Chet Aero Marine

The wings of flight in an age of adventure…and much more.

Cruising the Subtropics: Yachting in South Florida and the Bahamas

Our last yacht leaving the Palm Beach Inlet, with Singer Island in the background. My father changed the naming convention for this one. 65′ long, attractive and comfortable, it nevertheless wasn’t the best craft for a storm, as we found out the hard way. Note that the sea just in front of the beach is a different (brown) colour from what our craft is going through. This is because Lake Worth was badly polluted at that time; when the tide went out, the foul water went with it. The line between the lake effluent and the ocean was usually very crisp, as one can see above. (Photo by Bernice Ransom Studios, Palm Beach.)

The last act of the Warrington yachting drama took place in different waters. Below is the new theatre of operations, South Florida and the northern Bahamas, where the fourth and fifth generations cruised in the 1960’s.

Chet had paved the way in all of these places, first with the Florida Year-Round Club air races to Miami in 1933, then the SPA fly-in to Nassau in 1939, finally in floating craft with the Courier in 1948, and at last to drop anchor in Palm Beach in 1957. But we added more drama of our own to the saga.

To cruise the Bahamas in the 1960’s was a joy, as many of the “Out Islands” (now called the “Family Islands”) were undeveloped and unspoilt. It’s an experience that has certainly impacted my life, as you can see here.

Pem-Don I

Bimini is the closest Bahama island to the U.S., and it’s good we chose it to start, as packing four people into a 36′ yacht (?) wasn’t fun then and now. Note the two flags flying from the bridge: the Bahamian colonial flag and our family burgee. This was also the last yacht to run on petrol; from here on out (except for the dingys and lighters) we cruised on diesel. The fuel economy is better, and it’s much safer to handle, especially considering the yachtsman’s propensity to fuel his boat with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.

Pem Don II

Our second yacht, a classic.

Some specifications for it are as follows:

  • Length Overall (LOA), 52′ 9″
  • Beam, 12′ 8″
  • Draft, 4′ 9″
  • Clearances — Radio Mast 27′ 6″, Signal Mast 24′ 9″, Mast Down 14′ 8″
  • Fuel, 375 gals @ 18″
  • Water 250 gals @ 4.8 gal/in
  • Oil 20 qts + 1 qt for filter
  • Two GMC 4-71 diesel engines
  • Onan 6MDJB generator
  • Aft cabin air conditioner, Radiotelephone, Deck Hailer, Fathometer, Direction Finder

The Pem-Don I nearly went to the bottom off of Eleuthera.  After that near disaster, we felt it wise to have our boat checked out “stateside” to make sure everything was all right under the water line. This video shows the boat at drydock at Rybovich and Sons Boat Works in West Palm Beach, Florida, along with its relaunching.  Note the Chicago Yacht Club burgee flying even in a situation like this.


Well equipped with the amenities, it had a terrible roll in the high seas, which made cruising through the storm a miserable experience, a prelude to another near disaster at sea.  It wasn’t until years later until I found out why the Pem-Don II snapped back during a roll and the Goldengirl just rolled.

In 1969 the Goldengirl was sold, and the yachting era of our family was at an end.

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