Interview 15: Bob Wood

Interviews, Local Residents

You’ve never interviewed anybody who has had a life like I’ve had…. And still have it. I’ve been very, very busy. You name it I’ve done it.

from Bob Wood Interview
image of Bob Wood, taken from his obituary page at Zellman Funeral Home

Bob Wood

B: 1/4/1931

Interviewed: 2016

Died: 5/28/2022

Raised in the long-gone, small ‘village’ of Lapidum located on the Susquehanna River just north of Havre de Grace, Bob Wood shares stories of growing up poor but still having a good life. He talks of early jobs, ice skating on the river, the somewhat isolated childhood growing up in a village of about 25 homes, and early school years in a class of about 13 kids.

Bob introduces himself with, “You’ve never met anybody who had a life like I had… and still have…” He certainly proves it in the next couple of hours that we chat.

He’s a Korean War Combat Veteran, married three times, and careers that included mechanic, bricklayer, management, and owning a commercial contracting company. He’s owned and piloted three planes.

Bob Wood's Hummer - a 64' all-steel sailboat built by Bob
Bob Wood’s Hummer – a 64′ all-steel sailboat built by Bob

He built his own steel-hulled, 64′ sailboat at his home alongside the river. After 6-1/2 years and 7,000 manhours, he enjoyed quite a launch party in 1986.

strongback - the skeleton needed to build the steel-hulled 64-foot-sailboat, Hummer, by Bob Wood in Havre de Grace 1980s
launch of the 64-foot steel-hulled sailboat, Hummer, build by Robert Wood of Havre de Grace 1986
1986 – Launching of the 64-foot steel-hulled sailboat,
Hummer, built by Bob Wood in Havre de Grace, MD
1986 - Pier-64 comes down to make way for the launch of "Hummer" - a 64-foot steel-hulled sailboat built by Bob Wood of Havre de Grace, MD
Bob Wood on the deck of his 64-foot steel-hulled sailboat, under construction.
The pdf below is the article from the 1980s by Margo McDonough

He shares amazing stories that include his military experiences, a couple of Bermuda Triangle incidents with his plane, placing an ad for a first mate/wife in a sailing magazine, and so much more.

Getting back to the boat! I built a boat to retire on and to sail around the world. I put an ad in a sailing magazine – one ad. I put an ad and everyone criticized me for it but it said:

64’ sailboat, planning on sailing around the world, would like to have a first mate sail with me; she must be able to have a child.
(I had no children!)

You know, I must have had 25….26 replies. To make a long story small, I interviewed probably 8 of them.

from Bob Wood’s interview

Bob’s boat, named Hummer, has a life nearly as colorful and expansive as his own. It was sold to an organization in Tacoma, Washington that used it to teach disadvantaged youth how to sail and to learn about the ocean and our environment.

Hummer, used for unique kids-sails on the west coast

Later, Capt. Mark Schrader refitted the boat and renamed it, Ocean Watch, and took her on an epic journey. Here’s an excerpt from the book “One Island, One Ocean – Ocean Watch and the Epic Journey Around the Americas”, published in 2011 by Weldon Owen Inc.

In the realm of ocean exploration, there are not many “firsts” still to be accomplished. But Mark Schrader has achieved one. He skippered Ocean Watch as the first-ever continuous, west-to-east circumnavigation by sail of the American continents. On this epic journey, he invited journalists, educators, and scientists to join him, and together they documented and reported on the condition of the Western Hemisphere’s precious ocean systems and the coastal residents who depend upon them.       

… David Rockefeller, Jr. of Sailors for the Sea


The Around the Americas expedition was a circumnavigation by sailboat of the North and South American continents. Captain Mark Schrader and crew departed Seattle on May 31, 2009 sailing the 64-foot boat S/V Ocean Watch. They were the first sailboat to go through the Northwest Passage, they were able to do this because of the lack of ice. They sailed down the east coast, around Cape Horn, and up the west coast of the Americas. The circumnavigation was completed with their return to Seattle in June 2010.

from SAILORS for the SEA website

Website specific to the voyage

Another link from NOAA

The view from the home Bob built on the water at Havre de Grace, where he also built his boat.

As he mentions, he stays busy and doesn’t let any grass grow under his feet. This self-taught engineer is still creating solutions to needs in his home and he enjoys working in his shop. And he remained as adventurous as always when looking for someone to share his life with in later years:

I got on the internet, but was discouraged and about ready to give up. I couldn’t find anybody I was interested in. Then one night a picture comes up. I think she looks really nice. So I get on the screen and say, “want to meet?” She says, “Yeah, I want to meet.” She was from Delaware. I met her at a restaurant, shared a glass of wine. I told her I wanted her to come visit me. She said she’d have to think about it.

from Bob wood’s interview

Listen to the end of the excerpt where he talks about meeting Jeanne Bulger, his wife of 10 years before his passing. She’s a pretty savvy lady!

Sadly, Bob died in 2022. He is survived by his wife, Jeanne

We hope you enjoyed this interview. Check back next Wednesday for our next interview!

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