“I built your boat”

picblackwatch24100cEditor’s note: Two sailboats is enough for a family of three, even lifelong sailors. We bought ours (a Catalina 22′ named “Fantasia”) but inherited the other from my wife’s Dad. It is a gem. We spent some money on refurbishment after it sat in his backyard for years, and we have enjoyed sailing it at Scotts Flat Lake and Lake Tahoe. It was an emotional decision to put it up for sale on “Latitude 38,” the bible for sailboat enthusiasts. And we received an amazing response this week. After reading this, I think we should hold onto it.


I built your boat. I didn’t expect to see one trawling the Classy Classifieds here in California. I figured they were all on the Gulf coast or up in Baltimore which is where the owner of the company managed to sell most of them. At the time I was living on a dirt road outside of Amarillo, Texas and raising heck out in the desert. I found a boat shop that looked pretty cool, Blue Water Boat Works, and took a job there. It was Dave Autry’s business. Dave staked his company (as he had done before) playing pool. He and his wife Linda ran the company. A born-again Christian (and great guy) named Doug Crow was the shop manager. Except for making the bowsprit I did your mahogany work (including installing toerails etc. and the bowsprit), mounted all your deck rigging, did the main seal between the hull and deck, mounted the rudder, etc. There was a carpenter in the woodshop who worked with Dave making the patterns etc. Dave and Doug usually did the running rigging. The Imron on your mast was sprayed in the fiberglassing chop booth. For 1980 that’s one heavy boat. There were about 6 guys who did the fiberglass work. They poured a lot of chop and roving into that boat. Given the price of oil (hence resin) Dave didn’t make much money on those boats (hence a good thing he could play pool). I imagine blisters have been few and far between. It’s not got much draft but with the full keel it tracks like a train. The self tending cutter made it really easy for novices to sail. It’s a pretty fair hull. It had a baby sister design with a smaller, similar hull that was cat rigged. I’d not heard of a Blackwatch since I left Texas not long after your boat was built. I don’t know what happened to the company or how many more boats were built after I left. I hope she’s treated you well. Good luck selling her.


Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

3 thoughts on ““I built your boat””

  1. Great story!

    I have long wanted to have a sailboat and learn to sail. My husband learned while in college in San Diego. The school had a course offering and a fleet of one-man boats. Scott’s Flat seems to be an ideal place. If I remember correctly The Gold Country Yacht Club hosts an open house and offers free sailboat rides in June. I hope they will be doing it again this year, and that I remember! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Good on you, David,
    Great story! I love stitch-ups like this one. I’d wager 4 degrees of separation is closer to the norm these days. My wife and I had wonderful adventures in the Gulf of CA on our ’76 Nor’Star Flicka. However, it’s time to downsize. It’s currently [8/9/19] trailered on the hard at Lake Pleasant Harbor just N.W. of Phoenix, AZ waiting for some farewell sails over the winter and will be for sale come spring of 2020. Dave Autry’s Blackwater 19/24 is beautiful and tempting to contemplate as a fall-back position but in reality we should shift to a smaller day boat/camp cruiser. The Bluewater 14 [“little sister” as you put it, David] would likely be the right fit. However, only 44 were built by your company and information appears to be very thin on the ground. If anyone out there would be so kind as to direct me to a source for spec sheets, line drawings, detailed photos or any technical data on the Bluewater 14, I’d be eternally grateful.
    Note: Following proven safety procedures and having fun are not mutually exclusive.
    All the best,

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