Al Attig, one of Southern California Chapter’s original members, still has his ACBS member card from 1983! At 93 years young, Al has lived an amazing life – water skiing competitively, building and restoring boats, and actively participating in SoCal Chapter events, including publicity for ACBS shows such as the 1990-1991 Mission Bay in San Diego. Though he’s owned many boats over the years, a 1940 Boyce, which he recently sold, counts as one of Al’s most significant. But, its his Attig Craft, which he designed, built and still owns, that stays closest to his heart. 

ACBS: What are some of your earliest boating memories?

Attig: I became interested in boating because of my grandfather who bought a speedboat when he was around 70 years old. Right after WWII, when I was 16, I was driving my grandmother and grandfather around San Diego Bay. All of the sudden an old barrel back Koehler Kraft came speeding by and we watched it go around an island towards a sandy spot on the beach. We decided to go over there and take a closer look. My grandfather could talk to anyone, he was very personal, and he started chatting with the people on the boat. Next thing I know, my grandfather says he’s thinking of getting a speedboat – A Ventnor! 

I ended up working for Koehler Kraft in high school as a laborer. I’d sand or do whatever they needed. In 1953, Koehler and I designed a utility together prior to me joining the service, but I never built a boat for them. 

ACBS: You’ve designed and built a number of boats over the years. Tell us about your first.

Attig: When I was in high school, in 1948, I designed and built my own boat right in the driveway and called it the Little 8 Ball. From model planes to boats, I always preferred to design my own. I’d look at other designs and then go to the butcher to get paper and I’d lay it all out in my parents’ garage and build it. You know how some people say that something can’t be done? It never enters my mind that something can’t be done.

Anyway, this Little 8 Ball is a Class B racing runabout with a gearbox and V-drive that I designed and built with a Ford V60 engine. The boat was 11-feet long with a blunt nose, though I had originally designed it as a 13-footer. But, I modified my plans as I went along. She was pretty fast for her day going about 48 miles per hour.

ACBS: How many boats have you built?

Attig: I’ve built four or five boats. I wanted to build a boat that looked like my Grandfather’s Ventnor, and I did. That was my third boat and I still have it. We used the heck out of that — water skiing, taking it from Newport to Catalina. It has an Oldsmobile engine and is so sturdy and strong. Our family has memories on that that you just wouldn’t believe. 

One day I was out on it when Bill Boyd from Hop Along Cassidy came up in a little Chris-Craft that he called Drip Along. He kept looking at my boat and said he wanted to buy it but I said “no”. The next week I was driving somewhere and someone was following me and honking,  wanting me to pull over. So I did and it was Bill Boyd again who said he’d recognized me. He again said he wanted to buy my boat and when I said no he asked me to build him one. But, I never did. 

My fourth boat was called Star Fire and it scared me, it went so fast. It had a Cadillac engine but the boat initially didn’t run right. We decided to cut the propeller shaft and put it back in the boat. Once we did that the boat ran great and won every race we entered it into.

ACBS: You used to own a Boyce boat?

Attig: When I was in the San Diego Speedboat Club there were three Boyce Boats that I used to race in Star Fire. Boyce was designed in San Diego but built on both the east coast and west coast. These Boyce Boats were modeled after a Pacific One Design Hydroplane design, but were two feet longer, and made of plywood, not mahogany. 

Many years back I saw an ad for a Boyce single step hydroplane in the newspaper and it reminded me of those three Boyces. Anyway, this boat ended up being one of those three, a little 8 cylinder, 90 hp. But someone had replaced the original engine with a Chevy V8. I bought the boat and started restoring it, putting back a Ford Flathead like it used to have. 

Back then I had a part-time boat shop and a full time job at Teledyne. It took me 18 years to restore the Boyce. I wasn’t making any money off that one so other boats took priority and I kept getting distracted. After it was restored we used it on Lake Arrowhead, but not too hard. I didn’t want to tear it up after all the time I spent on it!

I sold the Boyce recently and it has undergone a complete restoration, completely taken apart and made better than new.

ACBS: How did you become interested in water skiing? 

Attig: After my grandfather saw that Koehler Kraft he began to look for a speedboat. We belonged to the San Diego Speedboat Club and one day a Ventnor came in. My grandfather kept looking at it and took us in to look as well. As it turned out he had bought the boat. That meant I had to learn to water ski. I was quite the skier back then. We formed the San Diego Ski Boat Club and won all kinds of races, including 50 mile races.

Funny story, one day, the engine bearings went out on my Little 8 Ball and the Commodore of the San Diego Speedboat Club said he’d give me some new ones if I’d build the club a ski jump. So, I did. I built the first ski jump in San Diego Harbor when I was just a kid, probably 19 years old. We grew up young back then. 

ACBS: Tell me about your early days at ACBS?

Attig: I was one of the original members of the Southern California chapter. I had met Al Schinnerer who started the chapter. At the time I had a little 1940 Chris-Craft barrel back that needed a windshield. I had heard that Al made parts for old Chris-Crafts and that’s how I met him. He made so many parts. If you needed something, he was sure to have a mold. Anyway, he started the Southern California chapter and I joined right away and have made so many friends and been to so many shows. I even helped with the publicity for the 1991 Vintage Boat Show at Mission Bay Campland-on-the-Bay and a boat show at the San Diego Convention Center.

ACBS is a wonderful organization and I really enjoy all the friends that I’ve met along the way through boating. 


  1. What are the odds for reading the classifieds for a Boyce hydro and it being 1 of those 3 built? M. Chesrown’s Hotrod collection has a photo gallery
    of A-29’s full restoration. Also on pcarmarket for its sale. Credit to Al for his original preservation.
    “Being around people who appreciate traditions”…

  2. Hi, Loren Sattler here…ACBS Michigan Chapter member since 1978. I have owned woodies since 1972: 1940 16 ft CC Runabout, 1953 20 ft CC Riviera, 1970 26 ft Lyman Sleeper, 1958 16 Ft Lyman Runabout, 1928 28 ft GarWood Runabout and 1973 22 ft Riva Olympic. I own four of these at this time and use them daily.

  3. Thanks for republishing the original article from Rudder. Al’s health is failing but mentally he is as sharp as ever. The Attig Craft is currently for sale in San Diego. Needs a bit of top deck work but otherwise in good overall shape. If interested please text me at 858437177two.

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