Boat Gets A Lift

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From left: Project manager Ed Peterson, port captain Billy Shephard and his dad William Shephard, a volunteer
From left: Project manager Ed Peterson, port captain Billy Shephard and his dad William Shephard, a volunteer

Oyster Bay businessman Jim Longo, visiting the Ida May Project (IMP) at the Town of Oyster Bay’s western waterfront, put into motion their project to build a forklift. The IMP crew had already re-built a tractor, but it was proving inadequate for moving large tree logs headed for their wood miser saw mill. They needed the steel, a plan and a welding machine. Longo took project manager Ed Peterson of Syosset and Plainview’s William Shephard, longtime volunteer, to the Gladsky Marina in Glenwood Landing. The IMP guys approved the forklift parts and John Gladsky set the price at $200, which Longo paid.

With the steel in place, Peterson, who can look at anything and tell how it is made, drew up the plans. Shephard’s son Billy, a port captain, loaned the IMP his welding machine. The father and son used the machine when building Billy’s three-masted Friendship boat, a design used in Maine for lobstering.

“You can’t just put the solder on the whole length of the two pieces of steel at one time or they will curve and break apart so you need to tack them together slowly to make a strong joint,” explained William Shephard. Peterson did the tacking job and Billy did the finishing work.

Ed Peterson drives the forklift into the shed where Bill Shephard is directing placement of the black walnut plank, as Jim Brannigan (right) oversees the move. (Photos by Dagmar Fors Karppi)
Ed Peterson drives the forklift into the shed where Bill Shephard is directing placement of the black walnut plank, as Jim Brannigan (right) oversees the move.
(Photos by Dagmar Fors Karppi)

It takes a lot of lumber to build the 50-foot, 49-ton oyster harvester Ida May and that requires a great deal of heavy lifting, the specialty of the forklift. Recently, the IMP received a donation of two walnut trees. “One of them weighed about 500 pounds,” said volunteer Jim Brannigan of Syosset. On Thursday, Aug. 5, they were wrangling the logs onto the wood miser, using the forklift and then carrying the planks over to be stored under a tarp to dry out before use.

Every step of building the boat is a succession of small moves done in a time-tested series of maneuvers, a great deal of problem solving and a lot of help from their friends. In fact, a Friends of the Ida May group is being formed. For more information about the IMP, see them on Facebook or www.idamayproject.org or call 516-305-9204.

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