"Jenny Clark" Makes A Splash and Tales From Wisconsin
It seems that 2018 is moving at quite a clip, I blinked and now it’s March. On Wednesday, February 28th, we officially launched “Jenny Clark.” It was like waking “Sleeping Beauty.” She has been in the shed waiting for spring. I am very proud of how beautiful she is – from the major bottom refit to stripping, splining, and painting her hull, and to a major system redo. We installed both a bow thruster, but more impressively a stern thruster that is a water-jet design. WOW does that thing work! It is the coolest thing, and quiet for this sized yacht – it is perfect. We also installed an Arid Bilge vacuum pump system and dripless stuffing boxes.
Looking back, the owner kept asking if we could install a stern thruster. At first I was against it, saying there just wasn’t any room. Going to Ocean Reef’s Vintage 2016 Weekend changed my mind. Our friends from Michigan, Tim & Tammy Pearl, invited us aboard his new (old) boat. “I want to show you something,” he said as he flipped a switch. His little 30’ cabin cruiser lit up and he told us to hold on. His boat pulled away from the dock and the loose line snapped tight – he was right to tell me to hang on! And then the light bulb in my mind went off and Jenny Clark’s stern thruster problem was solved thanks to Tim.
When the bottle of champagne finally cracked over her bow that Wednesday, every one of our team had that look of pride, proud of being a part of this great project and of their role in it. With the “Jenny Clark” dressed in flags and being lowered into the water everyone had a big smile. This is why we do what we do. Stephanie did the honors of re-christening her at the launch. To make sure the bottle cracked on the first try, she gave the bottle a vigorous shake. When it shattered, she got doused by the bubbly. Our smiles turned to laughter with jokes that she better drive carefully going home because she’d have some explaining to do if the police pulled her over.
Earlier, Margaret and I took a trip up to Green Bay, WI for a family get-together. It is an annual tradition that has been happening for over 100 years now. It has been held at her father’s house for many years now, and the family comes from far and wide.
We got there a day early on a long weekend and Margaret asked if there was anything I wanted to do. I told her that I did, I wanted to go to Algoma and see the “Elizabeth” and see what was going on with her. Besides, there is a store that sells smoked fish and I love smoked salmon, trout, and herring. They had it all! Driving to Door County, north of Green Bay, we passed an old barn on the beautiful drive with a glance out of the corner of my eye. I pulled off the road and made a turn. Margaret didn’t even have to ask. I had passed this same barn last year and had seen the bow of a lap strake power boat.
Trespassing through the snow with camera in hand, I had to see this barn find! This was the real deal – and I was hoping to not get shot. I moved carefully. It was 16’ Cruisers, Inc. with an Evinrude motor. Seeing the flat tires rotted in the dirt and the amount of dust on her I knew she has been there for quite a while. When I got back in the car Margaret finally admitted she had seen the boat peeking out of the barn as we passed it and was wondering if I had as well.
Finally making it to Algoma and finding “Elizabeth” I saw she was still uncovered and slipping away toward the abyss. The 1930’s Mathis is a ghost of what she once was. Climbing aboard I had to be careful of where to step for fear of falling through. My eyes followed every line of her interior cabinetry in just how perfect everything must have been. Her original motors were still sitting in place. I imagined she was quite the looker in her day – and with her narrow hull, fast! We drove away with our bag full of smoked fish headed to the Zehren clan’s party.
Back in North Carolina three Trumpy yachts had arrived in town for work by their respective owners and crews. “Celebration” Contract 415, originally named “Polaris”, 1964 built for Ben Tobin and owned by Steve Smith; “Broadview”, Contract 385, built for John Rich, 1958, original name “Shelly Kay VI” and now owned by Bobbie and Donovan Rankin - she is spending the winter down here; and finally “Windrush”, once owned by Bill and Connie Idler. After Bill’s recent passing the yacht has been in limbo and sitting in Belhaven, NC, waiting for someone…or something? Recently Steve Weeks, a prominent lawyer in Beaufort, N.C., went into partnership with Connie on “Windrush.” She is currently hauled out, and hopefully things are about to begin. While these boats aren’t our projects, it’s great to see that Beaufort, N.C., has become “Trumpy Central” of sorts.
Recently I have seen two wooden yachts that haven’t been hauled out in years. Even if the worms haven’t eaten out the bottoms, there is another enemy of wooden boats called “water wash.” This is when unpainted softwood starts to wash away. Mahogany, fir, and cedar become soaked with water and the water-softened wood splinters off and washes away. The longer the unprotected wood soaks, more damage is done. Eventually, the wood resembles a sandblasted surface.
I’ve heard it said many a time and it’s true. “The cheapest thing on a wooden boat is the bottom paint.” Just because your yacht sits in fresh water doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be hauled, checked, and have her bottom repainted every 12-18 months. It just makes good sense.
A while back I was writing about working on the design of a boat – not any boat – but the boat of my dreams. I would wake in the middle of the night and actually draw what I have seen in my dreams. These little scratches on paper were starting to accumulate and I decided it was time to do something. If this is going to be built in North Carolina it needs to be designed here as well.
After talking to some local boatbuilders I was pointed in the direction of B & B Yacht Design in Bayboro. After a lengthy conversation with them I went to meet Graham & Alan. Now, Bayboro is not really a city – it is more like a strip mall with a few scattered houses, trailers, and farms.
In these modern times I have my trusty iPhone and I talk to Siri on a regular basis. After wandering down one rural road after another Siri told me to turn right. I stopped because there was only an old logging road that looked more like a deer trial. I decided to try going to the next right. I did and the road just kept going, and going, and going. As I finally came around a corner, there in a field, sat two barns and a house on stilts in a beautiful cove – I could see why Graham had picked this remote location.
I figured that this was it – or I was going to get shot. I decided to take my chances, and as I was pulling up Alan came out to greet me. I breathed in a sigh of relief and then let out about 40 years’ worth of ideas and dreams. Graham was busy, so I started laying out my scraps of paper. I had a ½ model, some plans, and a cover from Harper’s Bazaar from 1886. “She has to be fast, beautiful, and sexy.” Alan just looked at me like he had finally heard it all. “I am serious, sexy like when a beautiful woman walks into a room and everybody stops talking and admires her,” I said. “When this boat crosses the harbor, I want to stop people in their tracks.”
We are working on two different designs: a 27’ and 50’. The first ones will be cold-molded. So, what will she look like you ask? This boat will be a tip of my hat to the many great designers of the past: Garwood, Herreshoff, John Wells of Consolidated, and NY Yacht & Launch Motor Company. She is going to fly, going up to 40 or 50mph. The design, inspired by the great classic yet modern in technology, all in the same breath. This boat is all that I have dreamed of and now that we are getting closer I will share a small sneak peek.
Until next time,