About Michael

The author in Tuscany 2004

I am a physician, aged 73, who has been retired from the practice of surgery for 14 years. I teach medical students at The USC School of Medicine. I have served on the clinical faculty since 1972 when I finished my surgery training. For the past few years, since retiring from practice, I teach in a program called Introduction to Clinical Medicine or ICM. My interest in medical history was stimulated by these students as I think it important to understand the history of your profession. A few years ago, some students asked me if I would give some lectures on medical history. When I really got into the preparation for a series of lectures, it turned into a book. That book, A Brief History of Disease, Science and Medicine, has sold out its second printing and is now in paperback. The academic presses were not interested in a history that was not written by a PhD in History. As a result, I started my own little publishing company. Small publishing is another interest and the process has been a challenge. Interestingly enough, the university whose press declined to publish the manuscript has recently chosen the book as a textbook.

As part of my interest in medical history, I travel and sometimes give lectures in other countries. I am a member of the Faculty in Medical History of the Apothecaries Society. This society began to grant medical licenses in England in 1835 and was the first such licensing agency. It also offers a diploma program in Medical History that is very popular in Britain. I have been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine for over 30 years and they have an active program in medical history. I am a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, which regrettably, does not have an active history program although that is changing.

My other major interest is sailing and I have spent weeks offshore racing to Mexican ports or to Hawaii. I have not found many sailing blogs but will try to link to some. A long time ago, I looked like this:


That is the trophy for second overall in the 1981 Transpac Race, from Los Angeles to Honolulu.

15 Responses to “About Michael”

  1. Ken Weller says:

    Dear Michael,


    As a friend of the Seaman family and fellow racing sailor in Rhode Island, I crewed on their Cal 40 a number of times, usually the distance races like Newport-Bermuda and the Halifax race. I’ve just now stumbled onto the blog about restoring Conquest, but am not entirely clear as to whether or not you’re the owner. I had to smile when I saw my old bunk (starboard quarter birth) filled with restoration “rubbish”!

    As it happens, I’m wallowing in my own restoration of a very neglected and abused 1965 Graves Constellation (30′), sister of the one I left behind in the States when I relocated to England 17 years ago. I had it shipped over from Lake Norman, North Carolina. The “price was right” (as they say), or so I thought when I bought it sight-unseen! But I love it and my enthusiasm has not flagged. It’s the same design I owned and raced at the time I crewed for Seaman’s.

    I was actually just looking for Avery Jr.’s (Whip’s) personal email address on the web as we’ve not been in touch for many years and we had many wonderful times together in 70s & 80s. In the process I stumbled onto your website. If you have his email, I’d be pleased to know it (I can find Corp Bros., but this is personal).

    If you are the current owner of Conquest, I’d be delighted to have confirmation of that and hear from you.

    Kind regards,

    Ken Weller

  2. It’s nice to hear from you. Unfortunately, I am not the current owner as I discovered, after spending a small fortune (I’m sure you’ve read the instructions on how to make a small fortune), I found I had chronic lung troubles that made it too difficult for me to sail Conquest. I sold her to a nice fellow in San Diego two years ago. I had hoped to do another Transpac but it was not to be.

    The boat is being club-raced in San Diego and the present owner got a fantastic bargain in the deal. I wish I was sitting on her in Mexico right now. I did talk to Whip several years ago but the promised photos never arrived so I think he lost interest. She is gorgeous now and should be good for another 30 years.

  3. Carlo Morato says:

    Dear Michael:

    We are about to begin the restoration of our CAL 40 ‘Odin’. Our main project is repowering with a Yanmar. Can you give us any tips or let us know about any problems that you encounter during your project. They would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you.


  4. The Yanmar requires some adjustment of the engine mounts as the molded mounts are too wide. An Aluminum angle extrusion on each side, as shown in the photos, worked well. Watch the gear ratio as we found that the Yanmar does not come with direct drive at 1:1 ratio. Th V-drive should be 1:1 to adjust for the transmission which may be 1.67:1. The exhaust should be wet but include a back flow valve. The transom will squat when running hard. The 3YM was large and powerful enough to push the boat at hull speed and it fits the space well. We discarded the original engine cover and made a light weight one from 1/8 ” mahogany ply with a Formica cover. For a ladder we used a racing ladder That came with the boat made of tubular steel. We added teak steps to the ladder.

  5. Carlo Morato says:

    When running the 3YM, did you achieve cruising speed well before the engine was maxed at it’s higher RPM. Did you have more throttle, RPM and HP left on the engine to punch through large waves and or bad weather? What was your cruising speed and RPM? Can you advise on the prop you used, or suggest one?Can you send me more pics of the engine work, if you have any? I appreciate all the help that you have given me, I could not decide between the 3YM-39HP and the 4YM-54HP. I don’t like using the engine all the times, but with the Perkins, I could never make it to cruising speed.
    Thank You,

  6. I ran the engine at about 1800 rpm which achieved cruising speed. This was with a Martec prop, which is not all that efficient. When I had a Yankee 38 about 30 years ago and we used to do Mexican races, I would switch the prop for the long run uphill from Cabo San Lucas. I would put a 3 blade fixed prop on for the trip home. The Martec seemed fine for the local cruising I did with the 40. There are photos on the web site. I don’t think I have more. The 3 YM fit well in the engine space. When I bought it, it had a Pathfinder which is a VW diesel with a marine conversion kit. I think it’s about the same power. I had a Pathfinder in my Choate 40 that I took to Hawaii in 1981. The one in the 40 was old and leaking oil.

