Uncle Newman. Darby sank his first boat at age 12. Not a surprising feat for a young boy. Until you consider that he also built it! And while most would chalk it up as simple bad luck, for Newman it was the siren’s call. Moreover, it began a lifelong affair with boat design, construction, and invention.
Newman Darby was born on January 21, 1928 in the borough of West Pittston, Pennsylvania. He showed a passion for boating at a young age. And this passion was fueled by family jaunts down the Susquehanna River and vacations on the Chesapeake Bay, Newman’s interest only grew. At the age of 14, he built another boat… and this time it worked.
By 25, Newman was working as a commercial sign painter and artist pursuing boat building in his free time. That year, in 1953, he mastered his first invention, a folding rowboat called the Darby Dory. He continued to tinker and fine-tune, focusing largely on innovating his personal pontoon catamaran. And innovate he did. Drawing back on discoveries he made as a teenager, Newman operated his boat with a hand-held sail instead of a rudder.