Part I showed the condition in which “Awesome” was found and some history of the boat.
Part II focused on the restoration of the fighting chair made by Lee’s Tackle Inc.
Here is Part III of the restoration of a 31′ Bertram Sportfisherman in Panamá. The project is still on schedule for completion in May and when ready will be moored at Isla Cebaco to become the second 31′ Bertram of the resort’s fishing fleet. Capt. Jim Wiese has purchased a third 31′ Bertram that will be brought to Panamá shrink-wrapped in the very near future to under a similar restoration process. He loves this boat so much and swears that it is ‘the’ sportfishing vehicle of this size.
Meanwhile, … “Awesome” has gone through a range of colour changes that are best documented by pictures. I think I’ve arranged them in chronological order, but please forgive me if they’re not. Layers have been built up and then sanded down until silky smooth to the touch, and any ripples and unevenness worked on for days on end.
The hull has been squinted at by the most expert of eyes, further below we see Sr. Carasco casting his scrutinising eye.
The shot immediately below that looks like dark grey leopardskin shows a technique used in Panama where they mark a surface in order to see that they are sanding evenly. We found Chester standing on this bucket to sand and made him go to fetch some proper steps to stand on.
A slot was made on each side of the hull for a large air inlet for the engines. A fibreglass insert was made with horizontal slats that will be shown when completely assembled.
The interior has received a complete refit using high quality marine ply which is then encapsulated in fibreglass.
A decision was made to cut down the size of the fuel tank by making it about 7″ less deep. The original engines were larger gasoline engines and the current twin 6 cylinder diesel Cummins engines will not require the quantity of fuel held by the enormous tank for the type of ocean trips that we will be doing.
The engines have been completely stripped and rebuilt with many new parts. Capt. Jim has been overhauling engines since he was a teenager making money by building American Army Jeeps using scrap parts bought at 10c / lb.
These days he has a skilled team of mechanics and craftsmen, which under his direction are doing a thorough job.
This is Part II in the series following the restoration of the Bertram 31‘ that had been ‘abandoned’ in the Diablo Spinning Club on the banks of the Panama Canal.
We found that the fighting chair was larger than most of it’s era for that size of boat. The chair had a fibreglass seat and had teak foot board, arms and backrest. It was manufactured by Lee’s Tackle Inc. of Miami, the same town as Bertram Yachts, and bore the logo with ‘Lee’s’ written on the body of a fish.
By visiting Lee’s website we learned that we have the ‘Classic Style‘ ‘Large Tuna Chair’. The large tuna chair has five horizontal members to the backrest. The chair can be seen at http://www.leetackle.com/classic.html , except ours combines a fibreglass seat with armrests of teak.
The metalwork has been polished and there is very minimal pitting and faulting to the original shiny stainless steel.
The varnish is a special “Captain’s Varnish” which has a high resistance to the strong Panamanian sun and the other weather elements encountered off-shore. It costs $64 for a quart and the restoration team will be putting 9 layers of this brushed on and then sanded, with a 10th layer added by spray-gun.
This last photo is of the chair reassembled for a photograph, it has not yet received all of it’s varnish layers, and there is one of the steel parts missing that controls the angle of the back. We have been in touch with Lee’s Tackle for help in locating this part (you can see the part missing on the view of the under-side of the chair). If you know the whereabouts of a spare one of these, then please let us know. If we don’t find a solution very soon we will have to make one.
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The word on the street was that there was, hidden amongst a pile of derelict boats at ‘the sheds’ down at the Diablo Spinning Club by the Panama Canal, an abandoned 31′ Bertram. We went to investigate and after some rooting around were able to locate the owner of the “Jesse” and negotiated it’s purchase. We then brought a small crane down to the yard and placed it on a trailer to transport to our base in the yard of Intercoastal Marine Inc. where we could get to work on the boat restoration.
There was a fairly comprehensive set of documents that gave insights into it’s history since it’s original purchase at Biloxi, Mississippi in 1972 by the late Mr. Lyle Morse Page, when it sailed under the name “Kap ‘n Gin II”.
The boat is a Bertram 31 Sportfisherman (SF). This is the original production model created by Bertram and Hunt. It features a cabin with a bridge. Our other Bertram 31, “Xtreme”, is of the Fly Bridge Cruiser (FBC) model, which adds the aft cabin bulkhead not present in the SF. We are calling this newcomer to the fishing fleet, “AWESOME”. The serial numbers of the Sportfisherman begin with 314 (ours is 314-1190) whereas the Fly Bridge Cruiser begin with 315.
The birth of the legendary Bertram 31 design was in the early 60’s. Powerboat racer, Dick Bertram won the Miami-Nassau Powerboat Race in eight-foot seas with thirty-knot winds in an innovative design by Ray Hunt that he called “Moppie“. Bertram demolished the competition winning the race in record time – two and a half hours ahead of the next boat. After the 1960 race, Bertram turned Moppie into a plug, a mold was cast and the first fiberglass 31 was created. The following year Bertram again won the Miami-Nassau Race, this time in a Glass Moppie, the fiberglass version of the prototype. In 1961, with the mold of the hull, “Bertram Yachts” was launched with the introduction of the Bertram 31 Sport Fisherman.
This heralded the birth of the modern sports-boat, with a deep V fiberglass hull and large twin engines. The innovation was that the V continued further towards the rear rather than flattening there, which gave the ability to handle big seas in relative comfort and safety. The extra lift needed to compensate for the reduction in planing surface was provided by incorporating lifting strakes along the bottom.
The boat’s engines, a pair of 250HP Cummins diesel engines were working but in need of a major overhaul. The original engines had been a pair of gasoline engines producing 750HP (2×375HP).
The new 31′ Bertram of Cebaco Bay will be receiving loving attention for the next few months and will possibly be relaunched in May 2012. The restoration process will be documented and progress reported here and in our facebook page, so watch this space…
December is a month of joy, a time for sharing and offering smiles and what better place to do that, than Cebaco Island. Intercoastal Marine Inc in conjunction with Cebaco Bay Sportfishing Club and the help of their colleagues organized a Christmas party for over 150 children in this region that included the areas of Platanares, Almacigos, Gobernadora and Jobo.
We shared fun times at a party with the children and Santa Claus delivered gifts to all that live in such a far away island. They showed their appreciation with beautiful smiles and at the end of the party they dedicated the song “Cascabel”. The teachers from the community wished everyone a Merry Christmas and a successful and Happy New Year for putting on this wonderful activity.