On July 4th, 1930, at the Mathews Boatworks in Daytone Beach Florida, Julia Mathews, age 10, christened the "Gay Jane". The yacht was built by her father for Mr. L.R. Wasey, a New York advertising executive who was developing Cat Cay in the Bahamas. The vessel, named after his two children, Jane and Gager, was recognized as one of the finest vessels ever built on the east coast of Florida. She was designed by Wasey's captian who moved to the shipyard to supervise construction. Her launching was one of the major 4th of July events in Daytona Beach in 1930.
The "Gay Jane" was origianlly powered by twin Winton gas engines, achieving an 18 knot cruising speed. Mr. Wasey used the yacht to commute between Miami and his Cat Cay development.During the construction, Mr. Wasey had two false fuel cells placed in the boat accessible from his quarters to haul rum during prohibition. He was also quoted by the builder's son Francis Edward Mathews II, as having all of his money tied up in cash" during the great depression of 1929. The boat originally cost $140,000, begining with a handshake and $70,000 due whne the vessel was 50% done and the balance due at launching. Mathews characterized Wasey s a very honorable man.
Five years after the construction, Jenny Elizabeth Angel Warden, wife of Herbert W. Warden Sr., saw the boat cruising the Miami waterways and remarked to her husband about the yacht's beauty. Later that day, Herbert negotiated the purchase of the boat and delivered it the next day to Elizabeth as a birthday gift. Herbert was the son of one of the founders of Standard Oil Company. He and Elizabeth lived on Sunset Island #3 in Miami. Herbert kept the Gay Jane registered with the New York Yacht Club during his ownership. It was reported that Herbert Warden spent $40,000 equipping and remodeling the interior of the boat to his own taste. Over $15,000 was spent replacing the Winton gas engines with Winton 150 horsepower diesel engines. Captain Leroy Smith remained with the vessel during the Warden ownership and maintained a column in the Daytona Beach News Journal called "Cappy Says".
Prior to World War II, Herbert Warden sold the "Gay Jane" to the United States Corps of Engineers, Wilmington, North Carolina Division. According to a dedication brochure offered by the Wilmington Corps of Engineers Library, the vessel was renamed the "Kitty Hawk" and was to be used as a survey and inspection boat along the 2300 square mile coastline of North Carolina. She was immediatley equipped with a recording fathometer for use in hydrographic survey work. The Corps inspected more than 50 boats before deciding upon the "Gay Jane" and their election ws based upon her seaworthiness, shallow draft, and superior hull construction. At acquisition, the corps stated that "she is unquestionably one of the sturdiest and best constructed boats in the country". She operated out of the Wilmington division office under direction of Col. Joseph J. Cole, Col. Roland C. Brown and Captain John G. Swann. In July of 1944, Cpt. William N. Grey took the helm. The hull of the vessel was painted black during the war years as was indicated by a picture supplied by the WilmingtonCorps of Engineers Library. The vessel was also used by U.S. Customs Officials in Wilmington. The log mentions Governor Scott being aboeard for the declaration of the North Carolina State Port Terminal along with the port commissioner.
The boat was well maintained during this period. The ship log indicates that the second engines were removed and replaces with GM 671 diesels in January of 1950 in New Bern, North Carolina, at the Barbour Boat Works. The log further describes the old Winton engines as being reassembled in the yard for continued use. The GM engines are in the boat today. In 1951, the boat was transferred to the Mobile, Alabama Corps of Engineers office. As the boat moved down the East coast, courtesy cruises were given to the employees of each division office. The boat arrived in Mobile on Sunday, June 24, 1951. We currently have a void in the history of the boat during the Mobile Corps of Enginerrs ownership.
