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Summer Job on the 130' J-Boat Endeavour

From Newburyport Public Schools Impressions Spring 2008 - Page 6.


by Janice Chick - Spring of 2008

It floats, it ghosts along, and brings exhilaration to many in the vast sailing world. What is it like to spend your summer on one of the most extraordinary restored sailing vessels, live with people from many parts of the world, and meet endearing and powerful people? It is wonderful; and a terrific way to make ends meet if you are one of countless school teachers who needs to supplement earnings by working summers. The owner, Elizabeth Meyer, and captain, Chick Moran, of the J Class Sloop Endeavour employed me for the summer of 1990, giving me a chance to be on the most exceptional sailing yacht on the east coast of North America. Part of the regularly paid senior crew there was even one trip where after several long days of work we were given a tip of $650. But before I tell you about my stay on the ten million dollar summer home, let me fill you in with the background of the sailing yacht and my own sailing experience.


The dark blue sailing vessel Endeavour was built in 1934 for Sir Thomas Octave Murdoch Sopwith, the famous aeronautical engineer from the England who was renowned for his aircraft. His company produced key British aircraft for World War I. Most famously, he made the Sopwith Camel that we know as Snoopy’s plane from the Charles Schulz’s comics. Sopwith was also an ice hockey star with a gold medal, as well as a celebrated yachtsman. He had Endeavour designed and built by the Camper & Nicholson’s Yard in England as one of the yachts to challenge for the America’s Cup, the ultimate sailing yacht race in 1934 which, sadly, he did not win. The America’s Cup was first won d States in England the schooner America, for which the trophy is named. The yacht Endeavour dominated the many yacht racing scenes for many years and is renowned as the one of the most beautiful J Class yachts ever built.

How did I manage to get this fantastic summer job?

Well, growing up on the fresh water, rowing my pram and sailing my sunfish gave me a sense of sailing responsibility as well as knowledge about the challenges of learning. I was fortunate to be able to take a year off from teaching. Accompanying a high school classmate, I sailed south to help charter his sailing vessel in the Caribbean that winter. During that time, I was able to get enough time at sea and pass a written exam to earn a United States Merchant Marine Captain’s License, and meet a strong group of lifelong committed sailors.

The vessel I spent the winter on in the Caribbean was originally built for a prominent New England family, the Saltonstalls. I worked on this vessel in the northeast until it was sold meaning I needed a new job.

I decided to apply to work on the Endeavour even though my sailing friends discouraged me from that. This group of friends and I had just witnessed the challenge of two J's sailing with the “old guard” and the current “Who’s Who” from past years of the America’s Cup.

The yachts match raced on Narragansett Bay off of Newport, Rhode Island with a huge number of on-lookers. It was a scene that brought the grace, elegance, and art of the bygone years of these sailing craft. I ultimately ignored my friends’ opinions and sent a sailing resume including a cover letter that winter to the owner of Endeavour.

Within a week in the month of February, I received a surprise call for an initial interview. This interview led to a second interview with the captain of the yacht, Chick Moran, on board the Endeavour which had just arrived in Norfolk, Virginia from Antigua. After a quick interview with the Captain, the job was mine. I was elated.


School ends and I bolt out the door for my summer on the Endeavour. Two of my sailing friends drive me to Newport, Rhode Island so that I can report to the captain. They were ecstatic for me. Sailors have a common love for the grandeur and pure magnificence of famous sailing yachts, and so they hoped to get a tour of the yacht. In the meantime, I had received an outline of events that we would be engaged in for the summer. I couldn’t wait to show my sailing friends the outline and the list of crew, especially when they have my name listed as “a pro”. It sounds great, but in reality, if you are paid crew you are listed as a “pro”.

I arrived at Banister’s Wharf in Newport with my duffle bags. Greeted by Captain Chick Moran, he gave my friends the tour they had hope for and sent me up to the office to get my official sailing gear. A new fleece-lined jacket, hat, duffle bag, shoes, shorts, and shirts with the boat’s name on them were given to me to wear on board. Since I was new crew, I was assigned a top bunk with the rest of the working crew up forward in the ‘focsle’. Most of the crew had been sailing on Endeavour in the Caribbean before delivering the boat north.

As I made my way back to the dock where Endeavour was tied up, I felt a little anxious about sailing on such a large vessel. I was so impressed meeting everyone, but nervous being the newcomer. We had a busy schedule racing in Boston, chartering in Maine, circumnavigating Newfoundland, and then returning south to charter in Martha’s Vineyard and Newport. The captain and our award winning chef were from Australia and another crew member was from Holland. The other crew members were from New England. I liked the idea that all the crew members shared all of the sailing duties. This gave everyone a leaning experience.

Most of the crew had sailed in the first series of J Class yacht races where Shamrock versed Endeavour in Annapolis, Maryland. The two yachts dueled to the finish with Shamrock winning. I joined the crew at Newport on their way north to Boston for the second race in the series. We had spent two days of extensive prep work before heading out.


In this series, Endeavour and Shamrock would have two famous guest helmsmen, US Senators, John Kerry and Ted Kennedy. Ted was on Endeavour and John was on Shamrock. We left Newport at two o’clock in the morning, for Provincetown. Departing late in the evening with a warm summer breeze made this a trip pleasant. We anchor in Provincetown harbor to get a little sleep and wait for our optimum time to depart for Boston Harbor. We would have our guest skippers for one day of practice racing and then the serious match racing would begin. It would be exciting for all, sailing and racing in view of the Boston skyline. These America’s Cup Challengers with their low sweeping hull and 17-story tall masts gather many onlookers.

