By William Goold, Smith Mountain Lake Chapter
Red Velvet is the name of a 17 foot Chris-Craft Sportsman. This Chris-Craft has lived almost all of its life on the fresh waters of Smith Mountain Lake, in Virginia. The 1956 mahogany and white oak boat has all of its original wood. The second owner of the boat wanted to change to a fiberglass boat, so he sold the wooden Chris-Craft to the present owner. The present owner and his good friend and dedicated ACBS member Don Smith were so excited about the purchase that they wanted to take it for a ride right away. Venturing out on the lake they realized they did not have a paddle, life jackets or any tools. This made for a very short boating experience. Don, said we are like newly weds that just could not wait to have fun.
The mahogany and white oak were in very good condition and did not need replacing. The chrome was also in good condition, the upholstery was not torn but used. The upholstery has been replaced with modern materials. Members of the local ACBS chapter arrived at the new owner’s lawn and work shop. The owner had laid out enough tires on the lawn so that the 17foot Sportsman could be rolled over.
Prior to the roll over the engine, fuel tank, windshield, floorboards and seats were removed. Using a home-made trailer, the boat was moved into the owners work shop. Once inside and lying upside down, the bottom was stripped, sanded and 2000E undercoat was applied. The bottom had dried out enough to allow the owner to peek between some of the planks and see the canvas type covering that was installed in 1956 between the inner bottom and the outer planks. Once the bottom refinishing was completed, it was time to call the local ACBS members to help turn over the boat. With the boat up right the varnish was carefully removed from the sides, transom and the decks. The seam caulking was removed and replaced with new white material. The owner likes the look of old caulking, so he varnished over the bright white caulking. With the varnish removed the wood was sanded, bleached, stained and covered with many coats of Captains varnish, sanding between coats. The 95 hp Hercules engine required a dress-up paint job. Maintenance parts (spark plugs, plug wires, oil, water pump impeller and one head gasket) were installed.
Red Velvet has been to North Carolina shows as well as Virginia shows where the boat has been presented awards. During the summer months the local ACBS chapter schedules weekly breakfast, lunch and dinner cruises. The ACBS owners drive their “woodies” to lake restaurants. Eleven “woodies” and 26 ACBS members attended the summer’s final cruise. This owners grandchildren enjoy riding in his 17foot Chris-Craft Sportsman. Sometimes the old grandad gets up on a pair of Cypress Garden water skis behind the Sportsman.