Posts Tagged ‘Classic Speedboat’

In Good Company

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

In the mid 1970’s the classic boat hobby was not as “mature”, as it is today. There was little emphasis on “all original”; it was enough to have a cool (and fast) speedboat. Many wooden boats were being stripped of usable hardware and then burned. Fiberglass was the future!

Some guys still did appreciate wood boats though, and Robert Burnand was one of them. He had good training, growing up with his fathers boat CASSIAR, a 64 ft. sportfisher originally built by Palmer Scott for Richard Mellon in 1946. His grandfather sailed and raced ODYSSEY, a 68 ft. yawl built by Stephens Bros. in Stockton, CA. Lucky girl Perlita; she came into a family with truly sterling wooden boat credentials!

Good CompanyPerlita, hanging out in good company! Cassiar center, Odyssey to the right.

Bob Burnand purchased Perlita Too in 1973, from the estate of George Newton, her second owner. She had been stored in a warehouse at the Aircraft Xray Company for years waiting for George to restore her. Unfortunately Georges’ health failed before he made much progress, however a lot of work was done on the Scripps V12, including attempts to sort out various problems relating to the supercharger installation. More on that later, as research continues…..

PaperTrailBob drove a hard bargain!

Burnand-whse-3Even the dog realized this was a big project…

When Bob took delivery of Perlita, much of her was in pieces, in boxes! By this time her hull had suffered greatly from the southern California summers, drying out to such an extent that caulking had already been stuffed into her topsides plank seams in order to keep the ocean out. She was in need of major work, so Bob stripped and varnished the hull, disassembled and overhauled the motor, rebuilt and reupholstered the seats, re-cast some damaged chrome pieces, and got her back in the water.

Burnand-offshorePerlita enjoying the waves off Newport Beach in the late 1970’s

Nevertheless, Perlita was ‘a lady of a certain age’ by then, and her hull was weakened after years of high-speed offshore runs. The caulked seams, coupled with the marine environment and long hot summers at the dock, were playing havoc with the planks and fasteners. Perlita’s skin condition was getting worse by the season.

Fast forward 10 years

With additional years of  indifferent storage in a barn by the next owner this is a small part of what we faced. [side note: talking recently with Bob Burnand, he recalled that the odd square patch in the side planking was there when he got the boat; “….some real crappy work by Reeds guys…..”. Bob should know; he’s spending close to 200K on the bottom and planking of CASSIAR right now……]


The planks were too shrunken and dry-rotted at the ends, to be re-used in our restoration. And as we noted before, the frames were equally far gone. Which brings us up to date, with Chris at SeaSonic Boats carefully shaping and fitting Perlita’s new planks over new frames.

53 Riva, Sommerferien 09 mit Nico 125

53 Riva, Sommerferien 09 mit Nico 167mmmmm…don’t you just love the aroma of fresh mahogany………?

While Chris is working his magic on the wood, Richard Frisch and Fred at Queen City Plating showed us these pix of Perlitas hardware in the “metal-working” stage of the plating process.

COPPERThese look sooooo good even this way! Thank you Queen City…..


Jim McNeilly doing the final assembly, getting her ready to fire up for the first time in 30 years. Can’t wait!

The plot thickens…!

Second owner George Newton purchased Perlita Too from Roland Reed sometime in the late 1960’s. I have recently talked to Don Davis, a former executive at Newtons’ company, who remembered Perlita Too, and the interesting association between George Newton and Roland Reed, as well as a whiff of Americas Cup sailor, Briggs Cunningham, and speed records……more to come…..

Comment below (we love comments!), and please feel free to email me.