Thanks to fellow Woody Boaters Bridget and Steve Hains who sent in this inspiring story of the restoration of one cool little boat. We love stories like this. Take it away Steve.
Let me introduce you to Snazzy and more importantly Bridget Haines. Snazzy is a 1959 IdealCraft 15 Custom that Bridget purchased with a small loan from her mom and dad last March and took on a 15 month restoration. Bridget is 16 years old, a Junior at Nathan Hale Ray High School in East Haddam Connecticut, is captain of the soccer team and is an accomplished Violist and all around great kid. Her family has been into Woodyboating in Southern New England for years having owned a 1957 Chris Craft Sea Skiff and now makes it around in a 1967 Lyman Cruisette. Bridget has an older sister Katie and as the girls got old enough to drive the boat, Katie was first in the helm seat and really excelled as a boat pilot. When offered the chance to take her turn at the wheel Bridget deferred and exclaimed, “I will wait for my own boat”
So began a year long search for the right combination of seaworthiness, affordability and fun. Eventually she found “Miss Fitz” the 1959 IdealCraft outside of Atlantic City, NJ. She came across the article on Charles Preuss’ IdealCraft on your site and loved it. So She and dad Loaded up the truck with tools, jacks, spare parts and headed for NJ early one Saturday morning last March. When she arrived it was clear the boat needed some work. She looked it over and despite the hole in the bottom, pitted chrome various soft spots and obvious transom replacement she said, “I think we can do it”. They hastened some trailer repairs hitched up and headed back to Connecticut.
Once back in the Haines garage a thorough survey got underway with photo documentation and evaluation of every piece of wood in the boat. It was not long before she realized “Miss Fitz” was in for a total transformation. Dad emailed Charles Preuss in DC and got the background on his project and corresponded many times throughout the restoration.
Bridget had never done something of this scale but was game to learn and press on. Dad set to teaching her the skills, techniques and use of the tools required to move ahead. She pulled the seats and hardware, removed every visible screw then dad showed her how to find the invisible ones and she pulled those too. She corralled family and friends to help flip the boat over and spent last summer stripping off the bottom, stripping and sanding off years of finish. With dads help they dissected the boat down to its most basic components. Together they figured out what could be saved and what needed to be replaced.
In the end the boat has new bottom plywood, new floors, new deck plywood, and a new transom. All the frames were saved as were the covering boards, dash and other mahogany components. All the deck hardware was cleaned and polished including the snazzy pair of horns. Anything that could be moved to the basement shop for refinishing was, where it was stripped, sanded, bunged filled and epoxied back to perfection.
It was a long cold winter in Connecticut so garage work was a challenge. But Bridget had a goal. Get the boat in the water and bring it to the Southern New England Chapter show on July 11th. 2015 When the spring finally came it was time to being reassembly. On May 7th just over 2 months from the show date the “boat” sat in the garage, upside down, with no deck, no transom, no bottom, no frames but the first one. It was effectively two sides, a stem and a collection of parts. Later that day, the frames were in, the keelson back where it belong and “Snazzy” was on her way to Essex. Bridget’s mom, Irene, who is a paint and varnish genius provided instruction and got the interior staining and varnishing underway teaching Bridget the finer points of applying finishes so that she would be primed when the hull was ready. Every available weekend, evening and sometimes mornings before work and school were filled with Snazzy time.
Bridget and dad ran into the occasional slow down that pushed the schedule to the limit. In the last two weeks there was not a night that ended before midnight and a couple that ended just before dawn. It became a real family affair to get the boat ready, Katie helped sand, clean and chase parts. Mom was guiding the varnish and painting, took car of anything that was needed and most importantly provided 2am breakfast to keep the crew awake and moving. Uncles were pressed into service to get the 1979 Merc wired up and running. Friends were handed screw guns to get the hardware on and Bridget and dad kept on the critical path tasks to get to the show.
At 2:30 am Saturday July 11th, the day of the show, Snazzy was finished with Bridget and dad proclaiming… “I think we crushed it!”. After a few hours sleep, the family got up, drove to the show a few miles away and for the first time launched Snazzy right on schedule…. After a quick blast around the harbor Bridget and Snazzy took their place among the fleet of Chris Crafts, Garwoods, Sheperds, Lymans and others.
After a day of showing off her new boat, getting the opportunity to take her cousins out for their first ride in Snazzy and taking her first solo run to Hamburg Cove for a well deserved raft up and swim it was time for dinner and awards.
The judges awarded Snazzy a 2nd Place in the Outboard Class, having taken an appropriately major deduct for the late model motor. Bridget was thrilled about the recognition for her accomplishment. Later after the Best in Show awards went to a much deserving stunning Century and an impeccable Chris Craft. The show judges presented their Judge’s Choice award to Bridget for her work on Snazzy recognizing that she is a symbol of the next generation in this hobby. Bridget, Dad, Mom and sister Katie were filled with emotion as the tent was filled with applause.
I hope you will consider posting this on your site for inspiration for other to get involved and learn this wonderful hobby.
In full disclosure I am Bridget’s dad and could not be more proud of what my daughter has accomplished. It was a great pleasure teaching her the skills and even greater pleasure sharing my garage and shop with her and the rest of the family over the last 15 months. It was her drive, commitment and spirit that propelled this project to a wonderful finish. She is truly an amazing kid. I am also the incoming Chapter President of the Southern New England Chapter and will be working hard with our local partners to continue share this hobby and joy that it can bring.
My beautiful wife Irene has been my steady companion and friend for over 25 years and has been there to support me and our girls in this nutty hobby all for the joy of going for a boat ride. She really is a paint and varnish genius and despite my eagerness to be in charge she is always the one that does it right.
Bridget’s sister Katie is also very involved with the ACBS Chapter, as a member of the board of directors for the chapter, she been a judge for three years at Essex and at the Antique Rendezvous in Mystic , is as smooth at they get behind the wheel and is heading to Massachusetts Maritime Academy to pursue her dream of becoming a Coastal Harbor Pilot. Katie also built a cedar strip Paddleboard this past winter. I guess it is just something in the blood…