Boats We Love: Bogey’s Yacht Santana
Dieter Loibner recently interviewed Paul Kaplan, owner of the KKMI yard in Richmond, California and former owner of the schooner Santana, a 1934 S&S design that gained notoriety as the boat of actor Humphrey Bogart.
#1: Looking back on 15 years of owning Bogey’s boat, what stands out?
PK: We had so many wonderful times aboard Santana. Theres a spirit the boat has that’s impossible to describe. Truly, there’s an echo of all the good times by the sailors, celebrities and guests that have enjoyed her over the past 78 years. What does stand out is the blessing to have created so many wonderful memories for our friends and family aboard this unique yacht.
Santana, flying every stitch of canvas, reaches across San Francisco Bay with the Golden Gate as the backdrop.
#2: Why did you decide to buy her, back in the day when she was down on her luck?
PK: My wife Chrissy and I knew that if we didn’t buy Santana we’d regret it. We’ve taken on big boat projects before, so the scope of what needed to be done didn’t deter us. But you never know how long it’s going to take or how much its actually going to cost until you’re done. So we outlined a “realistic” budget and multiplied everything by two. In the end, this approach allowed us the freedom to make the changes and improvements that always occur in such a project.
#3: Why did you convert her back to a schooner rig, and what did you have to change?
PK: Seeing that Santana’s racing days had passed long ago, we felt it was important to restore her to the original schooner configuration. [Ed's note: Santana had been converted to a yawl.] That rig also made it easier for Chrissy and me to sail the boat doublehanded. So between keeping with the original S&S design, having a boat that would be easier to handle, and also decreasing the rig loads, turning Santana into a schooner again was the logical choice. The list of necessary changes, from building new spars to making structural improvements, was quite lengthy.
Paul Kaplan shares a laugh with Ted Turner, just one of the many famous people who’ve graced Santana’s cockpit over the years.
#4: As the custodian of a piece of history, what is your favorite anecdote?
PK: There are so many great stories that it’s difficult to pick a favorite. Certainly meeting people that have sailed on Santana over the years has been a real treat. During one of our trips to Southern California we met a fellow who slowly made his way down the dock with the assistance of a walker. As he stood on the dock gazing at Santana, we invited him on board. Once he was on deck he told us how he thought he’d never see Santana again, let alone step aboard. He told us of how he’d raced with Bogart as a teenager and one day the actor called his house to invite him for another race. His mother picked up and had the nerve to tell Bogey that her son would not be allowed to sail on Santana anymore as she didn’t want him exposed to the smoking, drinking and foul language. Upon hearing this, the boy was heartbroken.
But now, decades on, the look in this elderly man’s eyes was priceless: the magic of Santana was at work. Clearly we could see how he relived the days of his youth as he touched the varnished mahogany, went below deck, and stood behind the wheel. It was very special moment for him. And for us as well.
Santana struggled downwind in light air, as schooners do, so the Kaplans remedied that by adding a sail nicknamed “Mama Cass.” With nearly 2,000 square feet of spinnaker she’s now a powerhouse in light air.
#5: Now that she’s on to a new owner, what’s most important to maintain her?
PK: While Santana has a unique history, she’s built of wood and she’s still a boat. Like all such boats, their reliability and integrity is based on the sum of its parts. There’s just not one specific thing that needs to be looked after, but everything needs to be properly maintained. I know there are some who think that a fiberglass boat is “maintenance free”, but there’s no such thing. Keeping up a boat like Santana requires a bit more work than others, but it’s not that much more. And it’s incredibly rewarding.
Editor’s Note: To learn more about movie-related yachts, read Film Star Boats: 3 Beautiful Leading Ladies on boats.com UK.
Photos: Paul Lyons