Hornet II, a special Gar Wood boat

 

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Words © Chris (Seabuddy) Brown

29' Gar Wood wood boat on lake Tahoe

Stepped hull

Gar Wood designed and built Hornet II with a wood hull and deck. Her owner, Henry J. Kaiser, owned Kaiser Construction companies—which at that time built huge dams and roads, domestically and internationally—kept his Hornet II racer on Lake Tahoe. The story goes that she lost a race on the Lake, and Henry decided his boat needed to be re-made lighter to win in the future. Henry ordered a new deck and it’s rumored that Howard Hughes (of Hughes Aircraft) got involved in making the new deck and the deck’s aluminum framing. The top of the boat hull was replaced with a unique deck, cockpit, and tail fin constructed entirely of aircraft aluminum. Those replacement metal changes were in place on the boat for the 1939 racing season. She now won her races!

metal deck wood runabout

ready to race again

Who did Hornet II race against to launch the aluminum deck frenzy? A boat named The Mercury. “Originally named Cigarette IV, (The Mercury) was designed by pioneering marine architect Frederick K. Lord and built for L. Gordon Hamersley of New York City. Design and construction began in 1925. The boat was constructed at Brewster Body Works, a coach and auto body manufacturer in Long Island City. (they built automobile bodies for Rolls Royce).
“The double-ended, mirror-like hull is made from duraluminum, which is heat-treated polished aluminum. 979 pieces of duraluminum were fastened with 14,250 rivets, 7,087 bolts, and 238 screws; no wood was used in construction. Length overall is 35 feet with a beam (width) of 6’ 6”. The original engine was a Curtiss Conquerer built by the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company of Garden City, New York. The V-12 produced 625 horsepower. Constructed even before aluminum skinned aircraft technology was developed, this is the first all-aluminum race boat ever built. Most of her wooden competitors weighed in at 5 or more tons, the Lord/Hammersley contender “weighs only 2,000 pounds wet.”

Since Henry Kaiser was an industrialist, his companies made Liberty Ships and also got into the steel and aluminum businesses. He had a home on Lake Tahoe and liked race boats. He also was the owner the racing boat that Ted Jones designed, the unlimited hydroplane Hawaii Kai in the 1950s, among other race boats.
The Hornet II boat was “built by racer Gar Wood, is a 29.5’ stepped-hull hydroplane built around 1930. Anthony Mollica says only 10 hydroplane hulls of this length were built by Gar Wood between 1929 and 1934.” Gar Wood’s “stock” lengths were 33’ and 28” Baby Gar models.
Over the years Hornet II had a variety of engines. Listed here are two. “A Packard 1237 Model 1A-1237 V-12 aero engine restored for Hornet II. She is No. 4 of 55 manufactured beginning in 1921-1922. And It is the only one known to exist. The stock 1A-1237 engine was reported to produce 450 Hp (max at 2400 rpm), weighed 1168 lbs, and cost $8000 in 1922.”
But, that engine is not in the boat. Hornet II got a Rolls Royce Meteor V12 engine. “The 27-liter (1650 cu in) Rolls Royce V12 Merlin engine was first developed in England The Packard V-1650 was a version of the Merlin built in the United States By the end of the war this “little” engine was delivering over 1,600 horsepower (1,200 kW) in common versions, and as much as 2,030 horsepower (1,540 kW) in the Merlin 130/131 versions specifically designed for the de Havilland Hornet. Ultimately, during tests conducted by Rolls-Royce at Derby, an RM.17.SM achieved 2,640 horsepower (1,969 kW) at 36 lb. boost (103″Hg) on 150 octane fuel with water injection. First Packard-built engine, a Merlin XX designated the V-1650-1, ran in August 1941. Total Merlin production by Packard was 55,523.”
The restoration of the boat hull, metal deck, and engine went well, if the substitute engine is OK with you. BTW, The high level of finish on the deck was done using the Evite system.

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Bertram Yachts reborn

Words© Chris (Seabuddy) Brown

A new Bertram 31 built in Italy, at first, is the news for the re-opening of this valued brand.

Bertram Yachts 31 fiberglass model

The new business owner is a boater and has a proven track record of investing in boat building and storied brand names in the marine industry. He is a fan of this brand, a great hardcore saltwater sportfishing machine. Benjarnino Gavio has owned a 54 Bertram, personally. The new 31 might be offered in both an open runabout design and fly bridge models.

