Once a Sailor…

My name is Steve Lang – and I have led a very full and rich life. When I was 8 years old, my father and mother came home one day and announced we would be moving onto a 60 foot sailboat . . . permanently! When we pulled up to the dock in Essex, Connecticut, you can imagine the excitement of a young boy about to embark on a magnificent adventure.

Thus began a three year, full immersion process of becoming a sailor. Unknown to me at the time, my father had been given 6 months to live and therefore, this was to be his final fulfillment in life. He was only 36. In a hurry to get it all in, we shortly took off from the calmness of dockside never to return to Essex. I learned the feel of a boat, night and day in the ocean, sailing in all conditions ~ steering, eating off a gimbaled table, and basic navigation. Life at sea was much like flying, hours and hours of the tranquil joys of sailing, punctuated with moments of shear mind numbing terror.

When three years expired, and my father hadn’t, my mother demanded to go ashore (“like normal people”). We did, but now we are in St. Petersburg, Florida.

I grew up in St. Petersburg where racing sailboats at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club was a full time sport. My father was at my side from the first time I touched the wheel on our big boat through all those years of racing dinghies. As I neared graduation from high school, I had raced most of the popular boats of the day – Lightnings, Thistles, Bantams, Flying Dutchmans, Snipes, Luders, Y-Flyers, etc. I was already on course for West Point, the US Military Academy. My father was a Colonel in the US Army, and always looked forward to my attending the academy. Unfortunately, one week after I graduated from High School, my father suddenly died. He had earned 11 wonderful years past his six month sentence.

In 1963, I graduated from West Point, a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army, headed for my beloved tanks. I married my high school sweetheart, now a registered nurse, and away we went with nothing in our pockets but dreams for the future. In addition to normal duties, I was selected to go to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA. There I studied the Thai language for 13 months. As a reward for my fluent command of Thai, I was next stationed in Korea!%#, where I was the liaison officer to a Thai unit remaining there from the Korean War.

My last big adventure in the Army was combat in Vietnam. There I served six months with a Thai division before getting command of my own U.S. tank company. Even though war is no fun, it was the highlight of my military career. On my wall are the awards I earned there, including three awards of the Bronze Star with “V” device for valor, which only serves to bring back memories of the brave men that fought and those who died by my side. Unfortunately, there was no nobler mission in Vietnam than bringing home as many of those men as I could.

Steve in Vietnam 1970

Steve in Vietnam 1970

I returned to civilian life in 1970, and guess where I headed? Back to boats. Within a year, I formed a corporation, Fleet Indigo, to operate a charter fleet of sailboats out of Tortola, British Virgin Islands. In the following 10 years I expanded the operation to 70 boats and a new fleet in Belize, Central America.

In 1985, while sitting on my back porch in Florida, I conceived the idea of building a pond business. I knew just enough to be dangerous, but within six months, I had firmly established my new company, Southern Garden Ponds. Within two years I was hamming it up at the podium teaching hundreds of folks the inside secrets of making back yard ponds work. I loved this completely different part of my life and was totally immersed in ponds until 1991.

All of a sudden my bride and I had no children left at home. Both daughters had completed college and were on their own. We had been living in St. Petersburg, but not liking it very much. On a winter ski trip to Colorado with high school friends, we realized that we had always wanted to return to Colorado, where we were first stationed in the Army nearly 30 years before. So we abruptly sold our home, my pond business, and headed west.

We found our place in Evergreen, a mountain town just west of Denver, Colorado. In 1992, I decided to build my bride of 30 years a new home on a ridge at 8600 feet of elevation. Over that winter, I was able to take a kit of lumber, plumbing, wiring, windows, etc., and single-handedly build our new home in heavily forested wilderness. Here we thoroughly enjoyed the mountains, snow shoeing, back country skiing, hiking, kayaking, and hot tubbing for 11 years before my high school sweetheart unexpectedly died of cancer!

It took me almost two years to even think about going on, but now I am fully immersed in RC sailing and distribute RC sailboats and teach model sailing all over the country. I am a kid again in many respects. I am racing and enjoying all my new friends – and I rarely go anywhere without my dog.  In 2007, I remarried to Judy, and within a year we left Colorado and moved to TN where the living was a little less demanding in the winter.

Sailing the Geezer

Of course we choose a community with a premier model sailing lake and facility, where I can now sail almost year round.  Life is good.

