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ALFRED FULLERTON LOOMIS
American Yachtsman and Writer
U.S. Naval Reserve during WWI and WWII
Alfred F. Loomis (1890 Aug 23-1968 Mar 26) was a distinguished yachtsman and writer. He was a member of Yachting magazine's staff for 34 years, and was senior associate editor for that publication at the time of his death. In addition to a wealth of articles and news stories he wrote a monthly column, "Under the Lee of the Longboat," which, over the years, became an international institution. Under the pseudonym of "Spun Yarn" he was a tireless campaigner in behalf of the yachtsman's rights and traditions. One of the highlights of his column was the reporting of potential candidates for membership of his fictional organization, "The Lee Rail Vikings," a select group of yachtsman noted for their bad conduct and poor sportsmanship.
Alfred Loomis, by a yardstick, was the dean of ocean racing historians. He wrote voluminously, and his book Ocean Racing is a classic on the subject. He was the author of many other books. One of the best known to American yachtsmen was Ranging the Maine Coast.
In 1912 he made a five-month trip down the Inland Waterway, wrote the story for Motor Boating, then went to work for that magazine and subsequently became an associate editor. In the years that followed he cruised extensively in various parts of the world, an activity which was interrupted by service in the Navy during both World Wars. He was an avid maker of motion pictures which he showed during his long career as a lecturer.
In 1928 he made the first of three Trans-Atlantic passages in sailing vessels, navigating PINTA in the race to Spain. In 1933 he navigated the Schooner BRILLIANT in her Trans-Atlantic passage, and in 1935 navigated the J-boat YANKEE to England and campaigned aboard her that summer. During the course of his long career afloat he established an offshore racing record that will probably never be equaled: 17 Bermuda and 11 Fastnet races, and participation in the Trans-Pacific, Los Angeles-Mazatlan, Miami-Montego, Buenos Aires-Rio, Port Huron and Chicago Mackinacs as well as innumerable shorter races both in this country as well as abroad.
At the time of his death he still owned the Linton Rigg designed HOTSPUR, built in 1929, a 32-footer that her owner insisted was a cutter, despite the fact that the late Bill Taylor protested that she was indeed a sloop. HOTSPUR was the vessel in which Alf made many memorable cruises in company with his wife, whom his many readers know affectionately as "P.L."
He was a member of a score and more yacht clubs both here and abroad, including the Cruising Club of America, Trans-Pacific, Royal Ocean Racing and the Ocean Cruising clubs.
His rich and distinguished career and his contribution to the sport he loved so well is incalculable. Everything he wrote was identifiable by his incisive wit, dry humor, and, as one reader put it, "his tactful acidity." While oft times his typewriter became a ruthless weapon when championing a cause, he was at all times fair, and in person his infectious grin became a trademark. (Extracted from Yachting magazine, May 1968.)
Alfred F. Loomis, whose first book, The Cruise of The Hippocampus, appears on the summer list of the Century Company, was born August 23, 1890, a son of Charles Battell Loomis and May F. Loomis. His boyhood was passed in Connecticut and New Jersey, where he received a public school education, concluding with two terms at a New York military academy.
In 1912 he forsook dry land and embarked with a friend on a motor boat cruise to Florida. Returning after some months with undiminished enthusiasm, he accepted the associate editorship of the marine magazine Motor Boating, where for five years he watched the sea from the shoreward side of the breakers.
The World War ended this bondage, and early in 1917 he enlisted in the naval reserve with a stated preference for duty on the 110-foot submarine chasers. At first he was assigned to edit the service paper in Newport, R.I. but subsequently he got his wish, and March of the following year saw him bound for the war zone on one of the S. C.'s - the smallest class of naval vessels that have ever crossed the Atlantic under their own power.
A month after the Armistice, belated orders arrived, and while on duty in the ex-enemy city of Spalato, Dalmatia, Mr. Loomis was commissioned Ensign. Thereafter until the spring of 1919 he roamed the Mediterranean and Adriatic seas, and August of that year found him back in New York, navigator of the winning chaser in a race from Bermuda that shattered all motor boat records for that course.
Inured to the hazards of small-boat warfare, Mr. Loomis then resigned his commission and embraced the perilous calling of free-lance writing. Following the leadership of his pen, in the summer of 1920 he cruised single-handed from New York to Eastport, Maine, in an open motor boat, compiling information for a boatman's pathfinder that appeared serially in the magazine Country Life.
Having explored the entire Atlantic seaboard from Maine to Florida, his fancy took him farther afield, and in the spring of 1921 Mr. Loomis embarked with two shipmates in the 28-foot yawl Hippocampus, bound for Panama. His first book chronicles the various vicissitudes of that care-free voyage, and the end records the arrival in Balboa of the smallest vessel that ever traversed the Panama Canal on a long distance cruise. The yawl, still the vehicle of his wanderings and literary efforts, is now in storage at Gatun Lake. (Extracted from a resume written by Alfred F. Loomis, ca. 1922.)