Newsletter Masthead - 34KB

[January 1999]


[March 1999]

Hello all,

We've been busy!  Lots of good stuff to report.  Both the forward and after engine space bulkheads are permanently installed.  For your information, the bulkheads are sealed at the hull with canvas and Dolfinite.  This installation may be our last use of Dolfinite on this boat! The crew is ecstatic.  The fuel tank foundations are done (and re-done).  We had another of those Higgins puzzles to solve with the fuel tank foundations.  It seems that Higgins made some alterations to the frame gussets in way of the fuel tank foundations in order to accommodate the design change from the round transom to the vee transom (our boat).  Ed Daroca and Al Haydel now know how to install fuel tanks in both boat types! Coming up to speed with this "learning curve" cost Ed and Al a day's work.  The good news is that the job is done right and the tanks will now fit right in.

Aubrey Adams, Ron Maranto and Ray Asprion have put the finishing touches on the deck supports and forward deck blocking.  We are ready to begin laying the decks on now.  Ed and Al have fit the after deck beams (over the rudder compartment), and this space will probably be decked over before the next newsletter.  Joey Madere has pressure tested the fuel tanks (they survived the test in fine condition) and they are ready to go in right now.  As soon as the tanks are installed we are ready to rough in our fuel piping and then deck over the space.  We are wrestling with how Higgins vented the fuel tanks.  Does anyone out there know?  Richard McDerby remembers them venting out of the transom, but we have no plans or pictures of how it was done.  In the absence of more information, we will vent them out of the transom (OK MAC ???).

George Benedetto and Earl Fredricks have the engine-driven and hand bilge pumping systems all plumbed in (Ed. note: Think Jimmy's a little ahead of the curve on this one).  By the way, since the last news letter we determined that we needed another Wilcox and Crittendon hand bilge pump.  The boat has two hand pump systems.  I was lucky enough to find an old friend in the marine supply and salvage business named Sam Laventhal. Mr. Sam couldn't help me, but he passed me over to his old friend Paul Alain at Dreyfouss Marine Supply.  Paul couldn't help with our pumps (but did offer other assistance!!!).  Paul told me to call his buddy "Max" in California. Yep, Max had TWO pumps!  What a deal!  We took both pumps figuring we could always use an extra.  By the way, thanks a lot Mr. Sam and Paul Alain (Paul, I'm going to talk to you about a few things we need very soon!).

We decided to put in two additional electric bilge pump systems.  Our engine driven system is one heck of a water long as the engine is running.  The hand pump system works in direct proportion to how scared you are of sinking...I've got all the faith in the world in our engine AND in the integrity of our hull, but we're still going with the additional electric pumps. It won't hurt to have them onboard.

Chris Labure of United Marine Survey came out to spend "an hour or so" with us, and stayed all morning and then some.  Chris is performing yeomans work putting a report together which will help assign a replacement cost to the PA33-21 for insurance purposes.  I gave Diana Gladwell of J&H MARSH and McCLENNAN insurance brokers a tour of the boat a couple of weeks ago.  Diana is working to assist us with our insurance needs.  Hats off this month to Dr. Richard "Sparky" Warren!  Doc has spent HOURS carefully grinding frame and frame gusset bolts.  This has been a very tedious job, and Doc has stuck with it and seen it through. Doc is also about to help us do some "cosmetic" surgery on the bow ramp.

Welcome aboard to Kirt Garcia!  Kirt is a volunteer at the National D-Day Museum, but now I think he's a Higgins man.  Last time I saw Kirt, Jim Weller was leading him away with paint brush in hand...and Kirt was SMILING!

Dan Gay and Janine Bowman have been putting their heads together on a Higgins web page. The page is online now!  Check it out when you get time, it is really good!  The page is "under construction" and I'm hearing that the final product will be world class.  Great work Dan and Janine!

The Wednesday crew painted the hull last week.  Brad Booth, Ron Maranto and Harold Buchler sanded and brushed a nice coat of haze gray on the sides and transom.

 We are looking good!  Brad Booth says Harold Buchler is one heck of a paint slingin' lawyer!

We have received the final plans for the long awaited cradle.  Jack Leary and Mike Dunn sent them over to me on 12 Feb and they look great!  Mike did a heck of a job for us on this.  We gave Mike an interesting challenge with this job, and we changed course a couple of times during the design phase but Mike hung with us and I think we have exactly what we need.  Now to get it built...Ed and Al are producing full size templates taken directly from the hull at the four places where the boat will actually rest on the cradle.  We want to be certain that the boat fits in it like a glove.  The fabrication shop will be able to make a direct tracing to steel plate from the templates we produce.  Graham Haddock is personally supervising these templates.

Bruce Harris has finished the foundation for our GROCO duplex raw water filtration system (sea strainer).  We've got the original unit (supplied by Chip Houston from Virginia).  This foundation was another Higgins puzzle, just like the fuel tank foundations.  Bruce stuck with it and (whew!!) the foundation is complete.  We have started to install ramp sheave brackets on the boat.  We will be running wire for the ramp before you know it.  Same is true for the steering cables.  Ray Asprion, Jim Weller and Roy Redler built the steering stand and it will be installed very soon. As soon as the stand is installed, the Higgins telescopic steering system goes in!  Jimmy Dubuisson and Spencer McIlvaine are standing by ready to run the wiring. Our electrical panel has been fabbed by U.S. Marine Inc., and it is ready to go.