Steve

10 thoughts on “Once a Sailor…

  1. Fitzhugh Barry Lee

    Steve,
    Liked reading your bio.
    I am a retired Marine Helo pilot who loves ‘compartmentalization’. Have thought several times about trying out your rc lazer (whose appeal for me) is that is all comes in a bag. I find the price a little ‘dear’ , so will probably hold off awhile, but just wanted to drop you a note and say congrats on your business and happy life in Tennessee. Flew in Vietnam 69-70. Have you ever considered giving military discounts? 😉
    Best regards,

    Barry Lee

    Reply
    1. Theresa Rae Gay Post author

      Hi Barry,

      Please make sure you sign up for our newsletter (bottom of home page). We have a military discount that we are announcing in the next newsletter. GREAT discount on RC Lasers!

      Thank you for your service and for contacting SailRC. I will make sure Steve sees your note.

      Theresa

      Reply
  2. Andy Symons

    Steve,
    Ironic that I should stumble onto this page with the email from Barry after reading Steve’s bio – I was a SSG grunt with the First Cav in ’70/’71 (DEROSed on the fourth of July, believe it or not!) Anyway, I too would be very interested in a military discount – at least if it applies to us old guys.
    I used to race against Lasers in a fun fleet atmosphere with my Force 5 years ago and have been considering an RC sailboat for some time now. My wife and I still use our pristine ’87 Holder 14 and charter the big toys now and again. Thanks for a great website!

    Reply
  3. Theresa Rae Gay Post author

    The newsletter should go out this weekend including the discount for those in or honorably discharged from the military. You deserve it! Well, truly you deserve more than we can ever give…

    Thank you for your part in the service. SailRC and the USA thank you!

    Theresa

    p.s. You can call me and I will be happy to give you the discount now ($100 off an RC Laser!). I will need a copy of your DD214 – email it to Theresa@sailrc.com.

    Reply
  4. Ron Schmidt

    Hi, I am from N.Y. So summers are short & winters long Tried sailing pond boats this summer after coming across a 1927 Jacrim Pond boat given to me when I was much younger about 1945. It was interesting to get it back in shape & in the water & tried sailing it in the Great South Bay for which it was not built. I tried to get it sailing for grandchildren I did get somewhat involved I have very limited knowledge about sailing. But trying to get information I came across your site & it has piqued my curiosity as to RC Sailboats. I think I may enjoy any information You could email me on the like. Also saw a site about Monsoon RC sailboats. Could you give ma any insight on these boats. Ron

    Reply
    1. Theresa Rae Gay Post author

      Ron,

      RC sailing is a great way to learn about sailing. No pressure, no swimming – just fun trying different sail settings and steering directions.

      Here is a great article to read about how to choose and RC sailboat for you. I will send it to your email address as well.

      The RC Laser is one I often describe as a boat your grandchildren will share with their grandchildren. It is easy to set up and sail yet can be challenging if you or your grandkids wanted to race it. This boat is raced all over the world!

      Theresa

      Reply
  5. Colin Schaeffer

    I sailed with Fleet Indigo three times in the late 70’s. I always wondered what happened to the fleet and Steve.
    I’m glad to see he is alive and well.

    Reply
    1. Theresa Rae Gay Post author

      Wow! That is so cool to hear, Colin!

      Steve is doing well – even though he is “landlocked.” Life is good.

      Theresa

      Reply
  6. H Michael Steinberg

    Steve – I am a 58 year old lawyer in Denver Colorado – I am teaching myself to sail my used Catalina 18 which I sail on the Aurora reservoir.. I have been doing more studying than sailing and find that – for me at least – I need to understand something before I can master it.. kind of like the law.

    I am having difficulty choosing an RC model – I do want a main and a jin and I am leaning to the Seawind — your houghts?

    Reply
    1. Steve Lang

      Michael – In your case, I recommend the Nirvana. Both the Nirvana and the SeaWind are agile and good performers, but Nirvana is just a little easier to live with (smaller, so fits in your car fully rigged, etc). Both are good quality boats that don’t have any bad habits. We do recommend an upgrade hatch for the SeaWind as the standard one leaks. But that is a minor upgrade if you decide to go with SeaWind.

      Nirvana comes in a great box, made better by the full foam clamshell that holds each part of the boat in a molded place in the foam. Consequently, you can use the box over-and-over to store or transport the boat. Many owners take their models on vacation to have something to play with! 🙂 Both boats are simple to rig, and sail with the nod to Nirvana.

      Both are attractive on their included display stands since they each are designed to look like a full sized boat. That means they are well worth showing off at home.

      Bottom line, we only sell the best we can find in a certain price range, so we know you will be satisfied with either boat (our guaranty). Just think you will enjoy the Nirvana more as a first model. Steve

      Reply

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