By Ken and Cynthia Miller, Blue Ridge Chapter
July 2018, while RVing in New Hampshire, we heard about ”The 18th Annual Vintage Boat and Car Auction” at New Hampshire’s Boat Museum in Wolfeboro. Sounded fun, so we attended and enjoyed the day. Afterwards, we started searching for similar events. We found “The 54th Annual Antique Boat Show” would be held August 3-5, 2018 in Clayton, New York. We travel without an itinerary, so it was an easy decision to head for Clayton.
We became new members of the Clayton Museum and enjoyed the area, boat show and auction. We were bitten by the antique wood boat bug. Once home, we started reading about wood boats. Our goal: go to Clayton’s 2019 auction and score a boat. Auction day 2019, we were there, bidder number in hand. We set maximum bids for three boats of interest to us. First boat…bidding quickly went over our maximum. The second boat was a re-powered 1948 Chris Craft Deluxe Runabout. She was one of two runabouts previously owned by the Viking Resort Hotel, Keuka Lake, NY. She laid up for a number of years until being operated in 2017 and 2018, on Canandaigua Lake, NY.
Just before bidding began, we realized bidding date was 08-03-2019 and Cindy’s lucky number throughout her life has been 803. So, of course we were successful, and as a result named our runabout “Had To Be”. We used her through the summer of 2019. But, she needed work. She was sanded and varnished in February 2020 by the Neffs in Milledgeville, Georgia. The upholstery was beautifully redone in March 2020 by Jorge, Tin Lizzies, Brunswick, Georgia. We didn’t use a 1948 Chris Craft color (Navy, Crimson, Green). We redid ours in a light beige marine vinyl. We know “purists” may disagree with our color choice. But, “Had To Be” is on the water being used frequently and the dark seats were hot on bare legs.
In April 2020, the original gauges were retrofit to 12 volts by Clawson Instrumentation, Anacortes, WA. We moved the gauges back to their original dash places, removing them from an aluminum panel added by a prior owner. She looks great and we get so many thumbs up, waves, and honks when out cruising. At our home dock, boaters often cruise by slowly to check her out. Yes, our runabout truly “Had To Be” on 8/03!