By Bill and Bobbi Vogel, Sunnyland Chapter
My wife and I are avid boaters. We spend time on the Florida waterways many times each week. Whether it is investigating backwater paths on local rivers, cruising on one of the many lakes or shelling on saltwater coves and islands, our fondest memories always seem to include water and boats!
Presently we possess eight boats, three that are antique vessels. One classic boat, a 1985 Hydrodyne, we use almost daily for water skiing. We also have a collection of antique outboards and I am a Board Member of our local Florida AOMCI Chapter.
About five years ago we restored our 1962 Glasspar G3 to award winning condition so we understand and have had experience with the challenges of bringing a boat back to near perfection. When the idea of finding a GW Invader kept creeping into my thoughts, I grew increasingly hopeful. After all, I had been interested in the GW Invader, “10 Footer”, built in the 60’s for years. I thought it would be the perfect boat to further introduce our 5 year old grandson to boating. Two of our club members had GW Invaders and my wife owned one many years ago. So many reasons to further my dream, so I began searching. Not really wanting to drive states away to transport a boat back home, I finally located one in South Florida. During my initial, quick “look-over”, the boat’s condition appeared better than it actually was! And in reality, I really wanted that boat, no matter what! I could just imagine the fun restoring it and the first time my grandson would take it for a ride! I was sold, regardless of the sleepless nights ahead!
Once back home, and moving from possibilities to reality, I did a thorough inspection. I quickly understood that the boat needed everything from a new transom, to a new core and stringers! The motor, a classic 25hp Johnson, also required a major overhaul. At this point I came very close to abandoning the project, but I knew the hours of research that had occurred as well as the picture in my mind! My dream to restore a GW Invader moved full steam ahead.
Anyone who restores a classic boat understands the highs and lows of such a daunting project. I believe it is the dream circling in your head that keeps you moving forward, and digging deeper into your pocket. This boat was really a challenge because the deck and hull are glassed together. A fellow club member referred me to the owner of M Composite in Palmetto, Florida for initial consultation. Upon meeting this fellow, who was soon to become someone I truly admired, he showed me a picture of himself when he was very young in his parents GW Invader. Bingo, I was hooked! He agreed to take on the restoration project and I was thrilled!
Next, the motor needed attention. One of our AOMCI club members who lives a couple hours away, is an expert in classic engine restoration. He had restored other motors for me and is always the go-to guy when I’m searching for a part. With his skill and persistence, it was not long before the motor was running perfectly! What a thorough job he did!
A few months later the hull restoration was completed to show quality appearance and structure. The two major components were now completed but there were still details to be done. I knew that my best friend and club member, Ray and I could accomplish the next step. Together we rigged the boat and the steering was complete.
I also replaced the trim on the upholstery with red vinyl to match the boat’s new transformation from lime green. The vessel really began to come together.
The final challenge was finding a set of original metal emblems. After an unsuccessful nationwide search, I discovered that another club member had a set of metal emblems and he was willing to part with them. Just like the star on the top of the Christmas tree, the Invader emblem on the bright red paint completed the outward appearance. The emblems looked simply perfect!
We call this restoration project “Another One Saved” because every run-down, not-cared-for classic boat that is forsaken leaves another hole in the genius of design and construction that we all have come to appreciate. I, for one, want our children, grandchildren and the children for generations to come to have the opportunity to experience classic boats. Reminiscing about that first experience with a classic boat or sharing photos of restored boats/motors, our memories are vivid, our friendships everlasting and our hopes very much alive. Perhaps our efforts today may trigger the younger generation to “get the antique boating bug” and perpetuate this hobby that honors the past while focusing on the possibilities. Perhaps they too, may get “the classic boat bug” some day!