17 years in the (re)making
The Good Life|January 2020
Boat refurbishing project went off course, but finally makes it to the dock
By len Pugsley

In 1992, my wife Lise and I purchased a 1931 wooden boat that had a ton of history — including during WWII — and thought I would refurbish it in my backyard shop in East Wenatchee and then relaunch it in all of its floating glory.

I envisioned us motoring around Puget Sound on our restored 34-foot classic but rugged showpiece of the past.

And then life intervened in the form of a bad traffic accident, a lost job and years of rebuilding a career. But finally this past summer, we reached our goal and relaunched the Lisette.

Here’s our story, a piece at a time:

  • My wife Lise and I purchased the boat in 1992.

  • The boat was designed by Elmo DeMartini in 1929 as a senior class project in marine architecture class while attending the Annapolis Naval Academy.

  • DeMartini’s father was an architect and builder of many of the beautiful classic homes built in San Francisco following the earthquake and massive fire in 1906.

He also sponsored the LaBrussi yard, premiere builders of the Monterey fishing trawlers made famous along the California coast.


  • When the elder DeMartini saw the boat’s design, he decided they should make a few but with the Great Depression happening the market for pleasure craft was limited so they only built four of that design in 1931 with the Monterey commercial fishing trawlers remaining their biggest product.

  • The four DeMartini boats were built to heavy commercial standards with 1-inch thick Port Orford Cedar on steam bent oak frames on 9-and-one-half inch centers fastened with hot-dipped galvanized nails.

  • This boat was the DeMartini family boat in San Francisco when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

  • With the United States immediately declaring war, it began building the world’s most powerful navy.

Part of any Navy involves smaller craft to transport personnel back and forth between larger ships and the docks with the ship captains and officers needing their own boats.

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