First off I would like to thank everyone for all their kind words and support; especially, Fred Scopnich and Beecher Halsey. Also, Ellen Slough for her generous gift, which I can hopefully exchange in a sail so that her “Dreamer” still lives.
This project had its start several years ago while visiting the home of Mrs. Ken Warner at Old Country Road, Westhampton. It was then that I noticed what looked to be an SS upside down, tucked away in the woods next to their garage. After inquiring about the neglected wooden hull with Mrs. Betty Warner, she said she would like her daughter to have the boat but she would keep me in mind. Eventually, I found out the boat belonged to her daughter, Ellen Slough. Ellen had been living in upstate Hunter, NY for some time.
Well, one year later, another phone call found the boat still there and Ellen still not wanting to part with her memories. Now, 3 years later I noticed the boat still there and I made one last call….. Ellen finally agreed to part with her. I arrived within two hours with trailer in tow to pull the SS from the woods.
That spring of April 2010, SS # 81, originally “Dreamy,” arrived here in East Quogue (probably not having left Westhampton, I guessed, for 30 years) and awaiting my enthusiastic restoration project. After a closer inspection, I realized she would need everything - new ribs, centerboard trunk, rudder, transom, deck beams and decking. The only thing that held up well was the white cedar planking; for some reason this material held up just fine, other than a few port starboard collisions, which resulted in some small pieces assembled with butt blocks needing some longer boards.
Fall of 2010 now arrived - our big boat was put away and a new wood burning stove donated by a good friend would keep me company along with some oldies on the radio . Long nights would be a phone call that it was 9 pm and did I “want dinner?” Sometimes the phonecalls alerted me that it had snowed twelve inches since I entered my workshop. Amazingly, this was one of my most enjoyable projects and, probably so, because of my need for a challenge after building my share of custom homes. Without the help of Beecher’ s first -hand experience and his ability to acquire the original templates along with Fred Scopnich’s 70 years of experience, this project would have taken much longer and I, possibly, could have lost motivation in the way that everyone has experienced.
If anyone thought that restoring the SS would be simple , I can tell you it was quite a challenge. During the process of dismantling her, I could see how the builder assembled this boat with the greatest amount of skill (a skill which has long since disappeared in the trade) and with the craftsmanship of the simplest of hand tool that, today, with all our great electric tools, we struggle to even come close.
I’m now left with a few final pieces to finish that hopefully will result in a few happy sails, as well as the knowledge of this boat’s past, along with every other SS that enabled us to enjoy our beautiful east end.
And while everyone won’t agree with the way I have personalized # 81 - keeping its original shape while adding newer modern harken block and hi-tech running rigging - I think the original builders would be proud to see that what they created is still being enjoyed some 100 years after their original ideas. They created a small bay boat that would be simple so that everyone young and old could enjoy this wonderful special place we now call home.
You’ll see #81 on the water soon!
UPDATE: July 4th Launching of "Dreamer!"
Today was the day. Independence day free from the forest and rotting wood. With the help of two friends we gave her a little toast and eased her into the bay. Masterfully restored SS 81 now sailed across the bay ...oh what a dream she is. E & J