Wow, what a year! Hard to believe that summer is over and we are prepping for winter already. I slacked off on posts and updates on Naida and the Chris Craft all summer, apologies for that. We did A LOT of work on her over the last few months. Several upgrades, repairs, and improvements. All of which I will have to make posts for. But for now, enjoy some highlights from this past season!
She made it! After 6 days on the road (including one lay day due to driver’s max hours) she is back in Chicago! Thanks to Mark with Capital City Yachts and Winston Trucking she arrived in great condition, no damage inside or out. Pretty impressive considering she’s 83 years old and its a 2,000+ mile trip. The team at Canal Street Marina had to plow the yard, and do some creative engineering to get the crane unfrozen and functioning before her arrival. When I first proposed launching Naida this winter back in November they looked at me a bit funny, but as fate would have it we had perfect weather for the day of her launch. Sunny and almost 50 degrees with no wind, rare for February 14th.
I was fortunate to have several friends and family members on site to help unpack and clean her after arrival. Tiela Halpin was kind enough to come down and shoot some photos, while Charlie helped me get the mast stepped and engines ready to crank. Capt. Julie Means grabbed a razor and dug right into removing all the packing tape from the windows, not a fun task.
She was still watertight after almost 15 days out of the water and being transported cross country. She had a little leak in between seams under the aft deck, but by day two she had swelled up and the leaking has stopped.
It took several days to unpack and put everything away, Mark did a phenomenal job packing the boat, noting seems to have been damaged during transport. By Saturday evening she had been washed and unpacked, ready for some fun on Sunday.
On Sunday we had 20 guests aboard in the afternoon for a cruise. We were lucky to get a break in the weather and were able to enjoy some temps in the 40s and sun. I was surprised at how well 20 guests fit aboard, several in the salon, a handful on the aft deck, and a few on the bow. We even had chilli cooking in the galley and a full bar!
Overall we are very pleased with the yacht so far. She needs some work here and there, but what boat doesn’t? This week we will be sanitizing the fresh water system, and refreshing the DC electrical system and batteries. Naida has 7 batteries total, two massive 8Ds for the house, two group 24s for each engine, and a group 24 for the genset.
More on that project to come later…
They day is finally here!
The truck arrived late last night and got prepped for a 8am lift onto the trailer. Mark our phenomenal broker from Capital City was onsite to help facilitate the loading. Dennis, Naida’s previous owner was on site as well to lend a hand.
After the paint dried the process of loading her onto the low-boy trailer began. Winston Trucking is handling her transport and the driver was a real pro. He had her loaded, blocked and secured in no time.
We can’t wait for her to arrive, the staff at Canal Street Marina have been prepping a river slip for her, we are expecting her to arrive sometime next week, probably on Wednesday.
Thanks again to Mark, Dennis, Hans, and Winston Trucking for all the effort that went into preparing Naida for a safe journey home!
It’s been well over a month since I have put any time into Virginia, but as we get into February I realized I need to kick this project into high gear! I spent the past few days planning out how I am going to do the deck and interior, and while I wait for some materials to start that part I figured why not get started on the topsides.
The original plan was to veneer the topsides, but that was pre-Naida. Now the plan is to paint her topsides so she matches Naida, as Virginia will end up being her tender.
Virginia overall is pretty solid, but she did have an odd combination of some dry rot, and a golf ball sized hole on her starboard side just before the transom.
Back in November I glassed the corners, inside and out, and haven’t touched it since. First step before sealing, priming, and painting the topsides was to bust out the marine filler (aka Boat Bondo) and fill, then fair over this glass repair.
A heat lamp helped speed up this process as it was fairly cold in the shop today which slows drying times.
In the mean time I started sealing the port side, I used Interlux’s Clear Wood Sealer, the primer I am using is Interlux’s Pre-kote which really exposes any imperfections in the hull, it will have to be sanded and filled in a few spots before the next coat.
It felt good to make some solid visual progress on Virignia, espcially since I know once Naida arrives in Chicago she will be consuming most of my attention and time for a few weeks.
