by Preston Smith member of Northern California/Lake Tahoe chapter

In 1998, I rescued this 1956 Chris-Craft, rotting away in a run-down slip in Norfolk, Virginia. She was shipped to California where the next three years she provided a home for hundreds of wasps.
Originally, I dreamed I would restore the big Utility himself but quickly set about finding the perfect craftsman to restore her. Then I found Dave Lobb at Northwest Classic Boats, right down from my office near Seattle.
For the next two years, Dave began the Extreme Makeover- the hull underwent intensive rehab. Design decisions had to be made. What color upholstery? Do we do black alligator trim? Then came the Big decision—a name.

I named her after a famous horse. Nautical, it was a blond and gold palomino pony that was a famous international jumper in the late 50’s and 60’s. Walt Disney made a movie about him called The Horse with the Flying Tail. The name seemed perfect—and Nautical she became.
Nautical was shown for the first time at the 2003 Concours d ’Elegance Wooden Boat Show on Lake Tahoe in August. She was primed and rubbed to a spotless shine and sat as proud as can be while she gracefully received flattering praises from the adoring public and a second-place trophy for the judges.
Nautical now lives in Lincoln, California, when she’s not taking her family and friends across the water ways of Northern California and attending the many ACBS events throughout the season.


  1. Ah, the black gator Tolex…how could you ever debate that? I consider that right up there with the seriously canted windshield. It was the sight of it, in pristene condition that triggered my 2014 purchase of my 1955 Continental, “Sterling, V,” because, of all the detail I recall about my Dad’s 1956 Continental, Sterling, IV, it was the stamped gator that imprintied my mind most. And it’s still remarkably resilient, even 60+ years later. Together with the gold Tolex, it is a prime example of mid-century auto/boat design. Beautiful craft

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