The Schooner Curlew Crew

Captain Robert A. Harrison, Jr., (Bob)

Owning and operating Curlew has proven to be the highlight of some forty years of boating. A traditional plank on frame racing schooner she is like no other sailboat I have ever experienced. With her graceful Alden lines she is a beauty to behold from a distance, but even that pales to the experience of feeling her cut through the waves as she responds to the gentle winds off Dana Point. Then there is something about the wood/water/wind connection that provides a grounding, a connectedness, or oneness, with nature. So I invite you to journey with me and explore all that a day on the ocean can provide.

Matt Holkey (First Mate)

Matt grew up in Dana Point and loves being on the ocean. He loves all water sports. Boating, surfing, paddling, fishing and free diving. He is a USCG Captain, as well as being well experienced in California waters, he also been to Alaska, Baja peninsula, Caribbean, Indian ocean and the Atlantic. Matt is a retired firefighter/paramedic and now enjoys even more time on the water. Matt says sailing the historic Schooner curlew is a pure joy. The way this historic wooden ship moves through the water is truly unique and a sailing pleasure. “Being a part of this crew is great. We are all great friends and really enjoy sailing on the Curlew”

Steve VandenBerg

Steve learned to sail as a young teen on Lake Michigan but spent most of his younger days diving, surfing, and sailing (Hobie Cats and Sailboards) in San Diego.  Upon graduating college, he joined the United States Navy and served for 4 years, the majority of which was spent assigned to the USS Cook (FF-1083) as Assistant Supply Officer.  He is a USCG licensed Captain and has completed many coastal passages including sailing to the Cape (Cabo San Lucas) and onto La Paz, Mexico and back.  When not sailing on Curlew, it’s likely you will find Steve coastal cruising with his wife Brenda on their boat Pantera.


Terry Dahm

I’m an ex Navy tin can sailor from the Vietnam War era. My first ocean sailing experience was a trip to Santa Cruz Island back in 1989. Since then I have done 12 Newport to Ensenada races and numerous other races up and down the coast as well as cruises to all the Channel Islands except San Nicolas. My longest blue water cruise, other than crossing the Pacific three times on a Navy frigate, was a trip from Suva, Fiji to Bay of Islands, New Zealand. Crewing aboard the schooner CURLEW is definitely a high point in my sailing life.

Greg McDowell

Greg began his recreational sailing career after high school.  He has taken many courses through the Orange Coast College School of Sailing & Seamanship.  After retiring as an electrician, Greg received his U.S. Coast Guard Captain’s license in 2018.  Greg has cruised the British Virgin Islands, the Caribbean and Tahiti.  Currently, he and his wife enjoy sailing their Pacific Seacraft 32, Amazing Grace, out of Dana Point Harbor.   When he’s not cruising his own boat, Greg enjoys being part of the Curlew crew.

Richard Niederecker

With some fifteen years under his belt on the decks of Curlew, Richie has proven to be a valuable team player and a hit with fellow crew mates and passengers alike. Richie grew up sailing on his families Coronado 34, and was still a teenager when he first soloed it to Catalina.

Crystal Stoey

Crystal brings over 30 years of sailing experience to the crew of Curlew. She first learned to sail in the waters off of the coast of Maine. She has lived on both the east and west coasts, which has allowed her to own boats on both coasts and sail the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. She has taken several courses on sailing as well as coastal navigation courses. Prior to joining the Curlew crew she was a crew member on the charter boat “Spirit” in Dana Point. She enjoys sailing over to Catalina Island and chartering in the British Virgin Islands.

Ed Benz

Ed is a retired general contractor who likes to fill his days with sailing. Introduced to sailing in Newport Harbor 1946, Ed has continued to race and day sail in Southern California and Mexican waters whenever possible. Most notable voyage prior to joining the crew of Curlew was sailing the entire distance from Panama to Newport Beach, that’s about 2,900 miles as the crow flies.


I have always loved the ocean ever since I was little including snorkeling, exploring, surfing, and swimming. I started sailing about 4 years ago on small 14 foot sailboats and gradually made my way onto bigger boats. I have taken several classes including Basic Safety Training and Coastal Navigation. Currently, I am really interested in becoming licensed to drive a boat and eventually be able to travel the world.

Nikki Nelson

Nikki grew up in Dana Point Yacht Club‘s junior sailing team. She finds that she has the most fun out on the ocean, especially sailing to Catalina with her dad. Recently, she moved back to San Clemente from Malibu. When not on Curlew she’s producing commercials, surfing at San Onofre or working on her 1972 VW bus.