The Bertram Yachts plant parking lot is filled with weeds now. It was Sea Ray’s plant earlier in its life. Seabuddy had a plant tour back when it was building Sea Ray’s. It is not a part of the new Bertram deal. That plant is going to Merritt Island Boat Works. A replacement boat building factory for Bertram Yachts is. A USA plant, most likely in Florida, Georgia, or North/ South Carolina is in the current search program.
The second model to be made is currently scheduled to be either the 25 or the 28 foot hull sizes. The 25’ boat was made in Italy before by Riva (with some Riva styling touches) in the 1970s. Riva also made the Bertram 20 Bahia Mar model. BTW, the Riva Windshield is outstanding with the lines of this Bertram model, as is all of their hardware on the Bertram boat that they built in this length.
Seabuddy spent a fair amount of time aboard a Bertram 28 just off the Pacific ocean California coast. She was powered by straight shaft Mercury Marine 260 engines. They provided just enough, but not any excess power and speed. The fly bridge was not to my taste based on its seating and how the skipper had to handle to the controls. They seemed to be misplaced in relation to the seating bases and not enough room for my guests. Thus, operating the boat was tiring for me. It is possible that a 36’ and a 46.6” Bertram will be re-born also, but at a later date.
The new owner of Bertram also owns the Baglietto shipyard in Italy. He, Beniamino Gavio, made a big investment in that yacht yard. He is quoted as saying “You can trust that I will treat Bertram with great, great, great respect — the same as I’m doing with Baglietto.” Note, he owns other businesses and the boating companies seem to be something he wants to get deeply involved with.

First Niche Chris Craft

Words © Chris (seabuddy) Brown and photos CBMM
Chris Craft Corporation said this quote “Chris-Craft has the name, the prestige, the public acceptance. It has consistently advanced from the beginning and maintained the continued success for its merchants. Chris –Craft has been the leader, is the leader, and will continue to lead” in the early 1930s..
By 1936-1937 Chris Craft introduced what Seabuddy labels’ the first niche Chris Craft Runabout; the 19’ Special Race Boat. It had a cut down (lower) hull profile with less freeboard fore and aft. Plus, Chris-Craft boats used thinner dimension framing as well as thinner planking in the bottom for this 19’ Special Race Boat model. These changes made a big difference compared to their other 19’ by 6’2” sized runabouts that were made by Chris Craft boats for the masses. For instance, while there are different engine choices, it is perhaps fair to say that one of these boats were 20% faster.
Funny thing… Chris Craft made 51 of these boats, the same number of 19’ Chris Craft Cobras it made in 1955. So, this first niche Chris Craft Runabout is about a rare a boat as there is in the Chris Craft line-up ,just like a 19’ Cobra is! Note, they made some 760 plus units of this 19’ 0” by 6’ 2” hull in their standard models.
The Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the ACBS clubs St. Micheals Classic Boat Show had both of these rare boats, fully restored in its annual June event. They were displayed on the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum grounds over three days in 2015. It was a signature show! Seabuddy hopes that you made it to the show or plan on putting this show on your calendar in the future years.
Now, there is a new construction wood boat available for a custom new build with a period correct engine for the made-to-order newly built hull or a buyer can direct that a modern V-8 Seabuddy has seen this boat, it is a real head tuner. Please see… http://www.vintagewatercraft.com/classic_boat_construction.htm and scroll down on the left to the “1937 Special Runabout (19’)”.
It was only in 1930, that Chris – Craft Corporation was the boat building company’s new name that Christopher Columbus Smith started business back in about 1874. The name had changed many times to allow for various partners in the years between these dates. It (the name) was the family’s idea and a way to sell 1/3 of the company to Wall Street. That partial stock sale never happened. The family ran the company and kept it private until they sold the entire corporation in early 1960.

Aston Martin cars getting into the Boat Business

Words ©Chris (Seabuddy) Brown, photos by Aston Martin, et al

The very first model will be a 37’ sport boat This boat will be introduced late in 2015. It will be named the AM37 and the Aston Martin name and logo will be on the boat.

Quick facts- there are some heavy hitters in the boat business in bring this boat to market. Henk de Vries, Director of Feadship is on board. As is Mulder Yacht Design. See Mulder’s 76 MPH yacht Moonraker.

Moonraker, Mulder Yacht Design 76 MPH yacht

Moonraker, Mulder Yacht Design, 76 MPH yacht

And do not forget Aston Martin.
Here is a quote…The AM37 combines the highest degree of technology and innovation in a genuinely unique manner that is sure to delight those who understand the Aston Martin credo of ‘power, beauty and soul’.

