It was columnist Mike Fitzgerald (San Joaquin County, California) who made contact with Tomas Daly, former owner of the Phoenix. Mike didn't know it when he wrote his first articles about the Phoenix but he was already friends with the daughter of the man who bought the boat from Dad!
A couple of weeks after Mike posted one of his articles about the Phoenix at recordnet.com, his friend read it--she had been out of town--and called him.
"My dad used to own the Phoenix," she told him.
"Yeah, he bought it from Earle Reynolds. He still has a lot of stuff from the boat, maybe even the figurehead."
On August 30, Mike emailed me, "I have located the family that long owned The Phoenix’s figurehead – and may still – and which has plans for the boat. Interested?"
Were we! Mike gave me (and later Naomi, when she got off work) the phone number of a Tomas Daly in Mexico and I had a great talk with him. He had saved items from the Phoenix to return to our family when she is restored! He had done significant restoration himself back in the late sixties, hiring a naval architect from Seattle to come down, measure her and make plans.
Tomas followed up our chat with an email: "Hola Jessica - So glad that something may actually happen. I went through my plans and have a couple of Earle's original line drawings as well. I've attached an old photo that shows the wheel, clock and barometer. While I only owned the Phoenix for a few years, she has played an integral part in my life and my quest for World Peace. You can learn a little more about me by visiting my website firstname.lastname@example.org.
After your call I went to my copy of All in the Same Boat and looked at a young you with your family.
Peace be with you!
Tomas DalyLa Paz B.C.S. Mexico
The next day (as I posted yesterday on BONUS FEATURES), Tomas wrote, "Jessica/Naomi - My daughter emailed me to say the figurehead is safe and secure waiting for the Phoenix to rise again!
On September 7, he attached four photos: "the Phoenix pulling into Pete's Harbor, Anchored off Half Moon Bay, me at the wheel, & my son riding the boom.” He adds, 'I don't know when the wheel house was added, but it was there when I bought her. I always had problems with the air tank holding air, so I rigged it up to start the engine using a scuba tank which I could refill using the engine as a compressor (same as for the big tank)."
Sept. 8 "I made copies of most of the plans and have them here in La Paz. There are a couple of old drawings that Earle gave me as well. The plans are not complete construction plans, but they are sufficient to restore Phoenix if you can find and refloat her. I have no idea what condition she was in when she sank, but I doubt she would have broke up unless there are lots of rocks in the river. . . [T]he plans. . . will be on their way soon.
Buena Suerts, Tomas"
Tomas was as good as his word. Naomi has already received the plans and with the 300 slides Jerry just digitalized which record every step of the original construction there is no question a professional could build her again.
When did you own the Phoenix? I believe I bought her in 1972 or 73. I paid $20,000.
Who was the previous owner? Earle and Akie Reynolds
How long did you own the Phoenix? 3 or 4 years
Were you able to sail her? Where did you go? Yes. Sailed in the Pacific north and south of Moss Landing and, after deciding that she needed a major refit, sailed her to Pete's Harbor in Redwood City.
Why did you have to give up ownership? My original plan was to sail Phoenix around the world again, but it turned out that she was in very poor condition and needed a lot of work. After hauling her, I found a lot of dry rot and metal fatigue. The tanks were all in bad shape, the keel bolts needed replacing, chain plates needed replacing, the masts needed replacing, the motor was tired, slow and heavy, the deck and cabin structure were shot. In other words, she needed a complete reconstruction. I worked on her for a couple of years, spending more than $40,000 to bring her back. I had a marine architect take her lines and prepare plans (There were no original plans - Earle had her built from a couple of drawings he had). Replaced some planks, ribs (sistered more), replaced all interior bulkheads, new deck, new rudder, many new stainless fittings, and on and on.
At the same time that I was reconstructing Phoenix I was completing a 53' ketch that I was in partners with a Chilean who was related to Allende. Following Allende's American inspired assassination, my Chilean partner returned to Chile and was basically not allowed to leave. I was left with a large job and large cost with no financial help. After finishing the new ketch, it was moved to a broker in Sausalito and I put Phoenix up for sale as well. I eventually bought a 36' Controversy in San Diego and Sailed to South America, then through the Panama Canal into the Caribbean and up the east coast of America before returning to Florida.
Who was the next owner after you? I don't know who bought Phoenix. I believe it was someone in the East bay. I was not in the U.S. when she was sold and transferred to the new owner.
So with the figurehead we found a whole treasure trove of Phoenix memorabilia!
Today on BONUS FEATURES: PHOENIX MEMORABILIA: Treasure trove found!