Conversations with Paul Kettenburg

Have you had a conversation with Mr. Kettenburg? Would you like to share it with the other Ketternburg Boat owners? Submit your tidbit and we'll post it here to share.

Submitted by: Steve Barber
Conversation Date: November 11, 1999
Discussion: A three hour conversation with Mr. Kettenburg and his son, Tom enables me to reveal the following developments:

1. This Spring we will begin scanning into the computer, for eventual access via the "kettenburgboats" webpage, all of Mr. Kettenburg's files on individual boats and technical/advertising information. This will be no small project. We will be setting up shop in his personal office, developing a rational cataloging and access scheme for retrieval, and taking our time so as to do a credible and effective job of recording this history for all current and subsequent owners to use. Importantly, Tom Kettenburg will be helping us on this project. As an historian himself Tom is currently publishing a "coffee table" book about the boatyard which we hope will be well complimented by the scanning project. He is a font of information about the boats and the boatyard's history.

2. Mr. Kettenburg has agreed to sit for a series of videotaped interviews this Spring as well. The professional filmmaker who approached us about this desires to produce a documentary about Kettenburg Boats and San Diego history intended for airing on cable television such as the History Channel. Once produced, the documentary will be made available for purchase by Kettenburg owners and others to help offset the costs of production. Film documentarian and political science professor at San Diego State, Jack Soule... also a licensed master sailor, will be serving as the interviewer

3. This is very important. Please think about, gather up and submit to us your questions for this interview effort.

Submitted: 12/14/99

Submitted by: Steve Barber
Conversation Date: October 1999
As a consequence of the webpage having come on line and word of it having spread I have been approached by a professional television program producer about producing a documentary for a focused cable channel such as the Discovery channel.

Today I had a delightful conversation with Paul Kettenburg about getting together with him in order to become aware of his expectations and constraints concerning this.Mr. Kettenburg is very open to the idea; so he and I and hopefully his son will be meeting to get ready for our first meeting with the television people.

During the course of our conversation I mentioned to Mr. Kettenburg that I had been trying to connect the as yet unknown owner of an aluminum hulled K-43 that is berthed in Berkeley, Ca. with Charles Bell of Oregon. This comment reminded Mr. Kettenburg of even further details about these boats that deserve sharing with everyone.

He recalls that there were three, 43 foot aluminum hulls produced. The instigator was a sailmaker named Watts. He collaborated with someone at the Douglas Aircraft Co. to build the hulls. A bare hull went to Michigan for outfitting there. One of the other bare hulls went to Driscoll for finishing/outfitting. The other one went to Kettenburg Boat Works for the same. I didn't have my wits about me to ask him whether or not these hulls were numbered. I will remember to inquire and perhaps take a peek into his files when I meet with him to talk about the television production.
Submitted: 10/13/99

Submitted by: Steve Barber
Conversation Date: Spring 1999
My conversations with Paul Kettenburg began a few months after my K-38 began drying out in the Berkeley Marina boatyard. I had pulled her out to accomplish some routine work which had not been attended to for what looked like about a decade at least. After calling the San Diego Yacht Club to connect with anyone who might own a K-38 I met Norm Schute (a genuine enthusiast) who subsequently connected me with Mr. Kettenburg. In pursuit of some basic data about the boat itself or at least some basic data about the K-38 as a type Paul Kettenburg agreed to open his files to me. My visit lasted about 4 hours. As some of my clients have said about my introducing them to non-adversarial negotiations and decision making skills "it was like trying to take a drink from a firehose." There was so much I learned from him that I expect to be visiting this section of the webpage often to deposit recollections.

Here's one: The founder of Ryan aircraft was infatuated with Paul's older sister, and when he asked her to go flying with her, she insisted that her little brother, Paul was about 8 or 9 years old, go up with them! Another: His wife and he were in a race to Los Angeles in 1948 using a PCC. Laying over in Catalina after the race they got to talking about how it was that the PCC was just a little too much for two people to handle; so that night he sketched out the K-38. The following week Paul and Mr. Underwood laid it out and went to work. More: There was no mahogany available after WW2; so the first K-38s were Doug. fir over oak. Mahogany on oak started with hull #17. And this: there were two aluminum version of the K-43. The hulls were built in Los Angeles (Burbank comes to mind) by a sailmaker named Watts and trucked to San Diego for the fitting of everything else. One of these boats is berthed at the Berkeley Marina as of this writing (8/99).
Submitted: 8/14/99

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