“Miss Scarlett” - a 1929 52-Foot Motor Yacht from the Roaring 20’s

By: Rick Casali

Volume 19, Issue 2, February 2024

For two years, I have wanted to write an article for my column on the 52-foot motor yacht Miss Scarlett. Thanks to owner Rob Reddick, my bucket list wish came true last fall. Rob invited me over to his boathouse in Alexandria Bay, NY, to get the details and to take photos of this lovely classic boat. Before our meeting, I was not sure if this was a vessel built during the Great Gatsby era, or if it was a retro yacht designed to look vintage. As I soon found out, Miss Scarlett is approaching the 100-year mark. She was built in 1929, but so much of her is modern.

Rob and his first mate, Dana, were getting Miss Scarlett prepared to cruise to Kingston, ON, for the weekend. As I got out of my center console, several boat cleaners were stepping off Miss Scarlett. She was gleaming in the bright fall sunlight. What a treat to finally tour this fantastic classic and ‘grande dame’ of the Thousand Islands. At first, her size is deceiving. Inside the custom boathouse that Rob had built just for the 52-footer, it’s hard to judge her overall size. But out in the open, it’s apparent that her length is more than average for the St. Lawrence River. With a relatively low profile, the pilothouse motor yacht is pleasing to the eye. By today’s standards, her 12-foot beam is very skinny. Today, most motor yachts of this length have beams from 15 to 17 feet. Yet, for Miss Scarlett, her lean beam is perfect.

The wood steering wheel, signal canon, compass, and brass bell are the only original parts on the yacht.

When Rob told me that the yacht was built in 1929, this confirmed that she was of wood construction. The yacht was built at the Gidley Boat Company in Georgian Bay, ON. She is cedar planked over white oak ribs and frame. Much of the cedar planking and white oak ribs were replaced in an ambitious restoration. In fact, the original 1 7/8-inch ribs were replaced with a combination of 2 and 5 ½-inch laminated oak ribs.  So, the hull is much stronger.

The yacht went through an extensive refit that took over seven years and cost an estimated two million. This huge effort was financed by her owner at the time, Scarlett Lynne Hindman, who was the heiress to the Toronto Star newspaper. Her family called her Lynne instead of Scarlett, which she preferred. It was an easy choice for Ms. Hindman to change the name of the 52-footer from Mona to Scarlett.  As a fan of the film "Gone With the Wind", Lynne carried out that motif in the color scheme of the vessel. Dark green and burgundy curtains and cushions on board match Scarlett’s dress in the movie. Lynne is a horsewoman who knew little about yachts, but nonetheless, initiated an amazing restoration. She had the vessel brought to her barn on her horse farm in Midland, ON, for the refit. Rob told me that the wood steering wheel, signal canon, compass, and brass bell are the only original parts on the yacht.

At the beginning, the team thought that the refit project would be minimal, but examination of the hull revealed extensive deterioration of the yacht. Eventually, the workers not only replaced much of the planking and ribs, but also used the West System to seal the hull in epoxy, using the vacuum bagging process. Even the inside of the hull was encapsulated in epoxy. Much of the original decking and cabins were redesigned and replaced. The hull, machinery, wiring, and safety systems were brought up to current ABYC standards, so that the vessel could be chartered in U. S. waters. This was no easy achievement for a 1929 yacht. Years into the project, the team was fortunate to find some of the last matched grain Honduran mahogany in North America, for this ambitious project. The prized wood was found in New York City.  The interior paneling is done in this rich mahogany with matching grain.  The wood joinery is a work of art in my view. The handmade hardware for the numerous opening windows and doors are custom chrome fittings, where expense was not a consideration. The cost just to re-chrome the handmade hardware is listed at $30,000.

Miss Scarlett is a single screw vessel. Originally, Rob believes that the yacht had a gasoline engine. She is currently powered by a Detroit 6-71 diesel rated at 220 horsepower that yields a cruise speed of a leisurely 8 miles per hour. Top speed with full throttle is 14 miles per hour where she pulls a large stern wave. Being a full displacement hull design, not much horsepower is necessary to move her. With her narrow beam of 12 feet and long waterline length, Miss Scarlett is easily driven. She has a round or soft chine, so she is prone to roll in a beam sea or in large wakes from powerboats. Rob said that he prefers to take large waves and wakes bow first to minimize rolling. And Miss Scarlett has a “barn door” sized rudder to aid maneuvering.

Rob had to make quite an adjustment with Miss Scarlett. His other boats were all go-fast vessels with multiple engines. To go from 40-plus miles per hour to just 8 took some change in attitude and habits. Trips had to be planned out well in advance, and allowance made for the hours needed to get to destinations. But Rob remarked “I started seeing sights and homes on the River that I had missed in the past.” He seems much more relaxed in his life with Miss Scarlett.  Slowing down was a lifestyle change that he welcomed and needed.

The layout of the 52 is unique. The galley is up forward in the bow section. It has a propane range and oven, refrigerated sea chest, microwave, and abundant storage space. Again, the joinery work and detailing are world-class making one think that the boat is a floating piece of fine furniture. The time and money to build out this level of quality is beyond most boaters' budgets. Above the galley is a lovely butterfly hatch that lets in lots of light and air. In the forepeak is a padded seat that Rob calls the “queen’s throne.”

