New Age Metal Meets Old World Wood
When not rocking hard on stage, a progressive-metal band lead singer rolls gently aboard his classic wooden yawl, the John-Alden designed Malabar XV.
He learned to love sailing, but as he grew into adulthood, he found a second calling. Music was her name. The Pacific Northwest has always been a hotbed of innovate popular music. The list of native sons and daughters who’ve made it big reads like the roster of a rock hall of fame: Portland’s Kingsmen, The Wailers, the Sonics, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Jimi Hendrix, Heart, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and many others.
In 1981, Geoff added to that list with the formation of Queensrÿche, which might have then been described as a hard-rocking hair band with no lack of attitude. Drawing on influences from classical, jazz, folk, and rock, they developed a sophisticated sound and original lyrics into a national and then international following. It’s been a long and wild ride for the four bandmates, but not one that’s likely to end soon—when I caught up with Geoff, the bandmembers were about to jet off to Moscow to begin yet another world tour.
Geoff carries on board his Malabar XV a mini sound studio and a high-speed Internet connection to his musical collaborators. When things get too cacophonous at home, he jumps on the boat and heads out alone to a sleepy island in Puget Sound or to the San Juan Islands. There he sequesters himself on board for days, reaching deep into his heart and mind for new expressions of music and meaning.
“There’s no atmosphere on earth as conducive to creativity as that of a classic wooden boat,” he says.
As he toured the great coastal cities of the world, Geoff spent all his free time walking their docks and marveling at their diverse nautical designs. He saw some real beauties, but the first time he walked past Malabar XV, she stopped him dead in his tracks. Those classic lines somehow spoke to him. She sat on the market unsold for two years, but in 2004, when the owner finally dropped his price, Geoff swooped in.
After the fact, he informed Susan. Her first reaction?
“You have got to be kidding me!”
She’s since come to love the boat, and Geoff says that she now sails it better than he can.
“In fact,” Geoff says proudly, “when the fan belt broke yesterday, she sailed it engineless into this slip.”
When I looked around the crowded marina with its narrow approaches, I realized that this was no mean feat. But even a good skipper couldn’t make up for a bad boat in here.
John Alden unquestionably ranks as one of America’s finest yacht designers. His designs were graceful and conservative, concentrating on seaworthiness, comfort, aesthetics, and maneuverability.
However, conservative or not, Alden’s designs were known not only for their seductive curves and ease of handling but also as the scourge of a starting line. In the 1923 Bermuda race, his Malabar IV won first place, and in one Bermuda race, boats named Malabar took three of the first five places.