By Mike Schillizzi, Director Lake Hopatcong Chapter

I first got started admiring and enjoying boating with a Chris-Craft from my cousin’s father. He had three….a 1955 18’ Sportsman, a ‘63 23’ Skiff, and a 61’ 17’ ski boat which he gave to my father in 1967. It needed a bit of engine work which we got done and used that boat up until 1973. My father then sold it and bought a Thompson Chris-Craft outboard which got plenty of use on our lake.

Later on through the years I had a few fiberglass boats on my own, but I once told my bride that I would own a Chris-Craft by the time I was age 50.

In 2003 I built a 14’ wooden boat with my son, and it had an 8 hp outboard on it. I had printed plans to build an 18’ replica of a Chris-Craft. But I started going to the Main Lake Market on weekend mornings to get coffee. I noticed a few Chris-Crafts were there from time to time. It ended up being Bob Rice, Seth Katz, Mike Smith and some others that were also there getting coffee. I always listened and got in a few conversations with them about my outboard. I mentioned that I was going to build a replica of a Chris-Craft, and Seth asked why would you want to have a replica when you could have an original one. Seth added, find one, restore it, and it will be worth more than a replica, and you will have an original.

I took Seth’s advice, found a 1957 17’ Chris-Craft Sportsman in Akron, Ohio, and brought it home. I read a lot and started taking it apart to restore it. It took me three years to complete, just in time for our show in June 2010, and I turned 50 years old in August of that year. I named my first Chris-Craft, “Nut Tonight”.
We enjoyed that boat until I found a 1959 20’ Sportsman in Wisconsin which I picked up and brought home. Since I had other projects underway…building a porch on our shore house, this boat took four years to complete. I completed the restoration three years ago and am enjoying this boat even more. With the name, “Cody Brooke”, on the transom, look for me on the lake, give a wave, and enjoy the ride with us on our great lake.

Cody Brooke was also featured in the Fall edition of The Brass Bell magazine in 2020.


  1. Beautiful!…We also had (Chris boats…but the OTHER kind, LOL…2 Commanders, and a magnificent 58′ aluminum ROAMER (USCG-Certificated for 49+Crew).

  2. I’ve had Thompsons and I’ve had Chris Crafts, but had never heard of a ‘Thompson Chris-Craft outboard’ until reading this. Is this a typo or did the companies get together to make a boat? Please explain.

  3. Chris Craft bought the Thompson Boat Company of NY and from 1963 until 1965 made several sizes of wooden boats mainly based on Thompson hull designs. They made a few changes to windshield, furniture, paint, etc. over their 3 years of manufacture. They would these as Thompson by Chris Craft. The hulls included Thompson badging and the dashboards has a Chris Craft logo. Chris Craft started production of their fiberglass Corsair line and discontinued the wood boats after 1965. I have a 17 foot 1964 Thompson by Chris Craft and often get questions on the dual name.

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