By Toni & Ruth Randi members of ACBS
My father could never keep his hands in his pockets at auctions. In 2008 he saw 2 boats for sale at an auction in Potsdam NY. He went over to inspect them and found a 1956 Chris Craft 17′ Sportsman and a 1930 Dodge Sweet 16 in fair condition but all original. Off he went to the auction and that part of him not keeping his hands in his pocket explains the rest.
He gifted the Chris-Craft to my wife for her 50th birthday and my older brother was the recipient of the Dodge. I had limited knowledge on restoring boats but was willing to learn. Over the next 7 years I completed the full restoration of the Chris-Craft (engine, bottom and wood) and my brother was hard working on the Dodge.
My brother lived on a bony stretch of the Grass River in New York. No place to run a beautiful piece of history.I offered to take the project off his hands and complete the restoration. We have a home on Tupper Lake with a boat house to protect this little beauty. The deal was completed with the clause he could take the boat back or use the runabout on Tupper for perpetuity. Whereas my brother impeccably completed the interior and exterior of the boat, the bottom still needed to be replaced (my dad repaired the bottom and things weren’t exactly done correctly, God rest his soul).
The engine still ran well. I’m sure the original Lycoming was rebuilt along the way. We kept the 8 volt system, replaced all the wiring and rebuilt the generator and redid the bottom with Honduran mahogany. My brother and I were looking forward to the maiden voyage when my wife met me at the front door and told me he passed in his sleep at 61. We never took that ride but we think of him and my father every moment we are running that boat. We call her Stella in memory of our 16 year old deceased Golden Doodle. She loved her afternoon cruises in the Dodge.
All the boaters on Tupper Lake take a double take when they see her cruising and we hope to show her next year. She is truly beautiful and part of our family.