This time, no airports. I chose the kitchen table and it seems a good place to sit down and write.
August in Florida is like hell on earth, or as close as it gets. The trade winds die and the humidity from the late afternoon showers from the day before steam off on the morning sun. This has been the hottest August in Florida in recorded history. I probably wouldn’t mention it, but I got a call from a friend in Maine asking me if I had a heart attack. Well, the answer was no. But bad news travels far and fast. Instead of you hearing something that’s not true, I would prefer to tell you what happened.
Through the years I have kind of thought of myself as invincible. Not very smart. I won’t ask a man to work in the heat if I won’t be out in it myself. I’m not as young as I used to be and when I’m out there, I sweat a lot. It seems I wasn’t replacing my electrolytes, which ended up with me in the hospital with a racing heart.
The good news is I got thoroughly checked out. My veins are as clean as a 25-year-old and my conceit of being invincible has been shattered forever. When I look in the mirror I see a middle-aged man with gray hair.
As they say, if I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.
My father took over his family’s business, Moores Lumber Company, at age 24 after his father passed away unexpectedly at age 60. I was the oldest son of six kids and he started training me at a very young age, around 7 or 8, because I was expected to do the same someday, take over the family business.
I would sit across his desk and listen to him talk. Every week he would print a newsletter with all the lumber that was coming out of the mills. The name of his newsletter was the Log. He taught me how to count moving train cars loaded with lumber without getting dizzy or losing count. He talked in timeworn clichés, "A man is only as good as his word" and "Honesty is the best policy."
I never did take over his company, I was nine when he passed away. But I never forgot the lessons he passed on to me. Now I find myself pondering the same things he fretted about, succession. At the Wooden Boat Show in Mystic, Conn., Taylor Allen, Steve White and I had a conversation on the subject of succession. These two men have taken their fathers’ businesses to new heights, beyond what their fathers may have dreamed.
We have built this company from scratch and at some point it will be time to pass it down. I will have to step aside and hope that it will live, and grow and maybe be bigger and better than my dreams. Nathan Smith, my brother-in-law and partner is just 10 years younger that I am. Thank God we both have kids. We hope they will show an interest in stepping up the plate and be the next generation. There aren’t enough family companies left and I hope this one will remain one. I have been lucky to have my middle son Andre work with me and James Jr., who is 12, has started here and there. I now find myself quoting my father and his sayings to my sons: "Don’t ask a man to do something you wouldn’t do yourself. Always finish what you start." They were true then and they always will be.
On to the next subject, our boat Aurora II is out of the water. Cruising the Intracoastal can be a little tricky especially when the depth sounder was made in the 1950s and it is one of the old spinning light types. It reads 10 then 7 then 45 then 0, so we have left a mark or two on sand bars in Lake Worth. When I had a diver clean the bottom, we found we were missing the end of the worm shoe and there were places where the bottom paint had fallen off. This is not good in Florida’s hot summer waters.
I hate hauling out this time of year, it’s just too hot, but with raw wood it had to be done. So we put in a new transducer, depth sounder and while we’re out, a little paint touch up, refastened the waterline starboard side, caulked a few seams on the garboard, gold leafed the Trumpy scrolls and then I had to stop myself! This is the year of the deck house and I decided that was that. The year of the hull is another year. So with the overhead back to original, even the color, and looking great, and new teak battens that will trim the underside in Trumpy style ready to go, I needed to find a stopping point.
I have Fred Mann, formerly of Rybovich boatbuilding for 25 years, restoring the cabin side teak inset panels. He’s got a few tricks on removing the dark water stains and is doing a great job. I can’t wait to get her back in the water! We plan on smashing a bottle of champagne and rechristening her back to her original name, Aurora II when we put her back in the water.
I plan to take a photo of her and the Honey Fitz side by side, with our crew, and maybe print a postcard. The Honey Fitz is really moving along. We have started on the bow. We plan to restore it the way we originally started. Chet and I mapped out the fair points in the hull. Now we are cutting holes and removing three ribs and laminating in the hull, using temporary bolts to do the bow. The scaffolding is three levels high and requires five men to push them down through. It’s going well.
