NEWS ON SEA WITCH!
The Latest from Skipper Gebhardt
here it is! Sea trials today went fine. Unfortunately it was a pretty
low wind kind of day 5-7 kts maybe, VERY hot and sunny too, but the boat
performed well enough, no real problems encountered. (except what to do
with all the excess line once the sails are up, lol)
this was my first time taking her out, things went quite well. I had
the assistance of my good friend, and experienced sailor, Brent Royal
along to help manage the rig and because I expected I'd need some
experienced help getting her into and out of the fairly tight slips at
had discussed how we'd return her to the slip because we had no idea
what the prop walk would be like considering how offset the prop shaft
is. Originally we had talked about testing the "walk" off shore a bit,
but as we neared the marina I noticed a slight rise in engine
temperature so I decided to just push on and do the best we could
returning her to her new slip. Since we hadn't stowed the sails yet, it
was a bit of a chore to see ahead very well, but I was just jumping back
n forth checking each side as we came in.
Once we got close to our new
slip in between a big Morgan and a 50 something Benetau, I just hollered
out to Brent who was stationed near the bow, that I was just going to
"Captain Ron" her in.
He knew exactly what that meant, and it went off
beautifully. I had to back her in due to my huge bowspit, so I kept
about 2-3 kts headway till we were just off the slip, gave her a hard to
STBD, and as we passed about 45 degrees, I put her into reverse and let
her swing momentum
get stopped by the reverse action. By the time the swing stopped, we
were aligned straight out from the slip and sliding right in very nicely
at a comfortably slow rate. Not bad for her first time under my hand.
Good work Skipper!
On the 8th
of September, 2016, Mike Gebhardt, of
Geneva, Florida, purchased Sea Witch.
On the 4th of December we heard from Mike,
I'd give you an update on the progress
on my Sea Witch Hull #1.
This is the best
news concerning the Sea Witch in a long
time. We had two or three false starts,
but Mike sounds as though he might just
give Sea Witch what she needs!
coming along nicely. The engine and
drive train are working great now, most
of the electrical is working, and I've
even made a few trips aloft to repair
some of the rigging.
chasing a good bit of rot along the
gunnels and toe rail, but haven't seen
any structural issues. Railing repairs
are coming along, but the woodworking is
VERY time consuming, and tedious, but I
enjoy doing it. I've had tons of people
coming by to say they are SO happy to
see her coming back to life.
expect she'll see her first sail around
springtime. That'll be her first time
away from the dock in about 5-7 years.
She will be staying in Titusville for
the foreseeable future.
sure and mark me down as her new
Mike sent us this view of Sea Witch as his
work has just begun. Looks like she's all
Good luck Mike!! Keep in touch!
Click on Images for Larger View
SEA WITCH HISTORY
In June of 2007 we
finally made contact with Henry "Hank" Whittier, the
(then) current owner of this web site's name sake.
Hank Whittier passed away in about 2009)
In January of 2007
we received an email from Henry "Hank" Whittier. He
said, "I may have a few current Sea Witch
pictures if you are interested... She's now located
in Florida, and has a bronze plaque commemorating
her 1951 TransPac Class C victory... which may
attest to her pedigree!"
We promptly answered,
of course, letting Hank know that we were very
interested. Then we began waiting for some photos –
but the wait extended for months. We'd begun to fear
maybe Barbara and Hank had sailed off and
disappeared into the sunset without notice. But
apparently our emails had got drowned in an ocean of
spam. After another attempt on our part, our email
got through, and Hank came through with flying
colors – and this page is the results..
Hank and Barbara
purchased the Sea Witch from the Driscolls in the
Spring of 2004, and are presently engaged in
refitting her for a future of cruising the Caribbean
from their Titusville, Florida, home port. Here's
Hank's report on the current status of Sea Witch
"Sea Witch has been
undergoing a major refit since September last,
quite literally top-down! We rented a 45 - foot
lift to replace shackles, blocks, halyards, and
completely rewire the lights, including
installation of a new
tricolor at the top of the mast and replacement of
the spreader lights. The traditional nav lights
have been retained but upgraded.
"The hull was repainted with awlgrip primer and
six coats of insignia white awlgrip above the
waterline and a couple coats of premium ablative
"The original color scheme maintained by Dr. Bob
Driscoll has been continued (blue/white/yellow),
with pale blue decks and cabin top, white topsides
"...Although our intention has been to keep Sea
Witch as original as possible, the instrument
panel has been relocated from its somewhat
vulnerable position on the galley sink island over
the engine to the berth-side of the aft closet...
