We have had a very exciting month, to say the least. This month’s Professional Boatbuilder has Nathan and Mike on the cover and an in-depth article on our company. Aaron Porter, an editor and writer at the magazine came down and spent a couple days with us in South Florida. He was everywhere and spent time interviewing everyone. When I read the first proof, I found it humbling. It only took me 52 years to become an overnight success. I have sent copies to some of you but I ran out so I have enclosed copies.
In other news, I went on a great adventure on the northeast. That story will be on the web site under letters. It was going to be my next newsletter but there has been so much more going on that I changed mind.
On Summerwind, our schooner project, Jon Meek and crew have installed the stern post. We had to cut off the back part of the keel and the deadwood so the rudder, keel area is new.
Carpenter Don Thibeault, who many of you will remember from his many years at Rybovich Spencer, and Spencer before that, is made of some pretty tough stuff. He broke his wrist removing the shaft log on Stargazer and he was mad at himself because he couldn’t finish it because he had to miss a few days of work. After surgery, with his wrist in a cast, he’s back at work in restoration of a little Rybovich at our yard.
In North Carolina, I got a call from Capt. Jeff on the Sea Hammock, 83’ Trumpy yacht formerly called Eskimo. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just a friendly chat. She was just south of Beaufort, N.C. and there was serious duress in his voice. Cruising along just south of Swansboro, around Cherry Point bombing range, Sea Hammock struck something underwater while running in the middle of the channel. The stabilizer and the hull surrounding it broke free. Capt. Jeff did what was best for his ship, running it into a sandbank just ahead that jutted out in the channel. He placed her aground where the aft filled with water. She settled down right in the middle of the channel. Towboat and Capt. Rod and his crew covered the hole and pumped her out. I was in Florida but I told Capt. Jeff that Stephanie, Nathan and Jimmy Berkeley and crew were up there and could help and they did.
As Towboat pumped and patched, we were planning what to do with Sea Hammock’s engines. She has big Caterpillar engines with ZF transmissions. Our neighbor at the marine park include Gregory Poole Caterpillar dealer and ZF marine. Hoses, dehumidifiers and other stuff were already being prepared so I could call Jeff Fulcher, Jarrett Bay’s yard manager. I told him what I knew. It was a Saturday. I said Sea Hammock might be towed in around 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning. Jeff said, “Okay.” He didn’t even flinch. At 1 a.m., the slings were dropped in the water and slid under Sea Hammock and lifted her up just enough to hold her for the rest of the night. The next day, Nate would laser target Sea Hammock before hard lifting her. Nathan, like a rock, got everybody working on cleaning and preserving as many things as possible. When I flew in, they had everything under control. Looking at the Sea Hammock, my heart sank deep in my chest.
She is a grand houseboat, Contract 400, built for John Kimberly and launched as “Eskimo.” In the next few days, I was receiving calls like there had been a telegraph sent out in the Trumpy community. I repeated the same answers: “No, she is not cracked in two. No, she did not sink! She flooded aft.” The fact is most of the damage I could see was water damage. So if you hear a lot of nonsense, set things straight.
I know I’ve written about my concerns about stabilizers before. Trianon, for one, has moved her forward ones. I think it’s especially dangerous because it seems there’s less money spent on keeping waterways clear these days. I talked to Mark Spillane, the new owner of “Exact,” renamed “Coconuts” and we talked about stabilizers. Mark said, “ I don’t want them. Let’s get them out of there. They don’t work anyway, right?’ I said, “Not really. I should introduce everyone to Mark. He loves Trumpy yachts, Rybovich and big game hunting. He’s a self-made man who is tremendous fun to be around. I think he’s the type of young owner who will bring new life, with zest, to our community.
Someone else I want to introduce is Frank Lynch, who is famous in the world of Rock & Roll and is soon to be the proud owner of El Presidente. He plans to take her from Chicago to Charleston. So what makes Frank famous? You’ll just have to meet him. The guy speaks in a soft Irish/Scottish brogue that makes my wife swoon every time she talks to him, not that I’m jealous.
As for Joe Bartram, he loves Trumpy yachts, and I don’t see him too far from the water. His firm is celebrating its 40th anniversary soon and Joe’s been around these boats much longer than that.
Matt Howard won’t have El Presidente but he still has a schooner, the Allegro, his 1929 John Alden. If it wasn’t for Matt’s vision to structurally rebuild El President, she might not be here today. Thank you Matt, for your caring stewardship.
In closing, there’s going to be something very special that will be unveiled at Ocean Reef’s Vintage Weekend and only Vicki, Allen and I know. So it’s time to make plans to meet in Key Largo the first weekend in December.
Until next time,