VENTNOR – She’s long and sleek and was built when engine power was new.
George Wimberg’s “MisLeading Lady” was on display at Ventnor City Hall Saturday, Sept. 29 for all to see and admire. She had boat lovers reminiscing about the good old days when Ventnor had its own boat works.
Carpenter Ron Miller appreciates woodworking.
“Her craftsmanship is unbelievable,” he said as he admired her mahogany and yellow cedar planks.
Joe Breitinger brought his young son to see the boat his family once owned.
“My dad sold it in 1961 and I saw it again when George Wimberg bought it and my dad took me to see it,” he said.
“They did an amazing job restoring it,” he said as his son got to sit behind the wheel.
Wimberg, a lifelong Ventnor resident, said he purchased the E Class racing boat built in 1928 by Adolph Apel of Ventnor Boat Works, in 1997 from the family of Capt. Jim Fitzgerald. The boat, which Fitzgerald had named “Blue Star,” had been sitting in their garage on Morris Avenue in Atlantic City for nearly 40 years. Although Fitzgerald had every intention of bringing her back to her 1928 racing days, the restoration was never completed.
Wimberg moved her to his garage in Ventnor until 2002 when John Brady at the Seaport Museum in Philadelphia agreed to do the restoration, he said.
“Once they got the boat, they found that some of the wood and fasteners were going bad, so they had to completely rebuild it,” Wimberg said.
He found a duplicate of the 26-footer in a boatyard in Connecticut, so the restorers went there to take photos and measurements.
“It was a 12-year project, off and on,” Wimberg said. Restoration was completed this year.
“The plan is to trailer her to different shows,” he said, but Saturday’s exhibition was her “welcome home.”
Although he would not reveal the cost of the restoration, Wimberg simply said it was “a lot.”
“She was rebuilt to run, and we put her in the water for the first time on the Delaware River, but she’s really a show boat – a work of art,” he said.
Along with her restoration, she received her original name, MisLeading Lady.
She will be stored on land and not left in the water for any length of time so the wood can breathe, expand and contract.
Wimberg, who is a member of the Ventnor Historical Society, said he appreciates the historic nature of the boat. Not only is she beautiful, but Apel, who also developed the hydroplane twin-hull boat, built her with a 250 horsepower Lycoming airplane engine. The engine was eventually replaced with a 1932, 200 horsepower Scripps Marine engine, which has also been totally rebuilt.
Mis’Leading Lady went through several changes over the years, including having her hull raised 8 inches and during WWII had a cabin on top, Wimberg said.
“Knowing it was historic, I wanted to be able to re-live some of the city’s history. Some people don’t event know Ventnor had a boat works,” he said.
The Ventnor Boat Works was in operation from 1902 to 1958. It was recognized in 1915 for achieving the “one mile in one minute” milestone. During WWII, it built aircraft rescue boats and submarine chasers for the U.S. government. It was presented with an Army-Navy E Award for excellence in construction and performance.
The boat works was eventually replaced by Carvis Marine until it moved to West Atlantic City. The site is now the home of the Sunset Harbor high-rise condominium.
“She is part of our history,” he said. “I’m proud to bring her back to the city.”