Stay tuned for more updates on both boats coming soon!
Shipping day is just around the corner! Naida is being hauled out a week early so the painters can sand the bottom to remove all the old antifouling and prepare it for several coats of an ablative paint we use here in the great lakes.
The broker and previous owner were kind enough to bring Naida over to Swantown Boatworks for haul out. This means Naida has left the boat house she has called home for 20+ years for the last time. On to new adventures.
Hans and his team at Osprey Boatworks have been awesome, Naida was hauled out and they started sanding work right away, paint had to wait a few days for a good weather window but they still had it done in time for shipment on the 9th.
We went with Sea Hawk AF-33 for antifouling paint, a base coat of black will serve as a signal coat with a top coat of red. If you use an ablative paint I highly recommend this method as it gives you visual feedback on the condition of your antifouling. If you see red, good to go. If black spots start to appear, it means it’s time to re-apply. Since Naida will be stored in the water year round this will make it easier to spot check the antifouling during the occasional haul out.
New zincs have also been put on, Naida is equipped with an electro-guard system, however since freshwater is less conductive than salt that system will not function in Chicago. So we have replaced all the standard zincs with magnesium replacements, Osprey also added shaft and rudder zincs for extra protection.
The paint job looks phenomenal, a big thanks to Hans and his team at Osprey, we are looking forward to seeing it in person next week.
A few years before I found Naida, her previous owners decided it was time to retire her old, tired Chrysler M-48 engines. After some searching they came across a Monk designed boat (Ed Monk was a well known naval architect in the PNW), the boat, which was originally from Olympia, was now located miles from water in Sparks NV. She still had her original twin Chrysler M-8 Royal engines from 1949 in decent condition. These are massive straight 8 engines originally designed for large sedans, what they lacked in horsepower they certainly make up for in torque.
The owner of the Monk boat had no plans on re-launching it, in fact he intended to turn the boat into a guest house on his property, so he had no need for the engines inside.
Upon returning to Olympia the engines were refreshed and given a fresh coat of paint. A Kohler genset was also purchased for Naida and preped for install. Before dropping in her new power plants the entire bilge was cleaned and painted, she hardly showed her 78 years of age!
Getting the old engines out, and the new massive replacements in proved to be quite the logistical challenge. The doors on either side of the salon were too narrow to bring engines out/in, so a dolly and track system was built that ran from the salon, aft though the master stateroom and onto the deck.
Overall it was an impressive feat, I wish that I had been there to witness it.
It has been several years since the refit and the engines and genset function perfectly in Naida, almost like they were originally designed to be there. We hope for many more years of reliable service, a recent oil analysis of both engines showed they are still in remarkable shape.
Well its, official! The seller accepted my offer, pending a survey. We eagerly schedued the survey for January and bought plane tickets to attend. On January 4th 2018 Naida was hauled out for pre-purchase survey & inspection at Swantown Marina & Boatworks in Olympia WA. Wayne of Flow Design inc. was the surveyor, and he did a phenomenal job. He went through every inch of the yacht, tapped out the decks, topsides, and hull. Only two minor soft spots were found, neither were relevant structurally.
After tapping out the hull, we removed six fasteners in various locations to determine the condition of the planking. Clean, corrosion free fasteners mean that the hull is tight with minimal water intrusion. Corroded, broken, or weak fasteners would lead to the assumption that the planks and stringers are compromised.
Well, as luck would have it, Naida’s hull and planks appear to be just as solid internally as they appear to be on the outside! Six fasteners were removed, two from amidships near the garboard, two near the bow, and two near the transom. All came out clean.
Not only did this confirm that the planks and stringers are in good condition, it also appears that Naida was refastened at some point with additional fasteners. More proof of her caring and meticulous owners over the years.
After re-installing fastners, tapping in new plugs, and applying some fresh bottom paint over the fasteners Naida was splashed for sea trial and the return trip to it’s boat house at Olympia Yacht Club.
