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The landmark vessel Laurel will travel port-to-port serving oysters and drinks; your purchases will help fund her restoration.

About the Laurel Oyster Bar:

Built in 1891, Laurel is the oldest and most historic oyster boat in America. We want to ensure her legacy continues as a culinary ambassador and "floating oyster bar" that will make stops around Long Island Sound, New York City, The Hamptons and beyond.

By bringing her from port-to-port, people can come aboard and hear about her legacy...and have some really great oysters and cold drinks at the same time.

Laurel is a mobile platform so guest chefs can also serve their creations on her deck. And since Laurel can still catch shellfish, don't be surprised if the oysters you eat in the evening were harvested by her that morning!

As rewards for our backers, we have planned some very unique, one-of-a-kind items to show our thanks. These include bookmarks, picture frames and an oyster knife, all made from mahogany deck planks removed during the restoration. And of course oysters and other great food vouchers.

Perhaps the most unique reward, however, is to become a plank owner of the Laurel. Limited to 250 backers, you can have your name inscribed in a new deck plank, plus a bunch of other cool stuff (see rewards sidebar for more info).

This image from 1930 shows Laurel docked at Greenport, Long Island, NY. For 50 years (from 1905 to 1955), Laurel brought seed oysters from Connecticut and planted them in the Great Peconic Bay; she returned weekly with Long Island grown oysters.
This image from 1930 shows Laurel docked at Greenport, Long Island, NY. For 50 years (from 1905 to 1955), Laurel brought seed oysters from Connecticut and planted them in the Great Peconic Bay; she returned weekly with Long Island grown oysters.
Laurel's deck beams will be replaced by Maine-shipwright Captain Robert Blood (yes, that's really his name). Inset is a photo of A.C. Brown, master carpenter and builder of Laurel.
Laurel's deck beams will be replaced by Maine-shipwright Captain Robert Blood (yes, that's really his name). Inset is a photo of A.C. Brown, master carpenter and builder of Laurel.
Laurel sitting pretty after her yearly painting and caulking at Cove Marina in Norwalk, CT. In the background is another wooden oyster boat, the Catherine M. Wedmore.
Laurel sitting pretty after her yearly painting and caulking at Cove Marina in Norwalk, CT. In the background is another wooden oyster boat, the Catherine M. Wedmore.
This image shows how Laurel looks today, ready for her journey as an oyster bar.
This image shows how Laurel looks today, ready for her journey as an oyster bar.
Laurel buying seed oysters from small skiffs in the Housatonic River, Stratford, CT. Seed purchases are best during the coldest months of the year.
Laurel buying seed oysters from small skiffs in the Housatonic River, Stratford, CT. Seed purchases are best during the coldest months of the year.
These two photographs were taken aboard Laurel during 1968 while she was "mopping" for starfish. Captain Fred Beloin is at the helm in both photographs.
These two photographs were taken aboard Laurel during 1968 while she was "mopping" for starfish. Captain Fred Beloin is at the helm in both photographs.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

The biggest risk for this project is non-action. Although we could create an oyster bar on Laurel without replacing her deck, the amount of water leaking through is causing an irreversible amount of damage.

With your help, we can replace the deck, stop the leaks and keep her sailing for everyone to enjoy.

Logistically, we have the know-how, from marine carpentry to oyster farming to shucking oysters for crowds, so there is little doubt we can complete the project in a timely manner. We also have a dock to work at, all the necessary tools, a source for the lumber and plenty of support.

We feel this is a very low risk project...but we need your help.

Thank you.

FAQ

  • Great question. Here is where we hope we can pull into this year. When we get confirmation from each, we will post updates on our http://Facebook.com/Laurel1891 page. And of course, many other spots will be added too. Please feel free to suggest a location.

    UPDATE: NYC Spots in Consideration: Brooklyn Navy Yard, IKEA Red Hook, and Pier 17 in Manhattan.

    June 28-30: The Wooden Boat Show, Mystic, CT
    July 12-14: Sailfest, New London, CT
    August: Brooklyn, New Haven
    Sept. 6-8: Norwalk Oyster Festival
    Sept. 21-23: Greenport, Long Island, NY Maritime Festival

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  • Another great question. The plan is to have several varieties from local oysterman available at every stop. Remember, Laurel is a platform for exploring the hard work and talents of many, many people.

    Our house oyster will be the traditionally harvest Connecticut Bluepoints grown by Norm Bloom and Sons of East Norwalk, CT. We will also have oysters from independent growers like Brendan Smith of the Thimble Island Oyster Company, oysters from the Noank Oyster Cooperative, and our friend Howard Pickerell of Sag Harbor, Long Island. Steve Fleetwood of Port Norris, NJ will be sending up his East Point Delaware Bay oysters. And to add variety, we'll throw in some West Coast oysters too.

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  • Several people have asked about Laurel's condition. I'm happy to say that yes, she floats and can go anywhere she pleases (within reason, England might be a stretch).

    The hull of Laurel is made from 2-inch thick white oak. There is an additional 2-inch layer of white oak on the inside of the hull. These boards are tight and keep her afloat. And although the engine is "older," it's a very dependable diesel.

    The focus on this campaign is to replace Laurel's deck planks and deck beams. To explain this further, most deck beams are at least 16 feet long. Because water has been seeping through the deck for years, the ends of the deck beams have deteriorated. Lots of nails hold everything together so structurally the boat is safe, but we have reached a tipping point where this holds true.