Bruce Harris reports that we have only about 6 more weeks of wood working left.  The only things left to attend to after that will be engine installation, and other "metal" work!  Can you believe what you just read?  The project is nearing completion people...

I got a call from the Director of the Washington Navy Yard near Washington D.C. last week. They had been looking for a Korean War era Higgins boat for display in their museum, and had found a boat that could be "correct" for their purposes.  The Director and I had a very interesting conversation about the minutiae of these craft.  He is lucky he has a boat to start with. All we had was a concrete floor!  The same group of folks who restored the USS Constitution have agreed to assist the yard in their restoration, and I have pledged them any assistance we can render.  Their group is sending a contingent to visit us very soon.  We applaud their efforts and we are looking forward to seeing their finished boat!  Hey Joey, I think they are going to have to borrow your strut pattern (I'm not kidding).  They also need a special cradle...they are forwarding pictures to me now.

We had a hard time finding garboard drains (drains in the bottom of the boat in the garboards. These are planks which run fore and aft on each side of the keel), so Mr. Haddock made them for us.  He showed up at my shop to borrow my oxyacetylene rig one day (even brought his own fire bricks...) and fabbed up a good looking pair of drains for our use.  Another Haddock original!

Ray Asprion and I went to Gulfport to give a presentation to a Navy League chapter there. Mr. Robert Meyer (their President and a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliarist) was our host for the event. Our message was well received, and we look forward to several visits from our friends to the East!  Thank you again Mr. Meyer!

Aubrey Adams has volunteered to build a deck box for us.  Thank you Aubrey!  As soon as the box is at the workshop we will begin filling it with the items on our boat outfit list.

Erston Reisch volunteered to make a set of double braided nylon mooring lines for us.  Thanks Erston!  Donovans Marine continued their support of our project by donating more caulking and West System epoxy.  Steve Garner at Donovans has always been forthcoming with support and we are ever grateful.  Thank you Donovans!

Congratulations to Sheriff Charles Foti for receiving the Mayor of New Orleans' Military Advisory Council's "Friend of the Military Award."  The Sheriff has certainly been a friend of our project, and we congratulate him on this honor!

LOST AND FOUND - Someone left a black and white check mans insulated vest.  If you lost it, I've got it.

Each remaining issue of this news letter (only 8 left!) will contain a christening report from Karen Reisch.  We are fortunate to have Karen chairing our christening committee!


As mentioned in previous newsletters, our committee has been meeting regularly since July of 1998.  We are very lucky to have in our number a great group of volunteers who are dedicated to planning and executing the BEST possible christening event!

The Christening and Commissioning ceremonies will be held on Saturday, November 6th, 1999 at 12:00 Noon.  The site is the old Higgins yard on the Industrial Canal near Chef Menteur Hwy. This yard is now owned by Equitable/Halter, and it was the site of many WWII Higgins christenings and launchings.  Many thanks to our gracious host John Dane III for making the site available to us!  Sheriff Charles Foti has offered the support of the Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff's Office in preparing the site for the big day.

We are planning a solemn military ceremony - unique in that it will combine the christening AND commissioning of a vessel in one event.  Our sponsor will be Gail Higgins Jones of New Orleans, LA.  Mrs. Jones is the granddaughter of Andrew Jackson Higgins.  The boat will be commissioned by the Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, Admiral James Loy.

There will be many service and public dignitaries in attendance, and it is our goal to attempt to capture the flavor of a 1940's era christening event.  We are planning for lots of red, white and blue bunting, balloons and bands!

I will be asking you to send in requests for christening invitations in the next edition of this newsletter.

Karen Reisch

Jerry Strahan was contacted by the media firm in New York which is putting together the video for the Higgins Industries display in the National D-Day Museum.  They were looking for someone to do the voice over for the video...someone with a heavy Southern drawl!!!  No offense intended to any Northern readers of this news letter, but


I'll bet Jerry gets it fixed.  BTW, Jerry wrote the biography of Andrew Jackson Higgins.

Will Gougis, the head of the Coast Guard's Vessel Documentation Center in New Orleans (Will works at MSO New Orleans) has been assisting us in documenting the PA33-21.  Thanks for the help Will!  We should have our application in the mail within a week.  Gordon Grant is lending his complete attention to this important detail as well.


In the years prior to WWII, Higgins had built a special inspection boat for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The M/V Guyer (named for a Corps member) was a wooden boat which had two marine converted Liberty aircraft engines and could do 40 knots!  The boat was complete and ready for delivery to the Corps at the foot of Canal St. a couple of days prior to Mardi Gras. Mr. Higgins was very interested in clearing the boat out of the small plant at Felicity and St. Charles Avenue, but there was a problem getting a wide load permit to transit the boat through town because of Mardi Gras.  Someone came up with an idea...PUT THE BOAT IN A PARADE, AND MOVE IT THAT WAY!  So, the Corps boat joined Elks Krewe of Orleanians during its transit down St. Charles Avenue with Higgins Industries revelers aboard. You guessed it...the boat had to depart the parade route near the foot of Canal Street for delivery to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers!  This story comes to me from a Higgins retiree, and it is a classic!  You have to love Mr. Higgins' approach to problem solving!

[January 1999]

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