In 1954, the yacht was sold to the Pape Broadcasting Company of Birmingham, Alabama. Due to the failing health of Mr. Pape, in 1958 the vessel was sold again to the Henderson Baker Lumber Company and it's president, Mr. J.W. Tutt fom Mobile. Mr Tutt was in the towin business on the Tombigbee waterway. In 1959, the vessel was sold to the Alabama Dry Dock and Ship Building Company, at which point captain Richard Bosarge wrote in the ship log that " the comapny no longer wanted a log to be kept." Until that date, a very detailed log had been maintained on the vessel. The company used the boat extensively for entertaining the ship builders of the world. In 1963, Mr. Tutt repurchased the "Kitty Hawk" and he and his wife Lena used the vessel for their personal enjoyment until 1965. The boat was then sold to Mr. Henry Champagne of Covington, Louisiana. Mr. Champagne's home was on the Tchefuncte River in Tchefuncte Country Club. In 1967, the vessel was sold to Mr. Henry Higgins and Mr. Viccinelli who almost immediately resold the yacht to Mr. William Monteleone, owner of the Monteleone Hotel in New Orleans. Billy Monteleone renamed her " Le Bon Temps Roule" but referred to her as the "Roller" as she rolled poorly in a beam sea. Billy and his wife Stephany used the boat extensively in the delta of Louisiana, fishing and entertaining. Billy was an avid sportsman. Billy later added rolling shocks (longitudinal fins to minimize the roll effect). John Claiborne, a traveling companion of Billy's, lived on the boat in the New Orlean's marina. After the death of Mr. William Monteleone, the boat did not move from it's slip. It's future seemed uncertain....
Mr. Frank M. Burns Jr., had been watching and admiring the boat for many years. In 1999, the Monteleone family passed the torch to him, knowing he had the passion and the knowledge to restore her. Within two days of the exchange, and under her own power, the "Le Bon Temps Roule" was moved to dry dock. The vessel had not been out of the water for over seven years and was making over 300 gallons of water per hour. Damaged material was removed and plugged. An area of bad planking was found, removed and replaced. The Cflex process seemed a prudent idea in order to preserve the vessel for many additional years. Shortly after moving the boat to Madisonville, friends from Halter Marine took on the task of preparing and painting the hull with Awlgrip 2000, a US Paint product. During the coating process all chrome rub rail was removed and replaced with flat stainless steel rails. All deck hardware has been systematically re-chromed. In the Summer of 2000, the hull was Cflexed at Trinity Yachts, at their yard in New Orleans.
The main engines have been rebuilt and engine throttle and clutch cabling have been replaced. Wiring has been installed for a Mathers electronic helm control unit allowing operation of the vessel remotely. This greatly assists docking of the vessel. The vessel has three generators, which have been fully rehabilitated. All ship wiring was removed and replaced cabin by cabin. A large three phase central air conditioning unit and duct work were removed from the engine room. Smaller and more efficient units have been installed in each cabin. All sound suppression materials installed through the years have been removed from the engine room. This removal has revealed a beaded overhead now freshly painted bright white. Five new automatic Lovett bilge pumps were installed in the vessel in addition to two large emergency pumps that have been rebuilt. All fire extinguishers have been tested and refilled. A large 80 gallon air compressor was installed as an air source to a new set of Kahlenberg, T-3, triple air horns and a large, nostalgic steam whistle from the old Detla Pine Plant in Covington, Louisiana. New racor fuel filters have been installed on the main engines and generators.
All amenities forward of the engine room have been completely removed. A ladder from the dog house (deck ventilator) has been replaced. This forward area was steam cleaned and painted bright white prior to the installation of electrical, plumbing, and galley fabrication. A major focus has been placed on moving air through the vessel. Two large blowers have been installed under the forward deck seat to accomplish this task. This chamber also houses a large ventilator motor for the galley stove.
The forward on deck salon was modified many times during the life of the vessel. The last configuration was an on deck cabin and bath. Three layers of flooring were removed from this cabin, revealing an original two inch teak deck, which was refinished with a polyurethane product. Bar cabinetry was also fabricated and installed on the aft bulkhead housing entertainment equipment and a bar sink.
The main salon, pilothouse, and aft cabins are in excellent condition and required minor modification. These areas received cosmetic changes, along with concealed air conditioning and electrical upgrades.
Le Bon Temps Roule currently resides in Madisonville, Louisiana and can often be seen on the Tchefuncte River. She brings much joy to her current family and is a cherished part of the past and the present.
July 4th, 1930
The Kitty Hawk during Worl War II.