by Dave Gordon member of the Allegheny chapter
As I drove across a bridge over the Allegheny River during the Easter weekend of 1995, I noticed a large old boat sitting inside a steel mill building below. When I inquired about the boat, the owner was more than eager to sell, as he stated that he was going to burn the boat in a week or two to make space in the mill. The sum of $2000 dollars was determined by what the owner thought the original Crusader 327s and the generator might bring. She had a yard trailer under her and after a few repairs to it, I had it towed to my future home site. I built my home first and then turned my attention to the boat in 1996. At first I thought I would do modest repairs, but after a good survey, I decided to make a full restoration project of her.
I adopted a zero rot strategy that involved steam bending over 20 new frames, hundreds of board feet of mahogany planking, new decking, new cabin sides, new windshields and just about everything else. The engines were rebuilt, new flooring, new wiring, new upholstery, new plumbing and seven coats of Flagship varnish on the outside and five coats on the inside. The hull was re-caulked, sanded then painted and VC17 was applied below the water line. I worked on this boat full time in the summers as I was a school teacher and had the time off. I worked on the project at least a couple of hours every day, including holidays, during the six years and the estimated 3000 hours and $27,000 it took to restore her. She was breathtaking with her classic Down East design and looking like brand new.
We launched the boat in the summer of 2002. It caused quite a stir among the boating enthusiasts in the local boating community. We christened her Sheri Lin (after my wife) during a ceremony that involved champagne and bagels with cream cheese for all who attended.
My wife, myself and friends have been on many adventures with the boat. It has taken us up and down Allegheny, down the Ohio and up the Monongahela rivers. We have given hundreds of people rides, have fished her often, but mostly, we enjoy kicking back on her during warm summer nights where it’s cool and peaceful.
The old girl still has a couple of good years left in her that my wife and I intend on using. Though, as I get older and the boat is always in need of repair, (it’s the nature of the beast), I hope to find a nice lot near water somewhere in my area and turn her into a unique camp. I could build a roof over her and she could last for a long time after I’m gone. If anyone would like to know more, I wrote a chapter in a book with Stan Grayson called Restore Your Wooden Boat, How To Do It By Those Who’ve Done It. She also appeared in the launching section of the August 2003 Wooden Boat magazine as well as a small article in The Pa. Angler and Boater in January 2003.