Star Class # 1232

I jumped whenever invited to race as crew on star boats during my years in Havana. After Castro tossed us out of Cuba in August, 1960, General Electric transferred me to Manila where we arrived in October of the same year. One of the first things I did was swing by the Manila Yacht Club, join, and buy a boat.


Star Class #1232 was built during the 1930’s in Manila and raced actively until the onset of the second World War in 1941. She lived out the war years warehoused in a shed owned by the Manila Electric Company. Once things got back to normal during the late 1940’s the Star Class was again on the water and racing actively. By late 1960 most of the active Star racers had reached middle age and purchased Dragons.

I bought one of the abandoned Stars in 1962, fixed her up with new standing rigging and began to enjoy her with my wife and sons, now 5 and 6 years of age. It wasn’t long before ELLSBELLS became a cruising boat.

With Jack Weisenhunt as crew, we took off after work on a Thursday, gathered up stores and ice, and headed for Ellsbells on a mooring at the Manila Yacht Club. No sooner had we hopped on board than a torrential monsoon rain poured down on us for more than an hour before we could hoist sails and head for the China Sea. Dawn caught us off Fort Drum, a fort built by the US Navy to protect the south side of Corregidor and later destroyed during the war. With the boat a anchor we swam to the island and crawled to the top of the highest turret, its 10 inch guns hanging at a precarious angle. 

A swim at White Sands and bar-b-qued catch of the day knocked us right out on deck, as there is virtually no space below decks in a star boat. A sail to Fortune Island the following day yielded a fabulous collection of sea shells and with the strong afternoon breeze now whistling, we headed for Limbones cove on the West coast of Corregidor where we anchored at the entrance to a large bat filled cave. Once night set in, bat city came to life. Thousands of bats zoomed out circling the mast and its rigging in their ritual feeding frenzy. A tour of Corregidor, through its long tunnels gave us a chance to stretch our limbs before embarking on the 30 miles trip back to Manila.

Ellsbells turned out to be a great family boat. I still carry a vivid picture of young son Jim, age 6 at the time, at the helm and doing well holding the course. Minutes later I turn to check up on him and the little rascal was sound asleep. Such are the rigors of sea.

Bill Butler, 2006