by James Rand, Inland Empire Chapter

My childhood in the 50s and early 60s was spent on Long Island sound where we belonged to a yacht club. My father had Chris-Craft cruisers beginning with wooden ones and later fiberglass. I bought my first boat at age 14. I loved fishing, water skiing, and scuba diving. There were a few wooden runabouts on Long Island sound which were striking in their beauty. I remember going to the Jones Beach marine theater with my parents and watching Guy Lombardo arrive in a beautiful wooden runabout. I decided that I wanted one!

In the 1970s, I moved to Rochester, Minnesota which was the only county without a natural lake. I spent vacations in Northern Minnesota fishing on the many lakes. There were a lot of beautiful wooden runabouts. Unfortunately, I had little time and no place to keep a boat. I dreamed of having a wooden runabout of my own. My dream was not abandoned but placed on hold.

I began searching for a retirement home in the 1990s. In 2001, I purchased my home on Hayden Lake just north of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. There were 30 woodies on the lake! The Coeur d’Alene wooden boat show further stimulated my interest and I began my search for a boat of my own. I finally found Miss Hayden, a 1940 Chris Craft,17-foot runabout, in 2003 and began the long restoration process. I looked at many beautiful wooden boats prior to selecting the Barrell back. I thought the double curve of the transom exemplified the art of wood boat construction and represented a time of unparalleled craftmanship. She also represented a time when life was less complicated and more refined just prior to the second world war.

The boat had originally been sold in Oregon and resided its entire life in the Inland Northwest. A fresh water boat was important to me as I am aware of the corrosive effects of salt water from my childhood. The boat had been owned in Spokane, WA before being sold to the current owner. The boat was modified to appear similar to a StanCraft boat with yellow stripes, yellow interior and a GM 350 engine. I saw a potential Swan in the ugly duckling!

Once I owned my own boat, I joined the Antique and Classic Boat Society. The Inland Empire Chapter of the ACBS was a great resource for helping me. The club is filled with individuals with a love of classic boats who enjoy using them. The social activities and the annual boat show in Sand Point are highlights of being a member. Like classic cars, antique wooden boats require a great deal of care and expense. An owner loves his boat as a member of his family.

My goal was to restore her to an original appearance. The initial refinishing to the boat was performed by Mike Kerfoot with the aid of his son Andy. A search for a period correct engine led me to Sid Young who provided a Chris Craft KFL engine that was in need of rebuilding. The Resort Boat shop rebuilt and installed the engine and addressed many issues. The interior was replaced with correct beige vinyl. I did not initially appreciate the complexity of refitting everything to original condition. As I have learned everything takes twice as long and costs twice as much as your budget! In 2014, the finish was failing and the interior upholstery needed to be replaced again. I asked Andy Kerfoot to restore the boat to its original appearance. Andy stripped the boat, refinished inside and out and replaced the instruments with restored gauges. New upholstery was placed. The restoration of the boat was similar to a frame off restoration of a classic car.

From where did the name Miss Hayden arise? The former owner named her after his granddaughter. Since she resides on Hayden Lake and it is bad luck to change the name of a boat, she retains her name. I rebuilt my dock to include sun protection for the boat and keep it in the water all summer where it is used on a regular basis.


  1. Very nice result after lots of work! Makes me realize how lucky Sue and I were to get the same 1940, 17 Ft, barrel back, Deluxe Runabout, Chris Craft, in 1975 along with our first lakefront home. Both the house and the boat were from their first owner on Lake Mohawk, in Sparta, NJ. He used it for recreation and water skiing and never had any work, other than yearly maintenance, done on the boat. This meant that everything, including the wood, was original. He did screw a piece of aluminum on the stern and hand painted the name WHIRL-A-WAY! There were yellow paint scrapings all over the boat from the rubber tires on the dock that he painted yellow to match the color of the house. We used the boat a bit for a few years before taking it to nearby Lake Hopatcong for restoration by well known boat restorer Wayne Mocksfield. When we moved to Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire in 2007 we brought WHIRL-A-WAY to to a local restorer for a new 5500 bottom, varnish, bilge paint, etc.. We felt a little bad taking the oldest original Lake Mohawk boat away so in NH, when the gold leaf WHIRL-A-WAY was applied to the stern, we kept Lake Mohawk, NJ under her name as well as Lake Sunapee, NH. Some people said you can’t have two home ports but we wanted to keep her heritage in sight. Over the years WHIRL-A-WAY has been shown in many boat shows including NJ, NY, Boston and Salem, Mass., and NH, and has won numerous Antique and Original first places. Although we are now almost 80 and have retired WHIRL-A-WAY (she is just a bit older than us) from competition, we still enjoy our evening rides around Lake Sunapee and have had 47 great years with our barrel back and meeting such wonderful people from the ACBS community and patrons to the boat shows! Good luck with you 1940 Chris Craft!

    • Harry
      I’m 72 and looking for exactly that model CC.
      My boat would reside in mountain fresh waters in NC and SC.

      Should you wish to part with her, reach me thru ACBS Blue Ridge Chapter. (Southern Appalachia)
      Jeff Koysza

  2. My wife and I own a 1941 Christ-Craft Deluxe Barrel-back Runabout. Her hailing port is Lake Tahoe. I found her in a yacht brokerage in Newport Beach, California where we live. Like you I was aware of the saltwater affects on these classic wooden boats. “Miss Fallen Leaf”, her name, has never touched saltwater. And she is named after Fallen Leaf Lake located on the southwest shore of Lake Tahoe. She has won several awards at the Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance and best pre-war boat restoration at the International Antique and Classic Boat Society Boat Show in Lake Tahoe.

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