The Commuter Yacht Dauntless - RC Groups
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Dec 28, 2012, 03:10 PM
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The Commuter Yacht Dauntless

The Dauntless was a high speed commuter yacht Designed by Sparkman & Stephens and built by the Jakobson shipyard in Oyster Bay Long Island NY. She was 65’10” and launched in May of 1948. She was primarily a commuter custom made for a gentleman named Laurance S. Rockefeller, a son of John D. Rockefeller Jr. She was built to U.S. Military specs and many of the details aboard encompass those features. The yacht was powered by two late war Packard V-12’s and had boasted the last word in electrical equipment. Dauntless had a full time captain named Tommy and the engineer Charlie who managed the smallest of details and she was ready for use in a moment’s notice.

The yacht was kept at the Tarrytown Boat Club in Westchester County New York. The Dauntless sailed between Tarrytown and W.79th Street in NYC weekdays when the owner would commute to work. She was also used for trips to Maine, Florida, the Caribbean and other destinations along the eastern seaboard. The Dauntless was a regular host to royalty, heads of state, titans of industry, celebrities and more.

In Dauntless's early years her owner, a recent lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy set out to find better materials to construct future PT boats. In collaboration with the military the hull was made of riveted sheets of aircraft grade aluminum. Using this "new" material to build a large boat was unheard of at the time and the military paid close attention to the characteristics of this material and how it worked on this vessel. In addition, after WWII her owner left the military and became a venture capitalist funding start ups in aviation, aerospace and military technology. Newly improved technology such as radar and other high tech gadgetry would end up aboard this vessel and other military vessels or testing..

In September 1959 Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands visited New York to commemorate Henry Hudson's 350 year anniversary. She boarded this yacht and was taken first to Mrs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt's home in Hyde Park for an overnight stay. The next day she boarded the Dauntless once again for a longer ride. Laurance, the captain and others greeted her as she boarded and as they pulled away from the dock a small convoy of armed naval vessels escorted them at slow speeds. She was entertained aboard Dauntless as they sailed all the way to Albany to meet up with the Governor Nelson Rockefeller and a host of other dignitaries. At the time this event was considered "The biggest parade in New York State's history". After the parade, Nelson was so embarrassed by how decrepit sections of Albany looked that he set off to raze entire neighborhoods and created Empire State Plaza.

In the mid 1970's she served the U.S. again as the U.S. presidential yacht during the Ford & Rockefeller administration.

Sometime in the late 1970’s she was sold to a funny car hall of famer who proudly sailed her in Bonaire. In 1985 she was sold and sent to St. Croix where she would spend the rest of her years.

Some notes:

-The yacht was launched with an open bridge design in 1948.

-By 1950 the bridge shelter was added.

The yacht had V12 Packards until the 1960's when they were converted to four Detroit deisels on two shafts. The yacht had a special transmission whereas it could run one engine per shaft for slower economical cruising or the second engine could be engaged per shaft for all four engines to run together for higher speeds.

-During the Rockefeller years the exterior covering for the bow cockpit, Bridge deck, Tender and aft cockpit were white canvas and when it was sold by Rockefeller the covering was changed to blue fabric as seen in many photos.

The seating aboard the yacht was originally red leather and later Mr. Rockefeller commissioned Navajo Indians to redo the interior and exterior coverings in natural brown and orange patterns. When she was sold the Navajo coverings went with the yacht. I am fitting my yacht in red leather.

Last edited by RICH404; Nov 21, 2016 at 10:50 PM.
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Dec 28, 2012, 03:22 PM
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Tim B.'s Avatar
Monster boat ...
Dec 28, 2012, 03:29 PM
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These are some news articles and tid-bits about the Dauntless and it's owner.

This article is called: “Yacht Aboard” from the Sarasota Herald written on February 2, 1954.

“Captain Fleming said he would hug the coast as far as Hatteras because we had aboard us just forward of the bridge and the quarters of the captain and passengers a 40-ton yacht belonging to Laurance Rockefeller, who ships this glorified soap-dish down every winter, accompanied by his skipper, Thomas Taxter and his wife Dorothea, a very pretty young woman, and Charles Karr, the engineer. The yacht had been towed down from Tarrytown in her own cradle and hoisted aboard by a 50 ton crane, at a cost of thousands. Shore side carpenters were bracing her with timbers and when they finally had her secure, we were two hours late getting into the steam.

