Getting ready for first Great Trumpy Race was something else, from loading cases of champagne for the party to finding someone with a starter cannon. The match up was perfect, the 1939 Washingtonian, a Mathis Trumpy versus 1947 Aurora II, a Trumpy. Surveyor Mike Hart had a pilot friend, Jim Goode, with a 40-caliber cannon so we invited him and his wife to join us in the race. It turned out Skip Allen, the publisher of Southern Boating, and he were old friends and they both ended up on Ted Conklin’s Trumpy, America, which served as the committee boat.
After a short captains meeting, we motored to the starting line, marker 32, just north of the Blue Heron bridge. Capt. Jim Sabin positioned America and boom, off we went. Washingtonian leaped in front. “1550 RPMS,” Capt. Jim Twaddle called out from Washingtonian. I replied “1550,” then he called out “1700.” I replied, “1700” and then these two old boats went flying.
The Washingtonian’s slim hull cut through the water, her bow wave made a hollow in the middle of the boat and then the water seemed to come back together at the stern. She was way ahead. The course was 1-1/2 miles, four laps, a total of six miles. We figure it would be easier to watch that way. But when it came time to turn, Aurora was more nimble, she turned faster and in a shorter distance. With a little confusion, Aurora took the lead but that was short lived.
For lap two, we did a restart. All three Trumpy yachts were driven by Jims, I was at the helm of Aurora II. The cannot shot fired, and with my hands on the old controls, I had Aurora up to speed quickly. For a short while, we were neck to neck, or bow to bow, but Washingtonian slowly pulled ahead on the fourth leg. It was clear that she had won.
The speed difference was maybe 1 to 1.5 miles per hour faster at the same RPM. I don’t think we could have had two better matched set of yachts, same weight, same motors. It was exhilarating. The party that followed was great, with steel drums and calypso music under a thatched hut on the water’s edge at our friends, Rybovich Marine Center. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate our 25 years in business restoring these great yachts.
People who couldn’t make it this year wanted to know if the Great Trumpy Race will be an annual event. I don’t know for sure, but I do have another set of props, a little bigger, that I’d like to try out. There are also a few Trumpy yachts I’d love to see matched up, Innisfail v. Enticer, or how about a duel between two 67’ 6” Trumpy yachts, Dune v. BBSea. Chesapeake’s owner Peter Anzo wants to race in the same class as Washingtonian and Aurora II since his Trumpy is the same size. Who knows?
I know it’s still cold in some areas of the country but in South Florida, it’s a warm spring and that means it’s time to prepare our clients for their migration north. Recently, we had Justice in for some finish work. Captain Bryan and I did a test a few years back, we took some hard-to-varnish areas and applied Imron MS 1 marine clear coat.
Two-part clear coats have been around for a long time. They have had some great success with them and even greater failures. That’s why we did a test area, and Bernard and I went to the Dupont Training Center in Jacksonville to be certified in the product’s application, specifically on wood.
Imron has been around for years, starting as an automotive coating. Then Hatteras started using it on boats in the early 1980s and it took off like wild fire. After many years, the novelty wore off. More products came on the market and Imron slipped back a bit. The biggest problem was that it just couldn’t be brushed.
Dupont decided it was time to for Imron to grow up. They went back to the lab and formulated it specifically for the marine market. I don’t want to sound like a tout for Dupont because I’m not but they invented a better wheel. It now is not only more durable but can be blended, repaired and most important to us, brushed. Our first use of the Imron MS 1 was on a 40-foot, all-varnished Garwood. We stripped her down, revarnished her then sprayed three coats of Imron on top after letting the varnish gas out. It has held up very well and after four or so years, we just re-sprayed the deck.
However, Justice was a totally different challenge. She is varnished from tip to toe, all 75 feet of her. Capt. Bryan was happy with the test from two years ago so this was going to be the biggest brush job to date using Imron.
The tricky thing about Justice is that she has lots of little inset panels. Fred, Julio and Bernard had their work cut out for them with a two-week time frame, rain or shine. The goal was to get two or three coats on everything during that time window.
Some of the lessons learned at Dupont training was to get everything meticulously prepped for the product. The next morning, dry everything off, wipe down and use the coolness of the morning to help make it flow. The other was to mix small batches to keep it fresh. The reason it’s a difficult product to brush is the high solids, which also makes it more durable. There are boats that have used this clear coat on wood five years ago and they’re still going strong. Our objective with using the product was to dramatically reduce varnish maintenance on our clients’ boats
because gleaming bright work is what makes these antique and classic yachts so stunning. We will be using the Imron on our boat, Aurora II, after the way Justice turned out.
Moving on, the Honey Fitz is getting closer every day. The hull has been entirely rebuilt, the new rub rails are up. I went back to old photos, from when she was Lenore, and matched the rails. The biggest part of the job now was the fairing, sanding with long boards. This type of work is tough stuff. The top sides are one thing but the bottom is brutal work, with your arms overhead, even lying flat on your back. We hired strong young men but when it came to long boarding, most of them up and quit. It was Chet and our core of the more seasoned men, the ones in their 30s and 40s, who stepped up to the task. And she is coming out beautifully. I think the Defoe builders would be proud. We have followed the original construction shape and design through the original blue prints.
There is, however, one addition and that is a 48-volt, Sidepower bow thruster. This is the first to be installed with U.S. Coast Guard-approved and engineered drawings by Moores Marine. I deconstructed how we’ve been installing bow thrusters all these years and sat down Honey Fitz’s consulting engineer Alan, and he did the calculations, drew them up, submitted them and got the plans approved. That means every bow thruster we have installed over the last 15 years meets Lloyd’s and U.S. Coast Guard specifications. That’s a good feeling.
I recently got a call from my old friend, Marty Isenberg. He was driving past National Liquidators and spotted the Trumpy yacht Mimosa, built in 1919, Contract 110 for E.L. King as Kingfisher. I don’t know any more than that at this point.
But I plan to find out and will share in my next newsletter. These yachts require stewardship as I’m finding out first hand with Aurora II. Mimosa has been altered through the years but there is still a lot to work with. She has tunnel drive and only draws 3-1/2 feet of water, maybe. Built just after WWI, with her bowed glass windows in the front of the main salon and a very original pilothouse, she could be brought back to her greatness.
Marty and his wife, Rachel, were at the Great Trumpy Race along with many good friends we haven’t seen in a while. One of them was Carl Vesper, who drove down all the way from Pensacola. He came bearing two incredible gifts, a gorgeous print of his wife Misty Hall Vesper’s oil painting of ocean waves breaking and an old burgee. I just had both framed.
The burgee, in particular, meant a lot to me. It will hang in Aurora II’s pilothouse. It was John Trumpy’s personal burgee, and putting it in boat he built for himself seems especially appropriate.
Until next time,