by Michael Wetzel member of the Finger Lakes chapter
In the summer of 2015 we finished our new boat house on Skaneateles Lake, complete with 2 boat bays; one the standard 10’ wide for modern boats and one 8’ wide for a wooden boat. The problem was we didn’t own a wooden boat. In fact, we had never owned one, and had never ridden in one either! But for the longest time I’ve adored them and knew that someday that we would. Having an empty slip in a new boathouse, for a boat we didn’t own, provide the motivation I needed to get started!
The first stop in my learning tour was the annual boat show in Clayton, NY. There I had the opportunity to see all forms of antique and modern replicas, in the water and out of the water. I also met a salesperson from Antique Boat America, who informed me he had the perfect boat for me at his nearby warehouse. After seeing the boat in person and realizing I didn’t know enough to judge its condition, I called in my friend, who has numerous antique boats, to have him look at it for me. He confirmed my suspicion, she was a great boat and I should make an offer, so I did. Less than a week after starting my search I had found our boat.
Of course, the offer wasn’t accepted. Turns out this boat was owned by the Clayton Antique Boat museum; ABA was selling it for them. What I was told was that the museum had decided to “thin” its collection of Chris Crafts to bring in more boats from other manufacturers (Hacker, Lyman, etc). They had since found someone that wanted to trade a Hacker for this Chris Craft, so they decided to pursue that path instead of considering my offer.
Not a big deal, it only took a few days to find that boat, surely there must be plenty of other options out there! Over the balance of the summer I looked at many, many boats, even made a few offers. But with every boat I looked at, I found myself always comparing to the first boat I lost. I never came across something that quite matched up to that Chris Craft. Summer ended and our boat slip sat empty.
Then in mid-November I got a phone call, the deal the museum had for the trade fell through and the museum wanted to know if I was still interested in purchasing their boat. Absolutely! My only contingency was a marine survey and sea trial, keep in mind it was November on the Saint Lawrence Seaway. But it turned out to be a fantastic day, sunny and warm (with a ski hat, winter parka and gloves that is!), for my first ever ride in a classic wooden beauty that I would take home at the end of the day. It continues to be one of the most enjoyable investments we have ever made!