By member Walter Legett, Bayou chapter

I looked at the boat on the internet for about three 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 that 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 and 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. Looked like a million dollars after two days on 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. Sunny in the south and in Buffalo, dark, cold, and icebergs 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 that I finally realized what I had done and everyone just looked at me like I was crazy.

I spent four years restoring the boat. Pulled engine, turned it over, and started on the bottom. I put a 5,200 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, cold, or the bugs are bad. Amazing how many mosquito legs are in the varnish. Once you have 8 to 10 coats on and wet sand and buff it out you cannot see the legs.

I finally showed my boat in 2009 and did not get any prizes but was not quiet through with the restoration. In 2010 the Moo Too (named after my wife who’s nickname is Moo) was the winner of the 1st Place Runabout as well as the Best-In-Show. I was very surprised and finally after all of the hard work I was rewarded for my effort. There were 80 boats in the 2010 show to be judged. We have 5 classes that we judge. My wife just 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.

7 Comments

  1. Great story! Thanks for sharing. Nice to get a trophy, but the best reward was your own personal satisfaction of a project completed! Working on wood boats is truly good mental & physical therapy!

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience. You are certainly a very special kind of a woody boater. ACBS should have separate catagories for those owners that do the work on their boat and not just reach for the checkbook. I celebrate your accomplishment.

  3. I’m sitting about 20 min from that cold Niagara River and 10 min from equally cold Erie Canal as I read your story. Beautiful boat. More than worth the trip. You have the better weather, we have the better football team.
    Len

  4. I am answering some of the questions ask, the boat is a 1955 18’ Chris Craft. Continental with a KBL131. I purchased it from Thomas Frauenheim, said that his dad was the First Chris Craft dealer in Buffalo. Boat was sold in Maryland, don’t know how it got to Buffalo. With COVID, we missed our wooden boat show in Louisiana in 2020 and 2021. Thanks everyone for the great comments.

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