by Cindy Jordan member of the NC Coastal & Piedmont chapter
Driving down Main Street in Sylva, North Carolina we saw a for sale sign on this little wooden boat. Stopping for a closer look, we quickly called to learn more. We made an offer and it was accepted! We were now the owners of a 1952 Chris-Craft 14′ Deluxe Runabout Kit Boat with a 1958 35hp Evinrude Lark Outboard Motor, in original condition.
The following original items were included: 1952 Tee Nee trailer; boat registration; trailer title; Evinrude Lark Electric models 35514-35515 35 Quite Horsepower owner’s manual; Evinrude installation and operating instructions for Simplex Remote Control; Evinrude “how to” book of water skiing; Chris-Craft Outboard boat hardware and supplies catalog; skis; tow Ropes; Fenders; Tool Set; and a Taylor Made Deluxe White Vinyl Holiday convertible “boatop” still in the box – never installed.
We contacted and have met Mrs.Barbara Alexander, the widow of the boat builder, Robert Eugene Alexander. She was delighted by our excitement. Robert passed away in 2000, a few years later she sold the boat. At 18, Robert enlisted in the US Navy and was a Veteran of WWII, assigned to the USS Minivet, a Minesweeper. On December 29, 1945 the ship struck a mine and sank. Thirty-one men lost their lives. Robert was one of sixty sailors who survived. As an accolade to Robert’s service and craftsmanship, my husband named the boat the Admiral Alexander. We’ve also met Robert’s sister, Nancy Monteith and they have graciously shared stories and photos.
Locating the original advertisements and building instructions at the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia, we learned the boat was a “One of a Kind.” Seven years after being discharged from the Navy, Robert had the desire to own a wooden boat, but being on a tight budget at 26 years of age, he chose to build his own boat. He used artistic license, making many changes to the Chris-Craft plans. The first motor Robert had was a 25 hp Johnson outboard. As funds became more available, he upgraded to the current motor, added the windshield, and built the heavy duty battery box. Later he built a garage where he stored the boat.
Joining the RDC Antique and Classic Boat Society and the Chris-Craft Boat Club, we have taken the Admiral to shows in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. We have won the following awards: Best Classic Power Outboard 2009 & 2010; People’s Choice 2009 & 2010; Best Outboard 2010 & 2011; and Best Classic Outboard 2016.
Since losing my husband to cancer in 2012, I kept “The Admiral”, continuing to show her with help from family and friends. Our club created an annual award called the Spirit of Cal Jordan Award, to memorialize Cal and his love of wooden boats. It’s given to the member who most resembles Cal’s spirit and passion for wooden boats, shows and our club.