Change of Watch at Scanmar

A new owner takes over the California self-steering gear supplier.


Mike Scheck (left) is the new owner of Scanmar International, maker of Monitor Windvanes, which he’s taking over from Hans Bernwall.Courtesy Of Scanmar International

For more than three decades, there’s been a steady hand on the wheel at Scanmar International, the California company that’s helped countless cruisers steer their way across the world’s oceans with their Monitor Windvanes. This spring, though, founder and owner Hans Bernwall is stepping down and handing the helm over to one of his customers, a San Francisco Bay sailor and former telecom executive named Mike Scheck.

Hans founded Scanmar with his former partner, Carl Seipel, in 1977, when the pair returned to Sausalito following a five-plus year circumnavigation aboard a 40-foot Alden cutter. Along the way, they tried out all sorts of self-steering types and learned from both their own experiences and those of other cruisers they met. Hans has been sole owner of the company since 1987 and will continue to consult and attend boat shows. When I ran into him during Strictly Sail Pacific in early April, he also spoke fondly of an island and cabin in his home country of Sweden that he’ll now have more time to visit.

Sheck, meanwhile, says Scanmar will hold its present course, though some additional products are likely to be added to the mix over time. The company, located in Richmond, California, will continue to manufacture and support its brands of windvanes and emergency steering systems. Call it a crew change in what’s turned into a pretty long and well-steered voyage.