M/V GANSETT – A classic motor boat offering harbor tours and sunset cruises in Newport, Rhode Island.
Photos: Cranberry Isles, Maine, c. 1969
Harbor tours and sunset cruises. Years of experience and love of the New England coast area together bring you the best of local sights and sounds and tastes.
The company began its operations in June of 2007 with the start of the Tall Ships Festival. At the dock, M/V Gansett and her crew were immersed in the oldest traditions of the sea and were part of the action from sunrise to well after dark. It was sensational to be a spectator at the Parade of Sail as the ships headed out to sea and onto their next port of call. This was the view on all sides of M/V Gansett in early July.
M/V GANSETT’S HISTORY
EXCERPTS FROM A FEATURE ARTICLE THAT APPEARED IN MAINE COASTAL NEWS
One must commend anyone who will step to the plate and do what they feel is right. Sometimes there are easier ways, but preserving a way of life or a glimpse at history can be very difficult. After nearly a year, Jeff O’Brien of Newport, Rhode Island finally has his traditional passenger boat totally rebuilt and almost ready for the up-coming season, but if he is not ready for May it could mean financial disaster.
O’Brien was looking for a different turn in his career, which was getting away from being captain of millionaire’s yachts. One day he was visiting Giffy Full at his Brooklin home and he took notice of the photographs on Giffy’s kitchen walls. He explained, “When I started looking for passenger boats, they were all so ugly. From a money making point of view a lot of [owners] probably like the big ugly steel multi-deck boats, but I had no interest in them. This is more than just making money. I wanted to do it on a boat that I had an appreciation for, not just a cash cow.”
Finding the right traditional boat is not as easy as it once was. O’Brien found a couple, but neither was for sale. Giffy told him there was a boat in York, which was the same design as two he had owned years back. They chased the owner down and found that he was in China on business. O’Brien left him a message and he returned the call, and said yes he owned the boat, but he was not interested in selling her. However, after repeated calls he changed his mind and sold the boat to O’Brien.
This boat was built by Beal & Bunker of Mount Desert back in 1969. Her design concept was drawn by Giffy, who then took his drawings to Miles Fitch, who produced the finalized design. She had had a Coast Guard certificate to carry 49 passengers, but her last owner let that lapse. O’Brien added, “I was looking for any old traditional looking passenger boat that I felt I could handle. Not too big, not too small and had the right looks and the right space, not a yacht. A yacht does not lend itself well to a tour boat, because they have a lot of staterooms and cabins, so all the people are jammed onto an aft deck or the fore deck.”
O’Brien knew of Peter Buxton, Buxton Boats of Stonington, through Giffy. Last January the boat was put into Buxton’s shop and for the next six weeks he and O’Brien stripped everything out of her and took it to the dump. Buxton added, “We put in 21 new steam bent timbers, one new plank, all new stern, refastened the bottom, checked all the keel bolts, stop waters and then started putting her back together.”
The only fiberglass you will find on this boat is on the platform and the trunk.
This boat is very well constructed with 1 3/8-inch mahogany planking over split white oak 1¼ by 1¾-inch frames. This was the second boat owned by Giffy. His first had been planked with cedar, but when they took out recreational fishermen the sides would get dented by the lures and sinkers.
When the boat arrived at the shop everything was original except they had raised the fore deck so it was like that of a lobster boat. Originally, she had a walk around deck making access around the boat much easier for passengers. They also raised the platform an inch and the shelter roof was raised four inches for added headroom.
Originally, she was powered with a 671 GM diesel, and at some point this was changed to a 334 Caterpillar, which she had when she arrived at Buxton’s. This was removed even though it ran well, but you could not buy parts for it. So it was replaced with a 3306 Caterpillar.
When you look at the engine you will see a monster alternator. O’Brien added, “There is no generator on the boat and I need to run a refrigerator and freezer, household stuff, which is $300 verses $3,000 per unit. I need to be able to keep ice cream and stuff and not have to mess with coolers, which would be a nightmare. The inverter is key because I need to be able run all these systems through that. That is the biggest alternator I could find that would fit. The trouble is we are doing a lot of slow running so you need an alternator that specializes in high output at low rpm, which this one does.”
(This article appeared in the MAINE COASTAL NEWS, January 2006)