Flying the Friendly Seas
Part 2: “I’ve finally learned the secret of boat repairs: Do your estimate, crunch your numbers, and whatever figure you come up with, double it.”

By Elizabeth Ginns Britten — September 2004

 More of this Feature

• Part 1: Cosmic Muffin
• Part 2: Cosmic Muffin
• Cosmic Muffin At a Glance
• Cosmic Muffin Photo Gallery

 Elsewhere on the Web
• Plane Boats

Crazy as it might have been, and knowing Cosmic Muffin needed a lot of work, Drimmer took on the challenge full-force. “It looked like a bomb had gone off in there. It was a total mess.” Even worse, the vessel was leaking in many places. Consequently, Drimmer wasn’t able to move onboard until a year after his purchase. “The boat needed major electrical rewiring, the plumbing needed fixing, it needed a refrigerator, a bed, air conditioning, I needed to fix leaks, and it needed a bilge pump.” Although he had no intention of making her capable of extended cruising, he had to make sure she’d stay afloat. He says, “I had to concentrate on making it livable as a home, which involved more conventional home-repair and refit work.” He filled in the holes and leaks with something he calls hydraulic cement and claims, “it dried hard and quick and bonded to the wood better than anything else and kept her afloat for the following 13 years.”

Then in 1994, Drimmer decided to completely rebuild Cosmic Muffin from the ground up, which he says was “terrifying and the fight of his life,” having to cash in his savings in order to foot the $150,000 yard bill. With no marine knowledge or background, he enlisted the help of his New Zealand-born, boatbuilding friends Jeff Gibbs and Doug Weir; Drimmer got the materials and oversaw and directed the project, and his friends made it work. “Jeff was the project director, Doug the construction manager. There were other helpers, too, who came in every day,” one of whom, first mate Dan Cormier, “almost got permanently glued to the boat in the process.” Drimmer says, “I couldn’t have done it without these guys.” Over the years, he estimates he’s poured about $200,000 into his plane-boat, joking, “I’ve finally learned the secret of boat repairs: Do your estimate, crunch your numbers, and whatever figure you come up with, double it.”

Today, 65 years after its initial construction as an airplane, Cosmic Muffin still causes a buzz; Miramax Pictures is reportedly planning on using Muffin in its upcoming film Aviator, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the young Howard Hughes. Additionally, the plane-boat has been featured in many publications and on many TV shows, including Ripley’s Believe It or Not and the Travel Channel’s World’s Best: “Top Ten Outrageous Homes.” Although Drimmer no longer lives aboard (he opened the boat for public viewing a few years back), he keeps her in a slip behind his South Florida home. He says, “the best part about owning this is having the people come aboard and tour it...people that have always wondered what it looks like inside, people that have seen it on TV. I couldn’t imagine owning a boat like this and ignoring people’s interest in it. It’s real special.” A one-of-a-kind, half boat, half airplane? Real special, indeed.

Cosmic Muffin is open to the public for tours and available for private and corporate charter.

Plane Boats Phone: (954) 462-8676.

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