It was about 13 years ago when I first got to know Melvin A. Conant. We
were not radio control sailors nor members of a model club at the time.
The Solomons Island Model Boat Club Skipjacks were racing under the Drum
Point light house at the Calvert Marine Museum. Acquainted with a few
of the skippers, we enjoyed watching them sail.
Mel's model lost it's
radio control and sailed off into the weeds along the shore. What
happened next opened a door into a long and marvelous friendship.
My oldest son, Ahren, 11 years old at the time, curious about the models,
eager to find out how they worked having never put his hands on one, saw
his chance. He leaped into the row boat and headed to the rescue. I
held my breath knowing that most skippers having put many hours of labor
into their beautiful creations are understandably protective and not
terribly eager to entertain the explorations of a young boy. Not Mel,
he quietly and calmly watched Ahren's progress as he carefully rowed
alongside Mayflower (Mel's Skipjack) and lifted her into the skiff.
Upon returning the model, Mel graciously thanked Ahren and get this,
asked Ahren his advice on the solution to Mayflower's radio problem!! A
veteran skipper asking an 11 year old how to fix his boat--WOW!! I
still imagine how that must have made Ahren feel and marvel at the
thoughtfulness of Mel. Ahren became Mel's crew after that, helping Mel
to launch, retrieve and repair both Mayflower and his schooner model
This is how we got to know Mel. Inspiring, thoughtful, enthusiastic,
generous and kind. He will be missed.
George Surgent, Commodore
Great Schooner Model Society
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent in Mel's name
to either the Calvert Marine
Museum at P.O. Box 97, Solomons, MD 20688 or to the Woods Hole
Oceangraphic Institution at Woods Hole, MA 02543.