Bill Garden Revisited | Scott Rohrer

Bill Garden

For more than four decades, each month CWB has presented a speaker of wit and experience to talk about his or her special knowledge. It is also an opportunity for CWB members to meet one another and the staff. The program runs from 7pm to 9pm, with opportunities to ask questions. June’s 3rd Friday presentation will be held on June 16th.

So, from a wooden boat frame of reference, who are the two best-known graduates of Seattle’s Garfield High School and what do they have in common? Hint: read the headline above.

That’s right, the answer is famed naval architect Bill Garden and CWB’s own Scott Rohrer (though as Scott would be quick to point out, they did not graduate in the same year). And the two have much more in common that just Garfield High. Each has a lifetime of working with, on and about (primarily) wooden boats.

As a boy, Scott raced aboard Bill Garden’s 60’ sloop Oceanus. Since 1968, while Bill Garden became one of the Northwest’s most prolific vessel designers, Scott worked in the marine trades in yacht design, sail-making, boat building and repair and as a professional skipper and marine insurance broker. Along the way, he also became noted as a maritime historian. He sits on the Seattle Yacht Club’s Historical Committee, where he has been an honorary member for the past 15 years. At CWB, Scott is recognized as the godfather of the Pirate project, the man responsible for obtaining the R-boat Pirate for CWB and overseeing its restoration and current use. He is a former president of our Board and a life member of CWB.

CWB’s late Founder, Dick Wagner, once said of Bill Garden, “He had visions of vessels as dense as the Milky Way and they all were buildable because he learned marine construction at Seattle’s Edison Boatbuilding School. . . His drawings were clearly-detailed road maps for the builder but garden also embellished them with freehand drawings that made his designs look irresistible.”

This is not Scott’s first CWB talk about Bill Garden but this one has a slightly different slant. Bill Garden passed away in 2011 at age 92. Scott regularly visited with him during the last several years of his life. Scott’s presentation will reflect some of those conversations.

In 2016, the Friends of Bill Garden held a – what else – Garden party to celebrate the official naming of the shop in the New Wagner Education Center the Bill Garden Boatshop. Bill Garden’s daughter, Mary, chose the occasion to donate a generous lot of Bill Garden memorabilia to CWB. Some of those items will be on display for the 3rd Friday presentation.

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