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Leo Robbins Legacy  
The city of Ventura has lost beloved sailing center founder, teacher and friend, Leo Robbins. Leo passed away Feb. 2, 2007, of congestive heart failure. Leo's beloved wife of 60 years, Eula, and his daughter Gail were with him at the end. He was 90.

Leo helped the city start the sailing program in 1972. One friend remarked, "Think about the marina as it is now. Now visualize nothing."

A friend said, "He put a lot of heart and soul into this program. He put a lot more into it than he had to."

Upon his retirement in 1997 at the age of 80, the sailing center was officially renamed the Leo Robbins Community Sailing Center. Leo was so proud to have his name associated with the sailing program that he worked so hard to build.

One friend said, "I'd take him sailing and ask him 200 questions. I'd always learn a little more about how to be a better sailor." Another friend remarked, "Everybody enjoyed his essence. His joy of sailing was enormous!"
"When he got in a boat and he could sail, he came alive," said another friend. "You could see it in his smile and the twinkle in his eyes."

Leo leaves his wife, Eula; daughter Gail Chaid and son-in-law David Richard, and their son, David Edward Nathan; daughter Janet Neeb and her sons, Gabe and Trevor; as well as Leo's brother, Bill Robbins, and his wife, Carol.
A celebration of Leo's life will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 24, at Ventura Yacht Club.

An eternal memorial Web site has been established for Leo at http://leo-robbins.memory-of.com.

Thank you to family and friends who have provided support and comfort with your continuing tributes on the Web site and with phone calls, cards, e-mails, letters and notes. Leo was proud of all of you. He would like nothing better than a lot of happy people sailing in their boats.

In lieu of flowers, Leo's family recommends your donations, in Leo's name, be sent to the nonprofit Ventura Maritime Foundation, c/o Hoffman Vance and Worthington, 1000 S. Seaward Ave., Ventura, CA 93001; phone 805-642-0211. The foundation was set up when Leo was teaching, and without it there would be no Ventura sailing program as we know it. It provides for the boats and safety equipment and offers opportunity for the community's youth and physically challenged to attend classes in the sailing program.

Published in the Ventura County Star on 2/16/2007.
The Sea  
The sea! The Sea! The open Sea! The blue, the fresh, the ever free! - from “The Sea” by Barry Cornwall (1787-1874) English Poet
Redburn: His first Voyage  
Yes! Yes! Give me this glorious ocean life, this salt-sea life, this briny, foamy-life, when the sea neighs and snorts, and you breathe the very breath that the great whales respire! Let me roll around the globe, let me rock upon the sea, let me race and pant out my life with an eternal breeze astern and endless sea before! from Redburn: His first Voyage by Herman Melville (1819-1891) American Author
Messing About in Boats  
There is nothing - absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. In or out of ‘em it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do.
The Sea Hold  
The sea is large. The sea must know more than any of us. -from “The Sea Hold” by Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) American Poet
Shoriken  
To cross the sea is to submit to the sea
Once venture out and you belong to it
All you know is the sea
All you are is the sea

-from “Shoriken” by Charles Brasch (1909-1973) New Zealand poet
Stowage  
by Chris Price

