Don Street Stories: It's a miracle he ever got published!

The Don Street article started at the Annapolis Sailboat Show in 2011. I met SAIL’s editor, Peter Nielsen, at a World Cruising Club party. We started discussing Don Street. I was adamant that despite his age, he was still relevant to my younger generation of ‘real’ sailors. He sometimes talked in ancient terms, referencing long-ago obsolete technology. But the substance was still at the core. Street speaks in sailing Truths – it’s just a matter of wading through the history to uncover them.

I started writing this piece the following February. Street himself was cooperative, sending me pages and pages of personal histories he’s either written or had written about him. Wading through his emails, I began to understand why Peter had said nobody will accept his work anymore – he writes in one long run-on sentence, and is apparently oblivious to capitalization and punctuation. 

“It’s always been that way,” Peter explained. “One editor after another tackled his work, and one after another just got burned out on it.”

It’s a wonder he was ever published in the first place. And yet, there is passion in his work. The Truth is in there, always has been, and it’s thanks to his many editors over the years that it’s now out there for all of us.

After a year of researching, writing and re-writing, I realized I was never going to properly finish the article until I spoke at length with Street himself. I finally had that opportunity in October, again at the Annapolis Sailboat Show. I met Street in his small apartment upstairs of Weems & Plath, where Peter Trogdon, enthusiastic owner of the classic nautical instruments company, hosts him every year.

“He’s a legend,” says Trogdon, “of course I’m going to have him here!”

We sat down at a round table – when I arrived, Street made me wait a few minutes while he finished making corrections to one of the Imray-Iolaire charts – and chatted for over an hour-and-a-half.