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News Notes – Mid-Atlantic

Grants to enhance Baltimore’s inner harbor

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. announced more than $2.2 million in grants to Baltimore City for improvements to the Baltimore Inner Harbor Marine Center.

The federal and state grants administered by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources will be used to reconstruct the existing marina providing 92 slips for transient boats. The state and city will also be creating 40 permanent leased slips.“For years Baltimore’s Inner Harbor has been a jewel for Maryland boaters and a draw for visiting tourists,” says Ehrlich.

Of the grants, $1,080,577 is made available through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Boating Infrastructure Grant program, representing a 49-percent federal cost share for the transient portion of the project. The funds were applied for by DNR and will be administered by the agency.

The State of Maryland and Baltimore City will each contribute $562,341 in matching funds, bringing the total grant to more than $2.2 million for the transient portion of the project. The total cost of the project, including the portion for the permanently leased slips, is $3.15 million.

Revenues for the fund are obtained primarily from a one-time 5-percent excise tax paid to the State when a boat is purchased and titled in Maryland. The fund also receives 0.3 percent of the state motor fuel tax as a result of purchases made to fuel boats.


Master boatbuilder, Cherubini, dies

Leon Francis “Frit” Cherubini, 87, founder of the Cherubini Boat Company of New Jersey, died at his home in Port St. Lucie, Fla., in April after a long illness.

As president and hands-on builder of the handsome and ruggedly-built Cherubini 44 and 48, Cherubini saw his company garner worldwide attention in boating magazines and three books by yachting author Ferenc Maté.

Born in Hazelton, Pa., “Frit” gained his nickname in childhood when his baby brother could not pronounce “Francis.” He served in World War II as a member of the Army Air Force in Okinawa, Japan.

As a son of a musical-instrument artisan, his passion for craftsmanship was nurtured at home, as was recreational sailing with his younger brothers. The family settled into a large house on the banks of the Delaware River in Bristol, Pa., where Moths, Dusters and other racing dinghies were built in the basement, painted in the laundry room and rigged on the porch.

Throughout Cherubini’s life, boatbuilding was a significant family and professional focus. With his brothers — John, Richard, Joe and Tom — Cherubini launched the Sea Scamp line of plywood and clinker-built runabouts in the 1950s. Based upon John’s designs, Sea Scamps from 16 to 28 feet became popular along the New Jersey shore and as far west as Chicago through a network of dealers set up by Cherubini.

In the early 1970s Cherubini and his brother John began a project in Cherubini’s Burlington, N.J., home workshop to build two 44-foot yachts for their retirement. Designed by John as a Herreshoff-influenced, more elegant version of a Chesapeake Bay bugeye workboat, the Cherubini 44 was tentatively advertised in a late-1974 issue of National Fisherman. Demand followed, requiring the swift construction of a mold, which, after 34 hulls and 30 years of maintenance, is still in service.

Cherubini lent his expertise as a trained patternmaker to the development and production of many custom parts for the boats, including the quadrant, hawsers, stanchion bases to fit compound curves of the bulwark and the unique leak-proof one-piece Cherubini portlight, featured on all Cherubini boats since 1979.

Under Cherubini’s direction the Cherubini Boat Company introduced the 48-foot staysail schooner in 1983. The cedar-and-mahogany plug for that mold became the black-hulled Legacy, Cherubini’s personal vessel, which he sailed up and down the East Coast and maintained as the flagship of his life’s work. Cherubini and his wife, Bette, retired to Port St. Lucie, Fla., where he took up tennis and was honored with a community championship.