Our reluctant and windy spring has finally departed, and summer has arrived at last. Chesapeake boatshops and marinas are humming with start-of-season action, bottom painting, varnishing, and just generally getting the Bay’s fleet of recreational boats back in the water for another busy season.
A rather nice aspect of this spring and early summer season is the increasing number of open houses being held at Chesapeake shops and builders. I recently stopped in at an open house at Wooden Boat Restoration in Millington, MD. The star of the show there was Ralph Cattaneo’s 1948 25 foot Chris-Craft Sportsman (see “Return to the Classics” in the May issue page 76). Ralph’s boat was literally stripped to the bones, with only the frames and a few planks in evidence. Also on display were several other samples of proprietor George Hazzard’s handiwork including my favorite, a 1955 18-foot Chris-Craft Cobra, which sports an iconic 1950s tail fin and automobile inspired “bull nose” hull. There were only around 50 of this model built, originally powered by a 239 cubic inch Chris-Craft KBL six-cylinder flat head rated at 131 horsepower. A larger version was 21 feet long and powered by a V-8 engine. The automotive styling never caught on; the boats were not a commercial success; and Chris-Craft dropped the line at the end of 1955, making the Cobras one of the rarest and most collectable of Chris-Crafts.
Chesapeake Light Craft of Annapolis, MD’s series of monthly in-water demos will begin on Wednesday, April 20. Demonstrations are held at Jonas Green Park on the Severn River from 5:30 p.m. to sunset, usually on the third Wednesday of each month from April through October, weather permitting. The events are free, but RSVPs are requested, particularly from those interested in a specific boat model to try out. OkoumeFest, scheduled for Friday through Saturday, May 13-14, begins with an open house and series of seminars—plus a convivial cookout—at the company’s factory workshop at 1805 George Avenue in Annapolis on Friday. The highlight of the event is an all-day small-boat rendezvous on the water at Matapeake State Park on Kent Island on Saturday. The event is free, but RSVPs are requested.
Michael Hulme of the University of Maryland Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in Solomons, MD, sends us this update with a charming personal note. “Please find attached a photo for the boatshop section of PropTalk. The photo was taken by me at the Washburn’s Boat Yard in Solomons last week. You may recognize the vessel in the background as the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Research Vessel Rachel Carson. She is in the yard for her annual maintenance, including bottom, hull, and topside painting, as well as work on the main engines, gen-set, and water jet propulsion system. The Carson (was) back out on the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean after splashing in early April. The young man in the photo is my son Nick (nine and a half), who loves hanging out in the yard, ‘making sure the job is done right!’”
David Evans, Jr. of Evans Boats in Crisfield, MD, sends us the following. “We have just recently completed one of our custom 36-foot Evans Boats for Disney Cruise Line. This is number three that their fleet has purchased from us. We currently have one of our 50-foot Evans under construction. This boat will be used as a fishing vessel. We are also working on several repair and refurbish jobs, and as always for this time of year, we are hauling several local watermen’s workboats, as they prepare and are hopeful for a great season of crabbing.”
Jake Glover of Ferry Point Marina in Trappe, MD, has had a busy spring. “We’ve wrapped up a number of new Interlux InterProtect & Bottom Paint jobs. The yard was busy this spring with a number of gelcoat and fiberglass repairs from damage caused by last fall’s storms. The repowers have been sea trialed and completed. Our detailers have been steady at it since the start of April. Our new south-side bulkhead with all new slips, along with five new 10,000-pound lifts on the center pier were all completed in April. We’d also like to thank everybody again for what was an incredibly successful open house in April.”
Jonathon Newton of Hartge Yacht Yard in Galesville, MD, checks in with a newsy report and a bit of sage advice. “Wood and aluminum masts are being stepped, and engines are going back in after a winter in the shops. One engine was out of a boat that almost sank due to a loose 12-volt hot wire. It fell on a thru hull and dissolved it in short order. (It is best to keep your loose hot wires under control, even little ones are dangerous.) Another engine, a Chrysler 340, was from a very cool Lyman Hardtop Sleeper out for some repairs and refurbishment. Part of our team is doing spring commissioning while others have winter work to finish. The paint, polish, and launch crew is scrambling when the weather permits.
The carpenters are still working on the Muriel Eileen’s stern and bulwarks when the weather permits. When it doesn’t, they have lots to do: floor boards for the boat that almost sank, interior work on a Baltic 42, rigging an antique model sailboat, and redoing the windshield on a Tiera 41. The riggers just installed Kato stainless dingy davits on a Nordic 34 tug and stepped the repaired mast on a Grand Banks 46. The composite technicians finished up a big job of rebuilding the foredeck on a Kady-Krogen 42 and some gel coat work on a new Corsair 37 trimaran.”
Mast and Mallet’s Joe Reid has also had a busy winter in Edgewater, MD. “We’ve completed a total rehab of an engine room in a 28-foot fly bridge Cape Dory. She got all new Soundown material, fuel tanks with increased volume, water tanks, hoses, and wiring. Not a new boat, but with better installation and accessibility than before. Also, we did a rehab for a 28-foot Pacemaker. She received Awlgrip hull paint (royal blue) and new Awlgrip paint on cabin and decks as well. The engine room has new fuel tanks, mufflers, and new Soundown. During the spring, our shop had an intern for nearly three weeks, so we dug out the plans for the cocktail cruiser and proceeded to build one. You may see Spring Chicken on the race course this year. In the planning stages is a 40-foot bare hull that we may be building out for a new client. Design work coming. More in the future.”
Dave Hannam with Classic Watercraft Restoration in Annapolis, reports moving forward with a couple new projects; including a full set of teak and holly floor boards from a 38-foot charter sailboat that needed to be spruced up from years of abuse. Hannam striped, re-stained, and applied multiple coats of varnish to get the owner ready for a few more years in the sun. Additional projects under production include the 17-foot custom runabout heirloom from Western Ohio with a new shiny white exterior/interior paint job, upgrades to the mechanical systems, and new varnish along the rails and top deck. Reassembly has started back up for a launch coming up in May. Next up, construction of a kit boat for a DC customer with a delivery in mid-June. Just in time for the St. Michaels Antique and Classic Boat Festival.
From Philadelphia, PA, Chad Brenner of Classic Restoration and Supply/Vintage Craft Boats sends us this update. “We have been in full spring mode here for a while, working on a 38-foot Chris-Craft Corinthian and getting it ready for another season. We also currently have four Chris-Crafts getting completely new varnish being built up from over the winter complete restorations. In the works is a New Build, a 26-foot electric-powered runabout for Omega Yachts.”
Mike Moore from Cutts and Case in Oxford, MD, reports on a current project in their shop. “Cutts and Case is currently upgrading Ralph Wiley’s Vixen for her new owner. New equipment includes a Yanmar 3YM30AE diesel to replace her old Atomic-4. All new systems are being installed, including fresh water, sanitation, and electronics. Fresh paint, varnish, and new decking, winches, and sails are part of the program for Wiley’s 60-year old Tancook Whaler, designed and built in Oxford.”
Rob Hardy of Composite Yacht in Trappe, MD, has also had a busy early season. “We have five boats here in the shop in various stages of completion and another one at our location across the river in Cambridge. We have at least a year of work on the books and could handle more if we had more space. We are staying busy not only with new construction but with repairs, modifications, and upgrades to existing boats. We are definitely having a good year.”
by Captain Rick Franke