Eight Bells: Bubbles Shattuck

Published on October 9th, 2019

Bubbles Shattuck

The world of sailing, and the world in general, lost one of its great ones with the passing of Robert F. (Bubbles) Shattuck of Oxford, MD on October 4, 2019.

Robert was born on Valentine’s Day (fittingly) in 1937 to Wilfred C. Shattuck and Julia Emma Salas Shattuck. He and his sister, the late Beatrice Shattuck Bissell, grew up in Old Greenwich, CT. He was educated at Kent School (Kent, CT) and at Colby College (Waterville, ME).

He then began a 39-year career teaching mathematics and coaching a variety of sports at the Harvey School (Katonah, NY), at Trinity School (New York, NY), and for the last six years of his career, at the Country School (Easton, MD). He retired in 1999.

Bubbles was bigger than life. As a mutual sailing friend said upon hearing of his death, “He was the Hoss Cartwright of sailing.” He would have liked that description. Big man. Big heart. Loved by one and all.

He began his sailing life at Rocky Point Club (Old Greenwich, CT), where the club’s founder suggested, “Let’s call Bobby Bubbles.” Despite trying to shed the name several times, it became his sobriquet for life.

As a junior he sailed a Moth and a Blue Jay, both built by his neighbor and lifelong friend, Skip Etchells. Success came early, winning the Long Island Sound Midget Championships in 1951 and being part of the winning Sears Cup team that same year.

As an adult he sailed his Etchells (Serafina #45) out of American Yacht Club (Rye, NY) where he won multiple trophies, including winning his class at Larchmont Race Week five times and finishing third in the Etchells North American Championship in 1977. At one point, he sailed Serafina from Rye to Shelter Island solo to compete in an Etchells event.

Just when it appeared he would be a bachelor for life, he met Candace Doyle. He was set up by his crew, Drake Sparkman, who worked with Candace at Ogilvy & Mather. As the saying goes, “That’s all she wrote.”

He had met the love of his life, his best friend and soulmate. They married shortly thereafter and soon came the other great love of his life, daughter Sarah, of whom he was immensely proud. Two summers ago, he danced up a storm at his daughter’s wedding. His first granddaughter is due in November.

No one loved sailing more than Bubbles. I think he sailed his Etchells out of American virtually every day, a tradition that continued with his Sonar year round when he moved to Oxford and joined the Tred Avon Yacht Club. Often he was joined by Candace or Sarah, or he would singlehand it.

Bubbles was competitive at everything. Our crew had many games of roofball with his crew at Block Island Race Week, where Bubbles would make up the rules as he went along, and was not afraid to change them midstream. Another time I remember playing a game of Monopoly with his best friend, Bill Lynn Sr.

Bubbles was the banker and Bill was the real estate agent. It took me awhile to realize that Bubbles had all the money and Bill the real estate. They failed to tell me that cheating was all part of the game.

Bubbles enjoyed telling old stories, making jokes, giving people a hard time, and laughing. He cared greatly for people and made friends wherever he went. He wished for the world to be a more peaceful and inclusive place. He brightened many lives over the course of the years, and will be sorely missed.

A memorial service will be held Sunday, Oct. 13, at 1 p.m. at Third Haven Friends Meeting (Quaker), 405 South Washington Street in Easton, MD. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be sent to Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB), whose mission is to bring the thrill and freedom of sailing to people with disabilities, recovering warriors, and local youth from at-risk neighborhoods.

Goodbye, old friend. I will miss you terribly. As you always said, “Sail fast and look to windward.” – Bill Sandberg

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