by Charles Milby
Tommy Dickey was born into a boating family. His parents had a house on Galveston Bay and he spent his summers sailing and boating at the Texas Corinthian Yacht Club.
Tommy has cruised and raced sailboats all over the world. In 1971 Tommy, along with Bob Mosbacher and Thad Hutcheson, won the Soling World Championship on Long Island sound in Oyster Bay New York. I’ve known him all of my life, he crewed for my parents Mary Nell and Charlie early in his sailing career and he still turned out okay. There is no place he would rather be than on his boat in the middle of Galveston Bay.
The Lady is a 1970 Grand Banks 32, hull # 198. She was built in Singapore by American Marine, LTD. Tommy bought her in January of 1985 from his good friend George Francisco. She is of all wood construction.
The following is part of an interview I did with Tommy earlier this year.
GCM: Why buy a wooden boat and not fiberglass?
TD: For me it was economics. When I bought her in 1985 I couldn’t afford a new boat and the older ones were made of wood. I wasn’t afraid of wood. I built my first boat, a Sailfish kit, at age 16 and had worked on other “woodies.” I was, however, naïve about how much upkeep is required, especially in our warm and damp climate.
GCM: I know you like working with wood, when did this hobby start for you?
TD: My dad gave me a wood lathe when I was 15. I loved looking at the grain of the wood. I always figured out how to put wood stuff together.
GCM: How long will an old woody like you last?
TD: Needless to say she will be around a whole lot longer than me. A judicious use of the tough finish products available now will actually make an old boat more resistant to the ravages of water, sun, and movement than when they were new. The Lady has had every inch of her exterior except the teak decks covered with epoxy and all the horizontal surfaces have been glassed and epoxied. All of those surfaces have been painted with Awlgrip and that is an amazingly tough finish.
GCM: How did you come up with the name?
TD: She was Singapore Lady when I bought her. It was logical to shorten the name so I could remember it. I also have Babe, Mother, Babycakes, Chica, and my son and I built Hussy.
GCM: What’s the likely future of her?
TD: She’s 43 years old now and is in better shape than ever. I keep thinking I should sell her as I have too many boats now but we shall see.