Hummer

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Warner Armbruster wasn’t what you’d call a class act. He got his nickname based on his habit of asking women he hardly knew if they hummed during an alternate act of romantic frolic. This, of course, was in the days before sensitivity training—nowadays, he’d be run out on a rail.

Hummer built a boat in his back yard. I’ve heard lots of stories of home built boats over the years, but Hummer is the only one I knew who ever actually did it. He lived practically around the corner from the center (ZJX), and I’ll warrant it made it easier to spend time on the boat than if he had the one hour commute from the South Side of Jacksonville like so many of the rest of us did.

I stopped by one day when he was probably 80% done with it and marveled. It was not small. I’d guess it was about 45' long and it was a tri-maran (fair sized central hull, with two outrigger hulls, much like catamaran hulls), sloop rigged. Some time after that he had the boat transported out to Fernandina Beach and a couple of us went out there after a midnight shift as he wanted to install the centerboard. To do so he had to take it out in the St. Mary’s river channel to get the appropriate depth.

I was along for photography purposes, and I was to set out in a rubber dinghy and paddle away from the boat a sufficient distance to get some shots of it, mast and all, into one picture. There’d not been an opportunity to do that prior to this because one had to get quite a ways away to fit from waterline to the tops in the image.

As one may imagine from a bunch of genius amateurs like we were, there was a lot of activity but little result. I did get some pictures, but the principal task could not be accomplished since there was an apparent disparity of approximately 18” between the outside of the centerboard and the inside of the case—the former being slightly greater than the latter.

After I was back aboard, and the fruitless centerboard activity was secured, we took a little ride via auxiliary power a couple of miles down the waterway and back. It now being noon or later, and having had no sleep after the midnight shift I wound up falling asleep in the upper cabin to the sweet sound of small wavelets slapping the hull and cleverly avoiding a heaving spell from the swell.

Hummer got a transfer (along with a couple of other guys—the ones in theFloyd Deaton story) to ZSJ at the same time I got mine to ZAU. I heard he sailed the boat down there and that he later sold it to Roddy’s roommate, Fred Cruess. The disposition of both the boat and the Hummer is unknown.




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Last updated: 14 April 2009