by Mike Yancey member of the Heartland Classics chapter
Caravelle Boats began in 1966 and at the time were manufactured in Conway AR by Centark Industries which went out of business in 1982. However, the brand was resurrected, but financial issues resulted in another change in ownership in 2010, moving the company to Americus, GA where Caravelle boats are still being manufactured and sold today.
This Caravelle Stingray model 17.5′ fiberglass boat, manufactured in October 1979 with Serial Number CNH04434M79C equipped with a 165hp Mercruiser I/O was purchased in 1986 a few years after my parent’s Invader boat’s 65hp Evinrude outboard engine quit, leaving me boatless for approximately 7 years.
When looking for a boat, I called the seller of this Caravelle in Tulsa OK and received directions to go and look at it, but was having a bit of difficulty locating the house. Based on the look of the neighborhood, the asking price for the boat was more than the value of most of the houses, it seemed. As I was about to give up and head back home, I found it.
Overall it looked to be in good shape and the price was in my affordability range at the time. I learned that the person selling it had gone into bankruptcy and the house he was living in was one of his former rent houses, thus the questionable neighborhood and a boat.
I used the boat regularly and in the spring of 1991, discovered a leak in the transom where the outdrive was mounted. Upon further analysis, discovered the flooring was getting spongy, so it was time to do a major renovation. Removed everything and disconnected the top deck from the hull and set it to the side. Then removed the flooring, ground out the plywood stringers, using what was left as a pattern for new ones. Then had a local fiberglass fabricator make a new plywood transom and glass everything back together. I then had all the upholstery recovered and installed flooring and carpet. Effectively back to new condition.
The boat is used regularly for the last 25+ years, keeping it in a garage or carport and out of the weather. Original gelcoat still shines, however it may be time for another minor renovation soon as the upholstery is showing 25 plus years of wear.
The engine is all original, having never been rebuilt. With no hour meter, it is hard to say how many hours of use it has on it but still runs perfect. Both of my kids learned to water ski behind this boat, and are still doing so today as it is still the best water skiing boat in my fleet.