By David Price, member of the Hudson River Chapter.

I hope the title of my story proves to be not true but, as of today, it seems entirely appropriate, especially to my wife and friends.

My wife Barbara and I joined the Hudson River Chapter of ACBS some 16 years ago after Barbara bought, on the spur of the moment, a 1956 Chris Craft Sea Skiff because “it reminds me of my childhood on Conneaut Lake (PA)”. This was done in a matter of moments when buying a new pair of shoes takes 3 or 4 visits to the store! Needless to say we love the boat and have used her reliably every year on the Hudson River ever since.

A year and a half ago, a friend mentioned that a “friend of a friend” had heard of an “old boat” stored in Connecticut that might be for sale. After some investigative work, we got a contact and decided to take a trip to see this “barn find” and pass the information on to our classic boating friends in case someone had an interest. Of course, at first sight, I told Barbara that we had to have it, that this was a fantastic find, that being recently retired it was just what I needed, it was a great deal, etc., etc. Barbara was somewhat less enthralled but acquiesced in the end, probably thinking a project would keep me busy and out of her way.

Anyway, we acquired the boat in December of 2017, a 1951 Century Resorter Convertible and rebuilt Greymarine Fireball Six 140 still in the crate, and stored for the winter with FWBs (friends with barns). Work began in the spring of 2018, which consisted mainly of disassembling what hadn’t already been taken apart, cleaning the flora and fauna from the interior and inventorying everything. Fortunately, the previous owner had made a good start on the restoration but had put it aside in 1994. The hull was in good shape, the bottom redone with the original batten and plank system, a couple of missing hull planks had to be fitted and the decks replaced but the boat came with a supply of avodire to replace the deck planks. All of the hardware was included but needed re-chroming, new upholstery would be required and a total rewiring.

I should mention that all of the work is being done in our driveway as we have no garage, no barn – I do suffer from barn envy – and we had the wettest summer in fifty years in this part of New York. Progress has been made, but slowly and, of course, now the boat is back with FWBs for the winter. I hope to tackle the wiring by the warmth of a fire this winter and prepare myself for the next round of restoration next summer. I am not sure when or if I will complete this project, but I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work on such a wonderful boat. So is Barbara. Time will tell if I am in over my head.

14 Comments

  1. David, she looks like a keeper for sure….Now, having a few classic and antiques of our own, may I make a suggestion and this is merely a suggestion….We did the exact same thing that you have begun doing with regards to the two hull boards which you are apparently replacing on her….we simply got everything ready and put the new planking pieces in where they were going to go and I suggest, right here, to stop…My suggestion would be, to bleach out all the boards for the entire hull, then begin with your staining…If this is not done, those two boards will always stand out and that is the last thing you would, I think, want…
    Again, this is merely a suggestion….Good luck with your project and your undertaking in the “driveway” is most admirable for sure….Would love to see her when finished.

    • Eric,
      Thanks very much for the suggestion. I will attempt to bleach all the boards to achieve, hopefully, a uniform look. If and when, photos will be posted.

  2. At some point in time, now would be good, stop saving all of your receipts or at least stop adding them up and if Barbara doesn’t get to see them all the better 🙂 . Once its completed and you start receiving all of the accolades and attention that it will bring , bring out the box of receipts and a nice aged bottle of Bourbon and all will be well and good.

  3. Great job !!! I commend you on working outside in NY. I am working on my Lyman in a barn that is not heated with no electric, but at least I have a roof over my head ! Keep up the great work, it will be worth it in the end!

  4. Your story is not unique. I, too, bought a boat on impulse, on the Internet and had it shipped to California. Also newly retired, I had high hopes of finishing her restoration. Alas, new grandkids, and now my wife’s death, find me in Minnesota without sufficient garage space and physical ability. For anyone interested in acquiring a unique project, it’s a 1938 Peterborough 20 ft SeaFarer Deluxe Triple Cockpit. Contact me for details and pictures. ACBS member.

  5. Good job so far Dave,if you need parts, I have newly upholstered front and back seats, red with white piping, and papped dash,also red and white,other parts also,let me know if you are interested,Larry

  6. David,
    I absolutly love the story. I have to give you a lot of credit. I am a retired engineer at 37 who now builds and restores boats for a living. 23 years ago I started in the very same place, outside, in the cold and no budget. I still have the portable carport if you want it. I now have several barns and a heated shop. I can’t be too far from you and you are welcome to come on up to the shop at any time and see how we do things. Certainly pick our brains and hopefully we can make life easier for you on finishing the project. We coach a lot of people along here and we’re happy to do so. Don’t hesitate to call and we’ll see if we can help. I can point you in the right dirrection of where to aquire parts, materials and save some money along the way.

    Google us and you’ll see lots of project pictures.

    Adam Retersdorf
    Reets Boatworks

  7. I bleachiedl all of my boards with commercial 2 part, neutralized it and let it dry good. Sand it down, get a quart of white shellac, cut 60%, coat all boards 2 coats, sand smooth and stain with oil stain. Shellac kills any rot spores, gets porosity of wood where stain is uniform. Beats the expensive sealers. Old painter told me about this method 45 years ago. Used it on restoration of my 1955, 18’ Continental. Restoration is 8 years old. Got me 1 st place runabout, Best In Show at Madisonville, La. wooden Boat Festival, still looks as good as when I finished in 2009. Good luck, mine was done in open carport.

  8. Great story and well told. I just worry that you’ll luanch her into the Hudson. I’m upriver (across from Albany) and made the mistake years ago of mooring an old Formula out front of my house for two seasons…the river is nasty. Would hate to see all that good work infested with Zebra Mussels, etc. (But I wouldn’t live anywhere else).
    Best of luck!

  9. David; Be patient my friend! I purchased my 1959 Chris Craft Continental in 1980 and it is very close to being finished! I’ve disassembled and reassembled this boat at least six different times due to relocations relating to work. I purchased the boat in Ballwin, MO, moved to Rochester Hills, MI in 1986, moved to San Ramon, CA in 1987 (left the boat in Michigan. In 1988 I moved to Mission Viejo, CA and travelled back to Michigan over a weekend (non-stop driving with a friend) and picked up the reassembled boat. Moved to Cypress, CA a couple of years later and then to Naperville, IL in 1999. On to Boston in 2004 and put the boat in storage in St. Louis, MO. Picked up where I left off in August, 2011 (retirement) and started to disassemble again. In November, 2011 I took a consulting job in Finland and on to Brugge, Belgium in January, 2012. In 2013, worked 12 months at the Port of Brunswick, GA and three months in Tuscaloosa, AL in 2014. I’m fully retired now and hope to have the boat in the water in 2019. Remember, it’s the “Journey” not the “Final Destination” that we remember!!!!!

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