By Kevin Stephani member of the Wine Country chapter
The wood boat bug bit me as a 10-year-old child in 1968 in dad’s 1958 Chris-Craft. Always taking a Monday morning fishing trip on Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey. A memory well cherished.
Fast forward to the summer of 1992 while as a newlywed, and vacationing on Keuka Lake in upstate New York. It happened to be wood boat week at that time, and early one morning, waking in our cottage rental, I heard that unmistakable sound of a wooden boat runabout rumbling by. It had awakened that childhood memory from the summer of ’68, except then I told my wife I was going to own one of those someday.
Six years later, in 1998, now with a young family and a lot of coaxing and convincing of my wife we purchased a 1948 Sea Maid. Not quite understanding the adventure ahead of me personally, the excitement of putting the family in the boat, seeing that she was taking more water on than she could pump, it was apparent that we had a project boat.
So, in the winter of 1998 thru the summer of 2000, our Sea Maid had her bottom refastened and her deck frames and deck replaced. Finally, a summer vacation that we could enjoy our Sea Maid on the water. That deep throaty sound, and that ride that seduces the soul, it truly brought the family together wanting to ride, fish, jump in and swim around her.
Most of the work had been done by myself. There were many long nights in the garage until one or two in the morning working on the boat. There was a deep sense of satisfaction and accomplishment in doing this wooden boat project. My children would check in on progress once in awhile, while my wife called it my “affair”. I did name the boat after my daughter, Kayla’s, nickname, Sweet Pea.
Now here we are in 2020 and Sweet Pea is once again in a boat repair shop getting a full bottom frame and board replacement. She will be ready once more to run the waters of Keuka Lake this summer safely with confidence and style. My daughter is in college now and our son just graduated and is gainfully employed. The reward is both children long to spend as much time as possible on Keuka Lake with Sweet Pea. For them, developing an appreciation for a piece of American. Maritime history and enjoying it. Did Kevin and Glenda sow the seed of preserving history, the love and satisfaction of passing on this piece of wooden boat history? Time will tell. What do you think?