Jim Moores has restored more than 100 antique and classic boats over the past 35 years, including the 1930 93-foot Defoe-designed Presidential yacht Honey Fitz. He is a classic boat refit professional — some might say fanatic — who has a warehouse half full of antique boat parts salvaged from derelict craft. Jim’s office space at Moores Marine in Beaufort, North Carolina, is a deckhouse that was salvaged from the 1912 Trumpy Ibis when the rest of her could not be saved. Moores is a Trumpy refit expert — it’s something he came to after building commercial fishing boats and dories in Lubec, Maine, where he owned R.S. Colson Boat Works. In 1986 he launched Moores Marine in Riviera Beach, Florida, opened a North Carolina facility in 2007 and subsequently transferred all operations to that state in 2016. Moores is so devoted to restoration accuracy that he has approached owners of rare craft to borrow parts from their vessels so he can make rubber molds for accurate replicas. True to his Yankee experience, he has turned down billionaires who asked him to make alterations he felt were inappropriate or unacceptable to antique yachts. Beauty and originality are what Moores strives to reclaim in every restoration. “For decades,’ says Moores, “our company t-shirts have been emblazoned with the motto ‘We keep legends alive.’ It’s not some catchy marketing slogan. It’s our mission. It’s what we do and what we’re all about.”
First memory of being on a boat: My father’s Lyman ski boat on Lake Wawasee in Indiana.
First boat you owned (or skippered): Thetis, an 18-foot lapstrake double ender. It was built in Sweden. My brother and I sailed it through our childhood, and it sailed so beautifully.
Last or current boat (owned or skippered): A 1947 61-foot Trumpy, Aurora II. I lived aboard for four years.
Favorite boat you’ve owned (or skippered): My 1947 Trumpy.
Your dream boat (to own or skipper): We are working on the design of a 27-foot launch. I dreamed of the launch, because I always thought a beautiful yacht deserved something prettier than an inflatible tender. I would wake up, and draw what I had seen in my sleep.
Most rewarding (sailing) experience: Sailing Thetis to the Bahamas at age 15. No maps, no compass, in an 18-foot boat. I was hooked.
Your scariest adventure aboard: Sailing through a lightning storm on the Bahamas bank. I still can’t believe that we didn’t get hit in the high winds and rain.
Your most memorable experience aboard: Sailing over Browns Bank, south of Nova Scotia, in high seas. I said, “God, if you let me off this boat, I will never go out again.” Eight years later I was back.
Longest time you’ve spent at sea without setting foot on land: A 10-day trip from Florida to Maine.
Favorite destination so far: Portsmouth, Dominica.
Favorite nautical book: The Grey Seas Under: The Perilous Rescue Mission of a N.A. Salvage Tug by Farley Mowat.
Favorite nautical cause you support and why: The Antique & Classic Boat Association (acbs.org). They preserve beautiful antique and classic boats.
Favorite quote about the sea: “I’se The B’y that builds the boat and I’se The B’y that sails her and I’se The B’y that catches the fish and Brings ‘em home to Liza.”I don’t know where I heard it. Maybe from a sea shanty? But I’ll never forget it.
This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue.