Robert Stuart Douglas

Captain Robert Douglas on Shenandoah

Captain Robert Stuart Douglas, son of James Henderson Douglas, of the Quaker Oats family, owns Coastwise Packet Co. He has the longest standing schooner/captain relationship in the windjammer business. No one else has skippered his Shenandoah since its launching in 1964.

Captain Douglas is highly regarded in maritime circles, primarily due to his success with the design and operation of Shenandoah and more recently for the rebuilding of the Alabama. Increasingly he is being used as a nautical historian of sorts and his personal collection of maritime items, artwork, and research materials is approaching museum-like status. A trip into the offices at Coastwise Packet is a journey through watercraft history that stalls visitors and contractors alike.

The Douglas boat shed, aka Corner Five Shipbuilding, is filled with boats from around the world of all ages, and a vast array of machinery to make and repair them. Captain Douglas is married to Charlene, and they have four sons, Rob, Jamie, Morgan, and Brooke, all of whom are involved in the family businesses. Charlene's boat, MacNab, is another beautiful example of wooden boat construction and can be seen in Vineyard Haven Harbor just off The Black Dog Wharf.

Captain Robert S. Douglas was a jet fighter for the Air Force from 1956 to 58, retiring with the rank of Captain. He first became involved with boats summering and sailing on Martha's Vineyard as a youth. In the early 1960s, he found himself working on the 83' Harvey Gamage Shipyard-built windjammer Mary Day, and there hatched a plan to move to the Vineyard, build a big windjammer boat, and take passengers back to the past days of tall ships and the life of sailing them. His dream came to fruition in the design and commissioning of the construction of Shenandoah in 1964. Based on an original 1850 design of the fast revenue cutter Joe Lane, with the change of line, balance, and sail he created a fast and efficient schooner. The addition of square topsails to the foremast (and Captain Douglas' dogged intention to get the US Coast Guard to approve the method) made Shenandoah a truly unique vessel of power and a beauty to behold at sea or mooring. But now that he had his beautiful schooner, he had to have a place to admire her!

The Douglas family enterprises are now being consolidated under the management of Robert Douglas, Jr. and Jamie Douglas. Coastwise Packet Co. & Wharf will be known as The Black Dog Tall Ships and The Black Dog Wharf, respectively. Corner 5 Surf Company, and Captain Douglas' boat house, a.k.a. Corner 5 Shipbuilding, join The Black Dog campus. There are tentative plans for a maritime museum to display Captain Douglas' vast number of boats and nautical treasures.

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This page was last updated on 29 June 2015

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