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Episode #74: Alan Olson on Building Tall Ships

This week’s host, Moe Roddy, is joined by Alan Olson to chat a lifetime of thrills on and off the water. Alan is the Project Director for the Bay Area’s brigantine Matthew Turner. He built his first boat at age 22, has over 60 years of maritime experience in construction and sailing, and won the 2018 Leadership Award from Tall Ships America.

Hear what goes into building a tall ship, how to sail from Minnesota to the Caribbean, abandon ship, dodge hurricanes and winter, and Alan’s five years at a Buddhist monastery. This episode covers everything from tall ships to sailing down the Mississippi.


Here’s a small sample of what you will hear in this episode:

  • What kind of horses did Alan’s family ride?
  • How did Alan get into sailing?
  • What brought him to California?
  • How big was Stone Witch?
  • What is a brigantine?
  • Why did Alan join a Buddhist monastery?
  • How many hours did it take to build Matthew Turner?
  • Short Tacks: What’s the best gift Alan’s ever received?

Learn more about Alan and Matthew Turner at

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and your other favorite podcast spots – follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re feeling the Good Jibes!

Check out the episode and show notes below for much more detail.

Show Notes

  • Alan Olson on Building Tall Ships
    • [0:22] Welcome to Good Jibes with Latitude 38
    • [0:28] Moe Roddy
    • [0:49] Subscribe to Latitude 38 at
    • [1:01] Learn more about Alan and Matthew Turner at
    • [1:32] Where did Alan grow up?
    • [2:51] What kind of horses did they ride?
    • [3:42] Did everybody ride in his family?
    • [4:13] How did he get into sailing?
    • [7:15] How was Hawaii as a kid?
    • [11:47] What brought Alan to California?
    • [13:32] How big was Stone Witch?
    • [15:16] Has Alan ever had a scary moment on a boat?
    • [16:15] What is a brigantine?
    • [17:00] Where else did Alan sail?
    • [19:53] Did you know every month you can get your copy of Latitude 38 delivered directly to your mailbox? Subscribe at
    • Stone Witch, Maramel, and Matthew Turner
    • [21:00] Where did Alan find Maramel?
    • [23:28] How did they raise Stone Witch out?
    • [30:42] Why did Alan join a Buddhist monastery?
    • [35:44] Call of the Sea
    • [36:26] How did Alan build the Matthew Turner?
    • [38:50] How many hours did it take to build it?
    • [39:19] What’s next for the Matthew Turner?
    • [41:29] Sign up for the Latitude 38 Crew List and get on the water with some new friends
    • Short Tacks
    • [41:58] What’s Alan’s favorite place to sail?
    • [43:12] Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana
    • [43:32] Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer
    • [44:42] Check out the Latitude 38 Bookstore here for books recommended by Good Jibes guests
    • [45:14] If Alan could have coffee with anyone, who would it be?
    • [45:42] Around the Horn in a Square Rigger
    • [46:04] Who has influenced Alan the most in his life?
    • [46:34] What’s the best gift he’s ever received?
    • [47:14] If he could time travel, what year would he go back to?
    • [47:42] Elvis
    • [48:18] What question does Alan wish Moe asked him?
    • [51:08] Learn more about Alan and Matthew Turner at
    • [51:28] Make sure to follow Good Jibes with Latitude 38 on your favorite podcast spot and leave us a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts
    • [51:34] Got a great sailing story to submit? Do so at [email protected]
    • [51:44] Subscribe to Latitude 38 at
    • [51:50] Email [email protected] to advertise on this podcast or in Latitude 38 sailing magazine
    • [51:55] Check out the January 2023 issue of Latitude 38
    • Theme Song: Pineapple Dream by SOLXIS

Thanks for listening to Alan Olson & Moe Roddy on Good Jibes with Latitude 38. Subscribe here to receive Latitude 38 to your home each month.

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