By Greg Ellison
(Nov. 7, 2019) Finding safe harbor inside the Ocean Pines Yacht Club once again, a masterfully restored nearly half-century old nine-foot model schooner is being dedicated today by the 50th Anniversary Committee.
Pines Point Marina Dock Master Mark Hordeman, who invested significant time and money to repair the ship after it took a tumble and shattered years ago, said the labor of love was always focused on returning to home port.
“There really wasn’t anything nautical in the yacht club,” he said. “It’s put a yacht in the yacht club.”
In light of that effort, 50th Anniversary Committee Chairwoman Jenny Cropper Rines said the group followed up by financing the cost for Joe Costello to build a display case that now serves as a dining area anchor display piece.
“This is our final act as the 50th Anniversary Committee,” she said.
Hordeman said the model vessel was salvaged from a dumpster a half-dozen years ago, and that he spent a year returning it to its former glory.
“That’s what I wanted it to be like years ago,” he said.
The 1940s-era hand-built replica had been donated to Ocean Pines by developer Boise Cascade as part of the yacht club’s grand opening ceremony in 1975.
Anchored there for nearly four decades, the ship was virtually destroyed after falling from a display case in 2013, just before the yacht club was shuttered for renovations.
After the accident occurred, Hordeman sprang into action upon learning the ship’s pieces had been thrown in the trash.
“When I pulled it out of the dumpster, me and Marty Clarke
brought it back to my shop in the Pines Point Marina,” he said.
Hordeman said salvaging the vessel’s parts and pieces from the garbage was not an experience for the squeamish.
“I was in that dumpster, in grease and stuff from the kitchen and picking out all the parts,” he said. “There were a lot of pieces missing. I got as much as I could.”
Uncertain what the schooner scraps might yield, Hordeman relocated the broken bits for future consideration.
“It sat on a woodpile all summer,” he said.
After entering offseason at the marina, Hordeman said the lighter schedule allowed inspiration to take over.
“I looked at the boat and said, ‘I’m going to rebuild this thing,’” he said.
Hordeman then charted a restoration course that ran longer than anticipated.
“I decided to rebuild the thing and I got to the point where I had about 1,700 hours in it,” he said. “I had about $900 and change out of my own pocket from rebuilding it.”
The project launched against serious headwinds.
“It was busted up, delaminated and all that,” he said. “It didn’t even have sails on it at the time.”
Hordeman admitted shipbuilding is not a skill listed on his resume.
“I started looking up the history of schooners and found some had two, one or three masts,” he said. “You know me, I went big [and] I put three.”
Researching and located the proper restoration materials morphed into a borderline obsessive hobby.
“Sometimes I’d wake up in the middle of the night and come out here in the shop and work on it,” he said.
Hordeman said the detailed restoration incorporated architectural salvage items such as, “really old trim you just can’t buy at a store.”
“I kind of rebuilt the whole ship and made it look good,” he said. “I put on all the ropes, masts, sails [and] made it functional.”
True-to-life specifics, such as life preservers, failed to escape Hordeman’s eye for authentic details.
“I put Ocean Pines, OP, on the life preservers,” he said. “Just little detailed things.”
Matching the original hues and wood veneers was taxing, Hordeman said.
“It is really true to its original color,” he said.
Perhaps tied to the model ship’s extended absence, Hordeman noted one other crucial upgrade.
“There was no rudder on it [so] I put a rudder on it,” he said.
While perhaps not as vital for functionality, other inclusions carried personal significance.
“There’s one piece on there, it’s an air vent into the cabin,” he said. “That belonged to my dad, it was a piece off of one of his machineries.”
The family connections went beyond the strictly human.
“There’s a bell on there that used to belong to my cat,” he said.
Upon completing his mission, Hordeman was left with a quandary.
“I had people that wanted to give me $5,000 for it,” he said. “I decided, no, it needs to go back to the new yacht club.”
Regardless of the job’s costs, Hordeman said the intangibles were of far greater value.
“I’ve never done anything like that before, but I just looked up the history of those old boats [and] I had a good time doing it,” he said. “It was about a year in my spare time.”
Rines said the homecoming, of sorts, was the original intent of the 50th Anniversary Committee.
“So now it’s at the yacht club,” she said. “It’s safe and it’s somewhere where people can see it.”