Aston Martin is a 103 year old car company that won Le Mans outright with Carroll Shelby in 1959.

aston martin racer wins le mans

Aston Martin with Carroll Shelby wins the 24 hours of Le Mans

And they won their GT 1 class in 2007.

aston martin at le mans wins gt 1

Aston Martin at le mans wins gt 1 in 2007

They are a small car company, but they have $312 million in new funds to expand from investors. The investors and management want to company to expand, particularly with its influence with women. There are naming deals for Sunglasses and Travel Accessories.

Aston will get future engines and electronics from Mercedes Benz. Mercedes may have Aston Martin make their very limited production Mayback models, as it is believed that Aston is better suited for limited production, than a big company like M B..
There is talk of an Alabama Aston Martin plant, near the Mercedes one.

37 Aston Martin sport boat, AM37

The AM37 will be made in the UK is seabuddy’s current understanding, but not inside the Aston Martin Gaydon, Warwickshire UK headquarters.

Aston Martin AM 37 sport boat

rendering of the Aston Martin AM 37 sport boat

Engines will be gas of diesel. Currently the thought is to power the gas engine closed deck sport cuddy cabin boats for a 60 MPH WOT top speed and the Diesels for a 50 MPH top speed. So, they are not Go-Fast boats. Rather, think Riva Aquarama, undated to today’s technology.

dash and helm of AM 37 Aston Martin

Helm of Aston Martin Sport Boat

One more thing, look at that powered hard surface three piece cockpit cover!

hard cockpit cover

Hard cockpit cover on AM 37 by Mulder Yacht Desgin for Aston Martin

Cobra Chris Craft and Shelby Cobra 427 together at Classic Boat Show

Words © Chris Seabuddy Brown, photo by CBMM
A Chris Craft Cobra set to towed by a Carroll Shelby Cobra 427 at a Classic Boat Show. It was the winner of the Best of Show-Land Display at the Classic Boat Show. Only at a classic show would such icons of land and water, or keels and wheels, if you prefer would seabuddy see such a thing on a Saturday afternoon.
Boaters know the Cobra’s as the most collectible models of mid-fifties. Restored Cobra boats are the envy of most fans of the classic Chris Craft line-up. They were made in only one year and only in very limited quantities. These two models are rare Chris Crafts. They were style leader models, made to attract buyers to dealer boat showrooms and major boat shows of the Chris Craft models. These other roughly 150 boat models were each priced at a profit. Chris Craft was still privately owned by the descendants of Chris Smith (who had died in 1939 two weeks after being found in the Chris Craft boiler room bleeding from his nose) and many family members still worked in the business.
Chris Craft Cobras used gold finished fiberglass to fashion a big fin behind the seat that dominates the styling of both sizes of these boats. This was an early attempt by the world leader in wooden boat construction to use the new boat-building material. The fiberglass was made in one plant and the otherwise planked mahogany wood boat was made in another. Several fiberglass parts did not match up with their boat hulls when mated on the final production line, the trial and error of fitment was one of the first learning lessons.
The boats used some car parts like the steering columns and their steering wheels are said to be1949 Chrysler parts. Cars and their brand-leading styling like the Mercedes Gullwing, GM Corvette, and early Ford Thunderbirds with limited seating and more style than function are often mentioned with the Chris Craft Cobras. These models are runabouts. Get in, sit-down, and enjoy. One does not walk around in a runabout.
Now, for the other snake in this write-up.
The 289 Shelby Cobra had used the British AC Ace car that came to market in around 1953 which began with a 100 HP engine ant then later with up to 120 HP six cylinder engine. The first small block Shelby’s used Ford’s then new 260 cu. In. V-8 engines for 75 Cobras and then 289 cu. in. engines (about 525 cars). There were several changes in these cars over the production run including rack and pinion steering, inboard and outboard mounted disc brakes, wheel hubs, and various details like radiators.
The Shelby Cobra 427 was the big block Cobra that Carroll Shelby created. That car had a new chassis and coil springs (instead of the transverse leaf springs of the Ace and the Ford small block cars). That new frame and suspension were developed with Ford’s cooperation, (Klaus Arning and Bob Negstad at Ford and this suspension is similar to the Ford GT-40s) and it is best identified by the wide fenders and an even bigger radiator opening. The engine was both a 427 and a 428 Ford engines. The 427 was the more desirable “side-oiler” engine.
Both Cobras are show stoppers!

