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Claiborne S. Young – 1951-2014


was first “introduced” to Claiborne Young in 2001 when I was planning a boat trip on my Ericson 38 from Oriental, NC, to Charleston, SC. I was looking for a guide to help make the trip down the ICW. I found the Southern Waterway Guide, which was great for going down the “ditch”—with general information, including distances, places to stop, anchorages, marinas and lots of factual information for the trip, but I was looking for some more local information that would include unusual facts and history. I found Young’s Cruising Guide to Coastal North Carolina and Cruising Guide to South Carolina and Georgia, both of which acted as perfect companions to the Waterway Guide. Young’s books also had lots of factual stuff, and I could have used it as my only guide, but I like having more than one source of information, plus it covered more than just the ICW—it covered all the coastal waters of North Carolina and South Carolina. His books, though, had a great By Steve deal of historical and local information, which was just what I was looking for, and the books added to our trip immensely. In fact, if you want to learn some history about waterways life and coastal towns in the states covered, read the guides. After I made it down to Charleston, I shortly thereafter purchased SOUTHWINDS, and eventually took my boat to Tampa Bay, using the Georgia section of his book I had already purchased, along with his Cruising Guide to Eastern Florida. Through SOUTHWINDS, I met Claiborne in person and we conversed frequently by phone and email discussing common interests. Claiborne published the three above-mentioned guides, along with Cruising Guide to Western Florida and Cruising Guide to the Northern Gulf Coast — Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana. He also published Cruising Guide to the Florida Keys (with co-author Morgan Stinemetz). Claiborne passed away on June 16 in Chapel Hill, NC, following a serious motorcycle accident. It was only last October that his wife died after a long illness. I was sad-

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August 2014



dened to hear about it, and it made news across the marine industry in the Eastern United States. Claiborne’s last endeavour over the years was the creation and management of the The Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net, a website devoted to an exchange of information for boaters cruising the waters of the Southeast. Claiborne said he dreamed up the idea in the shower, shortly after he’d published one of his guides and found out that a marker was down that he had referred to. He knew there was no way to update the guide—and that there was no way to publish any guide that had up-to-date information on changing conditions, especially with waterways, which change the boating environment constantly. So he created the Cruisers’ Net (, a website where boaters can find updated information on changing conditions and add their own findings to the website as they encounter them—for other cruisers to learn from. It is also a place where boaters can exchange information, opinions and ideas about the

boating world. When I heard about Claiborne’s death, I contacted the Cruisers’ Net for information about the future of the website and for some information on Claiborne’s life. Fortunately, the Cruisers’ Net will stay active, since a group of people who ran the business under Claiborne are capable of running it and are currently keeping it going. The ownership of the business is in question—as it is with most deaths of business owners—but that will not impede the continued operation of the business. I was also put in touch with Andy Lightbourne, a longtime friend of Claiborne’s for many decades, who gave me some information about Claiborne’s early boating days (the fourth edition of the Cruising Guide to the Northern Gulf Coast is dedicated to Andy, who lives in Alabama). It was only a week before Claiborne’s death, that Andy and Claiborne brought Claiborne’s recently purchased trawler from the Northeast to North Carolina. Claiborne was born and raised in Burlington, NC, and was introduced to boating and the coastal waters of North Carolina at an early age by his father, who was an avid boater. The family spent a lot of time between North Carolina and Fort Lauderdale. He picked up his first boat, a 22-foot powerboat, in Lauderdale and brought it up to North Carolina. He later graduated to a 31-foot cabin cruiser, which he used in cruising the waters of the state in the ’70s, keeping his boat at Spooner’s Creek (near Morehead City). He came into contact with John F. Blair, a publishing company in Winston Salem, which suggested that he write a guide. A few years later, around 1981, Claiborne started gathering information for a guide by cruising around and taking handwritten notes, which he later transcribed to typewritten notes, and eventually to a word processor. The

Southwinds August 2014

Southwinds August 2014