Chip Ford's 1974 Catalina 22 Restoration Project
Sail #3282  l  Marblehead, Massachusetts

My Second Experience Was Better!
The Idle Hours II (1978-79)

See also the Log/Journal

- Page 1 -

Following the Even Song 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.

Click thumbnails for a larger picture


By the fall of 1978 we'd already done a lot of work on Idle Hours II.  After buying the boat in Long Island and bringing it home to Beverly, we'd stripped the topsides of its battleship gray paint and restored it to varnished mahogany.  All the obvious flaws had been remedied.  We hauled her out at the Winter Island Boatyard and refinished the hull and bottom.  (Note my boat lettering sign in the cabin window!)  As Brad stepped out of the salon we were ready to launch, late September, 1978.

Michael Kokernak, me, and the two boat dogs, my Rip the yellow lab, and Brad's Angus, a newfoundland.

My then-girlfriend, Alison, did the honors that evening, smashing the bottle of champagne against the bow . . . and Idle Hours II was on it journey down the ways.

Another unusual mishap.  The railway cable snapped while lowering Idle Hours II, it slammed into the cove.  To think, just a day or two before we'd been laying beneath the boat grinding down the bottom paint!

But all's well that ends well, and Idle Hours II was successfully launched.  We were just glad that the rudder and wheel were set straight when she hit the water!

My family had a bit premature birthday party for me, since I wouldn't be here for it, and appended a Bon Voyage to the cake.  L-R, in the front row is my mother, my then-girlfriend Alison, and my youngest brother Bob; back row is my dad and brother John.  (That's my original artwork hanging behind!)

Alison's looking cute but a bit forlorn.  She wasn't invited to come along on our cruise -- none of our lady friends were.  This was to be a guys-only cruise of the Eastern Seaboard undertaken by a crew of pirates.

After wintering aboard through the "Great Blizzard of '78" back in February, on the morning of October 4th the Idle Hours II was ready to go to kinder climes.  (Oct. 4, 1978)

Neither my girlfriend Alison (left) nor Brad's Linda were ecstatic about our departing and leaving them behind, but they showed up for the send-off.

(L-R): Michael Kokernak, John Young, David Abel, and me (crew), Alison Page, Linda Snigowski (non-crew), and Brad Barrows (skipper). Jeff Barrows, Brad's brother, isn't present in this photo -- he probably took it.

Backing out of our dock at Beverly's Port Marine for the last time.  Twin screws are nice for steerage in reverse.  (Oct. 4, 1978)

Our friend and dock neighbor -- Bill McGrath aboard his "Bunny B" -- came down to see us off and snap a few photos.  Our reputation and plans by now were notorious around the marina.

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See also the Log/Journal

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