The sadness of bells sitting silent
Shelved like a library of hearts

Old salts in their retirement.
Tap one on the lip and a ship

Comes ghosting out of the fog
Everything passing and human

Held in a resonant vessel.
The submarine cathedral

Of its ribs still echoes through the ship
Is long since flensed and rendered

Down – this spare music
The last thing that lingers

The songs of our youth
Always the last to go.
The Salt in our Blood  
All of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea - whether it is to sail or to watch it - we are going back from whence we came. John F. Kennedy (1917 - 1963), Speech given at Newport at the dinner before the America's Cup Races, September 1962
Small-Boat Sailing  
From the Human Drift Collection 1917 (Article 1st published in Yachting Monthly August 1912) By Jack London A sailor is born, not made. And by "sailor" is meant, not the average efficient and hopeless creature who is found to-day in the forecastle of deepwater ships, but the man who will take a fabric compounded of wood and iron and rope and canvas and compel it to obey his will on the surface of the sea. Barring captains and mates of big ships, the small-boat sailor is the real sailor. He knows—he must know—how to make the wind carry his craft from one given point to another given point. He must know about tides and rips and eddies, bar and channel markings, and day and night signals; he must be wise in weather-lore; and he must be sympathetically familiar with the peculiar qualities of his boat which differentiate it from every other boat that was ever built and rigged. He must know how to gentle her about, as one instance of a myriad, and to fill her on the other tack without deadening her way or allowing her to fall off too far.
March 25, 2002 The Sea Mew  
This is the story of a 14-foot sailboat class called Sea Mew. A man named Frederick W. Goeller Jr, designed it in 1916. Fred had worked as a draftsman for an outstanding yacht designer named L. Francis Herreshoff who was the son of Nathaniel ("Nat") Herreshoff, one of the geniuses of 19th century yacht design. The Sea Mew was originally a catboat intended for junior sailors. It caught on fast and soon senior sailors got interested. So Fred Goeller turned out a gaff-headed sloop rig complete with bowsprit to satisfy the demand. A Marconi sloop rig followed and experimentation with various keels was undertaken. Yacht clubs on both coasts had fleets of these outstanding sailboats. The Santa Barbara Yacht Club had a fleet of at least 25. They were all built of wood because fiberglass wasn't known until the late forties. The Fellows and Stewart boat yard on Terminal Island built many of the early ones. The Yard had them towed up the coast to the Santa Barbara Yacht Club by commercial fishing boats. Newport and San Diego Yacht Clubs also sported active fleets as did the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco. There were also reports of Sea Mews in Vancouver, Canada. All of the above occurred before and into the 1920's. It is believed that the Sea Mew brought class racing to the Pacific Coast during this period. Only a few of the old wooden boats still survive, however. Harry Davis, a well-respected boat builder of Santa Barbara built his first Sea Mew in the late forties. His last Sea Mew was built in 1965 and it became the form for a fiberglass mold which is still in existence. All of Harry's fiberglass boats have been gaff sloops with a 2-foot hollow box keel containing about 300 pounds of lead to compensate for the lightness of the hull compared with the old wooden boats Chuck Miller and Leo Robbins restored one of these fiberglass boats in 2000. It contains a steel centerboard weighing 132 pounds and carries about 100 pounds of lead in the bilge. The boat is light, fast and great fun to sail. It is a serious challenger to some of the modem 16 footers. Currently, Chuck Miller, Leo Robbins and Walt and Myrna Taylor, assisted by Claudio Pagan, Greg Coats and others have just completed another fiberglass Sea Mew which is being donated to the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum by Tom Roland of Ojai. This boat is carrying a 200 pound lead keel donated by Frank Butler, President of Catalina Yachts. Other components such as the inside lead ballast will be donated by the builders and other generous supporters. The sails with the new custom cream color have been made by Morrelli Sails of Ventura and have been donated by Fred Hayward of Santa Barbara. This is a serious sailors' sailboat worthy of the attention of those whose interest is normally in much larger boats. Leo Robbins
January 5, 2001 Letter to Daughter Gail  
DEAREST GAIL, I'M TRYING OUT THE COMPUTER NOW. IF YOU GET THIS YOU'LL KNOW IT'S WORKING. I’M SURE I MADE THE RIGHT DECISION ABOUT NOT GOING TO THE EAST COAST WITH YOU. I FEEL RELIEVED ABOUT IT BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE TO PLAN FOR THE TRIP NOW. I FEEL AS THOUGH A WEIGHT HAS BEEN LIFTED FROM MY SHOULDERS. MAYBE I'LL GET TO THE EAST COAST SOMETIME. BUT I'M SURE THIS ISN'T THE TIME. NOW I CAN LOOK FORWARD TO A SPRING AND SUMMER OF SAILING THE SEA MEW AND DOING MY JOB AS RACE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN FOR THE CATALINA CLUB WHICH I'M SURE YOU KNOW I ENJOY VERY MUCH. I'M GLAD YOU HAD A CHANCE TO RETURN TO CATALINA ON YOUR LAST TRIP DOWN HERE. YOU SAW A PART OF THE ISLAND YOU HAD NEVER EXPERIENCED BEFORE. I CAN'T REMEMBER IF YOU WERE EVER ABOARD THE ISLAND BELLE WHEN WE STOPPED IN AT AVALON BEFORE. I THINK YOU MUST HAVE BEEN BUT THE MEMORY ELUDES ME. I HAVE FINISHED GALILEO'S DAUGHTER AND IT IS ON THE SHELF NOW WAITING FOR YOU IF YOU WANT IT. SINCE YOU ARE GOING TO TUSCANY NEXT SUMMER YOU SHOULD READ IT BEFORE YOU GO BECAUSE GALILEO LIVED MOST OF HIS LIFE IN TUSCANY. I'LL SEND IT TO YOU IF YOU DON'T HAVE A COPY. IT'S WELL WORTH READING. THANKS FOR EVERYTHING FOR CHRISTMAS. AS YOU COULD SEE I ESPECIALLY ENJOY THE WINDSTOPPER. I'LL BE TRYING IT OUT SOON ON THE SEA MEW OR SOME OTHER BOAT. AND I'M TRANSFERRING MY SAILING GEAR TO THE NEW BAG THAT MATCHES THE JACKET THAT'S ALL FOR NOW. LET'S SEE IF THE PRINTER CAN HANDLE THIS! YOUR LOVING FATHER, LEO
January 18, 2000 Letter to Daughter Gail  
Dearest Gail, I was so sorry to see you work so hard on that computer stuff when I'm sure you didn't feel like it and then to have it all fall apart at the end. But that's the story of so many things. Projects are usually more difficult that they look at first. But apparently we made progress. We now have a clearer direction for our next effort. I am really concerned about your driving yourself so hard. I know that's what caused me to get the shingles. I drove myself past my endurance on that sailing director's conference. I certainly won't do that again. It’s not worth it. Anyhow I'll be looking forward to seeing you and David sometime in February or whenever its possible. Your Loving Father, Leo
December 22, 1995 Letter to Cousin Larry  
Dear Larry, Thanks for Gazette 95. We enjoyed it very much. I have already started to experience some of the things an 80 year old can expect. People want to carry things for me and won't let me lift anything heavy. However, no one has tried to help me up the steps yet. I had planned to retire next fall after my 80th birthday, but am now starting to change my mind. I feel fine and am not on any medication. I do go in for and annual checkup and I'm on very friendly terms with my dermotologist. All those years of sailing have produced a few minor skin cancers. I'm glad to hear that you are in good shape because I believe we share some of the same genes and this is a great psychological boost for me. Keep up the good work, Larry and Merry Christmas to both you and Ben. Your young cousin, Leo
Christmas Letter 2002  
To all of our friends and relatives, an information letter to let everyone know that we are still holding out at the old house in Ventura.

