April 8, 2002
Floating donation puts wind in UCSC's sails
By Louise Donahue
When Peter C. Adams was a biology major at UCSC, he occasionally left his books behind
and sailed off into Monterey Bay, courtesy of the campus Boating Center. Now, as
a successful entrepreneur, he is returning the favor.
And what a favor it is. Thanks to Adams, the UCSC community Boating Center is now
the proud owner of the 44-foot Zayante, a 1965 Alden Pearson Countess Ketch.
|Peter C. Adams, left, has given the 44-foot Zayante, above and below, to
UCSC's Boating Center. The center's director, Phil Vandenberg, is at right.
Photos: Above, Rusty Kingon; below, Phil Vandenberg
The Boating Center has received donations of other vessels, said center director
Phil Vandenberg, but never one so large--and rarely one in mint condition--as is
"It just seemed like a natural thing to do," said Adams, a 1983 Crown College
alum who now owns his fourth company, Lighthouse Information Systems, in Scotts Valley.
"Lighthouse works with startup and entrepreneurial businesses to accelerate
their success," Adams said. "We take on the complete responsibility for
IT, which allows our clients to focus their scarce management time, talent, and attention
on getting product to market."
The Zayante takes its place as the grandest of a small fleet of sailboats
owned by the Boating Center and available to students and others taking sailing classes.
Members of the campus community and the general public who have taken the necessary
sailing classes may rent various vessels to sail around the bay, Vandenberg said.
While specific uses for the boat haven't yet been decided, "there are a myriad
of possibilities," he said. In addition to sailing classes and Sailing Club
trips, small campus groups may be taken out on special occasions or for whale-watching,
The gift will greatly expand the Sailing Club's range; members must now stay where
they can be seen from the Santa Cruz harbor mouth. With the Zayante, trips
to Monterey, which would take about three hours, are a possibility.
Adams said he doesn't consider himself a major philanthropist and that the late-December
donation of the Zayante, valued at about $125,000, is his largest charitable
gift ever. He and his wife, Karen, a manager of online services at Caldera (formerly
The Santa Cruz Operation) each help two causes. His
are education and public radio.
Sailing is not only Adams's hobby, it brought the couple together. "She and
I met when I was working in Florida and living on a sailboat," he said. "We
both moved back here semi-independently and then married a few years later."
Several factors played a role in his decision to donate the boat. He likes what the
boating center does for students, the way the boats are kept, and the fact that the
Zayante will be used by the center, and not sold for cash. "They genuinely
appreciate the gift," Adams said. He is also impressed with Vandenberg. Now
in his 30th year at UCSC, Vandenberg knows his way around the Pacific, having raced
sailboats to Hawaii 11 times.
Adams met Vandenberg in 2001 aboard the Zayante, and told him later that "it
was clear to me that you would appreciate her--I wanted her to go to a good home
that would take care of her, use her, and maintain her."
The majority of the boating center's funding comes from California Department of
Waterway grants and private donations--either monetary or in-kind--rather than university
funds, Vandenberg said. "We do everything we can to be self-supporting."
The Adamses had bought Zayante 10 years ago and rebuilt much of it with the
idea of spending a few years sailing around. They had sold their house and were getting
ready to go when they found out Karen was pregnant with their oldest son, Ross.
The news changed everything. Since then their sailing has been more limited, with
occasional visits to the Florida Keys to sail as their family grew again with the
addition of another son, James, now 5.
"Business got so busy three years ago and remains that way and, as such, we
didn't use the boat as much as we would have liked," Adams explained.
"I'm very much a Florida sailor," used to calm seas, he said. "I wasn't
used to this bouncy stuff," he said of Monterey Bay. In fact sailing in the
water off Santa Cruz tends to make him seasick.
He's happy his Zayante has found a home where it can be enjoyed. "It's
a boat that's basically set up and capable of going around the world, and I'm not
going to do that."
Adams likes having the boat nearby, with an on-board caretaker, and visits a couple
of times a week to talk to Vandenberg or drop something off. "I'm still finding
little things around the house that belong on the boat."
His willingness to part with the Zayante reflects his satisfaction with UCSC.
Although he doesn't use his science background directly in his work, he feels UCSC
gave him a true education. "I got a great education there in biology and chemistry,
but what I really learned was how to think. A lot of other places are about memorization,
and UCSC is about embodied learning."
The small classes, teacher interaction, and opportunities for undergraduate research
"are unheard of at other institutions," Adams said.
"It's important that people learn how to think, and UCSC excels at that."
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