Ida May Project Hurdles COVID-19

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Here is a view of the interior of the pilothouse, showing the dashboard, windows, interior paneling and restored wheel. (Photo courtesy of Dave Gil De Rubio)

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented business as usual, work on the replica of the 1925 wooden oyster dredge Ida May continues with limited personnel using safe distancing guidelines.

With the boat skeleton in place, work is currently focused on the deck and interior of the ship. The pilothouse structure is up and work is being done on the dashboard, windows and interior paneling.

The engine, gas and water tanks are on order; The lifeline stanchions (safety railings) and mast step will be built by volunteers; various areas of the ship need undercoating, painting or varnishing.

“Our shipwrights and volunteer crews are committed to completing this project with a very high level of craftsmanship,” Board President George Lindsay said. “The Ida May is going to be a safe and sturdy vessel, but also a beautiful example of traditional wooden boatbuilding.”

One challenge has been on finding a way to varnish the black walnut panels for the interior of the pilothouse without getting dust particles in the finish. In spite of having a dust collection system in place, light airborne particles are tough to eliminate.

At first, varnishing was limited to late in the week, with woodworking allowed only on Monday and Tuesday. The hope was that, at the end of the week, the air would be clearer.

However, it didn’t turn out that way. Volunteer Jim Brannigan tried varnishing panels in his
Syosset garage, to no avail.

Lindsay then found a used tent canopy on E-Bay and he and volunteer Connell Byrne assembled it with plastic sides and air filtering fans.

Shipwright Josh Herman inspected the tent in early May, as he outlined the next projects the IMP volunteers can work on as they await the end of quarantining and the release of a $125,000 New York State grant so that the professional shipwrights can get back to work on the final elements of the project – completing the decking and planking and then getting the boat caulked and launched.

All in all, despite challenges, the work on marine education, the harbor tour boat and a historic replica have its course for the future set.

The IMP would be grateful if you kept her in your prayers and maybe on your donation list as work to re-create this valuable salute to Oyster Bay maritime history.

For more information, you can visit idamayproject.org.

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