Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The History Of Noel. 1942 83 Foot Coast Guard Cutter.

Noel was built in 1942 by Wheeler Company of Brooklyn, NY for WWII. She is one of the Matchbox Fleet, of 230 boats. 83 footers had that title, because they were wooden... and filled to the brim with 2,000 gallons of gasoline!

She was Commissioned 9/29/1942 at 1622 hours, for an approximate cost of $80,000.00

Advertisement from Yachting magazine, September 1942.

Her name is an interesting story. Her number in the coast guard was CG 83370... which was learned after naming her Noel. When she was decommissioned in 1959 her number was changed to 83394 which is the hull number of another 83 footer, which happened to have the radio call sign... NOEL. 83370's call sign... NLXL. Noel sounds a little better.

She is 83 feet long, and 16 feet 7.75 inches wide (Beam) and a draft (Depth) of 5.3 feet. A picture of her in a travel lift from 2002. (Name at the time... Rendezvous.)

Her hull is mahogany planked, and "originally" had steamed white oak frames with a spacing of 12 inches. Originally she had a small bronze wheel house, and twin 8 cylinder gasoline Sterling Viking II, Model TCG-8 engines. A total of 1200 horsepower... that could drive her to a maximum of full load speed of 18.2 knots. Empty and without armaments they could run 20.5 knots. All this with a fuel bill only the government could afford! Full speed... 120 gallons per hour. Cruise, only a hundred! For an idea of scale in the picture below, the engines were 12 feet long... and weighed 6 tons a piece! A wet exhaust ran out the transom for superior sub hunting abilities.

Noel, went across the atlantic on the deck of a ship, to be part of the Normandy Flotilla, she was #12. June 6, 1944... D-Day, she was part of the invasion of Normandy.

"83370 (CG 621 1942-4 assigned to EASTSEAFRON---stationed at Fernandina Beach. FL; 1944-45 assigned to the COM 12THFLEET---stationed at Poole. England; Jun 44 assigned to USCG Rescue Flotilla No. 1 ---served in Normandy Invasion as USCG 12; Jun 45 assigned to the EASTSEAFRON: Aug. 45 shipped to the Canal Zone; 1 Apr. 59 decommissioned: 9 Oct. 59 sold."

She was stationed:
Fernandina, Florida 9/29/42.
New York, New York 3/28/44
San Francisco, California 7/27/45
CG Base, Alameda, Cal 2/15/46

From 1946 until 1959 she ran back and forth from Alameda to Pier 47 in San Francisco. She was assigned to the 12th Coast Guard District San Francisco.

She was also a star in the the John Wayne movie "High and the Mighty." 83370 is the first of the two white Coast Guard Cutters leaving the dock, when they are off to rescue the plane.

She was decomissioned on April 1, 1959 and stored at the Alameda Coast Guard base, until October 9th, 1959 when she was sold to Frank J. Ravis in Compton California. became a pleasure boat... documented as Apache Maid and converted over to a motor yacht in Washington State in 1960.

Her name was changed to Conciliator around 1967. A gap in the documentation where she was registered as a motorboat in California makes us uncertain when.

Here are some advertisements for Conciliator:

In 1971 she was purchased by Bob and Judy Mersey (Then President of Columbia Records.) and named Princess Helen. A news clipping saved by a past owner says that, "The ship's log indicates the yacht on more than one occasion entertained recording stars Perry Como, Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis, and even the Beatles George Harrison and other celebrities of the music world."

In 1972 Princess Helen sailed from Marina Del Rey, California through the Panama Canal to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. From 1972 to 1974 Princess Helen was based in Fort Lauderdale and cruised the Bahamas and Keys. From 1974 to 1976 her home port was Port Washington, Long Island, NY. During this period she made a trip to New England. From 1976 to 1979 her home port was back in Fort Lauderdale, and she was cruising the Dry Tortugas to Jacksonville.

From 1980-88 she used Sarasota, and then St Petersburg, Florida as her base. She cruised the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, through the keys and up to the Chesapeake.

In 1982 a Fire destroyed her cabin house when she was docked in Moorehaven, Florida. She was rebuilt in Tarpon Springs by George Saroukos. He/his company did a three year refit. The Hull and deck were sheathed in diagonally planked 1/2 inch marine grade plywood, with about a million screws. Then on top of the fiberglassed deck, a new cabin house was built, the exterior of which was also fiberglassed.

From 1988-91 Ft Myers. Florida was her home port, and she went back and forth to the Chesapeake for the summers. In 1992 Tierra Verde, Florida was her base of operations. From 1993-95 Ruskin, Florida was her home port.

From 1995 to 1997, there is another gap. Not sure where she was during those years. In 1997 she was sold, and renamed Low Flying Duck, by a couple who ran her as a charter boat based out of Everglades City, Florida. Evidently she spent a lot of time in the Dry Tortugas from talking with previous owners.

Low Flying Duck:

She was in the charter business from 1997 until 2001, when she was sold and timeline has another gap until Februrary 2003, when she was sold and renamed Rendez Vous, with a home port of New Orleans, Lousiana.

The current owners bought Noel in November 2003, documented February 2004... spent a few months revamping the shaft struts, rudder posts and framing in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. Then took her to North Carolina via the Inter Coastal Waterway, across the Okeechobee and North... With a few memorable moments along the the way.

If you have any memories of 83370, under her various names, and owners... please leave a comment!

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