Homer, most home on the water to return to the sea

Dick Homer

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Dick Homer, who died May 27 at age 85, was a master mariner and, for several decades, a prominent and influential member of the Mount Desert Island sailing community.

He inherited his passion for all things nautical from his father, who was president of Bethlehem Steel, and that passion showed itself quite early.

“He was able to do celestial navigation at a very young age,” his daughter, Susi Homer, said. “I have a photo of him on the shore with a telescope at 6 years old.”

That was also the age at which he got his own catboat and, along with his brother, Steve, and a couple of friends, sailed around Mount Desert Island during their summers here. That was before the present bridge at the head of the island was built.

Dick Homer’s father had a series of cruising boats that his own father designed, and he raced them in the Newport Bermuda Race and the Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race in alternate years.

“Dick was able-bodied crew for those races all through his growing up and early adult years,” Ms. Homer said.

Her father became a highly successful architect in Boston, but in the late 1960s he decided to close his flourishing practice and take to the sea. He took the family to Florida, where they bought a Baltic Sea trawler that had been designed for sailing around the world. They spent six months rebuilding it and, in the spring of 1970, set out on what would be a three-year voyage.

When they returned, the boat was sold and the family made Southwest Harbor their permanent home. There Mr. Homer resumed his architectural career.

A few years later, he bought an International One Design (IOD) class sailboat, which he named Magic Bus, and was among those who brought about the local resurgence of IOD racing.

The IOD fleet in Northeast Harbor hosted the first IOD World Championship in 1984, and Mr. Homer led the technical committee of the World Championship executive group for 21 years.

“That was because he was classically trained at MIT as an industrial engineer and architect, and his passion, like his father’s, was to design all things boat-like,” his daughter said.

Mr. Homer was principal race officer for both the North American and World IOD championships from 1984 to 2003. He also served for many years on the World Championship protest committee.

“He knew the racing rules of sailing inside out and was considered the guru when there was a question,” Ms. Homer said.

Dick Homer and his brother, Steve – who Ms. Homer said everyone called “the Homer boys” – managed all of the races for the Southwest Harbor Fleet for many years, through 2011. Now, Ms. Homer and her uncle run those races.

Dick Homer’s remains were committed to the sea Saturday, June 15.

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