $1100.

The keel for POLA cost $125.00. When POLA was built, mahogany cost about 25 cents a square foot!!

Mr. Vincent included some custom features in the cabin when he built POLA. The stainless sink was fashioned for her by a friend of Mr. Vincent who taught at Berkeley High School.

When he launched her, Mr. Vincent built his own "ways", lubricated them with tallow, and got going so fast that she entered the water in a cloud of smoke moving so rapidly that he had to hurridly unlash the tiller and steer her clear of a port structure lest she crash into it and sink on the spot!!

Checking out the rest of the boat, J. Vincent recalls that the mast was originally painted bright yellow!

Three days after this picture was taken of J. Vincent and Steve Barber, POLA let Steve know that she did not think much of his novice ways in 15 knot winds. Ducking backward over the transom to avoid a boom up the side of his head, the mainsheets whipped him right into the bay as though he were but a projectile from a slingshot!!!

Posing for a picture with his creation, J. Vincent is captured on film with the mainsail saluting him and many years of happy sailing.

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