Okay, this isn't really that intriguing a mystery, but it's sort of a fun exercise ... I've been on a kick recently where I want to get LOTUS (1963 Cheoy Lee Lion) a builder's plate. Assuming there was one originally, it has long since disappeared. I contacted Cheoy Lee in Hong Kong and received a quick response to my inquiries about the availability of replacements and specifics concerning Yard Numbers:
We have some standard oval builders plaques in stock, ready to be engraved. The plaque has blank spaces to enter the yard number and year of manufacture. If you could let us know the (4-digit) yard number of your yacht, and also provide a photograph, so we can verify the type of vessel. Please also let us have a copy of any relevant documentation you have showing the hull number. We normally only issue builders plaques at the time of build. To issue one now, we need to be sure that the yacht is exactly the one that we are producing the plaque for. We have no record of the US documentation details at our office here in Hong Kong.
The "yard number" is our own identification system for each yacht built.
Each boat, each Lion, will have a different, specific and individual yard
number. Yard number 657 (for example) in fact represents the 657th boat built by Cheoy Lee since this numbering system was introduced in the 1940's. We are now up to yard number 5000 (a 150' motoryacht).
As you know, the yard number would have appeared on the builders plaque. You
will also find that the yard number would have been written (in hand
writing) on various components of your boat as it was being built, to tell
our installers which boat they were destined for. For example, (possibly) on
the bottom of drawers, pre-made cabinets etc, where they would not be
visible once installed. If you can find any potential numbers, I will cross
check this with our order book. That would be a reasonably conclusive
means> of identification.
I have attached a photo of our builders plaque for your reference.
Cheoy Lee Shipyards Ltd.
89 & 91 Hing Wah Street West
Lai Chi Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Which brings me to my question ... any Cheoy Lee mavens out there ever locate the hand-written yard number described above? I've poked around LOTUS, but haven't had any luck. I was thinking about contacting Lion Yachts in Connecticut to see if they had any ideas - Dave Toombs, who I believe still runs the brokerage, apparently put together the original importing operation way back when. Maybe they have some ideas ...