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Restored 1930s yacht finds way home to Camden

CAMDEN — The old wooden lady has come home to Camden.

The Rip Tide, a 30-foot auxiliary cutter sailing yacht built here during the Great Depression, is back on the waters of the Delaware River at Wiggins Marina. The refurbished pleasure boat was donated to the Camden Shipyard & Maritime Museum and will become part of the CSMM’s Urban Boatworks Program.

The yacht was designed and built by John Trumpy in 1935 at the old John H. Mathis Shipyard in Camden. Trumpy, who arrived in the United States from Norway at the turn of the century, was famous for his luxury wooden yachts.

One was the 104-foot Sequoia, which became the U.S. Presidential Yacht in 1933. Presidents from Roosevelt to Carter enjoyed the opulent vessel.

The Rip Tide was one of only four 30-foot sailing yachts created by Trumpy but was lost to Trumpy’s descendants until 2007.

“The yacht was discovered in Michigan by Trumpy’s granddaughter, Peg, and her husband, Bill,” said Michael Lang, vicepresident of the CSMM board of trustees.

“It was in rather rough shape. But with the help of some friends, (Peg and Bill) lovingly restored it and brought it to Barnegat Bay, where they sailed her for a number of years,” Lang added.

“They finally decided to find a permanent home for it and decided to share with the museum.”

Touring the yacht is like sailing back in time. The mahogany cabin gleams, and a small alcohol-fueled stove stands ready. There is an icebox — few had refrigerators in the ’30s — and a tiny bathroom with a flip-down sink.

Urban Boatworks, launched in 2008, provides opportunities for city kids to build their own kayaks, canoes and small boats. The Rip Tide will offer them the chance to learn how to sail.

“This is a great addition to the waterfront attractions, and we’re very excited to have it here. It’s something to inspire young people, to get them out on the water, to get out in nature,” Lang said.

Lang said programs to utilize Rip Tide will be developed over the winter.

“We’re not rushing to get the kids on board,” said the former Rutgers-Camden professor. “And we’re always cognizant of safety precautions that have to be in place.”

The Rip Tide’s mast rises 45 feet high. It includes an environmentally friendly electric motor and can comfortably hold six to eight people.

Looking around the marina on a recent sun-kissed morning, Lang said: “She’s the only wooden boat out here. There’s almost a spiritual element in that it was made from all natural materials.

“Trumpy’s boats were built for the rich and the wealthy. And now this is here for the city’s kids.

“Hopefully, they’ll get excited about it and even pick up on some that spirituality that is part of a wooden boat.”

Reach Joe Cooney at (856) 317-7830 or jcooney@gannett.com

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