Rebuild of Mosbacher’s Magic Bus underway



BAR HARBOR — The International One Design (IOD) sailing yacht once owned by America’s Cup champion Emil “Bus” Mosbacher is on course to be handed off to another generation as a teaching vessel for the Northeast Harbor Sailing School and Northeast Harbor Fleet.

She was built, of course, in Norway. A new racing class had been commissioned by Cornelius Shields for Americas Cup races. Magic Bus, then named Susan, was part of the first delivery of 25 yachts that arrived in City Island, N.Y., in 1936. It was renamed Magic Bus by Laurence Rosenstadt and Loren Singer in honor of its former owner.

This week, Fleet members Dave Folger and Bill Dowling were at work on replanking the boat, having already replaced most of its 60 frames with steam-bent white oak. Both are racers themselves: Folger races his Luders VooDoo and often sails as crew in the IOD fleet, and Dowling races his IOD Mischief.

“In the old days, before the America’s Cup was run on high-tech catamarans,” Dowling said, “it was run on 12-meters, which is basically this same boat but twice the size. So that’s how it came to be used for training.”

Bill Dowling holds the old stern post and horn timber of the 1936 International One Design Magic Bus up against the new one recently installed as part of a complete rebuild of the boat. PHOTO BY LIZ GRAVES

Bill Dowling holds the old stern post and horn timber of the 1936 International One Design Magic Bus up against the new one recently installed as part of a complete rebuild of the boat.
PHOTO BY LIZ GRAVES

Mosbacher raced this boat for many years in Long Island Sound before going on to become a two-time America’s Cup defender, Dowling said. “This is what he trained on.”

He was on the cover of “Sports Illustrated” in 1959 and “Time” in 1967. Off the water, he served as chief of protocol in the first years of the Nixon administration and coordinated the Operation Sail parade for the country’s bicentennial celebration in 1976.

“It’s a cool history. This boat went from an America’s Cup captain, passed down through family to this area, and now it’s going to teach kids,” Folger said.

Folger and Dowling have been hard at work on the project this winter, along with Fred Rea and Tim Nagle. Rea is a veteran of the Mount Desert Yacht Yard, where many of the IOD fleet are stored and maintained, Dowling said. “So he knows three different ways to get out of any jam” in a project like this.

Magic Bus was in rough shape when the restoration got started, having sat outside for several years, drying out. A fleet member bought the boat for the sailing school from Susannah Homer, who inherited it from her father Richard “Dick” Homer.

The team left every other plank in place, temporarily, in order to give the new frames the correct shape. They steamed the frames in a special steam box lent by Jim Elk.

“When it comes out, it’s just like spaghetti,” Folger said. The new frame can then be bent, clamped and fastened into place.

Most of the planks above the waterline will not need to be replaced, but below the waterline, the boat will be double-planked with Douglas fir.

An inside layer is a quarter-inch thick, and it’s glued to half-inch plank on the outside. “It’s stiffer and drier that way,” Folger said, “it’s never supposed to dry out.”

Dave Folger has spearheaded the process of restoring the boat for use by the Northeast Harbor Sailing School. PHOTO BY LIZ GRAVES

Dave Folger has spearheaded the process of restoring the boat for use by the Northeast Harbor Sailing School.
PHOTO BY LIZ GRAVES

The team took a tip from their friend, the late IOD expert and writer Alessandro Vitelli, and replaced the garboard plank next to the keel and some of its neighbors with triangular pieces of plywood.

Dowling is building new cabin sides. “We think we can use the old cabin top,” he said. “Some of the boat will be original!”

The sailing school, like the other youth sailing programs and camps in the Great Harbor Dream group, focuses on dinghy sailing and racing in 420s.

“But there’s a big push with bringing kids up into the Luders and IOD classes,” Dowling said.

“Commodore Dave Schoeder is always saying, ‘Leave no boat behind; let’s get them all on the line.’” Folger said. “And we’re all looking for crew anyway. It’s a great way of learning bigger boat tactics and passing on the tradition.”

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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