Saving the Jean

It was August 1st of last year (2005). I was just beginning my involvement with this venerable publication when I received a call from Eldo Hartz. Eldo had just acquired a boat named JEAN that had been grounded and holed on the shore of Hutchinson Island just across the river from Savannah, GA. Eldo explained to me at the time that he just “fell in love with her” regardless of the fact that she filled with water at every high tide. This story, however, began long before August of 2005.

The JEAN was listed in Issue #4 of Bone Yard Boats in the Summer of 1997. At the time, the photo showed her as she looked in the 1940s with a man dressed in whites with a skipper’s cap askew standing atop the aft cabin. Next to him sat a woman in a bathing suit. The listing details stated:

Charles Allen Cruiser
“Jean”, a 47’ LOA antique cruiser built in 1913 by Charles Allen in Red Bank, NJ. Powered by a 6 cylinder Ford Diesel with Barr Marine conversion, the hull is white cedar 1 ¼” planked (reinforced with Neoprene in 1964). Surveyed in 1981, the “overall condition of this vessel is good.” Jean is well documented and very original. An Outline of Construction & History, written by past owner, plus letters are available. The boat is in the water at South Jamesport, LI and is being offered for $5000.

Fast forward to May of 2005 and we find Charles Blanda, owner of the JEAN for the past seven years. I have yet to confirm whether or not Mr. Blanda purchased JEAN after seeing her in Bone Yard Boats, but the timing seems just about right. He had anchored off Hutchinson Island, and the receding tide caused a stationary object to pierce the JEAN’s hull. And there she sat for several months with the daily tides washing in and out of her until Eldo Hartz successfully patched her holes and refloated her.

JEAN on Hutchinson Island – photo courtesy of Jennifer Spell

I called Eldo Hartz on April 7, 2006 to get an update on the JEAN. Eldo said that JEAN had 7 broken ribs and he actually used concrete to do some of the patching. He had arranged for dockage at a marina, but was initially turned away when he arrived with JEAN. I’m guessing that she was not looking all that seaworthy at the time with a solid line of growth running diagonally across her cabin near the top. Eventually, the marina allowed her in and they lifted her from the water. She has since been relocated to the rear of Eldo’s inn, the Carbo House, on Tybee Island.

JEAN at the Carbo House – photo courtesy of Jennifer Spell

Eldo told me that he and JEAN have been the subject of a few news stories and a radio interview on Georgia Public Radio. Back in October Eldo and friends held a fundraiser to help generate some of the money needed to restore JEAN. The event had several local sponsors, as well as such national names as West Marine and Sea Tow.

When I asked what he hoped to do with JEAN, Eldo responded that after renovating her he hoped to use her as a maritime museum, an oyster bar, or a chapel. In fact, he though a combination of all three might work, as well. Personally, I’d like to see JEAN back in the water someday.

Filmmaker Jennifer Spell of Spellbound Pictures became involved in the saga of the JEAN at an early stage when she first heard of the JEAN’s beaching on Hutchinson Island and the stranding of former owner Charles Blanda. It was clearly the makings of a good documentary. In a recent email, Jennifer explained: “The documentary has not been completed although over 37 hours of filming has taken place ever since she breached herself on Hutchinson Is. I was hoping that the completion of restoration and opening of the maritime museum would make a nice ending to the story.”

“I still have hopes for the Jean and maybe you can help Eldo find some qualified folks to lend him a hand?,” said Jennifer. If you’d like to lend a hand, I’m sure Eldo and friends would love to hear from you:

Filmmaker: Jennifer Spell,
JEAN's Owner: James "Eldo" Hartz,
Check out the website:

Carbo House:
Phone: (912) 786-6044
Address: 20 Silver Ave, Tybee Island, GA 31328

© 2006 Bone Yard Boats. All rights reserved.


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