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Yesterday, I was privileged to join a small group of friends of the extended Dreyer family at Omaha wharf to celebrate the re-launching of Laughing Lady, owned by brothers James & Michael.
 It’s hard to believe it was over 4 years ago that I first talked to James about the purchase of Laughing Lady in the USA & where would be a good home for her during her restoration. Given James overseas work schedule & desire to be hands on with the project, there really was only one option – the Whangateau boat yard, so that was where she went, just under 4 years ago.
With projects of this size & standard – the end result is always a reflection of the number & calibre of people that have ‘rubbed-up-against’ the vessel, in LL’s case there have been a lot – from Pam, George, James & an army of friends & family. As time ticked on & a re-launch date was set, more wooden boat artisans were roped in. Having seen LL in the flesh, the photos above do not do justice to the work that has been done on her, everyone should take a well deserved a bow.
I was very pleased to see that the project has been a restoration, not a rebuild, James & Michael have kept most things as close to ‘as-launched’ as possible – sure there is modern material & technology in play but its tucked away out of view – the GPS / nav unit is a perfect example, when not needed, it drops down out of sight – very James Bond.
Stunning boat, but the big question, where to keep her – anyone got a vacant boat shed for hire?
I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I did taking them.
The old lady has had a lot of air time on WW – click the clinks below to view the process (top > bottom) – enjoy
This link will show you photos of her being re – floated

Laughing Lady Updates



Laughing Lady June 2016 Update
photos ex James Dreyer

Chatting with James on-line a while ago I nudged him for an update on LL. As ww followers will know the Lady has been tucked up in the shed at Whangateau Boat yard for over two years getting a serious over-haul from Pam & when in country James + hangers on. James & LL’s co-owners re to be commended on they desire to return LL to her former elegance – below is the note James sent me (slightly edited)

“I was hoping to get some varnish on the topsides before departing offshore and subsequently photographing her looking sharp and shiny but it didn’t happen.  We did, as you know get her in her new coat of Flag Blue.  Unfortunately the port side will need a re-shoot due to some sags – the weather was not in our favor the day we had to spray. We will definitely be in better shape to give a good update in August as we should be well on the way with putting her together.

Pam and I had a bit of a discussion recently and think it is probably worth me commenting on the dark two part LP finish that I have gone with, before the armchair generals and experienced boat builders / owners wade in.  There has been many well qualified comments about the potential for paint failure over the last two years and they have certainly been weighed up and taken onboard.
When LL had her hull rebuild in San Diego, she was taken back to bare wood, re-framed and re-fastened, then impregnated with two coats of epoxy and many seams were splined.  She is tight seamed double planking and the new bottom is double planked and epoxy glued.  The paint system that was applied to her extremely fair hull 10 years ago in San Diego is a two pack epoxy / LP system – Awlgrip above the waterline and International below.  After 10 years sitting in a semi finished state, in the rather extreme conditions of an inland San Diego yard, she had cracked and opened a number of seams, but to be honest, no more than the single pack finishes on the boats around her.  

My concerns were that she would move significantly once parked in the Whangateau shed as she adapted to the cool, moist environment.  Pam repaired various areas that were in need, primarily around the extreme flare and planking twist in the bow, then built a good base of primer.  We let her sit for a year in primer, and surprisingly there was no movement or cracking to speak of.  To strip her back to bare wood was to remove the hundreds of hours of fairing and painting that had been never seen the water even though it was done years before.

On this basis and after much deliberation and discussion, I chose to continue with the two pack system.  The aim from the start was to get her in the water and in use as soon as practicable (as far as restorations go).  

For the first 50 years of her life, she was painted jet black and spent hot summers in the water around Long Island and her winters in a snow covered shed.   After the work in San Diego she was painted Awlgrip royal blue.

We chose Awlcraft Flag blue as the topside color.  Awlcraft has some more give (urethane rather than polyurethane) and can be locally repaired and polished.  My goal was to have her looking as close to original as possible when she launched, and the dark hull is truly striking as I’m sure everyone agrees.

I am well aware that the system will probably show some failures around the seams as she moves.  Its also likely that we will be painting her white in a few years, but to me it makes sense to let her out the door in the current (gorgeous) state and see how she fares.  If need be, we will re-wood her and go single pot, but if not, then a white two part system will continue to be used”

REMEMBER – To enlarge a photo – just click on it 😉

16-07-2016 I received an email from James today with the 2 photos below attached – when LL was launched she was powered by Packard straight 8’s, nowadays is powered by twin Volvo turbo diesels. In his travels overseas James came across the engines below – my response to the email was short – “WALK AWAY & DO NOT LOOK BACK” 🙂


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August 2016 Update (ex James D fb)

It appears with the hull painted its now down to the shiny stuff 🙂



01-09-2016 Update ex James fb

Applying 24k gold leaf to the carved details on Laughing Ladys hull. The first arrow head needs a little tidying up, but with some more practice the unique scroll work detail carved into her bow in 1949 to identify her builder is going to look sweeeet!

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Palm Beach Boat Show 2016


photos & comments from James Dreyer

Today’s ww post is a trip report from James Dreyer (Laughing Lady) James has kept the focus on wooden or partially wooden craft, with a little American excess and muscle thrown in for good measure. Enjoy, its a great read & interesting to see whats happening in the USA. Remember click on any photo to enlarge

The latest offering from Hacker craft.  A modern take on the classic triple cockpit runabout. I did get the feeling that the boat is a little let down by stainless off the shelf hardware.  If your forking out over $300K for a speedboat, you wouldn’t expect the same handrails as a Searay.

