Published Clips

Below is a series of articles published in the Martha’s Vineyard Times in 1999 and 2000 about the controversial, on-again-off-again construction of the Schooner Rebecca. The 60-foot yacht was originally ordered by movie-maker Dan Adams, but Mr. Adams declared bankruptcy before the boat was completed. The vessel was later launched by a new owner.

 
 

 

March 29, 1999

Chilmark movie maker Dan Adams has temporarily halted construction on the 60 foot schooner Rebecca.

The vessel is being built for Mr. Adams by Gannon and Benjamin at their Mugwump shed behind Tisbury Marketplace in Vineyard Haven. Construction of the would-be charter boat began in January of last year. The hull was completed in September, and the deck has been framed out. Work on the interior had just begun this winter when the crew of five shipwrights was laid off over a month ago.

Dan Adams explained that he needed to spend some time reorganizing the project. "I needed a little time to recharge," he says.

"The cash flow stops, the work stops," says Nat Benjamin who designed the schooner and had been overseeing its construction. He has kept busy working at the Gannon and Benjamin Boatyard on Beach Road where two smaller boats of his design are under construction and another is undergoing an extensive refit. Of the delay in the Rebecca project, he says, "On the one hand, there's plenty of work to do at the boatyard. On the other hand, it's hard when you get momentum going and people get excited, and then you have to stop."

Some of the workers who were laid off have families to support or boat payments to make. They are working at the Gannon and Benjamin Boatyard or have found work elsewhere. Others have used the opportunity to take a vacation.

Ted Okie has been working on the Rebecca project for about a year. He says he doesn't have a family to support, "only a van," adding that he has recently bought a boat. "I'm theoretically the owner now, but I'm still in the process of paying for it." While the Rebecca project is on hold, Ted is working at the Gannon and Benjamin yard, and he has taken some time off to vacation with family.

Nat Benjamin says that David Stimson, foreman on the Rebecca project, is building a small boat for a customer from Maine, and builder Cassin Kennedy has joined Pat Cassidy at Cassidy and Walton at Five Corners where they are commissioning boats for the spring and doing some small boat repairs. Todd McGee is surfing in El Salvador.

Those involved with the project say there is no set date for work to resume on the schooner, and estimates about when the crew would be back to work range from two weeks to two months.

Rebecca was slated to be launched this fall, but Mr. Benjamin says he can't speculate now on when the boat might splash down. "A launching date is planned. We just don't know when it is yet."

 

December 13, 1999

Gannon and Benjamin Restart Work on Schooner

After a ten-month hiatus, work has begun again on the construction of the 60-foot schooner Rebecca at Gannon and Benjamin's Mugwump shed behind Tisbury Marketplace in Vineyard Haven. The vessel is being built for movie-maker Dan Adams of Chilmark.

The lead keel for the schooner was poured in January '98, and the hull, deck frame and a large portion of the interior was completed when work was halted in February of this year amid troubled financing. A crew of five shipwrights was laid off, and the project was put on hold while Mr. Adams addressed personal financial issues.

"We had to regroup financially," Mr. Adams said this week, "But now we're back on track."

Further delays were caused by disputes over the financial details of the project itself. Work was briefly begun anew last month, but stopped again while additional questions were addressed.

"We've managed to come to a working arrangement with all the parties involved," Ross Gannon said, though he added that he was not at liberty to discuss the details of the agreement.

Nat Benjamin says he feels confident that the new arrangement will see the project through to completion. "We just had to resolve some issues. They're resolved, and we are back to work and looking forward to a June launching," Mr. Benjamin drew the lines for the schooner and has been overseeing construction.

A crew of three, including Mr. Benjamin, has begun to work on the interior of the schooner, and bids from sub-contractors are being solicited for plumbing and electrical wiring, as well as construction of the spars, including masts, booms, gaffs and bowsprit. The masts are to be hollow, glued spruce or fir. The mainmast will be 70 feet long, and the foremast will be 60 feet. Tanks for fuel, water and waste are ordered from a New Jersey fabricator, and the galley sink and ice box are being made in Wareham.

"There are a lot of balls in the air here," says Mr. Benjamin. In addition, he says, he is currently looking for an experienced shipwright to join the crew for the schooner project.

Mr. Adams says he plans to use Rebecca as a charter vessel and hopes to have her sailing by the end of June.

"I'd like to charter her in New England, and winter in the Caribbean, or wherever the business is," says Mr. Adams. "I'll maybe use her a little myself." The vessel will carry six passengers, and will be operated by a hired captain and a mate. Mr. Adams says he plans to offer weekly charters and event charters primarily from Newport, Rhode Island, and Rockport, Maine.

About the renewed progress on the project, Mr. Benjamin says, "We're very happy to be back at work and looking forward to wrapping this thing up and getting in the water this summer."

Mr. Adams seems less sanguine. "It feels okay," he says, "I'm just trying to make sure everything goes okay."

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