by Kent & Audrey Lewis members of the Sunnyland chapter
A few years back we were looking for a small boat for short cruises around our bay in Northwest Florida. We wanted a boat that could carry 4 adults and we liked the lapstrake look that was popular in the 1950s. We began our search and soon found a candidate on ebay but we were not familiar with the name Sorg. We contacted the seller Keith and we were pleased to find that his hobby was restoring vintage boats, and he had found a Sorg hull in good condition near St. Clair, with no trailer or motor. He filled us in on some of the history of Sorg, their factory was on Grand River Avenue in Detroit, Michigan. Harry C. Sorg was the Sales Manager and Theodore Drake the designer, the company had begun business in partnership as Drake-Sorg, manufacturing duck boats in 1927 and expanding to small boats and sailboats in 1931. In the 1950s they ventured into the lapstrake runabout market and they built our 15′ Rough Water Boat in 1959. Sorg closed their doors on Grand River Avenue in the 1960s.
The Sorg 15 Runabout is similar in shape to the 15′ Lyman, except the Sorg has fewer strakes. The planking is Douglas Fir Plywood over oak frames, fastened with countersunk screws from the outside, so no fasteners show from outside or inside. The stringers, keel and transom are also oak. Keith replaced the foredeck with nice mahogany plywood and refinished the amazing mahogany windscreen frame. The interior, transom and deck were coated with SIkkens Cetol Marine and the planks were painted with Rustoleum Marine Topside Oyster White. Keith brought the Sorg down to Nashville on a vintage Tee-Nee trailer, we passed the burgee there, and our new Sorg named WILLOW followed us down to Pensacola, Florida.
We chose to re-power our Sorg with a 4 stroke Suzuki 25hp motor, so we could enjoy its quiet reliability on the remote corner of our bay. Gary, the owner of our local Suzuki dealership, personally did the installation of the propulsion, steering and electrical systems. We also had a galvanized drop frame trailer built by Eddie, who has been in the boat trailer business for over 30 years. The Sorg has a nice step through on the forward bench, we built a new back for the middle folding seat and gathered all the required safety equipment. We took her out for sea trials, she will touch 25mph on smooth water with a crew of two, and she will plane and get up to 22mph with 4 on board. Her best cruising speed is around 6mph though, a relaxing pace where quiet conversations can take place. Her longest run to date has been a 32 mile round trip to Milton, Florida and her favorite trip is to poke her nose into the nearby bayou and go under our neighborhood bridge, looking for heron.
WILLOW was named in a nod to Kenneth Grahame’s famous book The Wind In the Willows, the Skipper reports aboard as Sea Rat and I am Mole. We have a great time cruising for dolphins in WILLOW and enjoy watching the pelican, eagle and osprey from our Rough Water Boat.