    The "secret" to keeping wooden boats going is to make sure repair work is done before things get really bad. If the deck isn't replaced this year, the beam shelf which holds the deck beams will start to decay. At that point, the repair costs would triple and realistically exceed the value of the boat.

    Last updated:
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  • Pledge $5 or more
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    5 backers

    Our thanks, plus visit Laurel in person and have an oyster and some clams on the house. Every bit of support counts and we can't do this without your help.

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  • Pledge $15 or more
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    22 backers

    Our thanks in person when you visit Laurel and have a half-dozen oysters or a dozen clams plus a cold drink on her newly installed deck. Toss the shells in our recycling barrel and we'll make sure they are planted to benefit the next crop of oysters. A list of planned stops for 2013 is listed in the FAQ section of this page. Confirmed stops will be posted on our Facebook page and we'll be sure to send you a reminder email or tweet (your preference). A printed voucher can also be mailed if requested.

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  • Pledge $35 or more
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    19 backers Limited (81 left of 100)

    Our thanks, plus a limited edition 5x7 picture frame made from reclaimed deck planks. As with the bookmark above, these frames will be sourced from mahogany strips removed during the deck restoration. Each frame will be hand-crafted and assembled with sanded, varnished wood and include glass and a backer. A limited-edition imprint plus numbering will be added on the back. Because of the limited number of deck strips available, this reward will be limited to 100.

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    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $50 or more
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    26 backers

    An upgrade of our thanks in person when you visit Laurel...but this reward includes either two-dozen oysters or four-dozen clams (or some combination of the two) plus two cold drinks on her newly installed deck. And as above, when you toss the shells in our recycling barrel, we'll make sure they are planted to benefit the next crop of oysters. A list of planned stops for 2013 is listed in the FAQ section of this page. Confirmed stops will be posted on our Facebook page and we'll be sure to send you a reminder email or tweet (your preference). A printed voucher can also be mailed if requested.

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  • Pledge $90 or more
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    12 backers

    Improve your shucking skills with this unique hand-crafted oyster shucking knife made from reclaimed Laurel mahogany deck planks. Each handle will start out as a sanded block of wood that is hand-turned on a lathe then hand-rubbed with a food-safe finish. After, a stainless steel New Haven-style blade (hint: these are the best because they have a raised edge for easier opening) will be added for years of durability. Each oyster knife will come with a certificate of origin, our thanks and a handy how-to shuck guide.

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    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $145 or more
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    4 backers Limited (21 left of 25)

    Our thanks, plus an 11x14 hand-crafted wood frame. As this is a larger size frame, the wood will be reclaimed from Laurel's covering boards which are the "planks" at the edges of the deck. These are very rustic and each frame will include glass and a backer. A limited-edition imprint plus numbering will be added on the back. Because of the limited amount of wood available, only 25 frames are available.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $250 or more
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    6 backers Limited (244 left of 250)

    Our thanks, and here's your chance to become a plank-owner! As a bit of history, those around a ship while it was being built in "the old days" were considered plank owners. Not too many wooden ships are being built today and the opportunity to become a plank owner is extremely rare. Each plank owner's name will be engraved onto the underside of a new deck plank. We'll make sure to take photos of the process and capture your plank during installation. In addition, we'll send you a section of the old deck with your name engraved, a certificate of thanks stating you are officially a plank owner and a diagram of the deck showing exactly where your plank was installed.

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  • Pledge $500 or more
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    1 backer Limited (1 left of 2)

    Our thanks, and enjoy a day on the water for 2-3 guests. Climb aboard a working oyster harvesting boat and learn the history of the industry while catching some fresh bivalves. Then tour the sorting facility and pack 2 bags (200) of your own freshly caught oysters. How fresh? As in the ones harvested while you were on the boat! Dates are flexible; lunch and shuttle from public transportation included.

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  • Pledge $800 or more
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    0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)

    Our thanks, and a local harvest cooking class for 8-10 guests on the deck of Laurel. Learn from professionally trained chefs shucking techniques, ceviches and sauce preparations, a one-pot seafood payaya, grilled striped bass and more. Ingredients will be locally sourced and/or organic. Dates, location and class ingredients are flexible.

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  • Pledge $1,000 or more
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    0 backers Limited (12 left of 12)

    Our thanks, plus literally SUPPORT THE LAUREL. Here is a chance to have your name hand-carved into one of Laurel's new deck beams. Groups, families, "In Memory of..." and company names are acceptable for this extremely limited reward. We'll also send you a photo and video of the carving process, a certificate of thanks stating you are officially "above board" and a diagram of the deck showing exactly where your beam was installed.

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  • Pledge $5,000 or more
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    0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)

    Our thanks, and your own private event on Laurel. This reward for 16-20 guests starts with cold drinks and raw bar, then serves up a farm-to-table dinner prepared by a professional chef. Served family style on the deck, the menu, location and dates are flexible.

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  • Pledge $10,000 or more
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    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    Our thanks, and the ONLY deck beam with Laurel's official United States Coast Guard documentation number (141134). This 18-foot long white oak beam is located in the center of the boat and measures 9-inches high by 6 inches wide. Her official registration number was hand carved in giant numbers in 1904 as required by the USCG when her hull was lengthened. A video of the beam's removal and a copy of the original builder's certificate (circa 1904) will be printed on acid-free paper, along with our endless thanks and whatever other cool stuff we can find. Local shipping by truck included. Shipping available anywhere in world, priced accordingly to actual costs.

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Funding period

- (40 days)