Laughing Lady Catch Up

Laughing Lady  Catch Up

Most of you would be aware from the posts on ww that LL is undergoing a restoration at the Whangateau Traditional Boat yard, if not details here

I was chatting (e-mail) with James last week & he has just sent me a batch of photos of LL both in the 1960s while under the ownership of Robert Lion Gardiner & some photos of the work completed by Doug Jones & Fernando Alva of Traditional Boat Works. As an aside these two have also been working over the years on the restoration of ‘Therapy’, James Rhodes 33 yacht in San Diego. details here (scroll down, Mr Uroxsys had a few photo posting issues at the start 🙂

James mentioned a spot of good fortune / luck he had recently when he met with the previous owner, Bob Watkins. Bob is a marriage relation of Gardiner, & was kind enough to tell James a lot of her history & give him a collection of parts from his storage unit – including her original game fighting chairs (freshly re-chromed), some interior fittings, old photos, and the boats flag bag which contained the original skull and crossbones house flag of Gardiners Island and her New York Yacht club burgee.

The skull and cross bones refers to the fact that Captain Kidd buried his treasure on the island in 1699 and swore he would kill Lion Gardiner the 9th if it went missing.  Upon Kidds arrest, Gardiner directed the British Admiralty in its direction but the crowns inventory after digging it up by all accounts, was rather short.  Needless to say the Gardiners were always well off!

You can see the House flag flying in the old photos.

Bob recounted purchasing the boat from Gardiners widow, Eunice for a sum of $10,000 sight unseen and without survey in approximately 1998.

On arrival at the well known Driscolls Boat yard in San Deigo, he received a call to explain that his boat was there, unfortunately not in one piece, and every boat enthusiast and broker in the bay was stopping to view her as rumours spread about the unique vessel.

On inspection, the Volvo Pentas, (which replaced a pair of Chrysler inline eights in about 1987), were installed bolted to old frames and planking rather than new engine beds.  This, combined with four full 36 Gallon fuel tanks had resulted in massive structural bottom damage and the engines almost falling through her bottom during the trip from New York to Calfironia.

She was transferred to Clarke Custom Boats (which became Traditional Boatworks) where she was shored up, station molds fitted to return her to her lines, and the bottom essentially cut off.  Laminated frames were fitted, a large new section of stem glued in, and a double planked glued and screwed bottom of Cedar installed.  Up top there was some local splining and a full re-fastening.

The work done in San Diego was a sound basis for continuing the restoration and was was what justified taking the project on & transporting LL across the world to Whangateau :-).

Whangateau Update

Its not often we see the Whangateau Traditional Boat Yard like this i.e. a working boat yard, normally the photos show it masquerading as a smoko room for the brilliant open days at the yard 🙂 In the photos we see Laughing Lady’s new hand rails.

07-05-2016 updates


27-05-2016 Update – James words “One month of solid sanding and painting, its time to paint her blue, amped”

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28-05-2016 Update – 3 coats of blue on today, 2 more to go 🙂

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A little bit of a mirror finish happening here – the ‘model’ is Mark Lever, owner of the very smart classic launch Nereides

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20 thoughts on “Laughing Lady Catch Up

  1. Pingback: LAUGHING LADY – 1949 33’ USA LUDERS – COMMUTER / SPORT MOTOR BOAT REFURBISHED IN NEW ZEALAND | #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news

  2. Comment from James Brown re the flag bag photo

    “Don’t you understand? I have to take the flags down myself!” – Robert Gardiner, 1996. I was working as Assistant Dock Master at Gardiner’s Marina at the time. This was his reply after I offered to go to the Island and take down the flags for him, so he wouldn’t have to bother. Clearly, I did not understand.


  3. Hi Virginia, hope you are able to navigate your way around the blog and you can pick us up from here.
    Laughing Lady is in our work shop on the beach here in the Whangateau harbour. She arrived pretty much a year ago to the day, this distinguished vessel has brought some very pleasant attention to our rather isolated traditional boat yard, we have many visitors through watching the progress.
    James her owner has spoken of your son and his boat yard / business, Traditional Boat Works and we can see first hand the awesome work he does.
    What a wonderfull boat she is bringing folk around the world together like this. A tribute to Alan’s classic boat blog also.
    Leave it there for now hope to hear more from you again.


