Living On A Schooner Year-Round And Loving It..

Lani Straman Aboard  The Astor

Lani Straman Aboard The Astor

By Carol McCracken

For many sailors, Labor Day weekend is a bittersweet weekend.

It can mean the end of the sailing season is coming up fast.  Boats will be hauled and eventually covered for the winter ahead.  Sailing memories and plans for the next season will have to suffice over the coming months.  Other sailors are ready to haul their boats and unstep the masts for another season.  They are ready to get back to the land full-time and puruse other activities onshore that occupy them for the long winter ahead; like careers and families.  Perhaps tired of the rainy season just passed as well, they’ll wait and take their chances next summer.  For Lani and Richard Straman, Labor Day isn’t about any of this.

Labor Day is pretty much a continuation of the life they live the rest of the year on their schooner.  Year-round life aboard their magnificent 86 ft. schooner couldn’t be any better for the accessible and down-to-earth couple.  This California couple purchased the Astor twenty-two years ago in San Diego.  But it wasn’t until nine years ago, that the couple gave up their shore life and Astor became home year-round.  That’s when the couple closed their business in Newport Beach, Ca. and moved aboard Astor.  Making Astor home was a life-long dream of Richard’s and Lanie seems pretty content with the arrangement as well.

Perhaps part of the key to their successful adjustment to life aboard the Astor is that the couple has been able to transfer their on-shore talents to boat living.   Lani, a former nurse, is a consummate sewer.  She sews all the time and there is plenty of sewing to be done aboard a yacht the size of Astor.  Richard used to be a designer in the autombile industry before shutting down his business.  He finds plenty aboard the Astor to satisfy his creative instincts.  He’s also an accomplished sewer who could make their sails if he chose to do so, Lani said several days ago.  He’s also mechanically skilled, having  just replaced a burned out generator at sea a few days before our meeting.  Their adult daughter and her boyfriend and dog, Tux, visit them from to time aboard the Astor; just as they are doing over the Labor Day weekend at nearby Portland Yacht Services.

The Astor was built 86 years ago in Australia.  She’s made of teak from Burma.  The cabin is of well-polished  mahogany.  Astor sleeps ten comfortably.  Although the cabin is elegant, she’s homey with a white oriental rug on the cabin floor.  Originally built for a doctor, a major industrialist from Australia bought her and named her for his prominent company, Astor Radio.  Lani has to struggle to think of any downside to living on the Astor.  “Life is very carefree here.  I have no desire to own a home.  Cutting grass is not for us,” she says laughing.  “We stay in touch with friends and family mostly  via e-mail.”

Although dockside at PYS when MHN had the pleasure of visiting  with this gracious family aboard their yacht, they plan to rent a mooring in the area before heading south for the winter.

Labor Day – what’s that?!

6 thoughts on “Living On A Schooner Year-Round And Loving It..

  1. It is a joy to read your vignettes about life on the hill. You capture the essence of the people.

  2. I sailed aboard the Astor many years ago and enjoyed my time aboard immensely! It took me a while to get the feel of her during my tricks at the helm. The wind always seemed to be from dead ahead no matter what direction to the wind she was pointed. We often cruised the coast along Waikiki and achored off the Natatorium for swim call. There where many miserable sessions pumping her bilges as we crossed the Molokai Channel as her seams worked, but it was worth the effort to keep Astor sailing fast in the typically windy channel.
    I developed a love/hate relationship with varnish during my time aboard Astor and an aversion to sandpaper. It alway seemed to rain the moment a coat of varnish was laid down. Working aloft was always a little scary and exciting with a commanding view of Keehi Lagoon. Keeping up with the running backstays was new and interesting to me too.
    I lost track of Astor, then renamed Ada, when she moved to California, but love to tell my sailing friends about my experiences on this historic schooner! I’m so glad to hear Astor is home to entheusiastic boat lovers ansd sailing as she should!

    Fair winds.
    Radford Ching

    • Rad,
      Thank you so much for that moving account of sailing on the Astor. Am glad that you had this reunion with her. Coming from a sailing family years ago, I can appreciate your feelings about varnish and sandpaper!

    • Rad, thanks again! I remember them well and they were particularly nice people you will glad to hear!

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