  7. Carlo Morato says:

    Thanks for the quick response, I will get the 3YM. I am currently also replacing the “beam” with a new stainless steel one, along with all the chain plates. We lost the mast on a Miami to Key Largo race about a year ago and decided to restore “Odin” before getting a new mast. I don’t want to be a nuisance by asking a lot of questions so please, let me know if I become one. I was told that I should add a few more feet to the mast once I get done, any thoughts on that. I am sure I’ll have more questions as we proceed with our restoration. I wonder if you could put me in contact with the new owner of your boat, maybe I can get them to take some measurements and more pictures of the engine and the V-Drive.

  8. I’ve got his name somewhere and I’ll look for it. He is in San Diego and is a retired fireman. The Cal 40 is a very stiff boat but you’ll pay a penalty for the taller mast that may not be worth it. I had a Choate 40 I took to Honolulu in 1981. That boat did not have that tall a rig and I lengthened the mast about four feet. We lost that mast in a rough night offshore and built a new one. I never felt it was worthwhile and wish I’d had the money back. It wound up a three spreader rig and looked good but I don’t think we were faster. There is some Cal 40 class racing here so that was another reason to keep the mast dimensions the same when I had a new mast built. It was a smaller section than the old one but the same dimensions.

  9. Dave says:

    While looking for info re cal 40’s I tripped across your site. Fantastic. It gives me hope that all is not lost. Being originally from Wisconsin the YouTube on hitler / Scott Walker was greatly appreciated. Seeing your reference to Trustee of the Tool Crib caused me to look further at your site. I am mystified by Justice Roberts ruling. The boat I sail is a 33 foot Le Comte Medalist built in 1968. The Cal 40 has always intrigued me.

    Best regards

  10. ala serpa says:

    Hi there great restoration story. Do you still have the boat. Would you ever consider selling it.


  11. I sold it a couple of years ago after I found that I couldn’t handle it. Old age is a bitch. Actually, I finally figure our that I had some health problems. It’s in San Diego now, The new owner wanted me to come down and sail with him but if I could sail it I would have kept it.

  12. Johnny Lanctot says:

    I just read your 2007 drug search post (Sent by Althouse). I thought you would appreciate this story: A friend of mine was entering an AF Base (he’s a AF pilot) after getting his lunch off base to eat on base. He saw they had a dog checking cars at the gate but that was normal so he didn’t think much of it, but then as he got close, he realized he left a loaded 9MM in his glove box. This is a real no-no, and the gate dogs are trained to hit on explosives and such. He was really worried because you just never know how it will play out with a promising career. As he got to the gate, the handler came around to the passenger side and asked if he could let the dog take a look — the door was opened, and the dog promptly grabbed his bag of tacos and started to wolf them down. The handler was very apologetic and was very relieved when my buddy assured him he would not report the incident. Dogs are great, but they are still dogs — especially when they are hungry. Thanks for your service as a doctor. JML

  13. Emily says:

    Hi Michael,

    I help operate a blog for Mystic Seaport, http://mysticseaport.org/stories and after seeing a great article on your site about celestial navigation, http://abriefhistory.org/?p=5624, I thought you might be interested in our newest video, “Celestial Navigation: Finding the Way at Mystic Seaport.” In the years before GPS technology, sailors relied on the sun and stars to find their way home safely. With its collection of 19th-century tools, Mystic Seaport explores the surprisingly precise science of celestial navigation.

    Here is a link to the video: http://stories.mysticseaport.org/celestial-navigation/

    All the videos are share-able and embeddable so that you can post them on your own website if desired. If you would like to receive an email update when a new video is posted, please let me know and I will add you to my alert list.

    Hope you enjoy the video!
    Thank you,

  14. Richard Anderson says:


    I have a web page I created to archive as many docs for Cal boats as I can get and make them available to others. One of the docs I have is an image of a Cal40 Beam drawing, which I believe may have come from you. Anyway, the digital copy of this drawing is hard to read due to the resolution and small print. Is there any chance you still have the paper drawing? Would it be possible to create a higher resolution digital scan of it? Or possibly a physical copy I could use for the archives? I have people asking periodically for these types of drawings, in their endeavor to restore their own Cal’s and just recently had a request for a Cal 40 beam drawing again.

    Thanks so much in advance!

  15. I don’t know if it came from me. Maybe Roger Jones. I don;t know where it might be.

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