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Letters: My Friend Graham Byrnes
Salute to a friendship
May 26, 2023

raham Byrnes is on a circumnavigation around Pamlico Sound, raising money for Rock Steady Boxing – a boxing-based fitness program for Parkinson’s patients. Oriental resident, boatbuilder, designer, and woodworker Tom Lathrop writes in:
I was glad to see the stories in TownDock.net about Graham.  He gave a talk about a Pamlico group building a 20’ catamaran to race in the Ft Lauderdale to Virginia Beach ocean race in Winter 1988.  I was busy building a retirement home for Liz and me but could not miss an opportunity to take part in such an effort.  I volunteered and quickly made a day home at Graham and Carla’s in Vandemere so the house would have to wait for a few months.

Tom Lathrop and Graham Byrnes sailing together in 2008.
My engineering training and woodworking skills were a great fit for this project.  It quickly became a consuming effort for our team with the boat being finished and loaded on a trailer, pulled by our campervan at the last minute, to make it in time for the start on the beach in Ft Lauderdale. 

Graham is a great designer of boats that I am fortunate to have been associated with for building many boats over the years.  Our ideas about boat design are closely matched so we have enjoyed a close relationship for these years.  I have designed a fleet of small cruising powerboats that have found builders and cruisers around the world, including LIZ which is the boat now owned by TownDock.net and used by Keith in taking all the great pictures you see every day. While Graham’s focus has been mostly with sailboats, he had many successful ventures into powerboat design later.

Motor Vessel LIZ (named for Tom’s bride Liz).

Graham and his partners in the shop near Vandemere still produce and market designs and building kits that attract a broad range of buyers and builders.  Parkinson’s has definitely caused life changes but he still finds time and interest in using his skills to get on our local waters for pleasure and to promote worthy causes such as the one he now undertakes.  Pamlico County is privileged to have citizens such as Graham who contribute to our well being and he is certainly one of those that I am proud to know.

Tom Lathrop
Oriental, NC
May 26, 2023

Sailing for Parkinson’s
Graham’s fundraiser page

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