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Preview: Aboard the Legendary Commuter Yacht APHRODITE

March 6, 2012

Like the Goddess of Love, Beauty and Pleasure she was named for, the iconic 74′ commuter yacht APHRODITE, built in 1937 and rebuilt in 2005, can sweep you away. So hold on tight.

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– [Presenter] The 74 foot Aphrodite surely is the iconic community out of the 1930s. In 2004 and 2005, Brooklyn Boat Yard had the privilege of giving her a thorough restoration. At 68 years of age, she’s outlived most of the yachts of her type, [[00:01:00]] but had fallen on hard times and needed help. And we who have worked on her feel good at having a hand in her rebirth. Now it’s your turn to take a look.
– [Ronnie] We saw this thing roll down the reach, one engine blown.
– Presenter  What was this project like for you as a project manager, what was going through your mind?
– Ronnie Ah, what a great opportunity, a piece of history, and just a beautiful boat.
– Presenter Ambassador John Hay Whitney had Aphrodite built for shuttling back and forth between his home and his Wall Street office. [[00:01 30]]  Her top sides back then were grey instead of black, but always set off by varnished mahogany cabin sides and trim.
– Ronnie I am really excited about bringing something like this back. I mean it was…
– Presenter It was compost?
– Ronnie It was gone, yeah. It was gone.
– [Man] Yeah.
– Ronnie:There were barnacles on the inside of the boat. Yeah, we were worried we were going to lose it picking it up, and the worms were falling out of the keel as we put it in the shop.
– Presenter This boat is built like a basket?
– Ronnie Yeah.
–  Presenter Little oak frames, you know the size of the oak frames?
– Ronnie Eighth and three quarter by eighth and three quarters. It has the same scaling as my 28 foot lobster boat.  [[00:02:00]]
– Presenter Has the same scalings as your 28 foot Arnault Day lobster boat?
– Ronnie Yup. You’re looking at the hull and the frames, and you can just see the nubs of the rivets.
– Presenter So those are all copper nails?
– Ronnie Yup.
– Presenter That were driven through…
– Ronnie And hand riveted.
– Presenter And hand riveted over?
– Ronnie Yup, no, she is built like a basket like you say, top sides are pretty flat and straight, so it’s a pretty good rigid panel and the hull sides are pretty rigid also.  [[00:02 30]] You know, the deck adds a lot of stiffness to the boat from the original, because we put a plywood deck and teak deck on, that was another change that we…not that anybody would notice. And that had…
– Presenter Ply antique versus the three eighths of cedar?
– Ronnie Yeah. So…but I amazed that she doesn’t show a seam. I thought she’d…
– Presenter Beat her teeth out?
– Ronnie I did, yeah. Why wouldn’t she?
– Presenter Ronnie Billings is the Chief Engineer of Brooklyn Boat Yard. Ronnie was responsible not only for re-powering this beast, but of all  [[00:03:00]] the systems installations.
– Ronnie These motors, inline, Caterpillar six cylinders, they are called C-18s. A thousand horsepower, they have a unique cooling system on the front that helped us save a lot of space, and a lot of plumbing. The old boat had a cable rack and pinion steering and we changed it to a hydraulic system, this is our air horn, we have to have an air horn. Every good boat has to have a real classic air horn.  [[00:03:30]]
– Presenter Besides the steering station, there is a main saloon, the equivalent of a living room, with a galley at one end. Sleeping takes place in state rooms forward under the low part of the deck house. These are something that I’d never seen before, because this is very automotive-esque. I mean, this was built, what was the year she was built, 19…
– Ronnie 37.
– Presenter 37, so it must have been kind of right in that same vein?
– Ronnie Yep.
– Presenter: As the…
– Ronnie Yep, those are original. They were stock items, you could buy ’em.
– Presenter Kirk Reynolds is Aphrodite’s captain  [[00:04:00]] and caretaker.
– [Kirk] I describe her as a big center console. As you know, she’s got a lot of cab, a lot of length. But, she’s so maneuverable, she’s got very powerful engines that maneuvers like a dream. It goes where I want it to go.
– Presenter Now that you’ve been aboard and seen the inside, let’s go for a ride. A little note to self here, Aphrodite in gear at idle,  [[00:04:30]]  does 10 knots.
♪ [music] ♪
– Presenter So it’s on our compass, and we’re just going to lay into a little bit here. 72 foot wooden basket doing close to 40 knots at the reach.
♪ [music] ♪
– Presenter How do you like them apples?
– Kirk:Throughout this experience of getting her together in Florida to bring her up, patching her up, three years I babysat this boat. It’s a caretaker. I just felt like she had a soul, and I interviewed eight yards and settled on Steve’s yard. I was afraid it wouldn’t be the same boat, something would have gotten distorted, she wouldn’t handle the same, that she’d lose her soul. But, it didn’t, and she’s back as good as new, and she’s still here. [[00:06:30]]  She’s still here, she helped me out, I help her out.
– Presenter: So the next time you’re stuck in traffic on your way to work, waiting for the lights to change, think about your morning commute, maybe you should have a little better attention in economics class, and what it might have been like to rip down Long Island Sound to Wall Street in something like this. Thanks for coming with us.


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