Geerd N. Hendel
Although Mr. Hendel was born in Germany he was very much a Maine designer. He lived and worked in the Camden area for a great many years. I believe he first came to Maine in the late 1930s to work with W. Starling Burgess on the Cup Defender Ranger. For many years his office overlooked Camden Harbor facing Camden Shipbuilding across the harbor where many of his designs were built.
During World War II he designed small craft for Camden Shipbuilding to construct for the Navy. After the war he was prominent in introducing aluminum construction to boatbuilding. Later he produced fishing draggers that were built at the Gamage yard in South Bristol, Maine.
His work was varied and always interesting. It ranged from small sailboats to yachts over 100 feet long and encompassed sportsfisherman, and the Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club One Design.
Your author remembers that Mr. Hendel was kind enough to help out a local boatbuilder Elmer Collemer, the famous one man boat shop. Mr. Collemer found himself in the position with one of the last boats he built of having the client wish to have Elmer take responsibility for the design as well as the construction. Elmer, though a great artist and craftsman, did not consider himself by any means a yacht designer so he would take his drawings to Mr. Hendel for comments and any necessary calculations. When talking with Elmer about this many years ago it immediately struck me that many designers would not have taken the time to help with a project which would not come out under their own name. Obviously Mr. Hendel's regard for the project and for Elmer made him glad to help out a fellow artist in producing a beautiful functional work.
Mr. Hendel lived to be 95 years old. Given his work this was must surely have proved a long and happy life. His entire collection of plans, photographs and business papers relating to more than 280 designs has been donated by his wife Hanni to the Maine Maritime Museum. A study of these designs and their relationship to the times in which he lived would amply repay the student.
Your present author remembers that he used to stand on the street staring into Mr. Hendel's office windows looking at what he could see of the pictures, the models and the other items that spoke very strongly of a life spent intimately involved with design. Since I was a boy fiercely interested in yacht design I longed to go in and meet Mr. Hendel. I never did dare to do so. I suspect that if I had ventured to go in I might have been warmly welcomed as I would welcome a young boy or girl today. I do remember it seemed his door was always open and inviting.
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