A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

Queen Bee’s odyssey is a honey of a tale

The Queen Bee has returned to the hive in North Carolina, ending one of the strangest, most unlikely small-boat journeys in recent memory.

For those who don’t know the story, Queen Bee is the Regulator 26 center console that was lost off Nantucket, Mass., in 2008 and was found floating 3-1/2 years and more than 3,000 miles later off Spain. During that time there were at least six named hurricanes in the North Atlantic.

The story might have ended there had it not been for the persistence of the folks at Regulator Marine in Edenton, N.C., to get this long-distance survivor shipped back to North Carolina. It took six months and a fair bit of paperwork and persistence, but Queen Bee has come full circle.

“We’re really excited about getting her home,” company president and co-founder Joan Maxwell told me yesterday. “It’s an incredible, incredible story.”

That’s an understatement. The boat was lost in August 2008 when a breaking wave knocked owner Scott Douglas and his brother-in-law, Rich St. Pierre, out of the boat off Nantucket, where they had been fishing. The men were lucky to make it to shore alive.

And the yellow-hulled Regulator 26 with the pair of Yamaha 225s? The center console was missing in action and soon forgotten until she was spotted inverted off Spain earlier this year and towed into port, where her parentage and story were quickly uncovered. (Click here for my April Soundings column about Queen Bee.)

Regulator Marine is throwing a welcome-home party of sorts for Queen Bee and her remarkable tale Aug. 28 at the Barker House on the Edenton waterfront. The guests of honor will include Douglas and St. Pierre, Maxwell says.

The boat in its ungussied-up condition will make appearances at several boat shows this fall and winter before ending up at the Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum, where it will spend five years, according to Maxwell.

She credits Lee Norfleet, the business process manager at Regulator Marine, with doing much of the long-distance legwork to get the boat back to the States.

“Right guy for the job,” Maxwell says. “He stayed on it.”

When I spoke with Maxwell last winter after the boat was found, she and the rest of the Regulator crew were interested in getting the 26-footer back, in large part, to see how the center console had held up. Consider it a floating laboratory on modern fiberglass boatbuilding.

So how does the wanderer look?

“It’s amazing to look at it and say this was floating for 3-1/2 years and it looks like this,” Maxwell says. “I think with little or no effort that boat could be running. The [Armstrong] bracket is in amazing condition. There’s some paint off it, but it’s solid.”

The Yamaha outboards, minus their cowlings, were still on the boat when it was found. The console was intact, and pieces of the broken windscreen were still in place. The liner is in the boat, the hardware is in decent shape, and even though the hatches are missing, the piano hinges are still attached, Maxwell reports. The batteries and their boxes are still aboard, as are the electronics and one small hatch in the aft cockpit.

Maxwell says it appears that the Queen Bee was struck by something about one-third of the way down its port side. The clues include fiberglass crazing, a twisted T-top frame and a missing deck cap. “Maybe it got hit by a ship?”

And, Maxwell notes, “There was a nickel inside the glove box.”

Go figure.


5 comments on “Queen Bee’s odyssey is a honey of a tale

  1. Bob Adkins

    Having been to the factory on several occasions and having sold the regulator brand for years this comes as no surprise. regulator is one of the best built boats on the market. the fact that the boat is bolted together instead of glued and screwed is why this boat remained mostly intact. Great story.

  2. Larry Gahr

    Joan, 20 some on years ago I told you and Owen that you built the best center console I have ever seen. I had a yellow 26 myself and have been a dealer for more than 20 years. It is because of your dedication to your dealers and the quality you put in to your boats that has made Regulator the finest center console ever built. I think it is great that you bought it back and will show it for all the people to see what a great boat you build. We at Comstock Yacht Sales are very proud to be your number one dealer. Thanks for being the best Manufacture I have ever dealt with. LG

  3. Dean Waite

    Nice story, Bill, about an obviously great boat that was built by some of the nicest people in the industry. Congratulations to Joan and Owen for showing the world the quality, safety and endurance that’s built into a Regulator’s soft, deep-vee ride.

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