on the Bay:
Trumpys: A Rainy Day's Silver Lining
by Mary Louise Faunce
Contributing editor M. L. Faunce sits in for Bill Burton, who's on assignment.
It rained on the Trumpy parade, but rain failed to dampen spirits come to "Honor Thy Father," as the Father's Day 1999 tribute to John Trumpy, builder of yachts and dream boats, was called.
The sun tried to peek at the 10am start of a procession that included a handsome sampling of luxury motor yachts crafted a stone's skip away. Led by the harbor master in a skiff that looked like a waterbug beside these grand and graceful yachts, the parade of boats threaded its way from the Naval Academy seawall to Spa Creek Bridge that separates Annapolis from Eastport, where the yachts were built some 50 years ago.
As the big boats passed, yacht captains and their guests waved to a handful of spectators. In the pouring rain, two of them - Jim Hyde of MB Boatworks and Jim Ruscoe of Annapolis Yacht Club - couldn't take their eyes off the boats. "They represent a nostalgia for craftsmanship that's just unbelievable," said Ruscoe.
"These boats are the backbone of yachting as it is today," Hyde agreed. "When you see a Trumpy, everyone stops. And there's such a thrill to getting on board - you can smell the varnish," a smell that's different, Hyde said, from today's "Clorox bottles."
Hyde grew up in Annapolis. "While other kids were off playing baseball, I used to sneak into the boat yard to look at these yachts," he said.
Ruscoe grew up in Connecticut near the water and shares Hyde's admiration for the craftsmanship that, he repeated, is "unbelievable."
"The guy who owns the Manatee labeled every nut and bolt when he restored it. Restoration like that takes blood, sweat and tears," Ruscoe said.
Later, I sipped a Bloody Mary at the Chart House, which was once the finishing shed of Trumpy & Sons boat works in Eastport. As rain came down harder outside huge windows overlooking Spa Creek and Annapolis Harbor, the Trumpy yachts returned for a second lap, reminding me of my times in Juneau, Alaska when the July Fourth parade was so short it went through town twice.
As the Trumpy Yachts glided gracefully by the second time, a growing crowd inside and outside of Chart House savored the line-up of legacy craftsmanship. Names and home ports stirred the imagination. The sheer size and heft of the yachts dwarfed curious kayakers. The sharp, nearly vertical bows and full-size windows, evoking another age on the water, drew exclamations about style and elegance.
Passing through the harbor from the north were Windrush from Philadelphia; SS Sophie of Wilmington; and Liberty, carrying the coat of arms for the Cary Family from Meadow Brook, Pennsylvania. The largest yacht, the alluring Enticer of Dover, Delaware, was a set for the Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe film, Some Like It Hot.
Yachts that will return here in the fall, then back south through the Inland Waterway were Sirius and Aurora, both of Fort Lauderdale, and Happy Days V of Indian Creek Village, Florida.
Local boats were Christina, Seaholm and the boat-and-breakfast Private Pleasure. Manatee came from Washington, D.C., and Sirius from Grasonville. The relative baby of the lot, Claudette of Galesville, was built in 1970.
Each announced itself with a horn blast. Each was warmly welcomed in return with a blast of the cannon by Jeff Holland, minister of propaganda of the Maritime Republic of Eastport, aboard the Half-Shell.
It was still raining. But when great legends come to town - and go around twice - that's a silver lining.
Trumpys In Brief
In 1947, boatbuilder John Trumpy purchased the Annapolis Yacht Yard. The yard flourished; its boats were described by the New York Times as "the Rolls Royce of American motor yachts."
Trumpy, who died in 1964, built about six yachts a year, finishing each with a golden scroll on the bow.
The Seaholm, launched in 1948, was one of the first Trumpy yachts built in Annapolis. Its interior is lavish with wood, mirrors, upholstered furniture, Tiffany-style lamps and oils painted by its owner.
Sirius is the third Trumpy built for Henry Gibson, owner of Gibson Guitars. Sirius was launched in 1973. After her launch, John Trumpy & Sons closed forever.
Behind the Parade
Thank Mike Miron for the Father's Day reunion.
Steeped in the maritime heritage of this small peninsula, Eastport historian Miron says he'd "studied Trumpy & Sons and family history for years and became enamored when nine Trumpy yachts sailed into Annapolis last summer for the Whitbread."
When he discovered there was no association of yacht owners, he says, "what started out as an attempt to organize a reunion that had never been done before grew into a weekend city-wide event."
Miron knew he had the drawing card for the reunion when Robert Tolk, author of Trumpy, a history of the luxury yachts, agreed to come up from Key Largo. He reached 80 active yacht owners and got commitments from a third. (Of the 448 yachts contracted by John Trumpy and Sons, only about 70 are known to survive.) Fourteen of the Trumpy family attended.
"Making it all worthwhile were stories like those of Joe Enzinger, 77, who ran the machine shop at the Trumpy boatyard. He's had a stroke and never really talked about the work he'd done. After the reunion, his son says he won't shut up," Miron said.
Learn more, Miron suggests, with a visit to Eastport's Barge House Museum.
| Issue 25 |
Volume VII Number 25
June 24-30, 1999
New Bay Times
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