Originally christened as Cormar on April 4, 1930, Scout defined speed and luxury in American motor yachting at the dawn of The Great Depression. Drawn by Boston-based marine architects Eldredge-McInnis, this 73-foot commuter launch was hand-crafted out of mahogany over cedar planks fastened over oak frames by Defoe Shipbuilding Company of Bay City, Michigan.
Like many commuters of her age, she had enough to accommodate a good-sized family. But it was Scout’s speed that made her shine: Twin, high-octane gasoline-powered airplane engines drove her slippery torpedo-boat style hull.
Scout could sustain speeds that were faster than many cars of her era.
But as fleet-of-foot as she was, Scout could not outpace time and tide. The loads of her massive engines, tanks, and generators began to work the structural elements at the middle of the vessel. And starting around 2017, then-skipper (and now Lyman-Morse project manager) Matt Jacobson began to sense ominous deformations and movement in the critical mid-sections of the boat.
“We started inspecting her using borescopes to get behind the finish work and mechanics,” explained Jacobson. “It did not take long to realize we needed a full survey, where it eventually became clear that a full systems and structural upgrade was the only way to save the boat.”
So, starting in the fall of 2017 and ending in the following spring, Jacobson led a crew of about 10 Lyman-Morse shipwrights, carpenters, mechanics, and finish workers to remove, re-strengthen, and upgrade Scout. She was fitted with new timbers, twin modern diesels, and a rebuilt generator. The structural integrity of the stabilizers was improved by installing CNC-cut bronze backing plates, and new tankage was also installed.
What’s unique about Scout’s refit, in a modern era of marine subcontractors and outsourced manufacturing, is all the work was done by Lyman-Morse’s crew in Camden, Maine. Here are some of the biggest operations of this 6-month project that brought this vessel back to life from teetering on the edge of oblivion.
fuel capacity575 gallons
water capacity500 gallons
builderDefoe Shipbuilding Company
constructionMahogany over cedar planks on oak frames
boat engineCaterpillar C7.1 ACERT (2)
cruising speed15 knots
top speed22 knots
Cormar, now Scout, prepares to slide down the ways at the Defoe Shipbuilding Company in Bay City, Michigan.
An aerial view of Scout from her original christening. Note the fine torpedo-boat lines and the Jumpseat cut into the foredeck. If you look carefully you will see a windshield that rolls up and down — just like a Rolls-Royce.
Scout was launched as Cormar on April 4, 1930.
Scout’s workstage is set: All the frames, bulkheads and damage has been surveyed and the formal restoration begins. Of note, the hatch at the top of the engine room, where all engines, generators, tanks and batteries, have to pass through.
Looking aft, just after the bulkhead was finally removed. The long timber longitudinal frames are clearly visible in the lower left and right. The original porthole door assembly was kept.
This trim-stabilizer structure detail is an example of the level of damage to Scout’s frames and planks, as well as the engineering required to retrofit in new timbers and systems.
Both for structural integrity and ease of installation, Scout’s replacement frames were not cut from single pieces of wood. Rather, these frames were built of laminates in different layers of thinner planks, and then cured in marine-grade epoxy overnight.
Scout’s new diesels would require extra support. Here’s a look at these new beefier engine mounts before they were installed. These mounts had to be engineered to marry into longer longitudinal rails that run the length of this entire 73-foot hull.
The new engine mounts required some complex cutting to fit into Scout’s existing frame. Note the roughly a dozen compound-angle notches be taken out of the raw purpleheart engine mount stock. Each cut had to be carefully planned and than made to tightest possible tolerances. Even the smallest of gap would introduce vibration and compromise the hull. Three more such timbers, with a total of about 40 such cuts, were installed into Scout.
Here is a closer look at an engine-mount timber, before it was installed. Note the complexity of each notch and how it had to match the varying shapes of the existing frames it had to fit around. Again, the tolerances were essentially zero. Each cut had to be perfectly snug.
A look at the final retrofitted framing, ready for engine installation. Note the new full-length longitudinals, beefed up for Scout’s modern engines and new frames and hull planks. Also interesting is how the bilge was cleaned and scrubbed. Vessels from Scout’s period used pine pitch as ballast and sealant. All that had to be removed.
Next came the retrofit of hydraulic trim stabilizers with modern units. To give the hull added strength, spacing blocks were needed to give the stabilizers additional structure.
The loads on the updated trim stabilizer were so severe that a new mounting solution was required: A cold-bent sheet of bronze, cut using our Hypertherm XPR300 plasma cutter, was fabricated at Lyman-Morse Fabrication to hold that fitting in place. This plate easily touched 200 pounds by the time it was finished.
A partially-installed trim stabilizer, featuring new bronze mounting plate, and rebuilt fittings and engineering.
A look at the starboard trim stabilizer shaft, from the outside of the boat. Note the restored planks that indicated the location of the restored laminated frames and structural longitudinals.
Restorations like this offer opportunities to improve performance. Note how the top section of the fuel tanks, on both sides of the engine room, do not reach the deck above. This was a change of the original design that saved about about 1,800 pounds and lowered the center of buoyancy and improved the stability of the boat.
Some of Scout’s original fittings proved to be remarkably durable. This is a look at the original trim stabilizer casing that was simply scrubbed, sanded, primed and repainted. It’s all set for decades more service.
With all the structural elements and fuel tanks installed, it’s time for the installation of new diesels. Here is a view of one engine being lowered through a hole cut in the saloon roof.
The dual CAT engines just barely fit into the cramped engine room. But they require significant new venting for air circulation and exhaust. Note the new ducting in the middle of this photo, between both engine blocks.
After a six-month yard period at Lyman-Morse at Wayfarer, Scout launches on a foggy spring morning in Camden, Maine.
Scout, from her three-quarter transom view: The fully installed and upgraded port trim tab is clearly seen amidships.
Scout’s restoration took a crew of more than 10 seriously skilled craftspeople a good part of 6 months to complete. Robots need not apply.
Scout, back in her homeport of Newport, Rhode Island.
Scout Launch 2018
Scout, a classic 1930 commuter yacht, leaves Building 1 at Lyman-Morse at Wayfarer in Camden, Maine, after a six-month refit.