|Skipper Tim and Fairwind|
By Len Bose
May 9, 2015
I recently sat down with a man who needs no introduction, Timothy Bercovitz — better known as "Skipper Tim."
If you sail on Monday night's American Legion Sundowner Series, or in any of the wooden boat regattas up and down the Southern California coast, you must have noticed the 40-foot Mariner wooden hull ketch Fairwind.
Fairwind and Skipper Tim are rarely seen apart, having had one of our harbor's longest love affairs — over 31 years. I recall first meeting the couple close to 20 years ago before the start of a race I was competing in. While sailing toward the starting line I, rather rudely, informed Skipper Tim that I was racing and asked him to sail away from the starting line.
That's when he told me he was also racing. Insert foot, Len. I smiled and went on my way.
Skipper Tim was born in Pyongyang, Korea, in 1931 — his mother was there as a medical missionary. His first meeting with water came after a long train trip across Siberia and Europe when he took a steamer voyage from England to the United States in 1934.
As a young boy, he learned how to sail in a small dingy on Lake Piscataquag in New Hampshire.
"We borrowed a bean pole from the garden, an old bed sheet, and some clothesline and went sailing," he said.
In 1956, he moved to California and quickly found Newport Beach and the harbor. He sailed with Ted Ponders on his 36-foot schooner named Albatross. He later crewed on the 90-foot schooner Diosa del Mar and other large boats by the name of Ranger and Lady Ada.
Skipper Tim has owned a 28-foot wooden cutter, which he kept in a slip in the Fun Zone, and later a 36-foot wooden Angelman ketch that he kept on a mooring. This all occurred before he met Fairwind. She has berthed at the American Legion Yacht Club since 1994.
Tim has sailed in more than 25 Ensenada races, and when he first started to race he would go into the American Legion bar and ask "Big John," the bartender, if he could leave his car in the parking lot for a week. For a small donation he was allowed to park his car. This lasted for many years until he was asked to join the Legion.
This was back in 1990 and Skipper Tim has been a pillar at the American Legion ever since, serving as a chaplain, commodore and sergeant of arms for many years. Last year, he won the American Legion's Yachtsman of the Year award, and a couple of years back he was honored by the Southern California Yachting Assn. with the Old Timer of The Year award.
Skipper Tim, who refers to himself as a "God-fearing person," has raised money for Children's Hospital of Orange County by participating in the CHOC Follies over the last 18 years. He has also participated in the Sail for Visually Impaired.
"God introduced me to my boat Fairwind. He has given me the means to live in this area and to be a part of my yacht club. This is a great way to give something back," he said.
Skipper Tim is one of the good ol' boys of our harbor, and I am honored to have him on my friends list. It's simple to add him to your friends list. Just say, "Hello, Skipper" the next time you see him around town, and you will get one of the warmest heartfelt welcomes you have ever received.
While interviewing him, at least five very pretty ladies said "Hello, Skipper" as they walked by. It's good to know the Skipper.
Jet packs in the harbor? Absurd
I have to use this cliche’ for this next topic “ Really! Are you kidding me. Two and possibly a third City Council member have disregarded our Harbor Commissions recommendation to not allow Jet packs in our harbor. This is a no-brainer, lets see how many more oxymorons I can use to describe this decision. Lets try “controlled chaos”, “organized mess”, “deafening silence”, “serious joke”, “leading from behind.” This is not an oxymoron but I have to leave with “Square peg in round hole.” Jet packs do not fit in our harbor, it’s that simple. For once council needs to listen to the recommendation made by the Harbor Commission. Make sure you attend this Tuesday nights Council meeting at 7:00 PM.
Mark your calendar for 7 p.m. Tuesday, when the City Council will vote on this topic at 100 Civic Center Drive.
LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.