I have been asked, "So where is the Honeyfitz at?" The answer is we have been done with the structural retrofit for well over a month. She was launched so she could find her shape, re-hauled out for the running gear installation, than quietly relaunched again in a private ceremony. She was targeted and had 1/4" deflection over 93 feet. I would say that’s pretty good. The Honey Fitz owner’s crew is wrapping up the rest of the work, on the topsides, in the water.
James, my younger son and I recently took Aurora II up to Manatee Pocket in Stuart, Florida. We signed James up in Chapman School of Seamanship’s youth boating program and stayed on the boat during the camp.
On the first day he seemed overwhelmed, but by the end of day two, he told me "I backed a boat into a slip four times, Dad." He was very excited and so was I. But mid week, at about 3 am, I woke up terrified. I smelled wood burning, ran to the engine room and when I opened it, it was full of smoke. With a flashlight in hand and searched for the source of the fire but found nothing, not even in the crew’s quarters. In my skivvies, I headed up to the main deck. When I opened the door, the smoke rolled in like a fog. On deck, I could hardly see across the harbor. I realized it was the wild fires created from the drought. Still, the smell of burning wood on a wooden boat does not sit well with me. It took me a while to get back to sleep.
By the fifth day, James seemed to really enjoy the seamanship course. At 13, he cannot legally drive the boat but after the 30 hour safety course and taking the state boating safety test, in which he got a 96, he now has his boating permit . And, he wants to take the intermediate course next year. We found something he really likes to do and that he’s good at. On the trip back home, James took Aurora’s wheel with new authority and a very proud father by his side.
Nate Smith, my partner, recently attended the St. Michael’s Wooden Boat Show in Maryland. It’s a great little show that has a certain down home feel. He truly enjoyed it. I met Nate upon his return to North Carolina. I was headed to a boat show myself, in Mystic, Conn. My God, what a long drive but I had to carry displays.
Upon arriving and setting up, I started to run into old friends, Carl Cramer and Matt Murphy, with Professional Boatbuilder and WoodenBoat magazines, respectively, and boat builders Steve White and Taylor Allen. This was food for my soul. Steve and Taylor are building a new boatyard in Belfast, Maine. Carl, with his effervescent personality, would gather people together and urge the conversation. I was honored to be included in the gatherings. Carl also put together the biggest family boat building challenge, which is not the same as a race. I would slide in the tent every so often and Carl was so involved, I could watch unnoticed. He was having a great time and so was I.
One of the new people I met was Jim Curry of Essex Boatworks. We started talking about the Rusty-Su, a 61-foot Trumpy houseboat. Years ago, I had wandered in their yard and had seen her. For the life of me, I have no idea how I found that place. Maybe it was the Trumpy that drew me there. Finding the yard was no easy task, I was headed to Bristol, Conn., to spend time with my oldest son, Alexandre and his family. This was just a little detour. Walking into the shed, there she was, a 1947, 61 foot houseboat, Contract 330, built as Tomadge for Thomas T. Keane, now owned by Barton and Barbara Bienenstock. Aurora II, our 1947 Trumpy, is the same size, but boy, are these two boats worlds apart. There was a mystery they had in common. On Aurora, there is a triangle davit built into the aft stanchion.
I knew what it was for, a side platform boarding ladder or a "passerelle." But all the parts on mine were missing. That was not the case on the Rusty-Su. I took lots of pictures. Then headed down to spend a week with my oldest son and his family. After leaving Alexandre’s house, I got a call from Barton on the Rusty-Su and I made my way back. They have been on my mailing list for ten plus years and they kind of knew a lot about me although I knew so little about them. Once we started talking, within minutes, it seemed we had known each other for years.
The Bienenstocks have lived aboard for 30 years up in Long Island Sound. She has radiant heat with a diesel furnace. She is not a shed queen but a practical, well maintained yacht. Through the years, they have made some subtle practical changes. New galley, new pilothouse seat where the ship’s file all fit and the master stateroom with a centerline queen size bed, which required a custom mattress to be made. What I liked was that the Mathis/Trumpy feel was still all there.
I asked Barton if I could borrow her docking plans and I have printed a copy on the back of this letter. In this day and age when most people don’t know what a docking plan is, theirs is well done. It’s for a railway or a synchro lift but can be modified for Travelifts. I have made 10 full-sized prints and plan to mail these copies to owners of other 61-feet boats. They might need to be adjusted but it’s a great thing to have, just in case. Recently, Stephanie and I had lunch with our old friend, Shirley Foster. We hadn’t seen her in a while and it was great to catch up.
In the middle of lunch, Shirley surprised up with a great honor:
"I have thought about it for a very long time and I want to know if you would continue Jerry’s work on keeping the Trumpy list?"
The list is the history of these great yachts. The first time I saw one of Jerry’s lists, I wasn’t impressed as I should have been. I really didn’t know what I was looking at. But through the years, I came to realize the importance of Jerry’s work and how invaluable this document is, tracing the provenance of these yachts. We have accepted Shirley’s offer. This will always be Jerry Foster’s Trumpy List, but we will be proud to continue his work.
I have saved what I hope is the best for last. Previously, back in 2008, I wrote about a baby Bluenose I owned briefly in the 1970s, a Vernon Langille Tancook scalloper I was forced to sell one hard Maine winter. Another time, the curator of the Lunenburg Maritime Museum invited me aboard the Bluenose II. They were in the process of spring commissioning. All I wanted to do was get my hands on the wheel and survey her rig, to see the horsepower that the wind could create. I forgot to mention that she was tied to the dock. It made no difference.
This was a replica of one of the greatest fishing schooners to ever sail and the pride of Canada. I always loved the Canadian dimes because they had the Bluenose on the back. This year, at Mystic, I met two men from Nova Scotia who told me they are rebuilding the Blue Nose II. The replica built in 1963 as a promotion for Olands Brewery, maker of Schooner Lager, wasn’t made to last and it hasn’t.
The original Bluenose was the fastest racing fishing schooner around. Canada has always had bit of an inferiority complex with its North American cousin but the Bluenose couldn’t be beat, she was the best for 17 straight years and still a working fishing boats, winning largest catch competitions as well as races. The original Bluenose built in 1921 had a sad fate. Despite protests by Nova Scotians, called Bluenose, she was sold to work as a freighter in the West Indies. In 1946, she was lost against a reef in Haiti. Instead of fish, she was laden with bananas.
Now, you can watch the Bluenose II being rebuilt by web cam, at http://www.novascotiawebcams.com/south-shore/bluenose-ii.html. Or just Google Bluenose II restoration, webcam.
Until next time,