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Workboat refit for pleasure cruising

Conn. yard rebuilds a 22-footer to suit the needs of a physically handicapped customer

Conn. yard rebuilds a 22-footer to suit the needs of a physically handicapped customer

The Brewer Dauntless Shipyard in Essex, Conn., took on a special project this year, rebuilding a 22-foot displacement launch into a small “tug boat” for a physically handicapped customer.

The Dauntless crew worked with the customer and a local naval architect to overhaul the boat, says shipyard general manager Doug Domenie. This included replacing an aesthetically unappealing pilothouse as well as the forward cabin, he says.

“We stripped it back down to the decks,” says Domenie. Because the customer uses a crutch to get around, Domenie says, the rebuild called for a flush deck.

“Everything has been made to make it simpler for him to use the boat,” he says. A large deck-level boarding door on the starboard side was a feature that originally appealed to the customer when he bought the boat in Maine, says Domenie.

Domenie says all the concepts behind the makeover came from naval architect Ron Noe. “We worked with him to try and make sure we could take his concepts and put them to use on this boat,” says Domenie. “Everything was built here.”

Dauntless workers used pre-manufactured, paper honeycomb-cored fiberglass panels to make the new pilothouse, Domenie says. The hardtop and forward cabin were molded with balsa core.

“It’s got all the bells and whistles,” Domenie says, including a built-in refrigerator underneath the helm seat, a full complement of marine electronics, and autopilot.

The candle-lit compass/binnacle housing, wooden steering wheel and searchlight up top are just about the only original equipment on the launch, Domenie says.

New power comes from a 40-hp Westerbeke diesel engine.

There is some question regarding the lineage of the launch.

The owner bought the hull in Maine and had it trucked down to the Dauntless yard, says Domenie.

The 22-footer, thought to be built in the early 1970s, resembles a Crosby launch, but Domenie is not 100-percent sure of whether it is actually a Crosby, a Tug Boats Inc. hull, or something else altogether. Regardless, it has proven the right platform for the modifications necessary to accommodate the special needs of the owner.

While Dauntless employees continued working on the boat, Domenie says the owners used it several times over the summer. “They’ve been out playing with it and having fun with it,” he says.

“There’s a lot of tweaking going on. Even after the season there’s going to be some stuff we’ll be working on,” he says.