By Robert Rienzo, Lake Hopatcong Chapter
My journey began in 1957 at the age of 9 when my family purchased a 16-foot Thompson Boat with a Johnson 30 HP motor. The boat was docked at Riviera Beach, NJ, several blocks away from our summer home. Several years later a Chris Craft utility was docked along side of our slip and I was asked to keep an eye on her as the swimming area was steps away where we spent our summer days.
After my 2 daughter’s college graduations and before their weddings, I was on the hunt for a 1952 Chris Craft Riviera because of the beautiful bow lines and other points of design. In October 2011 my wife and I spent several days at the vineyards in Oregon and upon arrival I told my wife I had an appointment to see a boat. This brought us to Lake Oswego Boat Company where it was being kept by Brad Fairchild (see boat provenance). Naturally she was shocked where and why we were going. She did not want a boat. When Brad said how his mother had no problem getting in and out and asked my wife if she wanted to try. She did and that was the selling point, SOLD! The boat was purchased and I asked Mike to do some work for me and then ship to NJ.(Woody Boater, John Freeman Sat. June 2, 2012).
The name Bobby Boat came from when my older cousin who gave me a plastic boat for my 50th birthday and told everyone that when I was a baby, I always said “Bobby Boat, Bobby Boat” and my family said that must be the name on the boat.
From the hull card, I contacted Hudley Boat Company in Texas. I spoke with the son and after speaking to his father, they provided the enclosed history. They sent me a Hudley name plate which I placed next to the brass engine plate. They were happy to hear of the existence of the boat as they lost contact where she was.
Bobby Boat is docked in a boat house at Red Bank Marina, in Monmouth County,NJ, on the Swimming River which is brackish water and filters into the Naversink River. We enjoy cruising with my family, grandchildren, friends, associates, and clients where we stop at dock and dine locations.
Bobby Boat is not a trailer queen, it is to enjoy, have fun. She looks great and runs great!
I thank and trust very deeply the professionals who worked on her, Dan Van Ness who rebuilt the engine, Chad Brenner of Classic Restoration in Philadelphia (wood work) and Doug Mac in Farland, N.J. who keeps her purring like a kitten.