by David West member of the Northern California/Lake Tahoe chapter

West Winds, a 25′ Chris-Craft Sportsman, was manufactured and shipped from Chris-Craft on December 5, 1947, to Tahoe Boat Company. The hull card shows it was shipped without engine or propeller. At Tahoe Boat Company, Tahoe’s famed Dick Clark installed the Scripps Model 302 V-12 engine. It is extremely rare for a Chris-Craft to have a Scripps V-12 as it original power. The first owner was Rudolph Zimmerman of Tahoe’s West Shore and Tahoe Yacht Club commodore (1951-1952). Rudolph and wife Ruth combined their last name with the first two letters of her first name to give the boat the name ZIM-A-RU.

The boat’s second owner was Zimmerman’s friend, Howard Bloom. Howard named the boat Hobo, which was the combination of the first two letters of his name (HO) with the first two letters of the name Bob (BO), as in Bob Scherman, who was Howard’s brother-in-law. Beginning in the 50’s, Bloom kept the boat on Tahoe’s North Shore and towed countless youthful water skiers of the Lake Forest neighborhood, including the present owner’s older brother and cousins. Memories of Hobo have spawned legends passing through succeeding generations. In 1976, the boat was sold to Hobo Partnership and taken to South Lake Tahoe for continued enjoyment.

In June 2004, HOBO arrived back on the North Shore at Sierra Boat Company for disposition. Purchased in October of that year by David and Nancy West, the Sportsman remained warehoused until preservation/restoration began in the fall of 2005. The project at Sierra Boat Co. proceeded in successive stages under the direction of Pat Bagan, with Chris Brogna supervising the refinishing and Mike Boone attending to the mechanical work and rebuilding the Scripps V-12 engine. Upon completion, Hobo was renamed West Winds, the name of David’s California childhood home.

West Winds re-entered the water in June 2009, just in time for the 2009 Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance. Since then, she has been exhibited numerous times at the Tahoe Concours as well as at the 2016 ACBS International show, when it was given a Gold Award. But since 2009, West Winds has been enjoyed primarily as a “user boat” on Lake Tahoe … and will be for years to come.

9 Comments

  1. The West Winds has been a source of joy for many hours spent on Lake Tahoe over many summer visits with our dear friends, David and Nancy.
    It has become a wonderful part of our family’s memories.

    Bob and Han Ju

  2. What a beautiful boat the West Winds is! And the engine is so nice detailed. I wish this article let me listen to the sound of that awesome V-12

  3. Quite a tale and a wonderful restoration. Would you happen to have a photo of the V-12 Scripps out of the hull? It looks very compact in these photos, and I’d like to see it in all its glory!
    Thanks.

    • Ray,
      The engine was out of the hull during most of the restoration/preservation, but is was not very “photogenic” and I do not have any photos of it. But at 894 cu. in. displacement, it is by no means “compact”. The Tahoe Maritime Museum has had the same engine (Scripps, Model 302, V-12) on a floor display for many years. You might contact them to see if they have any photos of the displayed engine. But hurry because the museum is about to cease operations.
      David

  4. My grandfather bought Solray, a 1946 25′ Sportsman with a Scripps 208 hp 6-cylinder – the most powerful factory-installed engine available – delivered to Crate’s Marina, across the lake from our cottage on Lake Simcoe, north of Toronto. He loved having the handsomest, fastest and longest utility/runabout on the shore.
    Fifteen years later, in 1961, my grandfather decided to trade it in on a 37′ Chris Constellation and so he did, crossing back after the trade.
    Dinner that night was glum and nobody spoke until, as dessert was served, he stood up and announced to all that we were heading back across to reclaim our baby and that was that! We were now a two Chris family.
    As a kid, I thought Solray had an inline 12 as it sported twelve spark plugs and was this huge, long mass of green iron that clucked as it idled. Much later I learned that 12’s don’t cluck and that Scripps sixes employed two plugs per cylinder.
    Solray, unlike West Winds, has a starboard gangway which, based on prop rotation, is the wrong side as her pilot has to hike out over the starboard gunwale to counterbalance a full passenger load with seats biased to port, when underway. It looks sportingly cool, nonetheless! A lovely craft we still own, complete with four generations of treasured memories.

    • Michael,
      Marvelous 4-generation family history with memories, which I am sure remain vivid. And it is truly amazing that Solray has remained in the family for four generations! Thank you for sharing this history.

      In the last photo in the story above you can see across the boat show harbor a 1953 (?) 23′ Chris Craft express cruiser. That cruiser, the Bali Hai, was purchased new by my uncle and passed down to my cousin. For many years my uncle had been the Commander of the Coast Guard Auxiliary on Lake Tahoe, and the Bali Hai not only provided years of family fun but also lead search and rescue efforts on the lake. And for decades (1950s-1970s), the Bali Hai and West Winds (formerly Hobo), rode side-by-side on buoys on the north shore of Tahoe … in front of my uncle’s home and in front of the home of his summertime neighbor, who owned Hobo.

      Again, thank you for sharing a snippet of your family history with Solray.

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