Old yacht may be Folly, but it’s a boat ‘you can fall in love with’

photo courtesy of boatersresources.com

Editor’s Note: This article is submitted for reprint on the ACBS website by Pat Butler, NC/LakeTahoe Chapter Historian, with permission from noted columnist Carl Nolte. Mr. Nolte is a news reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and pens his popular weekly, “Native Son” column for the Chronicle’s Sunday edition. He graciously allowed this article from the Chronicle’s 9/30/2020 edition to be reprinted.

From the: San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday Aug 30, 2020, Page 2
Native Son, By Carl Nolte

Yacht Folly II, now anchored off Pebble Beach, will soon move to its new home port of San Francisco.

These are troubling times – racial injustice, politics, the pandemic. Even the air is hardly fit to breathe. You don’t need another depressing story this Sunday. Instead, we offer a piece about a beautiful classic yacht that is about to begin a new life.

photo courtesy of bonhams.com

There’s no great moral in this except the somewhat irrational affection some people have for wooden boats, for their style, their look and the way they move through the water. This vessel is a motor yacht, 64 feet long, 89 years old, and built of teak. The boat has an appropriate name: Folly II.

“It’s the kind of boat you can fall in love with,” said Mel Owen, a San Francisco patent attorney who is familiar with the Folly. Owen owns his own boat, the 91-year-old Pat Pending, a classic in its own right.

Falling in love is exactly what happened to Rusty Areias, a political consultant who served many years in the state Legislature. Politics is his business, but boats are his passion. He had his eye on Folly for a number of years.

He is an admirer of wooden boats built by the Stephens Brothers in Stockton and is a friend of Dick Stephens, the patriarch of the boat building family. Though Stephens Brothers went out of business years ago, their boats – from workboats to luxurious yachts have become West Coast classics. And Dick Stephens considered the Folly II his favorite, the best of the best.

photo courtesy of bonhams.com

The boat was launched in winter 1931, the depth of the Great Depression. Even in those tough times, there were people who could afford a boat like the Folly, “The last word in luxury,” as Motor Boating magazine called it.

photo courtesy of bonhams.com

The boat has berths for eight people, including two crew members, usually a captain and cook. The owner’s state room looks like it belongs on a small cruise ship; the galley is up to date in the latest 1930s style. There is even a bathtub. One owner called the boat “a masterpiece of yesterday.”

There were millions of poor people in the ’30s, but enough wealth that Stephens kept turning out barges, tugs and yachts, made to order. “It showed that you had arrived when you owned a Stephens yacht,” Areias said.

The boat was launched in the last years of Prohibition and one of the first owners supposedly used the Folly to smuggle illegal liquor along the Central California coast. A luxury yacht was the perfect disguise for a rumrunner, and the boat was fast enough to dodge government agents.

photo courtesy of bonhams.com

Later owners included Kenneth Bechtel, the construction tycoon, Beryl H. Buck, the millionaire philanthropist, and Clessie Cummins, who developed the Cummins diesel engine.

The boat was berthed at various times in San Francisco, San Diego and Monterey. It was a familiar sight on Monterey Bay, berthed near Cannery Row for over 30 years.

Sam and Patricia Garrett owned it and often anchored the big white yacht off Pebble Beach. It was a showpiece, on occasion offered for sale. But the price was always too high, and there were no takers.

Areias kept thinking about Folly II, but he had a problem: He already owned a Stephens classic yacht called Miss 102. And his wife had given him an ultimatum: no more boats.

The solution was to recruit three other boat lovers. They reached an agreement with Patricia Garrett, Sam’s widow, this year. They paid $119,000.

Edward Collins, one of the four, bought in sight unseen.

When he first saw the Folly II, he was delighted; “She is a very stylish boat,” he said.

“It’s an amazing boat,” said Bruce Jones, another of the owners. “It’s a boat worth preserving.”

Just now the new owners are keeping the boat at a marina in Antioch, where expensive looking cosmetic restoration work is being done. You know what they say: A boat is a hole in the water in which you pour money.

The plan is to finish up by Sept. 11 and take the Folly II to the annual Stephens Boat Roundup at the Village West Marina in Stockton, a celebration of Stephens yachts. There will be dozens of the classic boats, and the Folly II will be there “in all her glory,” Areias said. Dick Stephens himself will be aboard to be honored on his 100th birthday on his favorite boat.

Not long after that the Folly will be moved to San Francisco, its new home port.


“In 1976 we set out to buy a classic boat at Sierra Boat Co.
Somehow…we ended up buying the whole company.”

George G. Hall, December 2012

ACBS NC/LT Chapter Historian Wayne Mooers interviews and presents George G. Hall and his Sierra Boat Company memories.

He invited me into his Orinda home and shared his 90 some years of family and boating stories with me. And with due respect, George (Dode) Hall agreed to also let me share some of his special memories with his classic boating friends and customers alike. Dode celebrated his 92nd birthday this year. He is a 1983 founding member of our Northern California / Lake Tahoe Antique & Classic Boating Society Chapter and together with his Sierra Boat Company family, he has played a major part in regional and national classic boating’s growth and enjoyment over the past 40 years.

He’s also the guy who went to Italy, put his money down, and started importing the classic Riva boats into North America in the 1980’s. He’s the gentleman who for 20 years opened his company doors and marina to the Concours d’ Elegance in the past, and in September 2016, welcomed our ACBS International Show into his facilities. Today his company is still the caretaker of the largest “collection” of classic boats stored (some 250 wooden boats) on his Carnelian Bay, Lake Tahoe California property, more
than anywhere in the country. Please join in with your fellow ACBS friends in honoring the man – George G. Hall, and his Sierra Boat Company’s family classic boating story.

And so his story continues.
Dode passed away peacefully
Sunday, Sept 6, 2020

Enjoy his whole 2016 interview here.

We Zoomed Again!

This time it was a Woodie Whoopie. Even though there weren’t a whole bunch of us, we had a good time catching up as we sipped our beverages and nibbled away! Instead of Olimpic Beach, we will Zoom on July 17th at 5:00 pm. Plan to join us. Put it on your calendar now!

Zoom Woodie Whoopie

Zoom! Zoom!   Are you missing the ACBS activities?  Your friends?  Making new friends?  Me too!!!

Our Woodie Whoopie Chairman, Rich Fisher is holding a “ Virtual Woodie Whoopie”   this Saturday, June  27th at 5:00PM Pacific time.  Just click on the link found in your email from our member portal on Tuesday, June 23rd around 9:17 pm using your smart phone, iPad or laptop with camera, and join the fun.  See who shows up and what they have been up to.

Make a note, add it to your calendar so you don’t forget!!

See you Saturday, June 27 at 5:00PM!

If you can’t find your member email, contact Sandy Chase before Saturday afternoon and she will forward it to you.  Her email is in the membership book or online at acbs.org in the Members area.  Or, use the Contact form on this website under the “About” tab above and request the email be sent to you.  You must be a current ACBS NC/LT member to receive the Zoom link.