By Marc Forman, Blue Ridge Chapter member
Photos by Lee Heard and Marc Forman
Cat’s Meow is a 1941 Chris-Craft model 101 Deluxe Runabout purchased in May of 1999. Living in South Florida, we found her online brokered through Macatawa Bay Boat works in Saugatuck, Michigan. I was able to convince the owners to video the boat coming to life after winter storage so I could assess the condition of the then 58-year-old runabout.
It was all there in very original running condition, so my father (who began my family’s interest in boating around 1965 with a 13 foot Lyman, followed two years later by a Volvo Penta inboard/outboard-powered 24 foot American Finn) and I headed to Michigan for a closer look. About an hour after arrival we were back on the road, purchase completed, boat in tow.
Over the next few months, guided by advice from Larry Mullins of the Sunnyland Chapter and Pete Henkel, I removed all the original chrome and stainless hardware to be replated or polished, removed the interior and trim to be reupholstered, removed the original model B engine and transmission, regasketed, repainted and rebuilt all engine accessories, stripped and refinished the bilge and had a new original style fuel tank made. Once apart, I began sanding and preparation for refresher coats of varnish to the hull, transom, decks, ceiling boards and dash, often until 2 or 3 in the morning!
In less than 90 days, Cat’s Meow was back together and ready for her first outing, the Sunnyland St. Johns river cruise from Palatka to Silver Glen Springs, followed by a trip to the Cypress Gardens show in November 1999 just days after my wife and I returned from our honeymoon.
In the twenty-plus years that have followed, the boat has provided many beautiful boating memories and experiences. She has won her share of awards at ACBS shows in both Florida and Georgia, including a best Chris-Craft judged and awarded by Chris Smith at the Lake Hartwell show in 2002.
Having left the factory in July 1941 she turned 81 this month, Cat’s Meow is out on Lake Lanier several times a week these days and still going strong!