We made San Juan Dec. 23 and I gave ungrudging credit to the longshoremen, who are. I understand, Joe Ryan’s subjects, as they tore away the lumber from Rockefeller’s toy and, and with extreme delicacy, hoisted her over the side and set her gently in the water where a tug waited to haul her somewhere. Rockefeller uses her to snatch fish by the face around Trinidad, but she barely has enough cruising radius to cross a bath tub. They would be unloading all night with winches going and men calling so we went ashore to the Caribe Hilton, a bizarre and very expensive resort hotel with beautiful swimming pools and a roulette layout.”,172084

A tale of Rich men and a Rich property:,704203

"Laurance, who has his grandfather's granite face and piercing eyes, is also one of the nation's leading conservationists. Twenty-five years ago he gave the government 33,562 acres in his father's name to create Grand Teton National Park. In 1956 his gift of 5,000 acres became the Virgin Islands National Park, causing grateful natives to call him "St. Laurance." Since then he has added thousands more acres to the nation's parks through the family-funded Jackson Hole Preserve, Inc. An ardent outdoorsman, Laurance has piloted a cabin cruiser with a PT-boat hull down the Hudson River from Tarrytown (near Pocantico Hills) to his Manhattan office at 30 Rockefeller Center.

Scroll down to Laurance on this article.,00.html

Note the first article below suggested that the Packards were 1350 HP each..I held the actual bill of sale and they were 1500HP each as stated in the second article. All the other info in the first article is correct.

Last edited by RICH404; Jan 23, 2013 at 12:20 PM.
Dec 28, 2012, 04:02 PM
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Decline, Revival and Demise:

There were two significant events that started the clock ticking against the Dauntless. In the early 1980's an interior fire broke out aboard the yacht. She burned from her bow to the end of the bridge missing the engine room and the owners cabin. The fire started because the Dauntless was in for repairs and a worker allegedly left a burning cigarette in the salon. The cigarette fell from the ashtray and onto some blueprints or paperwork related to the vessel and started the fire. This was a disaster for both the boat and the owner. She sat for a few years as the owner battled the insurance company. Unfortunately, the owner never recovered insurance money to repair the vessel so all repairs had to come from his own pocket. Eventually it was sold for a fraction of her purchase price.

In 1985 she was fixed up, painted all white primer and sold. The first picture below shows her in nice shape when she was brought to St. Croix where she was used as a live aboard. The owners really cared for and loved this boat. They lived on her, sailed her and got lots of enjoyment owning her. Although they lived and sailed her, she still needed a ton of work to make her "pretty" again. Being dressed in white primer was still not ideal for the once mighty Dauntless.

Interestingly, when the couple bought and sailed her to St. Croix, they got caught in Hurricane Gloria and sailed through some treacherous waters. The Dauntless proved herself well and made it through the storm without missing a beat.

While in the Bermuda Triangle however, they were sailing when all 4 engines cut-off and alarms began going off in the engine-room. She drifted for miles before the alarms turned off, and she started right up. It was a nerving experience to say the least.

She spent the next 4 years in a tropical paradise with a loving couple that lived and got good use out of her. She was moored in the Salt River in St. Croix.

Then the next event to devastate Dauntless happened on St. Croix. In 1989 Hurricane Hugo devastated the island with 140 MPH winds that destroyed anything and everything in it's path. The Dauntless was anchored and was taking the storm quite well until a 140 ft NOAA barge that was improperly anchored came along and severely damaged her. The owners bravely rode out the storm on the Dauntless!
Once the storm was owner repair work ensued.

Later during Hurricane Lenny she was pushed on the beach which is where she stayed in the pictures below. While she was being repaired once again, the owners were approached by a gentleman who promised the couple that he would restore her to her her former glory. This person had all sorts of credentials and convinced them that he was best suited to take on the Dauntless. Looking after the yachts best interest they trusted and sold the yacht to him.

After the sale promises were broken and she was put into the wrong hands where she ultimately ended up at the mercy of the scrapper.

Sadly, what's left of the once proud Dauntless is our models...

Last edited by RICH404; Nov 28, 2016 at 03:14 PM.
Dec 28, 2012, 04:14 PM
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This video was taken after sitting on the beach for 14 years.

1946 66' Dauntless Yacht (10 min 37 sec)

Last edited by RICH404; Dec 28, 2012 at 04:59 PM.
Dec 28, 2012, 04:53 PM
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I began the model back in 1998 and built it up as a regular ‘Dumas Dauntless’. At the time there was no information about the full sized vessel online therefore there was no ‘real’ boat to compare it to. A few years after the model was built I found an online photo of the full sized Dauntless in ruins and the features were very different from the model. This led me to giving my model a second look and began noting the details which led me on a mission to fully research the vessel. The research itself was astounding and since became a labor of love. My goal is to make the miniature replica of vessel.

[After six years, thousands of hours in research, build time, and LOTS of money spent, I’m now closer to my goal of recreating a miniature of this vessel.

