Houseboat Magazine

September 2009

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feature 20 Tony Joyce came to America when he was four years old, became a naturalized citizen when he was 18 and credits the United States Marines Corps with teaching him some im- portant lessons. He served with them for four years and says, "I learned from them that if you are going to do something, you either do it right or don't do it at all. I also learned that Marines do not give up." That attitude is what carried him through an extraordinary, extensive and painstaking total makeover of his 1971, 41- by 11-foot Stardust Cruiser. A recent survey of the boat states: "This Stardust boat has none of the original hull remaining, nor none of the 'house.'" In fact, all that does remain of the original boat are a few ribs, some of the hull from the water- line to the deck, a couple small platforms on the rear deck and the spray shield on the bow. The rest, from stem to stern, from top to bottom and everything else in between, is new. Tony didn't plan on all this when he bought the boat; he just wanted something with a head and place to eat and sleep. The original plan was to just do a little cosmetic work so he started on the interior walls. When he removed the wall covering, he quickly discovered that the plywood underneath was rotted and crumbling. And when he noticed seepage in the hull, he had the boat pulled and inspected. The diagnosis by Captain Mike Henry was to either junk the boat or completely rebuild it because the hull was in ter- rible shape and so was the cabin. Tony's son Shaun was of the opinion the best move would be to junk it and buy another boat. "I'm an 'I can do this' type of person," Tony says, "So I de- cided to rebuild it myself." The cabin was removed and a welder was hired to replace many of the structural components in the hull and then completely re-plate it up to the water line. Then it was sand- blasted, epoxy coated in and out before coal tar epoxy was applied to the outside. As all this work was progressing, Captain Henry put Tony in touch with the father and son team of Jack and Bryan Lambert at Sailabration Houseboats in Powell, Tenn. Al- though repair and renovation work is normally not part of their business, they had a hole in their production schedule because they were waiting on delivery of some materials. So they agreed to put a new cabin on the boat for Tony and dry it in. An old Stardust gets a Sailabration facelift Story and photos by Gary Kramer Starabration Makeover?

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