chris craft cobra shelby 427 cobra

rare Chris Craft Cobra ready to be towed by Shelby 427 Cobra

Classic Boat Show Award Winner # 4

Words © Chris (Seabuddy) Brown, Photos by CBMM

Trooper II is both the current and original name for the winner of the Competitors Choice Award – Cruiser. She is a 39’ custom yacht from the Consolidated Shipbuilding yard in NYC. Trooper II was custom built in 1935.
The Consolidated company was a multifaceted boat and yacht builder from around 1896 to as late as 1958. The company still continues as a yacht repair center in City Island, is seabuddy’s understanding..
Consolidated Shipbuilding has been a builder of custom yachts and commercial ships. In the 1890s they built steam-powered yachts and naphtha-powered launches as well as tugs, cutters, schooners, cat boats, torpedo boats, and yacht tenders. Following various mergers, the company operated under the cumbersome name of Charles L. Seabury Co. and Gas Engine & Power Co., Consolidated, but dropped all the old names and became just plain Consolidated Shipbuilding after World War I. Then after WWII, Consolidated bought the Robert Jacob shipyard on City Island in NYC and closed its Morris Heights yard.
In the 1930s, when Trooper II was made, boats and yachts from about 33’ to 154’ were custom made at the yard. Most of the yachts were one-off designs as well as lengths but some of the government boats were made in series. Remember, there was a depression throughout the world during the late 1920s and the 1930s. Chris Craft boats was still losing money in 1935.
Trouper II is a traditional wooden boat. This yacht is a sedan style, not a sport fisherman nor a traditional, raised deck cruiser. She was built plank on frame with a bright finished cabin/deckhouse. She is a comfortable cabin cruiser that is enjoyed by her long-time owners.
Note her substantial anchors and the forward bitt to secure them to while using this ground tackle. She likes to anchor out, up and down the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and the broad selection of the other mid-Atlantic cruising grounds. Also note her custom yacht opening forward windows that allows for a comfortable breeze in the deckhouse/main living area in the afternoon and early evening while swinging on the hook. Please remember, you are looking at a 1935 yacht!

tropper II CBMM image

1935 Consolidated yacht 39' custom wooden boat

wooden boat custom 39 plank on frame

Dressed for a Classic Boat Show

Classic Boat Show Award Winner #3

Words and photos © Chris (Seabuddy) Brown
The Judges Choice this year was a custom 1964 sport fisherman cabin cruiser. That is as they say… the boat that they personally want to go home with after the show has ended. She is a 36’ wood fish fighter that is the precursor which the modern sport fishers. This was the way one went after sailfish, tuna, and white and blue marlin for sport fishing fun. She has a flat bottomed transom (not a deep vee), no keel, and twin inboard shaft drives (no bullet to house the F-N-R gears of multiple outboard engines exposed in the wake of the hull, as the transmissions are inboard within the hull).
Her name is SAM V. She came up from Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Her owners are members of the Sunnyland Club of the ACBS as well as the Chesapeake Bay Chapter Club.
This 1964 yacht was built by the custom wood boat builder of Rybovich and Sons, of West Palm Beach, FL. as their hull number 58. First powered by twin gas engines, she has been re-powered years ago with twin Cummins diesels for a cruising speed of 23 MPH and a wide open throttle speed of 31 MPH.
Other features of this boat are her 1) Classic Rybovich broken sheer line. 2) “Palm Beach” throttles and shifts pod. 3) Open deckhouse aft “canvas wall” for free flow to/from the cockpit and the upper sheltered area (thus, she is a best called a “Day boat”, not a convertible or a sedan). From 1965 on, all Rybovich boats had an aft bulkhead.
She is like Miss Chevy IV, built in 1952 and not as close to mimicking Miss Chevy II, built in 1947.The 1952 Chevy IV has the broken sheer in the two boat photo.
Seabuddy brings these two boats into this discussion as these two boats set the pace for Rybovich sport fishers to come. Sam V has the early features / items and shares most of these key ingredients.

rybovich pod throttles shifts

custom Rybovich engine controls

rybovich bow

bow shot

dockside view rybovich sport fisherman

good side view

rybovich transom boat photo

transom photo wood sport fishing boat

side view wood boat

rybovich, custom wood boat,

Award winner presentation

Sunday Award Presentaion

Classic Boat Show Award Winner report #2

Words and photos © Chris (Seabuddy) Brown

 

Stephanie Rayan from VA. re-powered her Dorsett cuddy cabin model last winter and won three awards at the 2015 Classic Boat Show. Stephanie likes to use her boat, even as far away as cruising in FL waters. Thus, a modern engine made sense for her style of enjoyment of classic boating. Typical for her, she named her new motor. (her boat is named Sunburn)  The motor is called Neverude. This engine was also repainted to color coordinate it to the boat’s gelcoat.

