The Personal Motor Yacht
 - Sky Vigil -
a converted 60' Aviation Rescue Boat

SkyVigil(1).jpg (70521 bytes) SkyVigil(2).jpg (72181 bytes) SkyVigil(4)1.jpg (80641 bytes)
 Underway from Toledo, OR to Newport, OR downstream on the Yaquina River.  Here we have slowed to about 8 knots  Now our speed is 14 knots

05/15/02    In the attached pictures we are going from Toledo, OR to Newport, OR downstream on the Yaquina River. In picture 4 our speed is 14 knots. In picture 2 we have slowed to about 8 knots. The plywood over the front lower pilot house windows is because I purchased new windows last fall but the yard didn't have time to finish the installation before the rainy season. Anyone who has spent any time on the Northwest Coast knows how windy it gets. I couldn't keep a tarp tied down so I opted to cover the window holes until this spring.


 Dan, The following information is from Jean E. Buhler, Naval Architect/Marine Consultant. Jean is the PE that signed off on my boats original blueprints in 1942. He still lives in Miami, FL where the boat was constructed and is still actively involved in the boating/marine industry. He lost the original prints of boat to Hurricane Andrew in 1992 but he still retains some of the information. He was the consultant for the movie "PT 109" (which is not a PT boat but an 80ft AVR boat converted by Jean to look like a PT). He was also the consultant for the "Tall Ships" series on the History Channel for the segment dealing with PT boats. 

These type of aviation rescue boats are referred to as the "Miami's" as they were constructed by the Miami Shipbuilding Company (which is no longer in business). Jean Buhler was formerly the CTO (chief technical officer) for the Miami Shipbuilding Co. The URL for the 63ft AVR web page is: http://nobadlie.tripod.com/ 

Navy number C-9447 corresponds to Miami Ship Hull No. 194, a model #168. This information also matches the boats Coast Guard documentation and the abstract. Hull 194 was originally a Packard powered boat with the engines in the stern. The engines were connected by long shafts that ran forward almost to amidships where they were connected to angle drives. The original prop shafts were 2" Monel shafts 17' 11 5/8" long. When I repowered the boat in 2001 I replaced the original shafts because the old shafts were not in good shape and at end of useful life. The old shafts were not long enough so "jack shafts" had been used to make up the extra length and connect to the transmissions. As I was forced to purchase new 2" shafts, I bought the correct length and eliminated the jack shafts. The engines that I replaced were 2 cycle Chrysler-Nissan Diesels. These engines were from the 1960's and I could no longer find parts for them. Additionally, I felt that the 215 hp associated with each engine was less than adequate. It had 1.5:1 transmissions. Top speed with the Chrysler-Nissan 2 cycles was about 8 knots. 

The original boat had twin Packard's @ 625hp each for a total of 1250hp. Her top speed was 46 knots. 

Keel laid                4/27/42 
Framing completed  5/07/42
Planking completed 5/15/42 
Decking completed  5/21/42
Launching              6/13/42 
Engines installed    8/26/42 
Official trials 10/16/42 

AVR-C 9447, SKY VIGIL, as she is today. The engines today are mounted amidships using direct drives. The engines had been moved by a previous owner to this configuration which was an alternate configuration used by the Miami Shipbuilding Co. in the later Model #314, which was a Hall-Scott powered boat. She is a diesel powered boat (original was gas) with two 300hp John Deere Marine diesels connected to 2:1 transmissions. Her top speed, thus far, is 14 knots. If she was the same weight as when originally constructed the prediction from Jean Buhler is a top speed of about 20 knots. I am working on the house to lighten it and redesign it to eliminate some of the weight. She has two gensets and can carry approximately 1400 gals of fuel. However, some of the fuel tanks have deteriorated to the point where I no longer feel comfortable using them so I will be replacing them as part of the work I am doing. She has two day tanks in the engine room. These are new stainless steel tanks which I had the shipyard make up to my specifications at the time she was repowered. 

The entire front main deck and the stem have been replaced. The deck has been fiberglassed. A long rub rail that ran the length of the boat was removed. It was not original. It was improperly installed which was causing the hull to rot out underneath the rub rail. Any suspicious hull planking was replaced, hull frames/ribs were replaced/repaired where necessary, new keel bolts were installed, new stainless steel transom corner guards were installed, new larger wheels (propellers) were installed, new shafts, new fiberglass wet exhaust and new exhaust ports for engines and gensets, all new seacocks, all new through hull fittings, new anti-siphon valves on all of the bilge pump hoses, an isolation transformer, a new marine AC/DC electrical panel (she used to have a knife switch and a household fuse box), most of the boat has been rewired both for AC and DC (still have to finish this one), all portlights were completely removed and reworked with new gasket material and new stainless steel dogs (including on the storm shields), a new combination rope/chain anchor windlass, a refurbished and updated bow anchor roller system. The entire hull was sanded down to bare wood, recaulked, primered, and repainted blue. The boat came out of the water in April of 2001 and did not get refloated until October 2001. She didn't leave the yard until March 2002. 

The house is of basic plywood construction. It is rapidly deteriorating. The previous owners did not adequately seal the plywood. I am trying to keep some of the yacht quality as I redesign it but, at the same time, move it more towards the original World War II weight and gain a couple of knots. That will mean less superstructure.

 Regards, John H. Gresham

Dan, I visited the pictures of the PTF on the barge and here is what I see: A wooden boat that is not in the water, it is dried out. It is not in running condition. It is not seaworthy. I had a list of about two pages of things that I could think of that I didn't see in the pictures. Everything from zincs, to anchors, to safety equipment, to electronics, to maintenance of the mains, installing the second genset, an air compressor, batteries, cleaning of fuel tanks (stuff grows in them), installing racor filters, waste facilities, and on, and on...I finally deleted it all and here is the result. 

I think you should hire one of the companies that specializes in moving boats and have it delivered. You can do all of the restoration stuff at your leisure. My guess is that if you add up the logistics of getting her ready for sea, the cost of fuel, food, people, motels, transportation, and fees (like for the canal), it is cheaper to pay to have it moved and less risky. I will also say the quicker you get her to Washington, the quicker you will find out who may crawl out of the woodwork to help you. Not everyone has seen your webpage but once people can actually see the boat the word will get around. 

I have had people stop by my boat when I have had it out of the water because they thought it to be a PT boat. There have been times that I had trouble working on it when it was tied to the pier because so many people interrupted me to ask questions that it got to be annoying. I am not sure about your information on the other boats. My boat was classified by the navy as an Aviation Rescue boat (AVR), not ASR (air sea rescue). I have heard of one in the Seattle area but I heard it to be a privately owned yacht. I am just not sure if they are the same boats. If you have any more particulars on them, I would appreciate the information. 

By the way, there is a Canadian museum in Alberta that is dedicated to the men who served in the Canadian small boats. It was started by the veterans, I believe. You might want to contact them and ask for advice on raising funds. Just a thought. It is a very nice museum located adjacent to a navy reserve center. A good one to visit some time. 

I also belong to the Pacific Northwest chapter of the antique wooden boat club. It gets me cheaper insurance. I was thinking that PTF's qualify as wooden boats and this is a national organization that has a news letter. You might want to ask their membership via the newsletter to help save these beautiful boats. These are the kind of people that for the most part put a lot of dough in the old wooden inboard runabouts because they like the feel and power of a fast wooden boat. Patriotism is running high and these are reminders of Vietnam (I am also a navy Vietnam era vet but destroyers were my thing. I served on five of them. Never made it to Vietnam. Served all my time on the East coast). I will send the information if you want it.

Regards, John H. Gresham