By David and Deborah Clark, Southern California Chapter
In the summer of 2003 I was invited to Homosassa, Florida, to inspect and evaluate the classic car collection of Dr. Donald Vesley. He had recently passed away and his longtime girlfriend, Linda was handling the estate. After viewing the cars, Linda asked me to also look at his classic boat collection. I asked if any of the runabouts were for sale. One thing led to another and we ended up purchasing six of the eight mahogany boats. The six boats were as follows:
- 1926 Hacker, 26ft triple cockpit.
- 1940 Chris-Craft, 19ft barrelback.
- 1935 Garwood Speedster.
- 1947 Western Fairliner Torpedo.
- 1931 Dodge 21A double cockpit.
- 1941 Chris-Craft Hydroplane.
When my wife, Deborah and I returned to San Diego, we realized that buying the boats was the easy part. Transporting the six boats and two spare motors, from Florida back to San Diego, was going to be the hard part. To save time and money, we hired a truck that could carry five of the six boats, the sixth boat was traded immediately. We also needed to hire a crane to lift the boats by straps and set them on cradles. This took about 8 hours, both in Florida and San Diego. All five boats were put in our warehouse and we started the process of cleaning them. The boats were filthy from their travels, including a layer of white powder from driving through construction sites.
Next, we had to investigate what we had actually purchased, something we should have done prior to buying them. After many hours of phone calls, we had a very good idea of the history of these boats. The boats we still had questions on were- The Garwood Speedster, many replicas had been produced. The Chris-Craft Hydroplane, we had never seen a 16ft Hydroplane. And, the Dodge 21A, a very rare runabout, which was the most photographed boat in the Dodge book.
We called Dave Lobb in Seattle, and sent him photos of all six boats. Remarkably, he had done restorations on two of the boats. He recognized the Dodge 21A by its name, R-U-Serious. He said it was a very original, and solid boat prior to the restoration. The second boat was the 1941 Hydroplane, which was sent to Seattle back in 1941, where it spent most of its days. The Hydroplane, he stated, was restored, but most of the boat is still original. He also recognized its name, Cheers.
We spoke to him about the Garwood Speedster as well. He stated that all remaining speedsters were accounted for and it was more than likely that ours was a replica, but suggested I call Tony Mollica, as he had all of the original serial numbers for the speedsters produced in 1935. Tony received our photos, and the serial numbers of our boat, which we found on the seat bottoms, and seat backs, etc. Tony said this was absolutely an original speedster. He said that our speedster, along with two others, were sold in 1941, and all three went to Ohio. The interesting thing is, the seat backs on our boat had different numbers than the numbers found elsewhere on the boat. Tony said the seat backs on these three boats had been removed, and the seat back in our boat belonged to one of the other three boats. We now have a certificate of authenticity for our speedster.
We still have four of the boats in our possession, we’ve had all the boats for twenty years, and we will probably find new custodians for them in the near future.
We hope you enjoyed the story and photos of our adventure, and Happy Boating!