Pirate and the Adamsons

The Adamson family of Malibu, California figures prominently in the histories of Ted Geary and the R-boat PIRATE. The Adamsons at Malibu date back to 1915 when Merritt Huntley Adamson married Rhoda Agatha Rindge. At the time he served as superintendent of the huge Malibu Ranch belonging to Miss Rindge's family. One of the family companies based there was the Adohr Farms Dairy, a name still seen today at area grocery stores. The dairy's name came from spelling Rhoda backward.

Farming and ranching at Malibu were augmented in 1926 when the famous Malibu Potteries was founded by May K. Rindge, Mrs. Adamson's mother. Malibu Potteries provided elegant decorative tile for some of the more prominent homes and construction projects of the time. The ornate and colorful Malibu style is immediately noticeable today at such sites as Los Angeles City Hall, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, the Serra Retreat and the Adamson House, now a historic landmark itself. A fire at the seaside plant halted production in 1932.

Examples of Malibu Potteries tile

In 1926, the Adamsons also took delivery of the 100' fantail motor yacht MALIBU from designs by Ted Geary. MALIBU was beautifully built by Norman J. Blanchard at his yard on Lake Union in Seattle. She is moored on Lk. Union today.

Mrs. Rhoda Adamson was a keen sailor and yachtswoman. When Arthur Stewart put PIRATE up for sale in late 1933, Mrs. Adamson persuaded her husband to buy the racer. They kept the boat in Los Angeles harbor and, over the next 20 years, Mrs. Adamson skippered her successfully in numerous regattas. Ted Geary frequently sailed with her and, in 1935, skippered PIRATE to earn the title of "Southern California Skipper of the Year". Between the two skippers, they had won every trophy available to R-boats that season.

The Adamsons and Gearys remained close for a long time. In 1954, Ted Geary's daughter Sharon married Merritt Adamson, Jr. Mrs. Adamson gave PIRATE to the young couple as a wedding present. At the same time the bride's father presented mounted and framed PIRATE drawings as another gift.

The junior Adamsons owned and sailed PIRATE until 1964 when they bought a Cal 40 class offshore racing sloop and named her PIRATE II. The R-boat was sold to Mr. Brooks Barnhill of Los Angeles.

PIRATE was important to the Adamsons who, father and son, owned her for over thirty years and tended to her lovingly during that time. That this family of dedicated yachtsmen and women looked after her so well for so long is one of the primary reasons for her survival at this late date. The sight of m/y MALIBU towing the R-boat to a distant regatta must have presented a lovely sight.

Geary's gift construction and sail plan drawings were loaned to the PIRATE project by his daughter, Mrs. Sharon Adamson Gee who still lives at Malibu. Digitally scanned by the Boeing Co., prints from these have been the ultimate references for Pirate's restoration.

Mrs. Gee is a member of the syndicate that bought PIRATE, returned the boat to Seattle and donated her to the Center for Wooden Boats. The Merritt Adamson Trust, administered by Geary's grandson Grant Adamson, granddaughter Leslie Adamson London and Mrs. Gee, continues to support the restoration of this historic vessel. The Adamsons and Gees frequently attend PIRATE events in Seattle.

Scott Rohrer