Eula is hanging on with her impossible knees. She uses a cane to get around but doesn't walk anywhere that she considers unnecessary. But she still drives the car and hauls me around which I consider just fine although I have a license and could drive if I had to.

Eula turned 77 this year and I passed my 86 mark. She plays bridge at least once a week and sometimes more. My recreation is as usual centered around boats and sailing. Besides the Ventura Yacht Club I also belong to a sailing club called Catalina Fleet One. It is with these people that I do most of my sailing.

One of my sailor friends, Chuck Miller and I are partners in a 14 foot sloop called a Sea Mew. This boat was designed in 1916, the year of my birth, by a man who worked as a draftsman for the great L. Francis Herreschoff. The genius of Herreschoff’s influence is much in evidence in the way she sails and handles choppy seas. Being gaff-headed and therefore old fashioned looking she attracts attention like old restored cars do. But this boat is built of fiberglass instead of wood as the old boats were. Therefore she is much lighter than the originals and considerably faster.

This is what attracts people. Sailors who see and sail in this boat, immediately say, "I've got to have one of those.”

As I mentioned in last years Ietter, Chuck and Walt Taylor and I restored another fiberglass Sea Mew hull that was donated to the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum ..

Our friend, Tom Roland of Ojai, of Nacra catamaran fame had acquired the molds for the Sea Mew in a used boat deal so with about a half dozen people clamoring for the boats, Tom has started turning out fiberglass Sea Mews with help from interested friends. One man wants two of them for rental boats on Lake Casitas. One is scheduled for a man in Idaho.

Number one is in the skids now. We don't have a timetable for completion but with all the help available the hull should be done before Christmas. After the hull completion, the new owner then takes his boat away and arranges for mast, rigging and sails. This situation should provide an interesting fleet. More on this next year.

A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE!!!

LEO AND EULA MARIE ROBBINS
June 14, 1993 Star-Free Press  
Ahoy, matey
Open house features demonstrations, free sailboat rides

Bv Michael Goldowitz / Staff writer

Some people came to Marina Park on Sunday specifically for the free sailboat rides.

Others just happened to be at the park and learned about the Sailing Program Open House from a man wearing a sandwich board and a youth barking invitations over a megaphone.

And then there was Stephen Couchman, who didn't have time to take advantage of the sailboat rides offered by Ventura Department of Parks and Recreation's Sailboat Program but stopped by anyway. Couchman dropped by to deliver a gift to express his gratitude for the city's low cost sailing program.

