Newsletter Masthead - 34KB

[July 1998]


[September 1998]


Another productive month with lots to report....

Planking continues, about 75% complete.  This job has been slow and tedious.  The crew is doing a great job of maintaining tight fit ups on all of the planks.  The original method of caulking the planks when the bottom was completed called for cotton and oakum (a fibrous hemp looking material) being pounded between the boards.  The idea was that the caulking would "plug" the inevitable gaps, and the wood would swell in the water.  The combination of the cotton / oakum / wood swelling (hopefully) would give you a dry boat.  I hear wooden boat owners think it's fun to worry about things like this.


We are very interested in maintaining our hull in the best possible condition for YEARS.  AND none of us wants a leaky boat.  You see, our wish to use this LCVP once a year or so and then store it in an air conditioned environment for the rest of the time really presents us with challenges.  We are investigating the possibility of using a modern "watertight in a tube" caulking system.  If we do this, it will be a major departure from "original" specs but the process is reversible.  If the boat is "retired" from service one day, the modern caulking system can be routed out and the boat could be re-caulked using the original method.  In case you are wondering, there will be very little visual difference between the two methods when complete. It all gets a good coat of GRAY PAINT!

The crew has gotten an awful lot of work done in the cargo bay.  Just about the entire deck support structure is installed.  Working upside down in all of that heat presented a serious challenge to our workers.  THEY DID IT THOUGH!  At this writing, the work in the cargo bay has gone about as far as it can go while the boat is still upside down.  We are almost done plugging the screw holes in the sides / transom.  There are a couple thousand plugs installed with epoxy and then sanded and faired to the hull.  The resultant work is really beautiful. Again, superior craftsmanship from our crew.  We still have to plug all of those screw holes in the bottom planks though!

We had a good month of "welcome aboards" for new helpers:

RADM Paul Pluta, USCG (never thought I'd see an Admiral paint a boat....)

Janine and David Bowman (another USCG family)

The Fisher family (friends of the Daroca's)

Mr. Jerry Fortier

Note: RADM Pluta is the Eighth U.S. Coast Guard District Commander.  RADM is a very enthusiastic supporter of our project.  THANKS SIR!

Dave Sintes came through with more plywood scarfing for us.  Again, I can't tell you how important Dave's work has been to us.  Thanks again Dave!

THE ENGINE IS ON SITE!  Yep, it's a genuine WWII 64HN9 Graymarine ready to go painted correct color Stewart & Stevenson rebuilt LCVP ENGINE !!!  Ever seen grown men have their pictures taken with an engine (probably motor mac types...)?  Seriously, we are very happy to have it delivered to the boat.  What a tremendous gift this is from Ralston Cole and Stewart & Stevenson Engine Services, Inc.

Mr. Cole, we'd be breaking out the paddles if we didn't have your help.  Thanks, sir!

Sheriff Foti and company made a run to Hammond, La. to retrieve our skeg.  It was delivered to Riverside Lumber for planing.  Thanks again Sheriff Foti !!

The roughed-out skeg is now at the boat.  The crew will be attacking it with every hand-held power tool know to man - very shortly, and it won't be easy.  Anybody want to guess how many power tools the headlog killed??? (Standard joke...the headlog was like carving a 10 foot wooden duck decoy, and it killed it's share of power tools).  This job looks like a 20 foot duck decoy!

Karen Reisch and LT Glynn Smith USCG are heading up the christening committee.  They are on a roll as of this writing.  I'll keep you informed as to their progress.  I'm hearing balloons, red white and blue bunting, brass band, champagne from Normandy and BOAT RIDES !

Go get it Karen and Glynn!

Joey Madere and Graham Haddock have calculated the location of the shaft log hole in the hull. We may be drilling next Saturday.  Joey wound up having to do a full scale lofting of the keel in order to lay out all of the components so we can do it RIGHT.  You will hear a collective sigh of relief when this operation is complete.  The good news is that the full scale loft helped us produce a template which we will use to cut the skeg.

Some D-Day Museum information:

The museum is fast-tracking now.  "Private Ryan" has produced a tremendous ground swell of national attention.  All of this has been of tremendous assistance ($ and otherwise...) to the museum.  Mssrs Spielberg and Hanks have recently kicked in some major money.  The museum now has it's Curator on board, Mr. C. J. Roberts, and he is beginning to organize the museum display.  C.J. was most recently employed as the curator of the George C. Marshall Foundation Museum in Virginia.  A hearty Higgins welcome to you C.J.!

To quote the museum's latest brochure:

"Highlighting the D-Day Museum will be a replica of the Higgins Landing Craft (LCVP), designed and manufactured in New Orleans and credited by General Dwight D. Eisenhower as pivotal to Allied victories because of it's ability to land troops and supplies directly onto the beaches."

How's that for buy-in to our project?  Jerry Strahan and I are working closely with the museum right now, to ensure that the boat and the Higgins collection are displayed properly and prominently at the museum.

The Orleans Parish Levee District continues to be a wonderful host to us.  Max Hearn, Chief Lewis, Carol Kiefer, Al Spellman (and crew) and of course the Board itself have made life easy for us in more ways than you know.  We have been in their "home" for over a year now, and we do appreciate the hospitality.  The Levee District took a BIG chance on us people ("Hey, how are you?  We want to build a landing craft at your place...") and I want all of us to remember how LUCKY we are to have them as our hosts.  THANK YOU!

Ellis Joubert did a beautiful job of refurbishing an original Graymarine engine ID plate for us. The plate was a paperweight on the desk of CWO Tom Mackey, USCG for years.  Thanks Tom and Ellis.  Jimmy Dubuisson will be attaching it to the engine ASAP.

Best wishes to Al Haydel as his recovery continues.  Al was back on the boat just days after major surgery.  The safety officer just can't stay away!  We want you back to full speed soon Al.  TRY to listen to those docs!

Harold Buchler Sr. gets the purple heart award this month.  He did a real number on his thumb after tripping on an extension cord.  HEADS UP !!!  As we get closer to finishing, spirits will be higher.  Morale is great.  Things are falling into place just fine.  Now more that ever we must think SAFETY.  Remember my words.  Last time I counted, we hadn't lost anyone and everybody had all of their fingers and toes.  A serious accident will cast a pall on this project which we will never forget.  We have some dangerous work ahead.  Turning the hull.  Handling a 300-lb skeg 10 feet in the air.  Hoisting a 2000-lb engine.  Get the picture?  Everybody keep an eye on each other please!  I hope my comments leave sobering thoughts...they are intended to do so.

Late breaking news...Aubrey Adams just called.  He will have his business moved and back in shape very soon.  We'll be seeing a lot more of Aubrey shortly.  Aubrey has also volunteered to make a wooden "casket" for the "remains" of the christening champagne bottle.  He'll use scraps from the boat.

Here's looking to a very busy and productive September!

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