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Ties that bind: Keeping Sea Chase IV in the family

by Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding 1 Jun 14:20 PDT
Sea Chase IV © Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding

It's always a bittersweet moment when an old flame shows up. And so it was, a couple of months back, when the glamorous Sea Chase IV came in for a major refit.

This C. Raymond Hunt-designed classic cruiser was one of our first crushes. We built her mostly from pure love, back in 1991 just after we took over the Wallace boatyard, here at the Thomaston waterfront. Ray Hunt boats like Sea Chase IV were in their day a revolutionary Deep Vee design; wholesome, sea-kindly handling with oodles of space and comforts all over. Our appreciation of those characteristics is still high. We adored building Sea Chase IV. And her owner and his family adored owning her. The vessel saw deep family duty mostly cruising the Southern California coast for about 25 years.

After the owner passed, Sea Chase IV was placed in a trust, then deemed too much of a "project" and was put up for sale. She spent two years on the market, but no proper buyer emerged.

But fear not, good will prevailed! The owner's daughter, Lisa, and her husband, Jim, decided that Sea Chase IV deserved a fresh run at making new family memories. So last summer they committed to restoring this boat as a platform for the next chapter in their own lives as summer live-aboards in Maine.

We chatted with Jim and Lisa over a few phone calls. Here are their comments edited for length and clarity.

How did you actively begin looking at Maine and bringing Sea Chase IV back to Lyman-Morse?

We rented a place in Camden Harbor. We drove around the coast, south to Boothbay Harbor and north to Bar Harbor. We spent most of the time thinking that, "Wow, this place would look really cool from the water." We began to think about getting the boat shipped east. We could always put her back on the market in Maine, where she should sell more easily.

Then one evening, we were sitting on the balcony overlooking the harbor and we just kind of said, "You know what, we should send a note to Drew Lyman about bringing this boat back to life."

A boat refit is a big project. What steps did you take to investigate the process?

When my husband talked about this, I was kind of shocked. Usually he's so practical. But our oldest son came for a visit and he was adamant that we could not sell grandpa's boat. The memories mattered. I don't want this to sound like a commercial or anything, but we felt like this was going to be OK.

My mom and dad loved working with Cabot. I knew we would be in good hands.

We found the bottle we used to christen Sea Chase IV. And the note from Cabot and Heidi thanking my mom and dad for the work and how much they loved building the boat. All that comes through when you are on-board.

It is not just any job for them. It is a passion for them, at least at some level. And everybody we met at Lyman-Morse loves it there.

What did you decide to do during this stage of the refit?

It was obvious that the bottom had to be redone. The electrical was all original, and that had to all come out. I personally was inclined to replace the generators and maybe the engines. But LM said: 'Let's get her back to life. And then, after a summer or two of using her, we will see what you actually need.'

The boat was set up for long-range cruising with a big generator, small batteries, and a big watermaker. In the first summer or two, our horizon will be the Maine coast. Then we might decide if we want longer-range trips. But for now, we concentrated on the creature comforts like AC, heating, and the finishes like varnish and paint and new cushions both inside and out. We think it's a smart approach.

You chose to skipper your own boat. Explain the choice of being responsible for your own destiny on the water.

We took the choice seriously. We are reasonably comfortable on boats. My dad made my mom and me take Power Squadron training when I was 14. We have great respect for what it takes to run a boat. We did a lot of reading and we spent a week at the Southwest Florida Yacht Training school.

We got the basics of boat handling, systems, anchoring, radio use. All of that kind of stuff. I can change my own oil, though I will never do it. Lyman-Morse will send someone to help us. If we are not comfortable, we can hire a training captain. I just don't have as much angst about it as when I first started.

We can definitely figure this out.

What are the lessons you have learned so far?

We learned to have patience and humility. That is why we did all the training. Don't be in a hurry. Realize everybody is doing the best they can. Trade duties, so people realize what is required. Don't rush out. If you need to turn around and come back to the dock for the second, third, or fourth time, do it.

We've all seen the stressed-out patriarchal "dude" screaming at his wife trying to dock the boat in front of everybody at the harbor. We don't want to be those people.

One of the best lessons we had was from our training skipper, who said: "Remember folks, this is supposed to pleasure boating."

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