A Word With... Al
A master woodworker for more than 35 years, Al Genduso has applied
his talents to a variety of boats at the refit and restoration yard of
Rybovich Spencer located in West Palm Beach, Florida, since 1991. With
stints at Broward Marine and Burger Boat Company also under his belt,
he’s worked on everything from 80-year-old Trumpys to the latest
custom-built battlewagons. PMY recently talked to Genduso about his life
as a marine woodworker.
Q: How did you
land in this business?
A: I got a degree in music education in 1972 and realized it wasn’t
going to get me a job. One day I was driving to an interview when I saw
a “Help Wanted” sign at Broward Marine. Woodworking had always
been a hobby, so I stopped by. They made me an apprentice carpenter. That’s
how it all started, and I’ve never looked back.
Q: What do you
like most about your work?
A: I get tremendous satisfaction from a job completed. I mean,
when it’s the middle of summer and it’s 140 degrees working
down in the trenches, that’s not a lot of fun. But to see the owners
happy with our work, to be able to say, “I helped make that happen,”
that’s the real pay in this job.
Q: How is working
with boats different from other jobs you’ve had?
A: Well, the boating industry is the last place in the world where
we can work our trade and really let it shine. I worked for a few years
on wood architecture in houses, but I couldn’t stand it. Everything
was about cutting corners and doing it cheap. Boaters aren’t like
that. They appreciate the beauty of an ornate spiral staircase or perfectly
crafted cabinetry. I have to work with boats. Once you’re in this
trade and it’s in your blood, you can’t ever leave it.
Q: What do you
do in your spare time?
A: Actually, I’m learning how to build and repair violins.
I’m also taking lessons to learn how to play. I really enjoy it.
About six years ago I was sitting in church, amazed, listening to the
chamber music. I decided I wanted to learn the violin—you’re
never too old to take on a new hobby. It’s a slow process, but I
I guess you could say that I finally got around to using that music degree.
School of Hard Rocks
A 50-foot wave has given new meaning to the term student enrollment.
In January a Semester
at Sea research boat was about 650 miles south of Adak, Alaska, only a
few days out of port, when the 591-footer encountered gale-force winds
and very high seas. Then, in the early morning of January 26, a giant
wave smashed into Explorer and shattered her bridge windows, damaged
her controls, and disabled three of her four engines. The ship—with
990 passengers aboard, two-thirds of whom were students—was left
reeling in the darkness.
The crew quickly alerted
the Coast Guard, reporting that miraculously only two people has sustained
minor injuries. “The North Pacific Ocean is nasty this time of year,”
explains a Coast Guard spokesman. “[Explorer] was hit by a unique
wave caused by the weather system.”
Fortunately, the Explorer’s
crew was able to repair one engine and regain control of the ship before
the Coast Guard arrived. Students were able to call their worried families
on satellite phones.
The ship was on the
first leg of her around-the-world tour and was en route from Vancouver,
Canada, to South Korea. The damage necessitated a change in itinerary,
however, and the boat headed for Honolulu for repairs.
Got an interesting
boating story for this column? Write to FYI, Power & Motoryacht,
260 Madison Ave., 8th Fl., New York, NY 10016. Fax: (917) 256-2282. e-mail:
No phone calls please.
Next page >
John Q. Boater, and more > Page 1,