Historic Ship OFF a Lee Shore!

I wish to update you on the progress of our project to save and restore the tugboat Kit Jones,

which was featured in “Historic Ships on a Lee Shore” last year (Sea H istory 154, Spring 2016).

The Kit Jones was built in 1939 on Sapelo Island, Georgia, by R. ].

Reynolds Jr., who commissioned a Sparkman & Stephens design for a tugboat to serve his Sapeloe Plantation.

She was constructed by skilled local residents, many of the Gullah-Geechee culture, using heart pine and live oak timbers harvested from the island.

The Kit Jones served variously as a lifeline to the mainland for residents of the island, next as a fireboat in WWIIera Savannah,

and for the greater part of her 75-year working career as a scientific research vessel.

Operated for several decades by the University of Georgia and later by the University of Mississippi,

scientific field work performed aboard the Kit Jones resulted in contributions to a significant body of marine and ecological research.

At the time of the Sea History feature, the Kit Jones was sitting in dry dock in Biloxi, Mississippi, facing an uncertain future.

Her owner/operator of thirty years, the University of Mississippi, was no longer able to maintain the vessel.

We are happy to report that the McIntosh Rod & Gun Club, Inc., of D arien, Georgia, has now acquired title to the vessel and will return her to the Georgia coast and Mcintosh County, where she will be restored.

A non-profit organization, Friends of the Kit Jones, Inc., has been esta blished to help the club in these efforts.

Several hundred of its members gathered recently for an annual meeting, where the news of the Kit Jones was enthusiastically received.

The first order of business will be to remove the vessel’s heavy rigging before transporting her by truck from Biloxi to Georgia.

A secure landing site awaits her in Darien, where restoration efforts can begin . We are very fortunate to have a copy of the original Sparkman & Stephens plans from which to work, as well as a considerable number of people willing to devote their time and expertise to the proj ect.

We would like to thank those people who contributed to the Kit Jones project as a result of the Sea History article, and we welcome any future participation in our project.

Checks made payable to the Friends of the Kit Jones, Inc., may be mailed to PO Box 1968, Darien, GA, 31305.

We also wish to thank the University of Mississippi and long-rime Kit Jones caretaker Paul Bodin at Bay M arine Boat Works, Biloxi, for their patience a nd help in ensuring that this beautiful a nd historic vessel was nor lost, bur will live on.

We are very grateful for the continuing interest in the Kit Jones proj ect demonstrated by Sea H istory editorial staff and its readers.

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