Lady M rises from ruins to cruise again

Lady M

Lady M

Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 01:53 PM.

The year was 2004. Stuck in a mud bank on Dog Island was a 45' sailboat laying at a 40-degree angle.

Filled with water and encrusted with barnacles, her once shining hull and fine lines were all but hidden. Her former beauty and pedigree could only be imagined at this point. It took vision to think that she could be brought back from the brink of total ruin and once again sail with the grace and grandeur of her former yachting days. In her glory days she enjoyed the world of yacht racing and cruising that befit her earlier days in South Florida. From the drawing board of noted naval architect Charlie Morgan she was designed in 1966 and built in 1981.

This former classic beauty now found herself lying open to the elements, and by all accounts, dying a slow death with every rising tide and passing storm. It was in this condition that Mason Bean from St. George Island first laid eyes on her. He looked beyond the barnacle-encrusted hull that was filled with mud and an engine that was a mass of rusted iron and a mast whose base had corroded away from salt water saturation. Mason had a vision of this beautiful hull once again sailing as she did in her earlier days.

As someone always looking for a project, whether it be a house or a boat, he wasn't discouraged by her condition. Mason tracked down the owners and asked what their plans were for her. They said they'd sell her, for $50,000, as is. Mason countered with an offer for $4,000 and threw out the word "closure.” A week later the call came; he had a boat. As much as he may have wanted this, the reality of owning her now set in. The long road to salvaging and rebuilding her had not even begun.

With a full moon tide, she was floated off the mud bank on Dog Island and towed the seven long miles to nearby Timber Island in Carrabelle. After six months dockside at Timber Island, she was finally pulled out of the water so the work could begin in earnest. It soon became apparent to Mason that a project of this magnitude needed to be closer to home in order to get the work done efficiently.

In 2010 she was trucked to St. George Island and unloaded at a nearby bayfront lot that Mason owned. Keep in mind that safely loading; trucking and then unloading a 45' long, 11' wide, 15-ton vessel is, in itself, no small feat. Once she was carefully unloaded at her new home, scaffolding was erected around her. The rebuild began to gain momentum.

Then, about a year ago, in January 2012, Martin Ben Baruch entered the picture. As a multi-talented boat builder, electrician and rigger, Martin was just the perspiration, inspiration and talent that this project needed. With Martin on board, the pace picked up and a launch date in the not-too-distant future became a reality.

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