by Gene Porter member of the Lake Champlain chapter

My 1959 23’ Lyman Sleeper started life as a fishing boat on the brackish Elk River at the North end of Chesapeake Bay. The fisherman had installed bait wells in place of the rear seat and had sprayed the decks with automotive undercoating to provide underfoot traction. I found the boat at a used furniture dealer’s lot outside Philadelphia. I was seeking to upsize from my 19’ Lyman Runabout to better handle the bigger water of Lake Champlain to where I was shifting the focus of my boating circa 1998.

After two years of pressure from an athwartship strap and come-along, the hull shape had been restored to the point that Andoscoggin Boat Works in Wayne Maine could make short work of redecking what was now True North- a name chosen long before the current commercial usage and consistent with my strong geographic preferences. With the help of fellow Lymaniacs in the newly-formed New England Lyman Group, I built a new rear seat and installed pre-varnished ceiling boards that I had ripped from some very nice exotic South American mahogany-like hardwood decking. This saved many many hours of scraping and refinishing the inboard hull strakes.

The ensuing two decades of adventures included both Champlain- based cruises to Montreal and New York City and distant trips to the ACBS show at Bay Harbor, MI and occasional alligator and manatee cruises with the Sunnyland Chapter’s St Johns River flotilla.

But It hasn’t been all wine and roses. Primarily due to my failure to pay enough attention to the details needed to keep three successive old engines running well, I recently gave up and installed a new V-8. It was great to be able to cruise my boyhood boating territory in the Thousand Islands with confidence at the ACBS’s 2019 Annual show and meeting.

True North is once again in brackish water during the boating season. Moored in a fishing boat marina on the lower Saco River, we are well positioned for the endless cruising opportunities along Maine’s picturesque coast.

7 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing a fabulous story about saving this beautiful Lyman, and your determination to do so!
    Sorry I missed the Alexandria Bay show….see you in Burlington in 2021!

  2. Hi Gene, Quite a tale. Any pictures of how badly the hull had sagged/bowed? Was this from improper storage support or something the fisherman had encouraged? Beautiful rig now.

  3. Gene – Very nice story about rescuing a boat. I was wondering what engine you re-powered True North with and whether you had to modify the engine box. I have a 1960 23′ Lyman sleeper that I keep on Lake George in NY. It has the original Gray Marine engine and I know at some point I will need to re-power it. Any information will be greatly appreciated. Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. A nice story and a great boat. Please consider bringing it to the Les Cheneaux Islands Antique Boat Show this year on August 8. We will be featuring Lapstrake Boats

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