Coming or going, lessons from the 3k man
My friend Lou Jezdimer said the next time I ask him whether he wants to take a little cruise on a Trumpy yacht, he’ll first ask whether it’s coming or going from our boatyard.
Lou came up from Fort Lauderdale to visit the work we were doing on “Aurora II,” his 1947 Trumpy that I once owned. Instead, I took him on a little detour that I’ll get into later.
We have cut out the planking on the port side of the engine room on “Aurora II.” We used Eastern Atlantic Cedar.When I still owned “Aurora II,” I had planking out of old growth, long cedar logs and set them aside to air dry in my warehouse because I knew she would eventually need new planks. That was more than a decade ago. Now, it’s finally being used for what I intended. We started the work with replacing seven frames, and now we are up to 20.
I came up with a method of making ribs back when I was a young man. I had a client that I called the $3,000 man. His boat, an Egg Harbor, needed a lot more work than his budget ever allowed. He only had $3,000 at a time but he always paid in full. And, I just liked him. I decided to make ribs by laminating them in place on the outside of the hull to make the bevels. It’s faster and keeps the mess to a minimum. I wanted to show my crew a little of my innovations from the old days.
Lou loves “Aurora II” as much as I do and getting her and keeping her seaworthy is key. Some of her planks are 26 feet long and we have boards that long. What happens over the years is the original boat planks are replaced with short planks and even the wrong wood because people either don’t know better, can’t get the lumber or don’t know how. And when small planks are installed over and over, you are building a hinge, making the boat weaker. I always try to remove these whenever I work on a section of a boat. When I owned her, we worked on the port side with 11 new planks, stem top and splining the top side seams. This is called sectional restoration and the plan is to not overwhelm the owner, in this case me, and the yacht gets better with each phase until the entire boat is fully restored.
We have used a similar method of sectional restoration on the 1956 Steelcraft/Safticraft “Redemption” owned by Dallas Cooley. “Redemption” recently had her name and hailing port hand laid in gold leaf and hand lettered by Steve Filarsky, our resident artist. There is something magical about hand-spun gold. Steve also does fire trucks and shop windows and it’s beautiful such artisans still exist.
The Safticraft has been repaired in phases with sections of the hull replaced, with new steel bent and welded. The hull was extremely unfair so we spent many hours fairing and sanding on repeat. Dallas chose a deep navy blue and now her hull looks like a little yacht. Next we are fairing the cabin top and decks next.
We have finished cold molding the topsides on the triple cockpit M27. Next is laminating the keel. Funny, in the old days that would have been the first thing. Our crew has been working a few hours here and there, coming in early or staying late. It’s been a steady but slow process because clients’ projects must come first. Our 27 has a ducktail like some of the older Trumpy and New York Yacht, Launch and Engine Co. yachts. Ours is a little more dramatic, coming up almost to the transom. To laminate the bottom needed the tail in our designing we decided to construct it out of foam and cut it out on a CNC machine, then cold mold it to the bottom. So when I called Alan Stewart and said it’s time, both of us were thinking maybe we should do a little changing. We had spent months on the M30 to achieve the speed and maneuverability. The M27 was our first design so I can’t wait to see what Alan and Graham come up with.
The next story is on the 1962 Trumpy M/Y “Gemini,” which has been hauled out and is here at MMYC. Sounds so easy, right? Believe me, it wasn’t.
Four years to the day of Sam du Pont’s passing, the engines on “Gemini” roared back to life. By looking at her, you could see “Gemini” has been asleep in a covered slip for 10 years, but her systems seemed to be operating.
Still, 10 years is a long time for a yacht to be put on hold. We couldn’t get the A/C to work. Then the battery charger went out. Next was the generator impeller. As luck would have it, after a long search, we fount a replacement.
This little 60-foot Trumpy slides through the water so gracefully. She is beautifully built. It wasn’t until we got out in the Pamlico Sound with the wave action that she just quit. Everything shut down and we were drifting sideways, rolling in the waves. We put out the anchor and called Towboat but we couldn’t tell if they were coming for us or not. It was like waiting for Godot. After waiting awhile, we finally reached them again and were told they still hadn’t left the dock.
Lou doesn’t get flustered easily. He headed into the engine room, which was literally hot as what I imagine the temperature of hell. He yelled out “Try it,” I tried. Nothing. “Okay, again.” Still nothing. With all systems dead, even the bilge pumps, I really had a sinking feeling. And then just like that, like it never happened, the systems fired up one after another. I had a lump in my throat. “Thanks, Sam!” And thank you Lou, who was sweating buckets. We were moving.
So the problem was a broken battery terminal. A simple $4 part but there’s no auto store out on the Sound. Lou made it work with a sharp knife and a small hose clamp. Lou swears he’s all thumbs but he’s MacGyver to me. He saved the day.
Lou thought he was just taking a little trip to come see his boat but got quickly drafted into this adventure. Arriving at the haul-out well, the straps slowly lifting her up, Lou said “I want to go on her next delivery but when she’s all fixed up.”
My final note is about my friend Chuck “Charles” Cantera. I met him some 20 plus years ago. He was soft spoken, unpretentious and a straight-shooter kind of guy despite his many, many successes. Chuck has done well for himself and his family and always remained grounded. He still lived in the same house he had for many years. He could have owned any boat but he owned a 50-foot Trumpy houseboat. He told me about how hard he searched for this boat before finally finding her in Florida. Someone had removed the original writing desk. He got the drawings from Mr. Trumpy and had one made for his boat. Later in life, he would go down and spend his days aboard “Manatee.” He made the boat a part of his everyday life.
When an ice storm brought the covered slip crashing down on his little “Manatee,” he said no to his insurance company when they wanted to total it. Most of the damage was to the top. Over the last three years, she has been restored. At age 91, his son David or a close friend had to drive him to Hartge Yacht Yard in the Chesapeake so he could watch her progress. He saw it all the way through. I tip my hat off to you, old friend. You will be sorely missed.
Until next time,