Reuel B. Parker was born in Denver on 2/19/46. He grew up in Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts and New York. Much of his childhood was spent on the south shore of Long Island (Bay Shore), where he learned about boats, boat building and boating. He built many models as a child, and began building and restoring full size boats in 1958, at age 12.
Captain Parker was educated at Colorado State College, State University of New York at Farmingdale and Columbia University in Manhattan. He studied physics, engineering and music. He studied oceanography and emergency medicine in California, attending night-classes at two community colleges.
After a “back to the land” stint in California in the intentional community Starhill Academy for Anything in the early 70’s, Parker built a 54′ LOA ferrocement cutter named FISHERS HORNPIPE, in which he traveled some 35,000 miles, visiting twenty foreign countries in Central America and the Caribbean. At 45 years old, FISHERS HORNPIPE was starting on a circumnavigation when she was destroyed in Hurricane Maria at Isla Viequez in Puerto Rico in 2017.
In 1985 he built the 44′ LOD cold-molded wood cat-schooner TERESA DE ISLA MORADA (the original Exuma-44), to directly test his design and construction concepts for that type of construction. TERESA was a handy, weatherly and fast shoal-bodied cruiser, upon which he lived and cruised for three years. TERESA was destroyed in Hurricane Dorian at Man’O’War Cay in the Bahamas in 2019.
His next personal vessel was the 30′ LOD 1926 Alden Malabar Jr. sloop IMAGINE, which he restored twice, the second time in cold-molded wood/epoxy. IMAGINE was destroyed in Hurricane Georges at Key West in 1998. She was reputedly in the best condition of any surviving Malabar Junior, according to an Alden survey 1n 1997. IMAGINE was a miracle of brilliant design, and is sorely missed by all who were involved with her. She was named after the John Lennon song of the same name.
Parker’s next and largest vessel was the 75′ LOA Virginia Pilot Schooner LEOPARD (the original Pilot Schooner-60), on which he lived and traveled for five years. LEOPARD was an ultimate cruising sailboat, on which he intended to cruise to the South Pacific when he was diagnosed with stage four cancer and had to give her up.
His next cruising home was the prototype Lorcha 50, the 65′ LOA ketch T’IEN HOU, a modernized Lorcha (a traditional vessel combining Chinese and Portuguese technology from the 16th century). Parker proclaimed T’IEN HOU to be the most comfortable home of his life, on land or on sea, and he would have kept her except that she could not easily be single-handed.
In early 2010 he launched the prototype Maxi-Trailerable Sharpie-45 IBIS, a gaff-rigged schooner, in which he made four cruises through the Bahamas, proving the value of traditional flat-bottomed sharpies as island cruising boats. With a draft of 2′ 6″, IBIS can cross bars that dry out at high tide, and can enter creeks that are considered to shallow for any but small craft. She also proved capable of ocean passages, having crossed the Gulf Stream eight times, and is an ultimate island cruising home.
Parker then built the 57′ LOA Deadrise Sardine Carrier yacht PEREGRINE, on which he lived and cruised for three years. PEREGRINE pioneered new approaches to centerboards, masts, and keels, and could be single-handed. She has a comfortable interior accommodating six people, and like many other Parker boats, has a cargo hold.
Parker’s last cruising boat at the time of this writing, is the Commuter 325 PANTHER, his first cruising powerboat, in which he traveled 2,500 miles in 2023.PANTHER is for sale at this time (early 2024).
Now in his late 70s, still reasonably healthy, fit, and agile, Reuel Parker is contemplating what is next? Captain Parker is looking for a new first mate, with whom to sail off into the sunrise in the next dream boat.
Captain Parker has worked in residential and commercial construction, boatbuilding, and restoration for over sixty years. He has designed, built, repaired and restored boats in wood (traditional and cold-molded), ferrocement, steel, aluminum and fiberglass. He has been living and traveling aboard his own cruising sailboats since 1975, and intends to continue doing so indefinitely. He asks to be buried at sea, the fastest way to re-enter the food chain, and the most environmentally safe way to dispose of human remains.
Much of Parker’s design work draws on the wisdom and pragmatism of working sail from previous centuries, combined with contemporary materials and construction techniques. But he also stays abreast of new technology and incorporates it into all his work, even re-designing or modifying existing designs when appropriate. His opinions about the ongoing battle between grass-roots marine architects like himself, and licensed naval architects/marine engineers, include the belief that competent designers should have experiences combining extensive offshore sailing, coastal cruising and gunkholing, and all kinds of boatbuilding. A college degree is a wonderful thing, representing years of dedication; but it cannot compare to knowing first hand what happens to different vessels in full gales at sea, or which construction methods can create the strongest, most durable yachts economically. Learning from books is one thing; learning from experience is quite another. A good designer must have plenty of both.
Reuel Parker created Parker Marine Enterprises in 1974, both as a design house and custom boatbuilding operation. Although Parker Marine no longer builds boats commercially, we still build an occasional prototype, hull/deck package, masts, keels, rigging and other components. Parker Marine has also been coaxed into restoration projects, especially if the boat is of a high pedigree. Parker’s cruising powerboats fit the category LDL (Low-Displacement-Length) in an effort to make them as efficient and environmentally friendly as possible. He would design electric boats but for a few prominent problems: Where do you plug them in? Where does the electricity come from? What is the carbon footprint of battery manufacture?
Capt. Parker began writing books and magazines articles in the 1980’s. He is a regular contributor of articles to WoodenBoat Magazine, Professional Boatbuilder Magazine and Boatbuilder Magazine (now defunct), and he has written articles for Good Old Boat Magazine and Latitudes and Attitudes Magazine. His Sharpie Book is published by McGraw-Hill under the International Marine imprint. The New Cold-Molded Boatbuilding is now published by WoodenBoat Publications. THE VOYAGES OF FISHERS HORNPIPE, about those first long cruises along the Pacific Coast, Central America, the Caribbean and the U. S. East Coast, is published by Parker Marine Enterprises. There are several new books in the works, including Seabrights and Garveys; Workboats of the New Jersey Shore, Practical Woodenboat Restoration, and Second Editions of The New Cold-Molded Boatbuilding and The Sharpie Book.
Capt. Parker spends summers in Maine, and winters in South Florida and the Bahamas. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Reuel Parker wrote Blogs for WoodenBoat Magazine’s website: www.woodenboat.com, under the heading The Whiskey Plank. He also highly recommends the excellent books of his friend Scott B. Williams, especially The Pulse series. These may be purchased in electronic or paperback forums at Amazon.com.