"Although the original Sea Witch had no bow
Driscoll family maintained a steel pulpit. Since
my wife and I are both past 60, it seemed like a
good idea to replace it with a new light weight
aluminum pulpit. It weighs less than 60 pounds
(not including the light weight teak
platform), so it shouldn't materially alter Sea
"All-in-all, a lot of work has gone into her
support, but it has
been a labor of love... or enchantment, if you
like. It may
sound like bragging, but I'd feel very free to
wager that no
other vessel in our marina has attracted the
compliments Sea Witch has!
"When I was much younger, I spent seven months
from Tampa to Palau (Belau, today), and the
years dreaming of a chance to return to the
Pacific "on my
"Considering the age of the Witch... not to
wife's and mine..., I think we will try to content
with islands closer to home... the Caribbean!"
Obviously the Sea
Witch is in very good hands, and here's wishing Hank
and Barbara, and the Sea Witch, many more years of
Note. News belatedly reached us of
Hank Whittier's untimely passing in June of 2012,
some three years after the fact. Just as
belatedly, our heartfelt sympathies go out to
Hank's wife Barbara.
OF SEA WITCH
distinguished former owners of Sea Witch, were
Godwin and Deborah Pelissero, of Santa Barbara,
California. They owned Sea Witch from 1958 to about
1968 when it was sold to the Driscolls.
We heard from Godwin
Pelissero, Jr. In late May of 2007, and he has
kindly provided us with a photo of a wonderful
painting of Sea Witch, as well as the photos below.
The elder Pelisseros,
who were still going strong, at 90 and 86 years of
age (2007), commissioned the above painting in the
The artist, Peter Ellenshaw, was a matte
painter for Walt Disney, and quite renowned in that
field. Peter passed away in February of 2007, at the
age of 93. His son, Harrison, has followed in his
father's footsteps and, as did his daughter, Lynda
Ellenshaw Thompson, who administers their web site
Of his memories of Sea
Witch, Godwin, Jr. wrote (of our site):
"Love the site!
...She (Sea Witch) was berthed in Newport Beach,
California just down the bay from Hugh Angelman's
Sea Rover. I spent many glorious days and nights
aboard 'The Witch', mostly sailing to Santa
Catalina Island as well as trips south to San
Diego. My bunk was the stern bunk next to the
galley. I would fall asleep staring up at the
stars through the open gangway and awaken to the
smells bacon and coffee on the wood stove (later
replaced by my father with a butane gas stove; a
sure way to identify the true Sea Witch with its
tin smoke stack missing).
"I was a young boy (born
in 1951) but I also remember sitting aboard the
Sea Rover listening to Mr. Angelman tell stories
while he smoked his pipe."
Mr. Pelissero gives us
the good news that Kitty Davies, the widow of
Charlie Davies, is still alive and well and that his
mother, Deborah, corresponds with her regularly.
Kitty is pictured in the first photo below, with
husband Charles Davies and Godwin, Sr.
Contributed by Godwin Pelissero, Jr.
| Photos, left to
Top: (1) Charles & Kittie Davies
w/Godwin Sr. cr: 1963. (2) Charlie Davies
w/Godwin Pelissero Sr. (probably Catalina
Is, CA) circa: 1963. (3) Sea Witch at
Newport Beach, CA circa: 1960.
Middle: (1) Off Catalina Island
(Probably Moonstone Cove) circa: 1963.
(2) Sailing, circa 1963 (Unknown lounging
crew). (3) "ditto"
Bottom: (1) Port Hueneme, CA (Godwin
Sr.) circa: 1963 and (1-2): San Diego, CA
Circa. 1960-'61. (2) Newport Beach, 4th of
July, 1960 or '61
(3) Lower right photo was one of the photos
used by Peter Ellenshaw for the painting.
Godwin, Jr. and sister, are on the pulpit in
One of the things that
led to Sea Witch's initial and lasting fame and
popularity was that she placed remarkably well in
the 1949 and 1951 Transpac races from California to
Honolulu, winning the 1951 race on corrected time.
Stephen Carlson, of the Sea
Quest, has dug up the headline from the
Witch Wins LA to Honolulu Race
July 30, 1951, 2,225 miles, 14 days, 14 hours, 46
That surprised a good
many people, and sparked a great deal of interest in
the design. It became a "class" in itself, and WILBO began receiving orders
for other Sea Witches as well as from would-be
builders who wanted the plans.
SEA WITCH PHOTOS
on Thumbnails for Larger View)