Vicem yachts of Turkey builds all mahogany, cold molded up to 140’  Beautiful craftsmanship with a long history.


Hinckley Yachts is famous for their jet driven Picnic boat, but this is their latest model, a 36’ open.  Built in glass but with some really lovely styling cues from downeast.


This little Grand Craft spent most of her time doing cocktail cruises of the Intracoastal waterway between Palm Beach (Holiday spot of the wealthy and retired, including DL Gardiner who owned Laughing Lady) and West Palm (home of the normal folk.)

Trumpy yachts Flying Lady.  Lovely solid lines on her wheelhouse.


My favorite boat of the show, a modern commuter and tribute to Aphrodite.  Vendetta was built for Billy Joel out of a high tech blend of carbon and kevlar and runs twin 1300 MANs with Arneson drives in tunnels.  She will do 50 knots and doesn’t have a stateroom, just a lovely big salon area with kitchen and seating for many.  Totally impractical but oh so cool.  I was very lucky be invited onboard and shown around once the guy heard I had a commuter yacht.  He even knew laughing lady from his original design research.  She’s for sale at $1.3 million if anyone is looking to tour the East coast in style.



Honey Fitz, the 1931 Defoe built ex-presidential yacht named after John F. Fitzgerald and once chariot for Truman, Eisenhower, JFK, Johnson and Nixon.

A 1960s era Bertram offshore race boat.  Sporting close to 800hp and Ray Hunts game changing deep vee hull design, she’s a thing of beauty.  Almost like a vintage Nascar.


Maybe I am biased, but the whole express cruiser (open) sport fish really does it for me.  Totally impractical in anything but fine weather, but oh so cool.  Registered to Montauk at the tip of Long Island – Laughing Ladys first home port and serious Bluefin Tuna grounds.


Jarrett Bay build some of the finest cold molded SFs on the market, this being about as small as they come.


Seven Marine are the newest outboard on the American Market and are just ludicrous.  627hp (!!!) each, from a Chevrolet 6.2L supercharged V8.  At 500kg each, you want to have a pretty robust transom to hang three of these off!


76’ Sportfish provides a pretty big aft cockpit.  Again cold molded.


Rybovich is the name most synonymous with classic sport fish designs and this modern express model has a lot of classic styling cues from original Rybo’s like Release and Bolero

A few for the yachties 🙂

Wild Horses – the 70 odd foot W-class Spirit of Tradition sloop designed by Donald Tofias.


I’m not sure if this is Herreshoffs Bounty or Ticonderoga, but she has incredible and unmistakable lines.  Pretty cool little yard tugboat on the left too.  This helped us park the large yacht I work on.


Everything is big in America – to give you an idea of the scale, this has 3 x 350hp Outboards and is 41’ and note the tow rig.

Some nice wheels on display:

Sometimes you really have to wonder 😦


And a funny to finish – Some people don’t hide it.  Apparently he owns a chain of Laundromats.


Waitematawoodys Trip Report From Overseas


Today’s photos & story came in from James Dreyer, who along with the extended family currently have Laughing Lady at the Whangateau Traditional Boat Yard. Jame’s work / travel take him off-shore a lot & in late May he was in the USA & put together a little story on the Southern California wooden boating scene. I’ll let James tell it. Enjoy 🙂

Remember if you click on a photo it will enlarge & you can read the captions. Scrolling over also reveals the captions.

“Back in late May, my father Barry & I headed to San Diego to spend a few weeks working on my Rhodes 33 “Therapy” and to visit the some of the 160 odd small breweries in the County, just to ensure their IPA’s were up to scratch.  San Diego is known as the home of craft brewing, with each brewery having a tasting room and kitchen, or if not, bringing in a different gourmet food truck each night.  Needless to say the hard work sanding and laying Uroxsys/Awlwood in the Southern Californian heat was well balanced with hydrating activities.  And yes, the beer is so good, it was mind bottling (to coin a phrase).

While we were there I got in touch with Ralph Rodheim, the owner of another Rhodes 33 “Madness”.  

I was hoping to head north to his place on Balboa Island / Newport Beach, to take some measurements and hopefully go for a sail.  As luck would have it, the Balboa Yacht Club’s second inaugural Wooden Boat Festival was on during the final weekend of our visit, and Ralph was both an organising Chairman, entrant, and judge.  This was a perfect opportunity to give the worn down finger tips, and high calorie intake a rest, while seeing how economical our rental Prius Hybrid could be heading North on the Pacific Highway to Newport.  We left early, and stopped at a diner on the way for some bad coffee and an overcooked bacon muffin.  This was California after all.

The show was just brilliant. A very Interesting variety of boats, interesting characters and live music.

I bumped into a number of “Rhodes people” and we swapped stories and info about the history of the class and how our restorations were coming along.

Above are some photos of the various boats, some I am lacking much info on, so my apologies in advance.  If anyone wants more info on a certain boat, I am more than happy to respond with what I have, or get some more info from friends.  

I thoroughly recommend viewing the following collection of photos from the event:  They are beautifully shot and feature a whole lot of boats I didnt photograph, and many of their interiors.”