Recently I was down in Florida for a visit and do some business. My friend, Ted Conklin, has planned a trip to take his Trumpy yacht “America” up through the Trent-Severn Locks heading to Montreal and the Great Lakes. His captain, also named Ted, did a little measuring and realized the mast was too tall for the locks and bridges. Through the years the mast has been repurposed to hang a radar and other electronics. Now, due to that it no longer folds down. To keep with the original style we needed a Trumpy-type hinge. But they don’t make them like that anymore, not even close.
I go on a quick trip to Florida and my idea of fun was to swing by, make a quick pattern, and find a hinge – piece of cake right? Nope. There is only one place that might have such a hinge, and that was Sailorman in Fort Lauderdale. After searching and finding their new location the dig began. After a few hours, and almost at the point of giving up, one of the employees pointed to a shelf and said, “Did you look over there?” I walked over to where he was pointing and right on the top was a 316 stainless steel heavy-duty hinge. I had found it – well, sort of.
Next up was to make the pattern –no problem to just stop by the boat in North Palm Beach, where I last remembered her kept. I talked with Capt. Ted about my plans and he said sure, go right ahead, the mate is onboard and the yacht is undercover. When I asked what marina they had her, she was no longer in South Florida, where I was. She was five hours away, in Jacksonville, Fl. But luck was on my side because instead of flying this time, I was actually going to drive back to North Carolina and Jacksonville is on the way. Making a little detour was okay with me.
As a plus, I also love looking at all the Huckins yachts and Jacksonville is the place. We stopped by the Huckins yard, but since it was Sunday we missed Cindy and Buddy Purcell, the owners. This was just going to be a quick stop to make the pattern. Margaret had never been to either marina so we walked around a bit and admired the Huckins yachts together.
Next to “America” was “Innisfail,” the 1939 Mathis Trumpy, contract 242, for Joseph Cudahy. Previously we had been involved in taking her back towards her original styling for Frank Lynch, a previous owner. Looking at her still makes me smile – what a beautiful yacht.
Getting on the road, there was a place in Darien, Georgia I wanted to stop at. It is the homeport of the Mathis Trumpy “Friendship” built as “Nadesah,” contract 108 for J.D. Carstairs in 1919. The story behind her was tragic to say the least. After two sinkings and being hacked up, glassed all over, it was hard to see a yacht under all that somewhere. She had been moved to a place that can only be characterized as a place where boats go to die. I have written about “Friendship” before many times.
About a week before my trip Troup Nightingale sent me a long email and at the bottom was a few photos as an attachment. I was skeptical about opening it, thinking it might be more bad news. Instead it was pictures of “Friendship” in full restoration mode. It put a smile on my face. I made a mental note to myself that I had to stop and see her next time I passed there.
I pulled off of I-95 and headed east down a narrow country road that turned on to a smaller road and still no boat yard. There were kids playing ball in the road, so we stopped to ask directions. I mentioned key words only: “old boat on a rail” and “boatyard.” Margaret also spoke up and mentioned “a Trumpy.” They gave a nod and pointed down the road and showed us where we would turn. I was a bit amazed – wow – the kids knew what a Trumpy is.
The road led us right into town, and it was small and quaint southern village with the tall live oaks and the Spanish moss hanging from the trees. It was late afternoon and the sun was golden. Magical hours for photography. Since it was a Sunday, there was no one was around. I took a long look and from what I could see they were staying true to the original construction. The ribs were not oak however; they replaced them with hard pine. The longleaf yellow pine planking was replaced by eastern Atlantic cedar as well and the iron fasteners were replaced with bronze.
Seeing “Friendship” getting a second chance made me very happy. I sometimes feel a little lonely in my pursuits of restoring these beautiful antique and classic American yachts, and to see someone else take on a project of this magnitude put a smile on my face.
The annual Beaufort Wooden Boat Show has gotten better (not that it wasn’t great already), but even better. Making the show more family-oriented; Vic Fasolino with his Viking ship spewed flames out of the mouth and was armed with helmets and swords. There were lots of photos, lots of boats, and lots of little changes that made the show even more special, from the updated logo to the award party,
Next year we will plan more little tweaks, with more bragging rights and awards including The Crystal Coast Award for Best Locally Built Boat, Up and Coming Boat Builder, Most Original Boat Design, and more! Everyone involved in this show really want to make it the best show possible!
This year, right about the time the show ended, “America” came pulling in. Teddy Jr., who worked as yard crew with us one summer, was aboard. He had just graduated from Dean College in Franklin, MA., and has grown into fine young man. We cut the mast and installed the hinge, then I took my young friend to a celebratory dinner and movie. Then off they went. What I love about Ted Conklin is how he uses his yacht, “America,” for not only adventures but as an integral part of his life. Yes, he vacations on her but he incorporates his boat as part of his life. While she is cruising from Florida to New York, he’ll hop on when she is at an interesting port of call. He comes to the boat, calls on on some friends, plays a few rounds of golf, and then he’s off again. The yacht is part of his life. I know so many people that don’t, can’t, or won’t use their boats and their boats just sit at a dock. Ted Conklin isn’t one of them.
Also around our boatyard we had the “Doc Kelly” go for sea trials with her 50 hp motor. When you get her up to speed she has a tendency to pound. An old trick I learned back in the 80s was down-angle lifting strakes. We made them and installed them on the back. My fear was putting her back on the trailer and not breaking the strakes or jamming the boat all the way into the trailer. “Doc Kelly” won the Best Outboard Boat award at the Beaufort show, making us and the owner VERY proud!
“Duchess,” the 1930, 50’ Elco has a new homeport. John Tinney has taken her down to Wilmington, NC. John has a covered slip down there, so the “Duchess” will be gracing our North Carolina waters.
“Madison Grace” formerly “Broadview”originally named “Shelly Kay VI,” contract 385 built in 1958 for John Rich, was here for a quick haul out to check the bottom and had her name put in gold leaf on the transom. She heads north to the Jersey Coast for the summer. Bobby and Donovan Rankin wintered here in Beaufort and really enjoyed i. They said they will be back.
Another of our yard projects, “Boo Boo,” a 22’ 1960s Chris-Craft, is getting a new bottom! Our guys turned her over in slings and are now hard at work on removing the bottom. This will look great when she is done! I can’t wait to share the before and after pictures with you.
Lastly, 15 or so years ago we bought a container of Angelique wood from Brazil. They were blow down, left after the forest had been cut down around them by mahogany pirates. These were cut from massive 600-year old trees and without the support of the mahogany forest around them, they toppled. One by one we sold them off with one stipulation: that they wouldn’t be cut into strips, but used at their full size because these boards were four, five wide. Now, I don’t know many boatyards that won’t sell you wood unless it is used properly, but I had made that same promise to the man that sold them to us and I tried to keep my word.
Since there are a few planks left I pulled one out that I had kept to myself, 16’ long and 47” wide! We are currently finishing it of as a table for my front porch. Artist Steve Filarsky hand painted the “Tree of Life” in gold leaf in the center and now I just need the manpower to put it on my porch!
Speaking of porches, our house is finally done! Margaret must love me for it taking 15 months for our dream/nightmare house to be finished. This is my last renovation. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself again for the third or fifth time.
It’s going to be a great summer!
Until next time,