The Astor set sail with a fine crew:
Captain and Admiral
Richard & Lani Straman
Born in Chicago Ill. Richard studied for 6 years at IIT's Institute of Design. Upon completing his studies, he opened a restoration shop and sailed on Lake Michigan racing Albacores. In 1970 he packed up and moved to California so he could sail year round. He opened R. Straman Co Automobile Restoration & Coachbuilding and over the years moved more into the design portion, restoring only his own personal cars including many French Classics and their '38 Bentley winning several Pebble Beach Concours'. The design portion of the business flourished.
In the 1970 when Detroit stopped making convertibles, Richard started building Camaros, Firebirds, Honda CRX's, Cadillac Eldorados, as well as Ferrari's, Mercedes Benz, and Rolls Royce. R. Straman Co. also built prototypes for many automobile manufacturers including General Motors, Honda, Mitsubishi and more.
Richard & Lani met in the early '70's while restoring her '38 Bentley and were married in 1976. Mariah was born in 1981 and 10 months later they sold the '38 Bentley and bought a charming Spanish house on the Newport Pennisula near the Newport Harbor Yacht Club. Later he bought back that '38 Bentley as a gift for their 10th Wedding Aniversary.
Throughout all of this he continued to sail as much as possible. He owned many boats including a Schock 25, Columbia 27, PC - the first woooden boat, and 56 foot Alden Cutter built in 1930. Though he owned all of these boats he always said "I'm going to own a big schooner someday" and he always looked at every available schooner. In 1987 a small ad appeared in a small sailing rag listing ASTOR for sale. One hour after touring it and offer was made and accepted and ASTOR moved to Newport Beach. Although she was cosmetically down she was structurally very sound.
Thus, the restoration began. Richard loved nothing more than working on ASTOR. Although we worked on her a lot, ASTOR was probably the most active sailing yacht in Newport Beach as she raced actively and cruised hundreds of times to Catalina Island. In 1989 Richard joined the Newport Harbor Yacht Club where he was able to meet other sailors as most of his aquaintances previously had been in the automotive world.
ASTOR's crew list now included some of the best sailors in the area and ASTOR won many local races including 5 consecutive victories in the KKIYC Schooner Cup and many first in the NHRC Opening Day Races. After cruising to San Francisco for 2 1/2 months in 1997, Richard ordered new teak for ASTOR's decks. Working 10 hours a day, 7 days aweek for 7 months ASTOR's decks were completed and final preparations could be started for sailing her home to Australia where she spent the first 45 years of her life.
Lani was born & raised in San Bernardino Calif. as Lani Smiley. I fullfilled my childhood dream and became a Registered Nurse. I began sewing when I was 10 and continue to sew to this day. My dad & I loved cars and in 1970 I bought a '38 Bentley. I moved to Newport Beach soon after and met Richard when I had some work done on it. He introduced me to sailing while we worked on my Bentley. We were married in 1976. We restored and won Pebble Beach and many other concours with our '38 Bentley. I continued to work as a nurse in the operating room and recovery room until Mariah was born in 1981. In 1982 I began voluntering on the Newport Beach Concours Committee. I worked on that annual event until through 1999. During much of this time we owned and restored a 50 foot 1930 Alden cutter as sailing was very much our hobby and cars our business. We bought ASTOR in 1987 when Mariah was just 5 years old.
Buying ASTOR changed our lives. We loved sailing and working on her and always hoped to sail away some day. In 1997 we sailed to San Francisco for the summer spending 2 1/2 months aboard. We had a wonderful time and did not want to come home. We decided to start final preparations for departure once Mariah finished Newport Harbor High School. It was hard to sell the house that we owned for 18 years and close our 30 year old Automobile Design business not to mention leave our family and friends but it had to be done. After all we are not getting younger.
So far I just love it!!!