Neil Jones worked at Hodgdon Yachts for a long time. He and Chip Haggett (pictured) were good friends. They often worked together on complicated projects that required unique approaches and imaginative solutions.
I spent a bunch of time with Neil and Chip during the construction of the extraordinarily beautiful yacht Antonisa. They were building the yacht's working fireplace with all its elaborate and intricate enclosures. It was going to be the central focal point of the main salon, or downstairs living room, as I used to call it! There was no room for error — a piece of fine art fitted perfectly into curves and sections of unimaginable precision. And I have photos to prove it.
Chip arrived early at the Murray Hill shop, he always has. Neil did, too. I always thought it might be part of a secret formula — a special time to contemplate some next phase of a project. But then, it may have been something less complicated — a bond that had nothing to do with work. Friendship, pure and simple.
Chip is the senior employee at Hodgdon with over 28 years of service. His skills seem almost supernatural, with joinery and finishes that defy description.
One of his talents, learned from “The Man” himself, Sonny Hodgdon, is constructing half models like the one of recently launched Comanche, seen in the photo above. Every surface of the model is transferred from the boat’s original plan. It is a virtual exact replica of the full-sized vessel. And I can't draw a straight line with a ruler!
The new Comanche model Chip completed was a gift to the boat's owner, given at the christening in Newport. Chip wouldn't attend the event, but there is little doubt that he would be there. And Neil would have been proud. Sonny, too.