After launch we boarded and prepared to fire up the twin 1949 Chrysler M-8 Royal engines, these are straight 8 engines that the previous owner replaced in 2015. Each engine produces roughly 135 HP, and is cooled via a keel cooler system which has minimized damage from saltwater.
For engines that are pushing 69 years old, they fired right up and ran extremely smooth. After backing off the dock and idling out of the marina we opened her up and the twin straight 8s stretched their legs. At 1750rpm she moves along nicely at almost 8knts, both the noise level in the main cabin and on the aft deck is surprisingly quiet. In the video below the water moving past the hull is louder than the exhaust at speed.
All in all Naida is in remarkable condition for her age, obviously her string of owners has cared well for this boat. No doubt being in a boat house for the last 20+ years has helped preserve her teak decks and brightwork. After the survey I had a small laundry list of work, including having a bottom job done before she is shipped to Chicago. If all goes according to plan she will be picked up on Jan 31st and arrive in Chicago sometime during the first week of February. We are eagerly awaiting her arrival here in Chicago, she will be promptly launched into the Chicago River upon arrival.
Henry C. Grebe & Company was the successor to Great Lakes Boat Building, which had started in Milwaukee in 1915 and moved to Chicago in 1921.
Grebe was a brand that was known for it’s quality design and craftsmanship, they built everything from power yachts, to schooners, and even minesweepers. Their yard was located on the west side of the river, just north of Belmont Ave, at the time an amusement park called Riverview Park was located across the river. The site that Grebe once called home has since been converted into a condo development.
Grebe built their last boat in 1970, after which they remained open as a service and storage facility until 1994.
During WWII Grebe built several types of military ships, the most common being minesweepers. Their wood hulls were ideal for trolling minefields and neutralizing mines.
What the Grebe Shipyard looks like today.
The engine that came with the boat is a 35HP 1957 Johnson Javelin. It is a 2-Cycle engine, and it has electric start, however it does not have a generator or alternator so it does not charge the battery.
The previous owner didn’t have much information on the engine, but it appears to be in excellent condition. To get ready to start the engine I replaced the plugs, and had to get a pressurized gas tank off of ebay. These engines don’t have fuel pumps, instead they take pressure from the tank, feed it through a secondary fuel line into the tank to pressurize the tank, which then forces fuel back up to the engine and into the carb.
The tank I bought off ebay had some some serious leaks, I had to order a new gasket set and rebuild the top half of the tank.
After some fiddling, and eventually some compressed air, I was able to get the tank to pressurize enough to fill the engine mounted fuel filter and the bowl on the carb.
I jury-rigged a start solenoid and switch, and after a few clicks it lit right up!
It ran pretty smooth considering it hasn’t been run in over 5 years, but the impeller would appear to be shot as it wasn’t passing water. I’ll have to replace that once the boat is ready to go in the water.
I love simple 2-stoke engines, they don’t take much to maintain, and they typically will outlast the boat.
Stripping the paint and deck went well, removed more of the interior and began stripping the varnish off the inside of the hull.
I have found the best product for stripping varnish & stain is Zissner’s StripFast, now I think this has been discontinued as I can not find it in stores any longer and have yet to find a replacement. If you have a favorite stripping product share it in the comment section below.
This was a multi-day process, applying the StripFast, scraping, stripfast, scraping… While this stuff is effective, it will BURN if it gets on your skin. Not to mention it will eat through gloves. I keep a bucket of soapy water near by incase it splatters onto my skin, you know when it does because it feels like someone is putting a cigarette out on your arm.
After stripping the interior down, sanding was the next step. Sanded with 60 grit, then 80 to get the last of the stain off and leave the wood with a fairly smooth surface.
While doing this I removed several pieces or poorly laid fiberglass in the bilge of the boat, it appears there was some rot that was dealt with by quickly laying glass over it. Once all of it is out I’ll take a deeper look and decide on the next step. One thing is for sure this bilge will be sealed this time around.