By member Walter Legett member of Bayou chapter

I looked at the boat on the internet for about 3 years and read Danenberg’s book on restoration of wooden runabouts. After the third time reading the book, I decided to purchase a wood boat. When I was growing up in Gulfport, Mississippi, the rich folks had these boats running up and down the bayou. I loved them, but for a poor lad, 15 years old in 1955, I thought I would never own one.

I have been around wooden boats my entire life, mostly larger ones because my wife’s grandfather built a 38-foot wood boat in their backyard. Her dad chartered it for 40 years. I got real good at painting and caulking because he pulled it up twice a year and we went to work. The boat looked like a million dollars after two days in the yard. Her grandfather was a boat builder with roots in Croatia.

On April 17, 2004, my brother-in-law and I left for Buffalo, NY. It was sunny in the south, and in Buffalo, it was dark, cold, and small icebergs were floating down the Niagara River. When we got the boat, it was sleeting and we left the next day for the sunny state of Louisiana. When we got back home, I think I finally realized what I had done and everyone just looked at me like I was crazy.

I spent four years restoring the boat. I pulled engine, turned it over, and started on the bottom. I put a 5200 bottom on, then went to work on sides. All of the screws in the main frames were sheered off and had to be dug out and replaced. Everywhere I took a screw out, I drilled and installed a hardwood dowel for the new silicone-bronze screws. I worked when I felt like it and everyone left me alone. No one touched the boat but me.

It is hard to varnish in an open carport. Either too hot, or too cold, or the bugs are bad. It is amazing how many mosquito legs are in the varnish. Once you have 8 to 10 coats of varnish on, wet sand and buff it out, you cannot see the legs.

I finally showed my boat in 2009. The boat did not win any prizes, but the restoration was not quite complete. In 2010, the Moo Too (named after my wife whose nickname is Moo) was the winner of the 1st place runabout as well as the Best-In-Show. I was very surprised. After all of the hard work, I was rewarded for my effort. There were 80 boats in the 2010 show to be judged. There we 5 classes that were judged. My wife likes to tell everyone how much she didn’t help, but during the restoration, we had no psychiatric visits. Just kidding. My wife has always left me alone to my vices which was the wood boat. After 54 years, I guess I will keep her along with her namesake.

6 Comments

  1. I’m two years into my 1957 Continental project. She’s upside down with about half of the ribs replaced. I’m making progress, but still a long ways to go. I feel like I was reading my own story. Thanks, your story inspired me.

  2. Chuck Ford
    Boerne, Texas
    What a fun memory and project!
    I have been right where you are. I enjoyed every minute of building my 1939 barrel back Chris. I have also enjoyed every minute of running around the lake in it. Hope you have years of enjoyment.

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