Recently we received an email from Vince Hackley, whose father was a crew member during the Kennedy era. His father Audey Hackley was asked to build the couch/cabinets that then First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy had designed. He sent photos (enclosed) and asked if we have interest in the plans? Well yes! We will see. Look at the lights, door hardware and the clam shells for the roll down windows, looks just like a Trumpy? That’s because it is. This work is from the 1954 presidential refit at Trumpy’s Annapolis yard. I have been asked how the Washingtonian coming along. Well great. Nate and I called our lumber importer to pick the most beautiful mahogany boards he could find and he delivered on his promise, matched all out of the same log to be a signature transom.
The varnish is drying and we have sent Steven Kneipp, our artist, up to North Carolina to hand letter the gold leaf name on her transom. They plan to launch later this month.
The great Trumpy race of 2010 is on! The 1938 Washingtonian versus Aurora II, a 1947 Trumpy. We’re racing at vintage weekend in Key Largo. I will need to get with Vicky and Allen on where, and weather permitting. Both have the same water line length and motors. The Washingtonian is narrower forward aft and Aurora II is wider aft and has six stabilizing wings that add a little drag but we put Prop Speed as our secret weapon. So it’s official, the race is on! We have the artwork for the tee shirts in the works! T-shirts definitely
make it official in my book.
I have a couple of short stories to share. In August, we were extremely honored to attend Andre James Moores graduation from the U.S. Marine Corp training base on Parris Island, SC. My cousin Courtland Moores, a Marine, flew from Indiana and drove us there. I’m just now starting to turn around, I was never for this, but after seeing how it has changed Andre into a man, it made me very proud to be there. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
While we were in the area, we decided to stop in Savannah to play tourist. I’ve been there a couple of times and really didn’t get much out of it. Drove off the highway, went into town and left again. Couldn’t see what the big deal was.
Stephanie suggested we take a tour bus. It beat finding parking or walking. Now I get it. Our tour guide made the city’s history come alive, and the squares and houses are amazing. We drove down Jones Street, where the city’s lawyers and doctors lived, and gave rise to the saying "Keeping up with the Jones."
After a beautiful dinner, we walked around and visited several galleries. I was wandering around when our son James got me to come into a particular shop. He pointed to a wall and asked me if I saw anything I liked. There it was, a water color of the photograph I took several years at Ocean Reef, during Vintage Weekend when five Trumpy yachts and the Chesapeake Bay Buyboat, the Iva W, were lined up along the dock. The artist, who had been an engineer, had gotten everything right. He had seen the photograph in Wooden Boat Magazine and decided to paint it and wanted to know if I minded. Of course not. I bought the painting and it’s hanging on Aurora II.
My last story is not really mine but something that Mrs. Susan Max sent me. It seems that Marty Isenberg’s new Trumpy Jenny Clark was built as Aries, Contract 406 in 1962 and her first owner was quite the connoisseur of Trumpys. This is what Susan shared.
Whatever happened to the first of three Trumpy yachts built for Henry Gibson? Gibson, a Philadelphia banker, had the now 'Aries' as his first. Aries, not Aires as in the constellation in the Northern Hemisphere, the 'ram,' planet Mars.
Mr. Gibson’s second Trumpy, 1964, #412 contract he named 'Sirius' the brightest star in Larus Major, Carolyn Weaver’s first of 3 Trumpys, bought in 1976. Chuck Schwager bought it from her and is now owned by Earl Samson, the name never changed.
His third Trumpy, 'Sirius II,' 1972 Contract #448, was the very last Trumpy ever built. The galley is down, as he had a young son in a wheelchair, and the galley area became his room -- bunk beds, head and Pullman sink. Now, the watch berth for the Captain. Mr. Gibson died long ago, as well as the young son and his older brother.
Thank you for sharing all this history, Susan.
Until next time,