Some of the features on the model will include:

• Opening doors throughout the interior and exterior
• Sliding hatches
• Multiple Lights in every room
• Carpeting
• Detailed Furnishing
• Cabinetry
• The finest butter-soft red lambskin covered seating in and outside the vessel (The original boasted red leather)
• Beds will feature custom made high quality Egyptian cotton blanketing with pillows
• All cushions, mattresses and pillows throughout are Tempur-Pedic memory foam (ok, the Tempur-Pedic memory foam was my idea)

The scale boat was rebuilt using a combination of solid mahogany, aluminum, basswood and epoxy

In addition to the interior all of the details found on the full sized yacht exterior including the radar, life raft, tender, Bridge and aft cockpit Awning, boat hooks and ALL other items will be recreated and added. They will be based on original photos in my private collection.

On the RC side of things includes:

• (2) Astroflight Super Ferrite 25 Water cooled 12V Motors
• (2) Astroflight Harbor Master ESC’s
• (2) Water cooling plates for the ESC’s
• Sound Effect Module and accessories with V12 Packard Engine Sounds, Air horn and Ships Bell (By Model Sounds)
• Robbe F-14 Marine transmitter With Duel Throttles plus receiver
• 4 water pumps with 8 splitters to cool the electronics and blow out the 4 exhaust tubes aft
• 2 intake and 1 exhaust fan to regulate the engine room temperatures
• Harbor Models Power Distribution Panel

•Yacht currently Powered by 3 5000 MAH LIPO batteries

Lighting: (30+) Including: specialty fixtures such as navigation, searchlight, mast light, custom made wall sconces, misc wiring, and more broken down into 5 ‘banks’ of lighting.

The Robbe F-14 transmitter components will be removed from the stock plastic case and reinstalled in a detailed custom mahogany case. No expense was spared in the creation of this model!

Below are some pictures that detail it in various stages.

***This yacht was launched this year but she is still a work in progress and is not yet complete.

Last edited by RICH404; Jan 24, 2013 at 11:24 AM.
Dec 28, 2012, 09:15 PM
Grumpa Tom
Kmot's Avatar
Looks strangely familiar....
Dec 28, 2012, 10:16 PM
Registered User
Originally Posted by Kmot
Looks strangely familiar....
It's time for a sister forum. The other forum got too big and this info was scattered throughout years of posts..

Here is a link for all who are interested:

Last edited by RICH404; Dec 29, 2012 at 12:56 AM.
Dec 28, 2012, 11:41 PM
Registered User
A peek inside..

A while back I was working on the interior but stopped to focus on getting the boat to run. Eventually I'll be back inside to complete it. For now I am focusing on wiring up the 4 waterpumps, the two intake and 1 exhaust fan to a servo controlled switch.

While doing this, the lighting will be wired up to contact plates on the hull side so that once the cabins are put in place the lights will finally work..

Here are some interior pictures.

Last edited by RICH404; Dec 29, 2012 at 01:19 AM.
Dec 29, 2012, 12:45 AM
Taking care of the pond.
Love the Dauntless.
Dec 29, 2012, 01:21 AM
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Dauntlessfan's Avatar
Hey folks... long time reader of RC Groups, first time poster...

I started my Dumas Dauntless model in 2001. Like Rich, I found virtually no information online about the yacht. Sparkman & Stephens was nice enough to email me a few low resolution scans of design drawings. And that's about all I had to go on.

So I built the Dumas kit according to the directions over several months, and it was pretty much plain vanilla. And it stayed that way until about a year ago...
Dec 29, 2012, 02:03 AM
Registered User
Dauntlessfan's Avatar
Last December my plain vanilla Dauntless tangled with a Genie Garage Door opener and lost horribly. I had to to either throw it out or rebuild.

Since much more info on the boat's true history and details had now been posted online. I chose to repair the boat. During the rebuild process I took the opportunity to add some accurate details that Rich and a few others were highlighting on their amazing boats. I also upgraded my motors from 550-size to 700-size, which resulted in an incredible performance improvement.
Dec 29, 2012, 02:29 AM
Grumpa Tom
Kmot's Avatar
Rich, I am glad you are moving it over here!
Dec 29, 2012, 06:50 AM
Plures Naves Quam Mentes
sound sailor's Avatar
May as well join in over here with my sailing buddy Rich. Here are a couple of shots of my Dauntless taken by Rich.

Last edited by sound sailor; Dec 29, 2012 at 08:23 AM.
Dec 29, 2012, 08:20 AM
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PTman's Avatar
All three look great guys ! Quality work all around ! Keep it up !

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