John Hanks

John Hank in a Local Yardj

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           While at school John’s first experience around the water was when he, and another student at his school, built a canoe and raced it together in the 125 mile Devizes to Westminster canoe race.  The two of them later made sails, spars, and leeboards for the canoe enabling sailing adventures as well.

            After graduating John embarked on a 23 year career as a Marine Engineer in the Royal Navy.  This included several years of training to become a degree qualified Marine Engineer.

            At this time Naval colleges were equipped with 43’ Morgan Giles sloops.  One of John’s good friends was an Australian gentleman who was Secretary for one of these sloops.  Together they spent summers cruising the north and south coasts of Brittany as well as the Channel Islands.  Since these sloops qualified as “Sail Training Craft”, they were also able to enter two Tall Ships races.  One race was to Spain and the other to Sweden.

            The great majority of John’s Naval career was spent in submarines, often on deployment in the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the West Indies, and even the Arctic Ocean.  He was aboard the second British submarine to actually surface through the ice at the North Pole.  Between these deployments at sea he worked as an Engineer in the submarine refitting yards.

            After retiring from the Navy John became a Consultant working for two Scottish engineering firms doing consulting work for the oil and gas industry.  Later, taking a break from engineering for a time, he worked in an electronic publishing company owned by Thomson Reuters.

            Wishing for a shift in emphasis in his life after retiring from the last of these jobs, John enrolled in what was at that time the only boat building school in Scotland.  This school had been successful for many years and had excellent facilities at the Greenock waterfront on the River Clyde.  Unfortunately the school failed to open on the curriculum’s starting date and two weeks later it was formally closed with the associated college turning the facilities over to other courses.  John felt this was particularly tragic considering the demand in Scotland for skilled boat builders, and the rich maritime heritage on the Clyde, and elsewhere in Scotland, for yacht building as well as ship building.

            Looking for another route to the creative side of yachts and small craft John found our Yacht Design School, which he says has been a happier experience for him.  He particularly felt that being able to design on the computer screen using the Rhino software package suits both the modern design office and the distance learning nature of the school.  The self-paced structure allowed him to progress quietly and steadily through the curriculum.

            About the time that he became our most advanced current student John asked us if we could work together in some way.  As Yacht Design School has grown, dedicated well trained people like John have been needed very badly to keep up with our expansion rate.  We were very happy to offer him some drafting work in our design firm and work as an Assistant Instructor, working directly with the Chief Instructor on the YDS Main Curriculum.  He has plunged into this with great enthusiasm, which has improved our turnaround time on correcting lessons.  Though we both add every suggestion we can think of to help students with each lesson, this does give the Chief Instructor more time to do lesson revisions, answer student questions, do additional research, etc.  John is a great addition to YDS.

            John still charters sailing vessels from the Navy and with his Australian friend has been exploring not only the beautiful West Coast of Scotland, but also some of their old haunts in the Channel Islands and on the Coast of France.

            John and his Australian friend hope to also tackle sailing Australia’s Gold Coast, and perhaps we can report on that when it happens.

            We fondly remember a visit from John and his two daughters when Nannette and I were staying with our own daughter in her little place in the Maine woods.  John brought some half models for our inspection and we talked for quite awhile.  His daughters, after carefully questioning us on the proper etiquette for dealing with bears, went for a long walk, and we all had a very good time.

            John makes another great addition to our crew here, and we feel our students will have a good time working with him.  He’s a good match with the very personal nature of our interaction with our students.

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