We keep legends alive, big and small
For decades, the front of our t-shirts have been emblazoned with the company motto “We keep legends alive.” It’s not some catchy marketing slogan. It’s our mission. It’s what we do and what we’re all about.
Some of our projects have been truly historic, legendary yachts that hosted presidents of countries and captains of American industry. But just as meaningful are the boats that are part of family lore and traditions.
Last year, we refit a Chris Craft Commander, “Pathfinder,” that was in one family for three generations. Now, we are bringing back to life a 25’ Trojan “Sootz-US,” pronounced “Suits Us,” that will be used for a September wedding by Kristi-anna Finertie and Kris Sherer.
The Trojan used to belong to Finertie’s father, Ken. Back in 1996, in Delran, N.J, he and two childhood friends, Bob and Al, picked the boat out of a junkyard and restored it over three years. The two friends have since passed away. Finertie’s parents retired and now live in North Carolina.
The “Sootz-US,” became a part of birthday tradition. Every year on her birthday Kristi-anna would go on cruise with her father on the boat. Two years ago, the boat was rather sluggish. It was slowly sinking because the bottom was shot. A tarp protecting the top of the vessel was funneling water to the bottom.
I have never seen a bottom constructed like this, lots of fore and aft stringers and all the ribs are floaters. This is interesting. Cold-molding has worked perfectly. I’m not talking a Trumpy or a 1926 triple cockpit Garwood or Chris-craft, but for a boat built in the 1960’s. This method is a fast and affordable way to save these boats. It stabilizes the boat, making the bottom strong and helps the rest of it to stabilize the deck and topsides too! Done right it is easily a 40 year bottom!
“I know how hard my dad work on it. They just had it in his backyard. We kept asking if he planned on getting it fixed. What he was going to do. He’s 82. He couldn’t do as much as he could before and he offered it us,” she said. “We took it so we could bring it back to life again.”
Instead of a wedding getaway car, the send off to a new married life will be on the Trojan. And the tradition of birthday cruises can resume.
Spring is finally here, and it was a pretty good winter here in North Carolina. I love the spring – the cool mornings, sweatshirt days, and the smell of the world waking up makes me feel like a kid again.
Margaret and I have a new house in town and we have been working on it for quite a while. I said I would never – yes never – restore another house. Well, I lied to myself. We looked at houses until I found one in town, but still off the beaten path. Like grandma’s house in the woods. The floor was a little soft in the living room and it still had the granny wallpaper and tiny windows that needed changing.
When we removed the wallpaper to find cheap paneling. Then we removed that to find there was no insulation. So it went. One nice thing is that the house is actually two little houses, both with their own kitchen, laundry, and bathrooms. One of them is 900 square feet and the other 700 square feet – our main and guest house.
Now it is cedar shingles and picture windows and white trim, kind of New England. Then Margaret said (VERY dangerous words), “Well, since we are putting new floors let’s move this wall, and that one too!” It’s still not done but is quite a bit closer. We have moved in since and are loving it. Margaret has coined it as our Trumpy cottage in the woods.
We did have to beef up the floors in the living room for Margaret’s baby grand piano. We have had to move it everywhere we lived, and it now fits perfect here. I hope it will be here for a long time because it’s a bear to move but it’s special to Margaret since it’s been in her family for three generations.
Years ago I bought a container of bangkirai wooden decking from Indonesia and had some saved just for a special project, and this was the occasion! The house is like a small yacht (with two galleys) and the deck will be our back deck, just a little bigger. It feels like home.
There are several wooden boat shows coming up in the next few months. One that we’ll be attending for sure is the 44th Annual Wooden Boat Show that is put on by the North Carolina Maritime Museum on May 5th. I am a member of the “Friends of the Museum”, so when they asked me to help, I dove in head first. I go to many of these shows and have some idea of what works and what doesn’t.
Moores Marine made a trophy for the show. It’s tall, silver, chromed, and mahogany. It will be awarded to Best in Show, a perpetual trophy. I also found a bronze Viking boat model to make another trophy. Jim Brinkley, a volunteer at the museum, did a great job of making the base. That trophy is named the Wanderers Award – it is for the boat or yacht that traveled the longest distance by water or has the greatest story.
We will be doing more permanent trophies, and each will be handmade and unique. This is a great and fun show to attend, and by winning, your name will be immortalized! Maybe just a little over the top, but how about bragging rights in perpetuity?
The show has a kick-off party "Wings and Rings" on Friday, May 4, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Watercraft Center on Front Street Friends. Admission is $10 and includes live music and should be a good time.
Since we are on the subject of boat shows, I have one last story. It is about one of the boats we put a new bottom in, “Doc Kelly”: a 17’ Simmons Sea Skiff. On a whim I asked the owner, Chuck Nichols, if he wanted to attend a wooden boat show to showcase her. It was the Cape Fear Community College Boat Show in Wilmington, NC. Chuck said he did, so he sent in the entry form and we formed a plan to meet up.
I got up early the next morning, before sunrise, and hooked the boat to my truck and off I went. I drove about 2 ½ hours to Wilmington and located where the show was being held. I was lead through a small gate and as I started to back into an open spot someone yelled out, “That’s Jerry’s spot!” I didn’t make much of a fuss, but looked at the guy directing us with a face that said, “Please don’t stick us in the backwoods next to the dumpster.” He must have read the look on my face well and actually put the “Doc Kelly” right in the middle of the show!
Even though a lot of people didn’t show due to the fear of rain, there was still an nice turn out and all of them came by and admired Chuck’s little boat at one time or another. We were quite pleased when even the head of the Simmons Owners Club came by to peek at it.
He said that the center console being made out of fiberglass wasn’t original. I explained that the old one was shot and made out of plywood. We had carried it over to a shop that manufactures them and found one close to the original one, just a little narrower. I said it’s much easier to get around this one. He leaned in and whispered, “This one looks nicer.” I took that as that he had approved.
Until next time,