A Classic Wooden Sportfisher Yacht

Restoration Begins
On September 13, 2005 at 1:46 pm on a balmy afternoon day, the seventy nine-year old, Ida May, was gingerly lifted from the water and dry docked at San Rafael Yacht Harbor in Northern California. The monumental task of restoration began. 

The yacht, Ida May (ex-Ida M., Ruth L. and Nada III) is a 1926 Sportfisher being totally restored to original. Meticulous workmanship has been preserved over the years. She is considered one of the oldest sportfishers still existing and the finest representation of a classic yacht. The yacht was once considered the fastest of its day. All of her integrity of form and workmanship will be restored.

The Ida May includes original teak interior (90%) and workmanship, handcarved ornate teak panels with a marine scene, twenty beveled glass windows, cut glass lights, six built in bookcases, eight large windows that slide in main cockpit wheelhouse, built-in tool boxes and fish tackle box, one original copper ice box, and one large fish and bait well. In addition, two teak and brass fighting chairs, three control wheels, polished brass sink, sliding head door, oval arched doors throughout yacht with cut glass knobs. All metal inside and out is polished brass.

The hull was redesigned and rebuilt three times by Mr. Van Brunt who wanted a large flaired hull so water would spiral off away from the boat. The Ida May was considered the fastest boat in 1926 reaching speeds in excess of 30 knots. The yacht was triple planked at a time when most boats were single or double planked.

The Ida May is a very rare example of America's wealthiest men and how they spent their social hours. This is a one of a kind vessel with no expense spared in materials and craftsmanship.

Areas of Significance Include:

Architecture: Early American vessel, 1926 (unheard of triple planking - mahogony over two layers of diagonal cedar)
Technology: Advanced design for its' era (sleek hull with and excellent weight to HP ratio)
Military: Coast Guard Patrol Boat (World War II)
Design: One of a kind and known to be the fastest of its day
Recreation: Sportfishing
Invention: First Marine vacuum gauges installed
Historic: Listed as a historic vessel, Dept. of Interior, Washington D.C.

Learn more about the Ida May's Shipwright, Darren Parker.
Working late at night around 11:00 pm on September 26, 2005.
Stripping paint: tedious and gruelling, but quite rewarding when the paint is all off.
The Ida May being restored at the San Rafael Yacht Harbor.
Removing the rubrails.
The old transom is removed.
More layers of paint to remove.
Photos of The Ida May, Laurel and Hardy, and Ruth Laurel
Paint stripper being rolled on.
The paint bubbles after 5-10 minutes of application of paint stripper.
This is what it looks like when the paint is scraped off.
Scrapping the paint off inch by inch, hour by hour.
After the paint is scraped off by hand the paint is then sanded with an electric sander utilizing 100 -120 grit sandpaper.
Paint is also meticulously removed from the seams on the port side.
Past midnight on a cool October night the paint on the starboard side is stripped and sanded.
Bob and Steve work for a few months straight almost every night after work and many times past midnight.
Steve inspecting the hull. Note the bubbling of the paint on the lower left. She's ready to strip.
Late at night and exhausted, October 6, 2005 primer is finally being rolled on.
Find out more about the people involved with the Ida May's Restoration
The phases of the transom being renovated.
Caulking the seams. Before and after photos below.
Sanding the bow stem's brass plates.
A total of 21 layers of 1/4 inch mahogony with penetrating epoxy was layered to replace the old bow stem. This should last longer than 80 years.
Blocking being prepared for the stern of the boat. A complex system is carefully laid out to be epoxied and placed in the bildge as seen in the picture to the right.
Work begins inside the Ida May, with the gunwale being sanded.
The deck rails being sanded and stripped of old flaking varnish to get ready for a 12 new coats of varnish. Due to the challenging curve of the rails sanding was done solely by hand and took over 20 hours of sanding.
A total of 15 coats of Epifanes varnish was applied to the transom.
The forward cabin walls being prepared for painting.
The hull was carefully faired for scrapes and holes with a mixture of epoxy, cabosil and 410. A fourth coat of primer was then applied after sanding.
Already well over 2000 man hours have been involved with this restoration project.  Starting in the fall of 2006 to 2008 we completed “Phase I” improvements, those critical items identified in the survey we engaged Kent Parker (Parker Marine Consultants) to perform in September, 2005. When we acquired the Ida May, most finishes were badly weathered, and there were several structural issues that required repair. The keel was surprisingly straight and the hull very fair. At haul out, we completed the following “Phase I” repairs:

1) The existing transom, which showed signs of weakness, was removed. A previous owner had installed a veneer of teak over the original mahogany planking. We built a new mahogany transom, painted and gilded her name, and varnished to a beautiful finish.

2) Two planks were replaced at the waterline, where several graving pieces from a poor early repair were loose.

3) The inner planking, doubler blocks and portions of hull framing around the rudder shaft logs showed hydroxide damage. We replaced the aftermost four frames with laminated mahogany frames and replaced all blocking in this area.

4) The forward exposed portion of the mahogany stem showed grain bond failure. This was cut off, revealing sound wood interior, and was replaced with a tedious mahogany lamination and the bronze cutwater polished and reinstalled.

5) Virtually all brightwork has been refinished, and all brasswork polished. Virtually all painted surfaces have been refinished.

6)  Additional miscellaneous electrical, plumbing, and other minor repairs were made.

The second phase.....

Phase II consists of the ongoing process of refinishing all wood surfaces, including well over 600 square feet of varnished and oiled teak. While we do have more coats to go in places, we have improved nearly all surfaces and are thus approaching completion of this phase of work. This phase also includes preparations for “Phase III”, the re-power. There were no engines installed when we acquired the Ida May.

In the Spring of 2010, topside paint was applied after days of fairing and sanding. Solid bronze rubrails, cleats and clam shells were replaced back on the boat. The decks were painted and non-skid was applied. New canvas was installed at the aft enclosure with the help of Cyndi Champagne. John Blair helped with much needed bottom paint a job we were happy to delegate out after our experience doing this grueling work in 2006.

The single most important person in the repairs and improvements is Andy Richardson, an individual whose reputation for excellence proved true with the Ida May. He completed all of the structural repairs itemized above, and has been remarkably patient and helpful in educating us, enabling us to undertake a tremendous amount of work ourselves. The painting and gilding of the boat name on the transom was accomplished by the wonderfully talented Brian Rutana, who operates out of Sausalito.

Repairing holes on the deck. Epoxy has been dyed to blend in with teak decks.
Preparing the Wheelhouse cabin top for a fresh coat of paint.
Decks sanded and Tung oil is applied
To contact us please send us an email at ida.may@hotmail.com
Click here to learn about our Research Trip to Catalina Island
March 17, 2010. 20th coat of varnish on the transom. 2 coats of Awl grip topside paint over 4 coats of primer.
A "beach" was created with sand to prepare for the non-skid decks. Note the sand on wet paint on the starboard side and wet paint on the port side. The sand was sifted through a pale with multiple holes punctured through the bottom with a nail.
Paint being rolled on two days later allowing the sand to set in the paint before being sandwiched with more paint. A heavy padded paint roller was used. 
Prepping the decks for a non-skid deck. Corners and edges were rounded by by tracing the edge of a water bottle on blue tape and carefully cutting the tape away.
My son, Connor, decides to help out!
Until he finds his Nintendo game.
Non-Skid Deck Project
After 3 coats of paint and the inner blue tape removed the decks look pristine!