Aft of the galley is the dining salon that can seat six to eight by day. The mahogany table can be lowered electrically to form a cocktail-height table or lowered further into a queen berth for guests.

Aft of the galley is the dining salon with a U-shaped dinette that can seat six to eight. The mahogany table can be lowered electrically to form a cocktail-height table or lowered further into a queen berth for guests. Moving aft and up three steps is the wheelhouse. It has wing doors on both port and starboard. The helm is in the middle of the vessel with good views forward. A vintage varnished wood steering wheel is mounted to the helm station with engine gauges, controls, and a classic, large compass. You’ll also find a modern Garmin GPS/plotter, an autopilot, and radar. There is a settee aft of the helm for passengers to sit and watch River views over the long bow. A handy bar refrigerator is under the settee. The cabin floors are made in lovely pecan wood with thin strips of mahogany. The light flooring is a nice offset to the dark mahogany bulkhead paneling.

Moving aft, down three steps, is the passageway with an access door to the engine room, and a guest stateroom with a bunk bed and lots of storage. The guest head is aft of the bunk beds. All the way aft is the owners’ stateroom, with a queen berth athwartship facing to port. Again, there is abundant mahogany paneling, lockers, and drawers plus a make-up table for the ladies. The ensuite head is nice in size and has a separate shower stall. Lastly, the owners’ cabin has a companionway and ladder to the lazarette and stern spaces.

Even in the boathouse, Miss Scarlett is bright and cheerful.

Even in the boathouse, Miss Scarlett is bright and cheerful. The numerous opening windows, ports, and hatches bring in lots of sunshine, air, and light. On deck, there is an anchor windlass and chrome signal cannon mounted to the foredeck. (Is the latter for fending off River pirates?) The bow thruster helps to maneuver the 52- footer for docking. The exterior decks are of natural teak. Aft of the wheelhouse is a spacious raised deck for lounging, entertaining, and taking meals alfresco. There are six deck chairs and a cocktail table at this station. All the way aft is a lazarette, swim platform, and swim ladder. On the transom is a custom, beefy, davit system for the classic wooden dinghy. Rob and Dana row their dogs ashore in the tender.
The vessel is equipped with a 12 kWh generator, shore power,  and an ESPAR diesel heating system. The radar mast can be lowered to enter the boathouse or to navigate under low bridges. Her entire electrical system was upgraded to modern standards. The engine room has about seven feet of head room.

Rob Reddick purchased Miss Scarlett in 2010. When he bought her, the hull was painted white. He entered her in the Antique Boat Museum annual show, as well as shows in Montreal, QC, and Alexandria Bay, NY.  Miss Scarlett won the People’s Award at the two shows in the Thousand Islands.

Eventually, Rob changed the hull color to a dark green, which goes well with the varnished trim on the exterior. The new color suits this 1929 classic quite well, in my view. Wherever Miss Scarlett goes, her good looks and classic design draw attention and raves. Rob and Dana were planning to cruise to Kingston for the weekend. On board Miss Scarlett, they have all the comforts of home. But what else would one expect on the ‘Grande Dame’ of the Thousand Islands?

When not in use, Miss Scarlett and her dinghy have an elegant boathouse which Rob had built for the 52-foot classic.

When not in use, Miss Scarlett has an elegant boathouse that Rob had built for the 52-foot classic. This protects the elegant yacht from sun and rain. Rob’s home is on the US mainland and faces Cherry Island. In the off season, the yacht goes to a large storage barn at Swan Bay Resort, which Rob owns and operates. There, she can receive touch up for her exterior varnish and other needed maintenance. The vessel came with a yard trailer capable of safely transporting her 52 foot length.

Obviously, this 1929-era yacht is for the discriminating boater who can appreciate the pedigree and investment required to update and preserve this elegant vessel. Someone once said, “Life is too short to own an ugly boat.” Rob Reddick does not have this worry!

Length on deck:  52 feet
Length overall:  57 feet
Beam:  12 feet
Draft: 4 feet 4 inches
Bridge clearance:  18 feet (including radar mast)
Fuel capacity:  204 gallons
Fresh water capacity:  36o gallons
Power: Detroit 6-71 diesel rated at 220 hp
Propellor:  Michigan 4-blade
Bow thruster:  Vetus

By Rick Casali

Rick Casali is a resident of Wellesley Island. During his youth, from 1947 to 1976, his parents had a cottage on Grindstone Island named The Orchards. Rick now splits his time between Stuart, FL and the River. He worked for Columbia Gas System for 29 years and ran their Washington, DC office. Then in 2000, he started brokering boats and yachts, and continues as a broker with North Point Yacht Sales. Rick and his wife Anne cruise the River in a Seaway 24 Seafarer named "Miss Annie", and they live on Tennis Island.

Be sure to see more of Rick Casali's tributes and reviews. He has now written over 17 articles for TI Life, and they are not only interesting but also provide an important historical review of River life.

Posted in: Volume 19, Issue 2, February 2024, Sports, People, Places, History

Please click here if you are unable to post your comment.

Submit an Article

Do you have an article you would like to submit? Click here to participate.

Rick Casali

Read more articles by Rick Casali and there may be more articles on our old site. Click here to visit our old site.