disaster in 1976 and the crew's two-week getaway down to Key
West, I returned home and found an apartment in Salem.
After getting moved in and settled, I bumped into Brad. He
was also looking for a place to live, so I invited him to move
in with me. Almost immediately, he began talking about
finding another big old classic wooden boat that needed work,
getting started all over again.
He did a lot of research, we drove all around
New England looking for "the good deal" from the coast of Maine
down to Long Island. We finally found the Idle Hours II, a
46-foot Dawn "commuter-cruiser" built in 1926, out on the
southeast tip of Long Island, stored at a marina in Shinnecock
Bay, not far inside the inlet.
Brad bought it and in the spring of 1977 we
went back down and got it, cruised it home to its new slip at
Beverly Harbor Marina. We both quickly gave up the Salem
apartment and moved aboard. The restoration and projects
began just as immediately.
The first project was to strip the battleship
gray paint from the topsides, then varnish the well-preserved
mahogany beneath. One of my projects was to better
insulate the big icebox beneath the starboard side salon seat
and convert it into a refrigerator, a new experiment for me that
took over a month to put together and perfect. As well as
working as a 110v refrigerator while dockside with shore power,
the added insulation kept blocks of ice longer.
In preparation for living aboard through the
coming winter, we added electric baseboard heaters with
individual thermostats in each cabin. Brad cut the cabin roof off
an abandoned boat and added it over the Idle Hours II's cockpit
on stanchions, as was the original style of the classic old
"commuter-cruisers" back in the '20s. (See "The Late J.C."
-- a sister-ship -- on the next page.)
We rode out "The Great Blizzard of '78) and
its 3-4 feet of snow aboard Idle Hours II, fortunately covered
from stem to stern with heavy canvas; just a flap opening to get
in and out of the cabin. After that storm and winter,
we were ready for someplace warm come the next one. Our
plan was to take Idle Hours II down the coast, through the
Intracoastal Waterway and down to the Florida Keys, come fall.
The restoration and projects continued
through the spring and summer of 1978: By the end of the
fall we were again ready to depart on a new adventure.
Since Idle Hours II was powered by twin gas engines, fuel alone
for the trip would be expensive. By the time for our
departure, we'd recruited a few friends who wanted to come along
and share the expenses. Besides Brad and I, his brother
Jeff decided to come along for the cruise down and brought two
of his friends, John Young and David Able. Our friend
Michael Kokernak, who'd moved aboard during the summer, also
signed up for the trip.
For the cruise, as well as being the ship's
official photographer I would be its navigator. Over the
summer I accumulated all the charts we'd need to reach Key West,
our ultimate destination, along with the coastal pilot and
tide-and-current books. Just before leaving we picked up a
Honda generator for general utility and to keep the 110v
refrigeration unit chilled while underway.
Bringing the boat back up the coast the
following spring, 1979, just Brad and I remained of the original
crew, joined by our girlfriends Linda and Alison.