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Chris Gilda (Class of 2013) hired to join team on Spike Africa tallship in San Juan Islands of Washington state

chris gildaChris Gilda graduated from the Contemporary Boatbuilding program at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding in 2013. Chris had a varied background as a hotshot firefighter and sailor. He held an associate degree in diesel engines and then graduated from the boat school with an associate degree in boat building. With his interest in tallship work he had many bases covered with his background and he was hired immediately after graduation from the school.

“Welcome aboard Spike Africa. She was built in 1977 by Bob Sloan of Newport Beach, California. Bob was known and respected throughout the world for his lifetime of experience on sailing vessels. His goal in building Spike Africa was to create the ultimate schooner.

Since her launching, Spike Africa has worked as a freighting and charter schooner on the west coast, Mexico and Hawaii. She has been featured in major articles in every important yachting publication, and universally praised as one of the most beautiful schooners built in modern times.

She combines the functional elegance of the 19th century coastal schooners with unobtrusive touches of modern luxury. Bob named the boat for Spike Africa, a seaman renowned as a living legend of the sea. Spike, the man, was known up and down the West Coast as the President of the Pacific Ocean.

Bob built Spike Africa not as a yacht but as a true working schooner, which in every detail combines beauty and grace with sturdy seaworthiness. It is this harmony of form and function that gives Spike Africa her timeless elegance.

Spike Africa has served as a support boat for some of the most important 1970’s and 80’s yacht races, has won honors in her own racing career, and has starred in films such as “Joe vs. the Volcano” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, TV shows including Baywatch and Hotel, and numerous national advertising campaigns.

Starting in 2009 Spike Africa’s current owners have taken her through a complete refit. Many long time admirers of Bob and Spike’s participated with world-class skills in wooden boat building, rigging, finishing, and mechanical systems. From keel to topmast, every part of the boat has been renewed, replaced, or upgraded as required to bring her into Bristol condition. The goal of the restoration was to maintain the traditional character of every detail just as Bob Sloan envisioned.

Since the Stone Age, every generation has made incremental advances in the art of wooden boat building. Without our care, the skills developed over millennia will not be maintained, advanced or passed on as they were in a world when men spent careers working on wooden boats and in the yards. Our wooden boats are important. These boats and the art and skills that they represent must be saved.”