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Pardon Me is welcomed back to Clayton

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CLAYTON — The world’s largest runabout — Pardon Me — made the journey from Maine to return Thursday to the Antique Boat Museum to be part of the museum’s 2014 summer season.

“It’s a pretty neat feeling when we saw her coming back to the museum,” Museum Director Michael J. Folsom said. “The entire staff and some museum guests were lined up on the sidewalks, and cars were stopped on Mary Street to take pictures of her driving up.”

Built in 1948, the 48-foot mahogany speedboat was custom-designed by John L. Hacker, one of the greatest American boat designers of the 20th century.

The boat arrived in Clayton about 4:30 p.m. escorted by village police, after leaving Brooklin Boat Yard in Brooklin, Maine, on Thursday morning. The boat had been in Brooklin since December 2012 undergoing extensive restoration.

The restoration involved substantial work and upgrades of systems such as ignition, cooling, shifting and steering. In addition, Pardon Me underwent a top-end rebuild of a new period Packard engine and had an entirely new bottom installed.

The boat will be transported to St. Lawrence Restoration today to be removed from the flatbed and put on its boat trailer. Mr. Folsom said from there it should be returned to the museum this weekend for the last additions, such as decals, to be installed.

Mr. Folsom said the last time the boat touched water outside the museum was in 2006. He said museum staff expects sea trials and training of captains and crew to last through mid-July.

“The boat is still considered a significant artifact of our collection,” Mr. Folsom said. “Use will be limited until we see how she handles in the water.”

He said Pardon Me will be officially showcased during the 50th annual Antique Boat Show Aug. 1 to 3.

“Today is the first opportunity to celebrate all the work that went into restoring the boat and the efforts to fund it,” Mr. Folsom said, “The boat has a great history. It was built in the Thousand Islands. It’s nice to know it’s finally back.”

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