Old motorhomes and derelict boats are seemingly ideal abodes to those who are “housing challenged.” But rarely does it play out because ownership requires skills, knowledge and resources that few possess.
About seven years ago, a neglected, salty diamond in the rough was listed on craigslist by a Wilmington marina manager. The floating hot mess had been abandoned and marina management was glad to save the costs of scrapping her when knowledgeable boaters Carl Earhart and Martha Forero offered to take her on as a project.
This week’s classic yacht is a 1960 Matthews Yachtmaster, a 42-foot wooden yacht named Halaski. This boat was lovingly brought back from near death by a couple that had a special passion for her.
Carl Earhart had a service department background at General Motors so the fact the engines didn’t run was a nonissue. Earhart first replaced the batteries. The engine would turn over but not start.
For three weeks, he puttered cleaning and tweaking the fuel system on the diesel engines until he was able to get them to start — resulting in a huge plume of smoke creating a massive cloud in the marina. Earhart pressed on and replaced fuel injectors and soon the engines purred.
He repaired the hull and stripped down the layers of paint to expose the natural wood. Next, he stained the wood and painstakingly applied multiple coats of varnish.
Finally, Earhart renamed the boat Lazarus, since the boat was brought back from death.
Earhart and Forero enjoyed cruising to Catalina Island for many years and are now ready to move on to their next project. When I saw her photo posted online last weekend, I remembered the boat and cruising onboard to Emerald Bay — before there was a dinghy dock there.
Back in the late 1960s and early ’70s, Don Richardson and his bride Betsy lived aboard in Alamitos Bay’s gangway 5 in front of what is now the Crab Pot and back in the day, the Captain’s Inn. LBYC Staff Commodore Mike Elias grew up on a boat on the other side of the gangway, and agreed that Lazarus just might be same boat that Don and Betsy lived aboard.
Back then folks would stroll the docks after a tiki-themed dinner at the Captain’s Inn. The live-aboards referred to the gawking tourists as “tooth-pickers" and would assign points to how long the diners would linger to admire different boats. Over the years, the Elias and Richardson boats collected many tooth-picker points.
The late Don Richardson was a Stanford University grad with a degree in economics, and his photo was in the sports section of Press-Telegram ads for Richardson Tire with the title “Vice President since birth.”
Later he started his own company, Richardson Yacht Sales, before moving on to Long Beach Transit as their guru of Community Relations where he helped launch the Downtown Passport shuttles, and AquaBus and AquaLink water taxis.
Don was active in many organizations in Long Beach: Rotary, LBYC and its Anglers, Southern California Tuna Club, the Tuna Club of Avalon and the Salvation Army Board of Directors.
His dad Clarence established the tire company in 1911 at 500 E. Anaheim St. in the historic Hancock Motors Art Deco building. Clarence was an old-time member of the Long Beach Casting Club and was on the maiden voyage of the Matsonia sailing to Hawaii from Matson Terminal in 1957.
As the family grew, they customized one of the berths on the yacht’s aft cabin into a protected playpen with rope netting hooked all the way around. When the makeshift playpen could no longer contain their two daughters, the time had come to move ashore.
Don attempted to record the poundage of items they took off the boat by stepping on a bathroom scale as he held each load that went ashore. I never learned the total, but the waterline did rise substantially.
Betsy Richardson is retired and living in Hawaii, when asked about the boat she said, “I live in a huge house now — but I’d move aboard again in a heartbeat.”