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Passion for classic yachts


For Chicagoans Paul and Tracy Berger – an architect/realtor duo who live in the old homes they restore – a classic yacht restoration was a natural fit, even though they were house hunting when they found the 1939 19m Mathis-Trumpy Washingtonian.

‘We were looking for condos on the water, then we thought, what’s more on the water than a boat?’ says Paul Berger. Although Washingtonian, originally built for AJ Drexel Paul, had been neglected for five years, and rot and mildew were evident, Berger was optimistic.

‘You could tell she had good bones, good structure and a fabulous spirit. My wife is the one who always makes the decisions about my craziness; she’ll usually say, “No, we’re not doing this.” But she said, “Let’s do it! Life is about taking risks!”’

‘You could tell she had good bones, good structure and a fabulous spirit’ Paul Nerger, co-owner, Washingtonian

Washingtonian’s refit at Moores Marine included a 60 per cent structural rebuild of the hull, ribs, planking, beams and part of the keel, and Berger worked closely with the Coast Guard to renew her lapsed certification. She’s on a five-year refit program, something Moores lauds as important so owners don’t get overwhelmed.

‘We do sectional restorations,’ Moores says. ‘First step is making the boat safe and operational, then work gets done at a rate the owner can budget for.’

Future plans for Washingtonian include renovating the galley and crew quarters, and adding bow thrusters.

The Bergers felt compelled to take on the project, as Paul relates. ‘It was almost spiritual; it was as if the boat was saying, “I just want someone to love me and take care of me and I’ll take care of you.” Every time we come aboard, we just feel good about the boat, and for us it’s stepping back and seeing what life was like then.’

Washingtonian takes care of herself as well, earning her keep as a day charter yacht for the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida, and the Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michaels, Maryland, with profits going back into the restoration.

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