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JADA History

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Stephens Brothers of Stockton, Calif., built the JADA, a well-sailed yacht, for Delbert Axelson of the Newport Harbor Yacht Club in 1938. I. Judson Kelly designed JADA. Her length overall was 56 feet, with a draft of 8 feet. The name JADA is a combination of the names of Delbert’s son Jack and his wife, Alda — hence JADA.

JADA was a college graduation present to son Jack Axelson — she was essentially “Jack’s boat.” Jack kept JADA on a mooring off Balboa Island at 1100 S. Bay Front. The Schooner Yacht was actively raced and sailed up and down the coast from Santa Barbara to Ensenada, Mexico. At the start of the famous 1939 hurricane that caused so much damage at Newport Harbor, JADA was moored alongside the Axelson family pier on South Bay Front. The wind increased in velocity so fast that Jack was unable to get JADA off (lee shore) float. Jack and his crew spent the night arranging fenders and shoring up the pilings to prevent damage to JADA. The hurricane wind went down at daylight and JADA came through the storm with no major damage. The cast iron keels for JADA and Odyssey, another local yacht, were poured and machined by the Axelson Manufacturing Co. at Huntington Park. They were placed on a flatbed railroad car and shipped to the Stephens Brothers Shipyard in Stockton. Note that the hulls of JADA and Odyssey were almost identical; both were built at the same time. JADA was rigged as a stay sail schooner, Odyssey became a yawl. Each was owned by a Huntington Park industrialist.

JADA by Delbert Axelson of Axelson Manufacturing and Odyssey by Harry Steele of U.S. Electric Motors. In 1950, Jack Axelson reluctantly sold JADA to Mrs. Isabelle Belyea. It has been said that Belyea purchased JADA so that her daughter’s boyfriend could sail to Honolulu in the 1951 Trans Pack Race. JADA placed 10th in class B and 18th in the fleet standings. In 1953, George R. Sturgis of the Newport Harbor Yacht Club acquired JADA. The schooner rig did not fare too well in yacht races so in 1955, JADA’s rig was changed to a yawl. Under Sturgis’ ownership, JADA was actively raced in local regattas. She sailed in five Transpac Races. In 1956, JADA was first overall in the Tahiti Race. JADA was sold to Howard Wright of Los Angeles Yacht Club in 1961 and she ceased to consider Newport Harbor her homeport. On July 23, we visited JADA in a slip near Sea Port Village at San Diego. She is in good condition, with most of the original equipment still in place. JADA is now owned and operated by Classic Yacht Charters of San Diego. JOHN BLAICH is a Corona del Mar resident and volunteer at the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum. About once a month, he writes histories of interesting boats that graced Newport Harbor.

As of April 2009 JADA is owned by Carole Noska under Sail JADA Charters LLC. JADA is currently berthed at the Sheraton San Diego Harbor Island. She is actively offering private charters to corporate and social groups and public charters for whale watching, sunset and afternoon bay sails.

JADA was built at the Steven’s Brothers Boat Yard in Stockton, CA, in 1938. She spent her first twelve years on Balboa Island in Newport Harbor, where she participated in many ocean races and local regattas. She was also involved in many social events with the Newport Harbor Yacht Club during this time. Frequent celebrity visitors on JADA were Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Errol Flynn, John Wayne and Broadway star, John Raitt (father of singer, Bonnie Raitt). More recently in San Diego Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Louis CK enjoyed relaxing with their families, away from the fans. If the walls could talk!

JADA was then sold in the early ’50’s and was re-rigged from a schooner configuration to a yawl to be more competitive in ocean racing. After several more owners in the ’60’s and ’70’s, it was reported to have been purchased by actor, Marlon Brando, where he enjoyed her for many years in French Polynesia. From there she was purchased and sailed to Hawaii, and then to the mainland for use as a charter for whale watches and sunset cruises as well as private events so you too can enjoy the luxury and nostalgia of this classic beauty.

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