Where do you come from, and were you involved with boats there?
Roger Fuller’s father was in the USCG and they moved all over the country, but the family spent their summers at Weekapaug, Rhode Island (halfway between Misquamicut & Quonochontaug). Roger sailed Beetle Cats, Sunfish, Lasers, windsurfers and assorted dinghies. He still spends a little time every summer at their family’s summer spot. When Roger was a young man in the 1970’s he served in the USCG Reserve (he celebrated his 18th birthday in bootcamp) where he participated in the SF Bay Area’s search and rescue operations.
How did you hear about the educational tall ship Matthew Turner?
Fellow tall ship volunteer, Hal Mooz, who is Roger’s next-door neighbor, enticed him to join the team. Roger initially joined the Matthew Turner team with the idea of building the ship’s LED light fixtures. However, the USCG requires UL approved fixtures, so Roger became involved first with the windlass and later with the propulsion system. He ended up being the chief electrical engineer on site, along with Tripp Hyde, the professional engineer who did the initial design schematics and submitted the plans to the USCG. Roger built the control wiring harness on the propulsion system and helped manage the buildout of the ship’s AC and DC electrical design, helping with changes needed for practicality and spatial considerations. As Roger put it, “the plans and schematics from Tripp Hyde and BAE Systems (the propulsion system vendor) said what but not how”. The final installation must consider the available areas, penetrations, space limitations, etc. to get the right wire to the right place.
How long have you been volunteering with the Matthew Turner?
Since June 2018, Roger has been volunteering full time, but he had been a donor and attended Call of the Sea galas before that. He previously lived in Incline Village, Nevada and had been aware of the project but unable to help on the tall ship until he and his wife Debbie moved back to Marin. They have three sons, two of which are twins, and they have two grandchildren from their oldest son. Roger has a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University and worked for years in Silicon Valley where he designed and engineered microchips for laptops, cell phones and cameras, and even battery management chips for lithium batteries. He says our system is “basically the same stuff just a lot bigger!”
What is your favorite task here, boat-building or otherwise?
Roger said, “Lunch……just kidding”. Mr. Fuller said it was very rewarding to use the windlass that he had wired up and to see the anchors and chain shipped on board with it. He also enjoys creating the CAD drawings and panel layouts, etc. Roger is looking forward to firing up the propulsion system and seeing prop wash under the transom!
Is there anything specific you’ve learned while volunteering here?
Roger said he is learning a lot about the more modern data communications networks and navigation equipment, NEMA 2000 protocols, electronic engine controls, etc.
Do you plan to continue working on boat building after Matthew Turner is complete?
After months of devoting all his time to the tall ship project, with the work mostly complete, he is ready to spend more time with his wife Debbie; however, he expects to stay involved with the Matthew Turner as Chief Electrical Engineer.
Update From Roger:
Roger reported that “since the article was written I have been able to turn on the systems and make prop wash, and I was aboard for the trip to the boatyard – which started with the ship being untied from the dock and leaving under her own power for the first time – very rewarding!”