To make things even more interesting, we took on 25 or so non-pro crew with various experiences. The racing crew would then number over thirty for each vessel. Shamrock won this race, too. What a beginning of the summer events for me!

 Finishing the race in Boston and leaving the finish line for the Boston Yacht Club in Marblehead, Massachusetts, where I was surprised to see many of my sailing friends, who came to see Endeavour and maybe even me.

 Chartering two days in Marblehead for Eastern Yacht Club members with old fashion boxed lunches

 Chartering in Manchester for an eightieth birthday party. Would you believe we had to sail with a harp? We stowed it away for the windy day sail. The harp was played when Endeavour returned to the mooring during the grand cocktail party.

 The Gloucester charter was for a fundraising for a company that makes technology equipment for the handicapped. The festivities were held at the Eastern Point Yacht Club in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The crew was always invited to attend.

 In Camden, Maine we took a charter out for another birthday party. This was the day the chef made the birthday cake and placed his creation, a white chocolate stand up Endeavour, on the top of the cake. The sail was such a success that the crew received a large tip and dinner out the next evening in Rockport, Maine. The price for the day charter was around $17,000 dollars.

 Leaving Camden for Hog Island in Penopscot Bay to pick up over night charter quests. This was the Endeavour owners’ family island where we had a beach bonfire and a lobster cookout.

 Leave for Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island to sail with the owners of Dooney and Burke handbags and accessories. The crew had a private tour of the Hinckley Yacht Yard.

 Heading for Nova Scotia, a loud bang was heard. The engine had lost a part of its worm gear making a tow the best bet to enter Shelburne Bay. The engine was one year and a day old. The owner then negotiated with a tug to tow us to Halifax at least one hundred miles away. I stand watch at the bow as a lookout, while the vessel is being towed to get repairs to the engine. This was like getting a natural facial with the damp moist air hitting your face constantly. The week in Halifax for repairs cancelled plans to sail around Newfoundland. The sailing schedule needed us to head south to Martha Vineyard soon.

 We sailed to Martha Vineyard with a semi-repaired engine that still needed work remembering we can sail most places. In Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard, we took a group of acquaintances of the owner of Endeavour sailing. Some of the quests included Carly Simon, Eunice Shiver, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. As I helped one person down the companionway, the soft delicate hand I held was Jackie Onassis. This was a surprise. I asked the chef to make ice tea for these guests. Just another day of sailing in Nantucket Sound.


 Being open to learning, asking questions, understanding new things, and becoming a productive member of an existing cohesive team was both a challenge and rewarding.

 The liquor cabinet was discretely hidden, with false fronts depicting leather bound novels. The crew thought it would be safe when Senator Kennedy arrived. Humor can be helpful in stressful times.

 New expressions like: “the milk is ‘off” when I would say it’s gone bad. Let’s go and wack the rugs, when I would say let’s shake the rugs. Like “passarelle” instead of gangway or “let’s brick the sail” instead of flake or fold them.

 Giving compliment to build confidence. It doesn’t hurt to hear, “You steer a great course.”

Taking on this new “endeavor” was a wonderful experience, especially getting paid for learning which furthered my quest for sailing all the oceans blue and the new challenges of sailing under all kind of conditions.

I sailed summers, delivering, racing and chartering for seventeen summers before I moved to Maine to sail from my own backyard. Unlike my summer job, now when the weather is nasty, I can just stay home and light the fireplace and keep dry.

In 1984, the Endeavour was purchased by yachtswomen Elizabeth Meyer. The boat was in desperate shape and needed everything from the keel up. Finding this steel hulled J boat in southern England, her friend, noting its condition told her that she would never be able to restore it and that “the boat would sail when pigs fly”. Five years later, Endeavour was completed after an inconceivable amount of work and at a cost of $10,000,000

Endeavour flew

On June 22, 1989, she sailed for the first time in 52 years. Forming a company, J Class Management, Inc. she kept Endeavour racing and chartering until 1999. In the Antigua Classic Regatta Endeavour joined Velsheda, and Shamrock V creating an unbelievable sight.

Three J Class yachts racing had not been seen for 60 years. Meyer’s enthusiasm for J boats and the great nostalgia for these spectacular racing yachts resulted in Ranger being built and two more J boats in the works to be built.

J Class Management sold Endeavour to Tyco’s CEO, Dennis Kozlowski in 2000 for around $15,000,000. Since I have stock in Tyco, I wondered what part of the yacht I owned when the yacht was seized to be sold for restitution of Kozlowski’s looting of the company.

In 2006 Endeavour was sold to a Cayman Island Corporation, Diversicolor Ltd., for $13,100,000. The new owner, Cassio Antunes, had admired the yacht since he was a young boy and planned to race the yacht and charter it for $77,000 a week.



The cup, originally offered as the Royal Yacht Squadron Cup, is now named after the first yacht to win the trophy, the United States schooner America in 1851. The America’s Cup remained in the trophy room at the New York Yacht Club for 132-years. The cup stayed in American until 1983 when the Australians came up with a fin keel that whisked the Cup to The land Down Under, Perth, Australia. In 2007 America’s Cup was won by vessel Alinighi from Switzerland. Now the America’s Cup resides Switzerland.

Janice Q. Chick was a special needs sixth grade teacher at the Rupert A. Nock Middle School. She may be living in Harpswell, ME at the current time. If you contact
her, please let her know about this web site that features her story.

Thank you,

Milton Thrasher Click for home page.