 

Sunburn is an outboard-powered 1960 Catalina model.  The boat is perfectly restored. As an added plus, Stephanie displayed her entry in this popular classic boat show in-the-water-and-ready-to-go with great details like an “iced” drink cooler sporting the memorable “Coppertone girl and her dog”,  along with games, and functional items like a spotlight. The boat was a show-stopper that brought smiles and sparked conversations among many show-goers as they walked the docks of this 17-acre show.

 

Sunburn is now re-powered by a new outboard. This provides good power for the 16’ 8” LOA Catalina model Dorsett. The boat is finished in Pennant Red, one of the five colors that were offered in 1960 by the boat builder. This classic small cruiser boat sleeps two down below, out of the weather. Raymond Loewy, noted designer of a few early 50’s Studebakers as well as the Avanti cars developed the design for this and other boats for the Dorsett Plastic Corporation. Loewy used a 6’ 6-1 /2” wide beam for the 17’ model.

 

This fiberglass boat company started making boats in 1955, first calling them Endura Craft boats. By 1958, the all the boats were marketed as Dorsett Boats. In 1960 the company was sold to Textron, Inc., which kept the Dorsett name. By then they were selling about $3,000,000 in boats, which were made in three boat-building plants, located in nearby Cambridge, MD as well as in California and Indiana. In 1964 and then in 1968 the company was sold again. The Dorsett Boat name ended in the 1967-1968 timeframe.

 

Sunburn, Neverrude and her skipper were a hit at the show.

sunburn 1960 fiberglass boat

 

 

ACBS Classic Boat Show and Festival Award Winners #1

Words and photos © Chris (Seabuddy) Brown

A black hulled single engine Cigarette swept its classes first time out of the barn. While she was up against a fast Nova/ Allmand 19, the judges all agreed that Lotus was the clear winner. Everyone was pleased that the number of off-shore fiberglass boats in attendance was on the upswing at this year’s boat show. Each show of the 57 diferent clubs have a slant to their show. It looks like this Mid-Atlantic Father’s Day Classic Boat Show / Festival is beginning to get the go-fast in rough water boating crowd.

Lotus is not a race boat, just a high speed, wave splitter cruiser/day boat for a young married couple and their dog. The boat is re-powered with a replacement, updated big block 496 cu. in. Chevy engine with EFI, for the ease of starting and shifting. The newer engine takes away show award points, but the ease of use of the newer intake system makes for a better boat, day in/ day out.

What does not take away points is the black hull finish. This boat has over 1,200 hours of sanding to get that flawless finish, up from a production boat building level of finish. She was finish sanded to over 2,000# grit paper. It is a AWLGRIP finish that one sees now.

The deck, cockpit, and the wood trim also took lots of finish work. Basically, it is several layers of epoxy. The cockpit dash was also updated with new instruments and other details. However, the vinyl seats and trim are several years old. There is a longish vinyl pad under the foredeck. It is out of the weather and in a pinch, one could overnight in this limited cabin.

Figure on a 45 MPH cruise and about a 70 MPH top end as powered in this 1972 24’ classic GO-FAST cruiser re-do.

 

17’ Barbour wood boat 1958

speedboat water ski boat

 

This very nice Evinrude powered classic is what Seabuddy images when he thinks of a Barbour boat. Crafted in wood, mostly outboard powered, and under 25’ in length. Some inboards were in production, but they do not seem to have been collected / restored anywhere near as much as an outboard powered model. I also think of Barbour as a company of the 1950s-1960s, sort of near or at the end of the wooden runabouts era.

But, I would be wrong. This North Carolina boat company goes back to the early 1930s and it closed in the mid-1990s. World War II changed from a small builder to a large one with up to 1,200 workers. War contract work did it. Towards the end of the company’s business history, they built and serviced some of the ferries for the state of North Carolina’s ferry system. These were made of steel.

In wood, Barbour made runabouts and small cruisers for recreational boaters. The metal boats were the aforementioned ferries, tugs, research vessels, fire boats, troop transport vessels, fishing boats, and barges. Some of these were big boats. They made a 155’ tanker and 56’, 63’, 82’, 95’, and 100’ boats. Much of this steel production work started in a big way in 1957. It was the re-invention of the company that Herbert Barbour founded in 1932.

outboard wood boat

I like these restored wood runabouts, as Seabuddy’s first water ski boat was a wood one ( a made in NJ brand named Sea Mac) with a 40 HP Evinrude outboard. That boat got re-powered up to an 85 HP Mercury. I was a teen and that boat was my freedom before I got an car driver’s license at the age of 17 in NJ. I had taken the Coast Guard Aux course before the age of 10. I have boated a long time.

dash wood runabout ski boat