Newsletter Masthead - 34KB

[October 1998]


[December 1998]

Saturday, October 31st was certainly a red-letter day at the Higgins Boat Project!  It was really a three ring circus....There was Lloyd Lovitt from Memphis Tennessee inspecting the Boat with Graham Haddock.  Mr. Lovitt, as a young U.S. Navy officer was assigned to Higgins Industries at the outset of WWII as a U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships inspector.  There was the gang, installing a silver dollar in the skeg (brings good luck you know).  The coin was bedded in Dolfinite (Joey Madere's idea, brings double good luck).  Then the skeg / strut / maneuvering rudder and port / main rudder and port were all permanently installed.  What a sight!

Richard McDerby was keeping an eagle eye on ALL of that underwater gear...he wants to be darn sure everything stays where it's supposed to be when HE hits the beach with this boat!

Gail Higgins Jones (our sponsor) was there.  She has known Mr. Lovitt since she was a little girl. Her dad (Andrew Higgins Jr.) used to take her to ride horses at Mr. Lovitt's years ago and she and Mr. Lovitt have kept in touch over time.  Gail had a proud look in her eye as she watched our crew fasten down the skeg.

Mr. Haddock and Mr. Lovitt had a long conversation about our plans set.  He confirmed that we are in fact building ALL of the correct features into our Boat.  He had been in charge of standardizing the Higgins boat plans for all yards producing boats for the government, and he and Mr. Higgins had traveled the country visiting those yards to ensure the standardization process.  Yes, they even visited "Chris Crate" (Mr. Haddock's term of endearment for Chris Craft) in Algonac!  Even small differences in boats from different yards were causing headaches for the fleet as they readied damaged boats for the next assault.

When Mr. Lovitt and I met he told me "I want you to know that this boat is absolutely representative of boats I saw being built at Higgins Industries during the war."  I asked him if he had any change orders or suggestions for us, and he said none were required.  We were to stay the course!  Well, I was really happy to hear that.

In the midst of all this, with cameras snapping and Diana Baker and crew filming...there was our crew, desperately trying to get some work done.  Joey Madere was more than mildly irritated. Ed Daroca and Al Haydel were being admonished for making too much noise.  There were the Coast Guard Bowmans impatiently tapping their feet on the hull, wanting to get to work. Recording history and getting a landing craft built are two separate missions that do not necessarily marry up well!  Despite all of the hoopla, our crew DID accomplish a lot of work.

As nice as it was to see the history happen, what I appreciated most was seeing Al Haydel working on that hull.  Al will wince as he reads this, but he is our larger than life "Paul Bunyan" character on this project.

Al has been faced with some major challenges in his life lately, and he is recovering from major surgery - but you would never know it.  There he was up there on the hull sanding away.  I have to imagine his doctors would be concerned about him getting sawdust in his lungs through that hole in his throat, but Al's not gonna let a little thing like that stand in the way of progress. Al is a horse.  He has always been "there" for this project from the beginning.  Most don't know it, but Al is the guy who was first on scene at our workshop.  He volunteered to measure, sketch and estimate material we needed for the workshop fence.  Wild horses can't keep Al from seeing this through.  I'm speaking for everybody on the project when I say we are very proud to have Al Haydel in our midst.  OK Al, you can relax, I'm done (for now).

Karen Reisch was awarded the ANDREW JACKSON HIGGINS AWARD by the Mayor's Military Advisory Council.  This award is given annually to the area citizen who has been most supportive of the military in the Greater New Orleans area.  Karen is very deserving.  We are very proud of you, Karen!

By the way, Karen is super busy with christening issues for us.  This is a BIG JOB!!!  While I'm talking about our crew, I've got to tell you a little story about Janine Bowman (LTjg, USCG). Janine and her husband David have been an incredible team for us on the boat.  When we decided to rout all of the seams between the bottom planks, George Benedetto built a router guide to make the job easy (and straight).  We are talking HUNDREDS of feet of routing here people!  Well, on routing day George was out of town and no one realized a routing jig existed. Janine thought the job had to be done by hand.  No one told her a jig existed!  She routed every seam with no jig!  Talk about STRAIGHT LINES!!!  If this is lost on any of you, TRY it sometime.  UNBELIEVABLE job Janine.  You had some serious woodworkers in awe of the work you did.  Now, what some of you don't know is that Janine is one of the finest pistol shooters in the United States!  Yep, she sure is!  (Janine, all of that DRY FIRING was good for something wasn't it?)  I love this story.

George Benedetto and I met with Jack Leary and Mike Dunn at the boat a week ago.  Jack is the engineer who we have selected to design our boat cradle.  All of you who regularly read these newsletters know that I have been worrying over this issue for months.  Jack is going to do a great job, I'm certain.  Mike has been calling with lots of great questions as they are working out the preliminary plan.

Hebert Steel came through with some great fittings and weldments.  They are galvanized, epoxy primed, painted and ready to bolt on.  Thank you Ed Daroca and Hebert Steel!

Manufab has the drawings for the ramp sheave brackets.  They will be producing these very soon.

The fuel tanks have been primed and top coated.  They are ready to install.

We can't find the correct cleats for the boat.  I shipped the best one we had from the Irish Bayou wreck to a company in Maine.  This outfit will cast a set of cleats for us using the one I shipped as a pattern.  That good old wreck sure has been handy.  We have Bert Duplantis to thank for that.  We wouldn't have the wreck if it weren't for Bert!

OTECH has begun the refurbishment of the bow ramp.  We are tracking well on this.

The crew caulked the bottom planks on the day before Thanksgiving!  We used the 3M 5200 caulk (white).  We will sand and prime / paint the hull by 30 Nov 98.

The roll-over crate is constructed around the boat now.  It is a VERY well built crate at that. Graham Haddock and Dave Sintes teamed up on the design.

We will roll the boat on 07DEC98 at 0900 HRS.  Dave Sintes is in charge.

Many thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Robert Meyer for their great donation to the project!  Mr. Meyer is a USN veteran of WWII.  Thank you very much sir!

The Masters, Mates and Pilots Union also sent us a great gift!  Thanks to Captain Ed Higgins for helping.  (Ed is AJH's nephew, and he has a son on active duty in the USCG).

DONOVAN'S MARINE keeps coming up with supplies when we get in trouble.  Thank you very much Mr. Garver for the help!

Thank you WIRE ROPE CORPORATION OF AMERICA for providing us with some great wire rope!!  Mr. Louis Rolfes of Metairie, LA helped us get this stuff!  Thanks!

Earl Fredricks has been running around like crazy seeing to all kinds of things for us.  Earl has been doing the circuit between MANUFAB, LOWERY BROTHERS, OTECH, HOBSON GALVANIZING etc etc.  Earl is a Korean War USN vet, and is a highly respected Marine surveyor.  We couldn't have a better man on the job!  Thank you Earl.

We will christen the boat on 06 NOVEMBER 1999 at 1200 HRS.

We are less than a year away from THE DATE.  The pace is moving very rapidly now.  We are beginning to move in several dimensions now.  Woodworking, Machinery, Electrical, Cradle and Christening issues are all hitting us.  This is a progression that is to be expected, and it is a sure sign that we are getting close.  Mr. Haddock says you can't launch a boat until the weight of the paperwork equals the weight of the boat.  We have to be close!  Mark your calendars accordingly.  November 6this the date.

Sorry this newsletter has so few paragraphs, I had to pack lots into our 3 pages!

[October 1998]

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[December 1998]

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