February 10, 2000
Schooner Under Construction
is Repossessed; Work continues under creditor in possession.
Notices of possession were posted on the unfinished schooner Rebecca
last week, even as workers laid the deck and finished interior details.
The schooner is under construction by Vineyard Haven boatbuilders, Gannon
and Benjamin in a shed behind Tisbury Marketplace in Vineyard Haven.
Construction began in January
1998 on the 60-foot schooner designed by Nat Benjamin for Chilmark moviemaker
Dan Adams. After just over a year of work, the project was halted and
the crew laid off last February while Mr. Adams addressed personal financial
problems. In December, after ten months on hold, and amid tense relations
between Mr. Adams and Gannon and Benjamin, the project was restarted
with the goal of a June launch date.
Ross Gannon said at the
time, "We've managed to come to a working arrangement with all
the parties involved."
Last week, the primary lender
for the Rebecca project, 3333, Inc., took possession of the
unfinished schooner. When asked about the move this week, Mr. Benjamin
said he and Mr. Gannon were informed that the lender was taking possession
of the vessel in a recent bi-weekly meeting with Mr. Adams and Peter
Normandin, sole proprietor of 3333, Inc.
The builders were required
to post a notice of possession on the hull stating, "Pursuant to
applicable law, this vessel and all parts, supplies and materials are
now in possession of 3333, Inc., secured creditor and mortgagee."
At the same meeting, Mr. Normandin assured the builders of his commitment
to seeing the project through to completion.
"The lender is very
eager to see the work completed and to see the boat launched,"
said Mr. Benjamin. "He's very pleased with the progress, and we're
looking forward to a June launching."
Reached this week at his
Westminster, Mass. home, Mr. Normandin said he is a "bridge lender"
who provides high-interest loans to people who are going through financial
difficulty and cannot get loans from more traditional sources.
"When you have a financial
agreement there's certain collateral, and Dan's gone through tough financial
times," he said of the move to take possession of the project,
but stresses, "I'm not the owner of the boat. I'm just the man
in charge." Mr. Normandin says he intends to remain the "creditor
in possession" until Mr. Adams recovers financially and can resume
possession, or until it becomes necessary to foreclose, in which case
the vessel will be auctioned.
Mr. Normandin first heard about the Rebecca project through
a broker just over a year ago and first saw the boat last June. He says
he was interested because he has an appreciation for boats and had a
wooden boat as a child.
"Some people drink.
Some people gamble. I love boats," Mr. Normandin quips.
Mr. Normandin has been meeting
with Mr. Gannon and Mr. Benjamin every other Saturday to oversee the
project and says he is committed to finishing the project. He expressed
faith in the ability and honesty of the builders.
Mr. Benjamin continues to oversee the construction, forging ahead with
renewed determination, bent on a June launching. The hull of the schooner
is complete, and the interior joinery is largely done, finished in glowing
varnish. Tanks, plumbing and wiring are now being installed. The crew
of half a dozen shipwrights is concentrating on laying the deck planks
made of silverballi, a tropical hardwood sustainably harvested from
the rainforests of Suriname and acquired through Vineyard-based Deep
Water Ventures. Lumber for the spars has been purchased.
"Under Nat's direction,
this boat will float. I can't supply any know-how, but I can supply
the funds, and it will be finished," Mr. Normandin says, "The
materials are in place, and Dan Adams has been very cooperative through
this whole thing. I'm happy to be involved in the project to see this
thing of art being built, but I'm sad that the owner is in the position
he is in."
An Update: Dan Adams
declared bankruptcy in 2000 and was forced to sell the still-unfinished
schooner. Rebecca was launched under new owners in time for
the 2001 sailing season.
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