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Lewes, Delaware
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March 27, 2015     Cape Gazette
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March 27, 2015
 

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4 FRIDAY, MARCH 27- MONDAY, MARCH 30, 2015 NEWS Cape Gazette SUBMITTED PHOTO The Monomoy boat Was in poor condition when it arrived in Lewes. It had pre- viously been used at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, Long Island, N.Y, NICK ROTH PHOTO OVERFALLS FOUNDATION VOLUNTEER Warren Walls works on the Monomoy boat on a recent Tuesday. SUBMITTED PHOTO Early in the process, the Monomoy's poor condition was very evident. Restoration of historic vessel nears finish By Nick Roth nickroth@capegazette.com For three hours each Tuesday morning, the sounds of hammering, drilling and cut- ting disrupt the silence of the abandoned Lewes power station on Schley Avenue. In the bowels of the decaying concrete and steel structure sits a 26-foot-long surf boat being brought back to life by a small SUBMITTED PHOTO Volunteers work to bend wood into place, which will then be used in the structure of the boat. NICK ROTH PHOTO Overfalls volunteers work off a set of plans when rebuilding and rehabilitating the boat. group of volunteers from the Overfalls Foundation. The Monomoy boat was once tasked with saving lives, but now it is the one in need of saving. "It was in sad shape," said Overfalls member David Bernheisel, reminiscing back to when the group acquired the boat in late 2011. "There was rotten wood, and all the ribs were broken." Despite the boat's condition, he said, a group of eight to 10 volunteers took on the overwhelming task of rehabilitating it. "The project got a slow start, but with good support in the community we've re- ally gotten going," he said. Workers now can see a light at the end of the tunnel, as the project nears the fin- ish line. The goal is to have the boat in the water during the 2015 season, Bernheisel said. Once complete, the boat will be used in the water for demonstrations, special events and education. It will spend most of its time on the Overfalls grounds adja- cent to Canalfront Park. A storage area is nearly complete and is designed with a lifting mechanism allowing for easy transi- tion from the boat's cradle to a trailer for transportation. The foundation obtained the Monomoy boat from the Cape May Maritime Muse- um. The boats were gifted to the museum from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, Long Island, N.Y., where they were being used for training. "[Cadets] just beat it to pieces," Bern- heisel said of the condition once the boat reached Lewes. Monomoy boats were patterned af- ter surf boats used in the rough surf off Monomoy Island near Cape Cod. They ence building smaller-scale model boats, were designed to endure the worst condi- but full-size vessels were not familiar. tions the ocean could offer and required "This is all new to me," he said. highly skilled mariners to successfully Skill level varies, Bernheisel said, as compete rescue missions. During Colo- some volunteers have an intricate knowl- nial times, Monomoy boats were used by edge of wooden boatbuilding, while others merchants to smuggle cargo onto beaches are there to help in any way possible. undetected. "You don't win a war without foot sol- In the early part of the 20th century, diers, but you have to have your generals," they became the standard for surf boats Bemheisel said. and were used at life-saving stations Many in the group bring general skills along the coast, lust under 8 feet wide and to the table, including Lan Mershon, who weighing about a ton, Monomoy boats knows his way around home repairs and could hold about 10 people, furniture refmishing, but not boats. Overfalls volunteer Warren Walls was "It has been challenging; you really have familiar with Monomoy boats before join- to think about the stuff you're doing," he ing the rehab team two years ago. In 1958, said as he worked on new floor boards he trained in the boats as part of Coast for the boat. "You also get to meet people Guard boot camp in Cape May. He hadn't who are iust great people who have a lot of been in one since, skills and experience you can learn from" Walls didn't bring much boatbuilding Demand for Monomoy boats was high experience to the table. His grandfather was a boatbuilder, and Walls has experi- Continued on page 12 Volunteers are using the old Lewes ly and efficiently. power station, which NICK ROTH PHOTO provides enough space to work effective-