by Ron Nowak member of the Blue Ridge chapter
I purchased a 1955 Chris Craft Capri (#53) in 2006. We lost our twenty- year old daughter, Christi, in 2005 due to a tragic accident, and I wanted to do something to honor her memory. Growing up in Rochester, New York, and being close to the Finger Lakes in western New York, my family vacationed on the lakes during the summers and I loved the wooden boats that were popular. There were Lyman, Penn Yan, and many more, but my favorite was the Chris Craft.
I had moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 1976 for work with IBM that is when I had heard of the Blue Ridge Chapter of The Antique Classic Boat Society and the events they held displaying their classic boats. I was looking for a way to deal with my loss and decided to become a member. Searching the internet looking for a boat that would bring back those fond memories of being around those beautiful lakes and their boats.
Finding what I felt was the perfect boat in Seattle, WA that would help me through the emotional times ahead, joining the Blue Ridge Chapter and goinh to almost every boat show around Atlanta and the nearby states for years. The comfort and kindness of its members during those times helped me immensely and allowed me to work through my grief. Enjoying the people with the same love of boats that I had.
My other love was woodworking and that gave me the opportunity to enhance his Capri named “Christi” to become a boat with added hidden storage, a custom designed boarding ladder with telescopic steps, and several other unique features, doing it all while maintaining its overall look and integrity. “Christi” won awards at many of the festivals I attended. It has been a labor of love that I enjoy sharing with friends and family. One of my favorite events was the annual picnic given by the Blue Ridge chapter for kids with serious medical issues. This “Rendezvous” gave the kids, their parents and their siblings, an escape for a day to enjoy hotdogs and hamburgers, face painting, juggling clowns, and boat rides. They were able to go for rides and steer our boats, laugh and have fun. It was a day they looked forward to every year.
I have not been as active as I used to be as a member, but look back fondly and am thankful for those who helped me during a tough time in my life. The boat festivals are fun for the people who visit them and bring their families to see a little bit of boating history. I’m not sure who has more fun. Is it the families or is it the boaters who display their restored boats? Pretty sure it’s both!!!