Restoring Ripple: A Vintage Bertram 25 Gets a Refit

Jenn, Sarah and Ned Kaiser having fun aboard Ripple, 2007. Photo courtesy Mattapoisett Boatyard.

The recent slug of 50-degree weather (in February!) sent me searching for fresh salty ingredients for some New England Boating stories. As usual, I didn’t have far to look, as boating content grows wild in these parts. A stop at the Mattapoisett Boat Yard unearthed an interesting restoration project involving a 1967 twin-diesel Bertram 25 Flybridge model owned by none other than MBY yard manager Dave Kaiser.

The boat, named Ripple, was in the final stages of a complete refit involving the replacement and strengthening of her stringers after the many years of abuse dished out by Kaiser on the frequently snotty waters of Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound. The entire deck, as well as the engines, had been removed over the winter so that the work could be performed. When I stopped by, fiberglass expert Todd Shurtleff was in the process of wrapping up the stringer work and prepping the boat for a primer coat of paint.

The stringer work completed, Ripple awaits her primer coat at the Mattapoisett Boat Yard. Photos by ## Tom Richardson##

Ripple is a familiar sight in and around Mattapoisett Harbor and Martha’s Vineyard, where Kaiser found her shortly after graduating college in 1988, the same year he started working at MBY. “When I bought her, she still had the original 318 Chryslers,” recalls Kaiser. “But one of the engines was toast. I spent the better part of my summer taking that engine apart piece by piece and putting it back together.”

Ripple's twin Yanmars and her entire deck had to be removed to access the damaged stringers.

Kaiser explains that the engine rebuild was a real learning experience, as he had never before tackled such a complex mechanical job. “I’ll never forget the joy of turning the key and hearing it start right up. I sat on the flybridge and listened to it idle for hours!”

The Chryslers lasted nearly 20 more years until the transmissions failed, warranting a repower in 2007. Kaiser installed new 190-hp Yanmar LH series diesels, which cut Ripple’s fuel consumption by 50 percent and doubled her range.

Many of Ripple's original stringers were cracked or delaminating from the hull after years of hard use.

All seemed rosy until, a few years after the repower, Kaiser and the MBY crew noticed some serious issues with Ripple’s stringer system. Closer inspection revealed that some of the stringers were completely cracked, while others had delaminated from the hull. Obviously, the stringer issue had to be resolved, so Kaiser decided to go whole hog and do an entire refit while the boat was in the shop.

When Ripple is relaunched this season, she’ll be sporting a new midnight-blue hull and cream topsides. I’ve already been promised a ride on the venerable Bertram, and you can bet your bottom paint that we’ll cover it here on New England Boating.

'Glass technician Todd Shurtleff vacuums some dust to prep for painting.
A look at the exposed bilge area.
A closeup of one of Ripple's shaft couplers.
Ripple's cockpit is almost ready for the engine and deck install.

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