"I think that Ventura Parks and Rec seems to attract some good hearted, knowledgeable people," said the 15-year old Couchman, who began sailing in the program four years ago.

'Without them, I don't think I would have developed all the interest in sailing that I have."

The open house, which celebrated the 21st anniversary of the Department of Parks and recreation's sailing Program, included sailing demonstrations, information on upcoming classes and 15-minute sailboat rides around the Ventura Harbor,

Calm waters, cool air, on-and-off sunshine and moderate winds made for thoroughly pleasant excursions.

During the 21 years, the program, cosponsored by Sail Ventura, a non-profit community sailing organization, has taught more than 5,500 students to sail.

Classes are offered for everyone from 5-year-olds to adults. Costs range from $35 up to $115 for a class.

More than a few of those 5,500 might never been exposed to sailing without the program.

"We try to show people you don't have to be rich to own a boat," said instructor Earl Ledbetter, "This program makes sailing available to anyone."
June 28, 1992 Star-Free Press Article  
Ventura instructor logs 20 years on sea

By Jeff Claassen

S-FP staff writer

Victoria Sayer / Star-Free Press

Leo Robbins has weathered everything from storms to dunkings in his 20-year career as a sailing instructor for the city of Ventura.

Leo Robbins will celebrate 20 years of sunburns, fun and occasional capsizes today as a city of Ventura sailing instructor.

Starting at 11 a.m., Robbins, 75, and his assistant instructors will provide sailboat tours of Ventura Harbor and introduce visitors to city-sponsored sailing classes for children and adults.

"His joy of sailing - and teaching sailing - is enormous and a joy to see," said Earl Ledbetter, an assistant sailing instructor. "Everybody enjoys his presence!'

A sailor since he was 12, Robbins established the city's sailing classes and guided them through damaging storms and budget crises while training several young sailors who would later win world championships and compete for a spot on the Olympic team.

On a dock on the west side of the Ventura Harbor, Robbins oversees a program offering 28 short sailing courses a year, and two special summer classes. Students pilot 22 boats ranging in size from 10 feet long to 27 feet long.

Retiring after 25 years with the gas company in 1971 gave Robbiis more time for his passion - sailing.

“I had been sailing since I was 12 years old," Robbins said. "I went down to City Hall and asked for a job, and they gave me one”

Robbins started with donated dock space and a large storage box from the Ventura Yacht Club, and five small sailboats provided by the city. By 1981, the city had built a floating dock for the new dock will withstand - but we Robbins' small fleet, but a large winter storm sent two-foot swells through the harbor that smashed the pilings.

Dave Hitch, then manager of the harbor's fuel dock, rented space to the city so Robbins' program could stay. Officials promised to rebuild the storm damaged dock, and eventually did - seven years later.

In 1988, the sailing-program dock was finished. Fashioned with concrete decks and pilings, the new dock will withstand harsher storms than its predecessor, Robbins said.

Despite snafus and storms, Robbins has enjoyed every minute - well, almost minute.

During one session, Robbins noticed his 22-year-old student had failed to loosen a rope holding the mainsail. While lunging to grab the rope, the student sharply turned the rudder, capsizing the boat in the middle of the harbor entryway.

"The boat 'turtled' - turned directly upside down – but we told the power boaters to move on because they could hurt us by coming too close," Robbins said. "We just turned the boat over and sailed away."

Most of Robbins' experiences were better, including teaching Kevin Hall, a world champion in racing "Laser" sailboats four years ago, and Garrett Baum, who advanced part of the way through the Olympic sailing trials this year.
September 22, 2001 Letter to Gail  
Dearest Gail,

I have numerous things to thank you for and I hope I can
remember all of them.

First, thank you for renuing Wooden Boat magazine. I read it
from cover to cover each month as soon as I get it. And I keep
all the old ones because they are a great reference source.
And many thanks for all the books you send. Be sure and let
me know which ones you want back.. I think I have already
thanked you for this Mac computer and I do so again. It is so
easy to use. I need to learn more about it and so I will have to
ask you some more questions when you come down next time.

Putting in Microsoft Word alias really worked great! Now I
don't have any trouble getting a clean sheet to write on.

And thank you for sending the e mail from Gabe. We are
wondering if he will be able to get out of the army when his
four years are up. In WWII we were told we were in for the
duration. But this is a completely different ball game. And how
about Trevor and young David. Will they be called in too? At
least Trevor is a teacher and they are much needed too.

Well, that's all I can think of at the moment Say Hello to both
Davids.

Your Loving Father
Leo

P.S. I still need to find out how to do envelopes!
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