A second spring, mayflies and a Trumpy that was once in a Blue Moon
I usually try to keep my letter on an upbeat note, but not this time. I just got off the phone with Kuy of Hilton Head Boat Yard. I asked, “How’s it going with Blue Moon”? “Give me the good news”, his reply was there were a lot of calls and a few that stopped in, but no takers. The Blue Moon was no more. She was crushed and removed from the yard. My heart sank and I felt that knot in my throat, that feeling you get before you cry. Well, I didn’t cry but it was like an old friend had passed.
This boat was truly a work of art, like a fine painting. What a beautifully designed yacht. Of the seven 67.6 footers built, Contract 409, built in 1963 for Richard Reigel, originally named Blue Hen, was the finest of them all. The way her clipper bow sliced the water and her chines helped lift her stern glide was just perfect. There was a built-in wedge in the last two feet. She would cruise at 18 to 22 knots with her 12-71 Diesels just purring. I have been on many a Trumpy and this one was the best.
I had my 50th Birthday party aboard, cruising the Intracoastal. It was a gift from owner Neil Robinson, a true Charleston Southern gentleman. Neil truly enjoyed his time owning the Blue Moon.
This feeling will pass, and I will remember this fine yacht for the rest of my days.
We just sent out the door Dan Bixler’s Capri. What a beautiful boat. She had her bottom retightened and lots of varnish. And the original motor was pulled. Jim Hartman went through the whole motor, a 1960s flathead Chrysler motor that looks and runs like it’s brand new. While out, her bilge got freshened up. When Dan came to pick her up he had the biggest smile. Like a beautiful woman he couldn’t take his eyes off her.
So, this July 17th at Blackbeard’s Landing in New Bern the Piedmont Chapter of ACBS is having its show. Also, Jim Hartman’s 22’ Chris Craft will be in the water sporting her new bottom. There will be Duchess, a 1930 Elco and she is sporting a new keel and bottom, another one of our projects, then there is our old Fay &Bowen built in 1911.
So, what about Chris Steven’s 1952 30’ Chris Craft Privateer? Well, I am hoping to talk him into being at the Wooden Boat Show. She will be sporting her new bottom too! That would be a good showing of projects for a “retired” man!
This spring when the weather in NC was perfect, why was in going to Esbanaba, in upper Michigan? In early May we got a call from our friend Larry Keeler about hauling out Canim at a dry dock. The owner, Marty, asked that I attend each time she’s hauled out and I appreciate his trust.
North Shore Marine is a family-built and -operated industrial shipyard. There aren’t a lot of places that can take on a 96’ 1930s yacht in Michigan and North Shore has a dry dock. So here is this gorgeous antique yacht in a shipyard with a high-speed Navy ship that no one wants to talk about as well as other military and industrial ships and barges.
Nicholas Kopasic is a second-generation shipbuilder who dresses in blue coveralls and runs the company like his father did, with his sleeves rolled up. The shipyard owner, Claude, is not far away. He is a man who has worked hard all his life and although he is “retired” he is there everyday fixing something or driving a crane. He says retirement is for quitters. I feel the same way.
Once CANIM was centered and the pumps started it was like watching paint dry slowly on a cold day. We were in the month of May and it had snowed. Then there was freezing rain and hail. I pulled out all my winter clothes for the trip, clothes I had already put away for the season. II kept telling myself it was going to be “spring” any day now in the UP. After the towers were pumped out, it went a lot faster.
In the days to follow, the weather warmed and then came mayflies, millions of these flies. Not like Maine with black flies that bite. These flies looked more like a mosquito than a fly. As you walked, they would follow you like a black cloud. Larry Keeler even took a video of millions that looked like a small tornado, I am not joking! They were everywhere!
We have all the pilothouse ready for varnish, but every day, as soon as the wind would die, the mayflies would descend on everything.
Finally, in frustration I grabbed a rag, soaked it with mineral spirits and started wiping. I wiped the whole cabin side, not just the varnish but the painted surface and they backed off. I was training flies, kinda funny but it worked.
We did all of our projects and our three coats of varnish for Canim. This was the year of the running gear and the rudder and props were pulled. All bearings were serviced. The rudder had a cutlass bearing in the gudgeon. Somehow it swelled up and froze to the metal shaft. The 1930 Ted Geary is twin engine, but has only one rudder so it gets a lot of backwash from both props. This was honed out and a composite bearing was machined, then installed by the yard crew. They did a lot more and on time.
They seemed a little intimidated with dealing with an antique yacht since this was the first private yacht to ever haul in their yard. They were a little timid at first but this quickly went away with Larry having everyone feeling like a part of the crew in no time.
Job done, I started packing. Larry said, “You can’t leave without paddle boarding down the Ford River”. He had brought all the gear. We were staying in a house that when you walked out the front door, there it was, the Ford River. I wasn’t getting out of it. He pumped it up. I took everything out of my pockets. He and I hopped on this big inflatable board. The air was about 40 degrees and so was the water. I decided to be on my knees as we went up and down the river. It was a great time, now it was 1,300 miles to drive home. Driving South in the Midwest during spring was wonderful. I was enjoying my second spring, that translucent virgin green.
The Canim is truly an amazing and beautiful yacht. The cold fresh waters of the Great Lakes have treated her well and she was now ready for a great summer full of adventure.
As soon as I arrived home, I didn’t even have time to unpack. We wrapped up Capri, a 1960s Chris Craft and when Dan left with his boat, all smiles, I was right behind him. Now I was heading down south to, Lauderdale Marine Center, LMC, in Florida, where we would haul out the River Queen. She is not an easy boat to lift. The boat has a built-out deck that is not part of the hull, so special placement for all the forward straps is required.
It is 7 am, light overcast. The day starts out beautiful. This yard crew is one of the best I have ever worked with. It started out smoothly but was soon interrupted by rain and lightning. We did a start and stop. They did not mind the rain or the mugginess. I was dripping with so much sweat that it dripped off the edges of my shirt.
We were way too booked in North Carolina to send a crew South, but I never leave my clients hanging. So, getting a Florida crew together by pulling some favors, we were ready. After writing the spec for the U. S. Coast Guard, she’s an inspected vessel, and getting the crew up to speed, I hopped into my car and headed back to North Carolina, just 800 more miles to go.
We have two more projects almost ready for launch. The Privateer, a 30’ Chris Craft, will have her new bottom. On Top Priority, a 50’ Chris Craft, we rebuilt her shaft logs and lined her running gear. Top Priority’s owner, Rob Toth, has been a patient man. Now she is ready for her journey home to Lake Michigan. He has become a real friend.
As for Honey Fitz, she is really coming along. I had to swing by to see how everyone was doing on the project since I was already in South Florida. Her structural work was complete and my involvement ended. Every chance I get when in Florida, I will be stopping in to say “Hi” to this great crew. I have a special fondness for the Fitz and I always will.
Last, I will be heading out on another adventure real soon so I will have plenty more to share.
Until next time,