  4. Message from the USA
    I was sent, yesterday, a link to a post somewhere on LAUGHING LADY, a Luders launch which originally was used along the east coast of America, and then taken out to San Diego where my son Douglas Jones substantially rebuilt her — at least the bottom. At first he was working for Bill Clark of Clark Custom Boats and then, after BIll retired, Doug took over the business, and the boat. The owner ran out of money and out of energy and eventually Doug acquired the boat for the yard bill. He was delighted that she was purchased by folks from your side of the world, and shipped out there. He had hoped to find someone to finish off the rebuild in San Diego but that wasn’t happening and besides she’s not a boat for the California coast! I hope that perhaps you can send your blog to WOODENBOAT MAGAZINE (maybe you already do) and to CLASSIC BOAT MAGAZINE in England.

    Virginia Jones, Foxfire Marine Consulting, Box 400, West Tisbury, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, 02575, USA


  5. Hear, hear! And as for the treacherous Bellomont…. are there any of his relatives left to get even with, Harold? For some reason I had missed the fact that LL was a Gardiner vessel. Fascinating stuff! I believe that the arguably anachronistic Gardiner’s Island has been in the same family since the mid-17th Century and is the only intact piece of US land that was granted by the Crown. Gotta get up to Whangateau when next in NZ and have a peek.


  6. Alan,
    RUMRUNNER has been a recent discovery and she is most certainly lovely and incredibly quick. Very much in the style of Van Dams modern builds and masterfully built. I must say I’m not a huge fan of her fit out however.

    The Chryslers were actually a recent discovery after purchasing a 1961 copy of “Lloyds register of American Yachts”. I spent some time researching and see that Chrysler stopped producing straight eights in 1950 so I would assume the eights would have been the line of v8 marine engines produced right through to the 90’s.

    As much as I long for the no doubt incredible sound of a pair of straight eight flatheads, the safety of diesel prevails!


  7. Well I don’t want to be doing all the talking here, but I know James is involved with some lectures and exams again, hopefully he shall put a word in at some stage, but I’m certainly enjoying the ride now Alan : )
    I have not struck anyone that has not been taken up by her and her story.


  8. I do now seem to recall James telling me about the Chryslers in the first instance but I’m afraid there was so very much to absorb back then, I focused pretty much on just the task at hand.
    James had written some wonderful introductions for Laughing Lady around the time of her arrival for the local news papers and Alan’s blog and I guess in condensing her story they may not have had a mention. They have been the base for me to use in the re-telling of her story at the yard here.
    I’m from sailing stock Ken, a motor is only started in an emergency or when the wind has dropped out. I have never heard as much motor talk as I do now, from you guys on the blog here.
    I think you shall find James shall reveal all when he can. It’s very pleasant you would like to know about them.


  9. Oops — a little bit of a gap in my information here — In spite of much enthusiastic interest on my part & a visit to inspect her at Pam’s place, had never heard or read about the Chryslers, — had thought until now, she only ever had the 2 sets of engines. — KEN R


  10. The handrails on the bench are looking somewhat bulky, well of course there’s a lot of shaping to do yet, beveled both sides and the handholds become virtually a radius. If you look closely on the work bench we have one of the old ones to use as a guide, they shall become quite a delicate feature when completed.
    Still very much excited about every aspect of the project and having her here.
    Having James around shall help with the making of decisions, I think a real transformation is coming about with beltings and trims about to go on. Lots to do still.
    This post on the blog, the new found photos and pieces of her past pieced together seemingly take her into her second part of the process. I’m not about to say her restoration as that was carried out as you see in San Diego.
    The laughing lady team are a great friendly lot with their hearts in the right place and easy to work with.
    Ta for this Alan.


  11. Interesting reading, but I’d be obliged, Alan, if you could refuse to publish any further slander of my ancestor, William Kidd. Isn’t enough that he was hanged in chains, an innocent man, on trumped up charges, simply for failing to pay the kick-backs to the Governor of New York?
    And then there’s still that score to settle with the Gardiners…………………..


  12. Packard 1m-356 eights on launch.

    Some sort of Chrysler eights from the 60s, still need to research which model but 180hp according to her old registration docs.

    Volvos went in in 87 & got almost no use due to Gardiners age, health and his ban from Gardiners island due to family feuding (apparently they have 150 hours!)


  13. Alan, You mentioned the original engines as Chryslers above– I had thought they were supposed to have been 8 cyl line Packards — KEN RICKETTS


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