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Yachts, Ship Models and a Love Story

Posted by: Sue Callaham, Ship Modeler in LAMPosts, Ship Model Journal

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Doug Anderson and the Victory

Today's blog begins by going backwards in time a bit. I would like to share a kind of "Love Story", one which eventually brought the model HMS Victory to the Lighthouse. As time and this blog go on, we will talk about the little-known Rebecca and other models as well, posting photos as each of the ships progress.

We start here with a story, which began many, many years ago. I have taken this information from "My Life With Him McNally (1977-2003)", written by Katie McNally (Mrs. Katharine Merk McNally) for the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum and, with her permission, from a phone conversation she and I had a few months back. Her words tell this portion of the story far better than I could ever begin to tell.

The Beginning of a Journey ...

JAMES G. MCNALLY, JR. was born in Rochester, New York and grew up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Duke University in 1955, his PhD degree from the University of Rochester in 1958. In 1964, Jim McNally returned to live in Rochester. He enjoyed competitive sailing on Lake Ontario. Eventually Jim made the choice to follow a dream of his, a dream to build yachts.

In 1980, Jim and wife, Katharine Merk McNally (lovingly known as Katie), incorporated as Camelot Yachts and rented space in a pole barn on route 104 in Ontario. Jim made Katie President of the company. A new era in their lives had begun and the yacht, the Camelot 247 (or 25), came to be.

Starting over ...

On the day of the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, in March 1981, the young business was completely destroyed in an arson-set fire. Nothing could be salvaged. When Katie and Jim had first met, he was in the process of building HMS Victory. This ship model was destroyed in that fire along with so much more.

Jim and Katie McNally now faced a huge choice: start over from scratch or shut down the business. Not daunted by the fire and massive loss, Camelot Yachts, Inc. started over in a food storage building in Ontario, NY, remaining there until a suitable location could be found.

From 1981 until 1994, the shipbuilding couple built Camelot 25's, several 8 foot dinghies (both rowing and sailing), which were called Merlin Transporters, and entered boat shows in the area and along the Eastern Seaboard. As time went by, the company diversified, beginning to manufacture both single and double rowing shells as well as undertaking boat remodeling and repair.

In 1994, Jim became ill. Katie then closed the business. For 15 years, they had explored their dream!

The Love of Two ...

Katie is a musician, an avid cellist and singer. Jim was an inventor, ship builder and ship modeler. Historic ship models combined his love of history with building. Between hospital stays he created several exquisite models. Jim gave his models away. He gave them to people he cared for, people he felt would enjoy them: family, friends, his doctors, Webster Presbyterian Church, The Rochester Oratorio Society and Pines of Peace.

It was during this time that Jim began building HMS Victory, the second time he would work on a model ship of the Victory.

In her written work, Katie McNally said:

In my “book” Jim was a remarkable man. I loved his intellect, his keen but subtle sense of humor. I loved his smile, the twinkle in his eyes, the way he would wink at me. I loved his generosity, his insistence that I be my own person, our talks together about music, his probing questions about composers. I loved his sense of history and his perspective on current events. I loved the beauty he brought forth with his hands, be it a 25’ sailing yacht or a 2 or 3’ ship model. And in his final days, I loved his honesty about a life lived. . .

On our 25th wedding anniversary card were the words: “25 years ago, God created a
beautiful partnership. Today is a celebration of his love and ours.” To these words my soulmate added “God did a great thing! All my love, Jim.”

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Jim McNally

James G. McNally, Jr. passed away on February 14, 2003.


The McNally Legacy ...

Jim McNally never finished his second model of the Victory. After a time, Katie spoke with Jim's life-long friend, Doug Anderson, about the model. She had donated other ship models to the Lighthouse Museum in the past. It seemed only natural that the Victory model would come to live at the Lighthouse as well. Katie had a request to accompany that donation: She asked only that the model be repaired and completed.

That task is one we, as a team, have gladly undertaken. We invite you to follow us as we continue that adventure which began for us eleven months ago!