Posts Tagged ‘antique classic boat show’

Gar Wood and Chris Craft

Gar Wood started in his winning ways on the water with the purchase of the 1916 successful Gold Cup race boat that was “a broken, battered hulk after the race, fit only for junk” put up for sale by Chris Smith, 53, who was down to seven cents in his pockets after losing in a poker game. Gar paid for the hunk with a $1,000 down payment and a note for $800.

That racer, Miss Detroit, had been built by Chris from a design by Joseph Napoleon “Nap” Lisee, who worked for Chris Smith’s C.C. Smith Boat & Engine Company. Right after buying the boat and engine of Miss Detroit, he went to the Smith factory and brought controlling interest in it. He figured that he could keep others from racing against him via this investment as it came with the talent of Chris Smith, his sons, Jay and Bernard, and “Nap”.

Next he commissioned the building of Miss Detroit II, a new race boat, using the 250 Hp. engine from the original hunk of Miss Detroit. That new boat set a speed record of 61.724 MPH while racing the next year. The first photo shows the 20’ single step 250 Hp. Miss Detroit II with Jay .W. Smith as the riding mechanic.

miss detroit chris craft 1917 record breaking wood race boat

seabuddy's photo of the Mainer's Museum Chris Craft photo

Together, Chris Smith, “Nap”, and Gar Wood won 5 straight Gold Cups from 1917-1921 and 2 Harmsworth trophies in 1920 and 1921.

But by February of 1922, Smith bought out Gar Wood and started a new company, the Chris Smith & Sons Boat Company in a new location. Chris, his sons Jay, Bernard, and Owen each owned 25% of that boat building company and started fresh with a new piece of land and and they built a brand new factory on it. In the deal, Gar Wood got the old C.C. Smith &Engine Company boat building plant. He built his race boats, the 33’ “Baby Gar” runabout that had been developed by “Nap” while still at the old company, high performance cabin cruisers, and the 28’ Baby Gar runabout model.

The 33’ Baby Gar was a outstanding design. It was a good riding, safe runabout that was a triple (3) cockpit boat and it’s bottom used all of the characteristics of the his Miss Americas race boats with the step. Gar Wood sold his boats to Edward Noble, William Randolph Hearst, John Dodge, Col. Vincent and P. K. Wrigley. The Chris Smith and Sons Boat Company sold more wooden boats to a broader range of successful folks.

These boats soon outgrew the boat building production plant. Thus, Gar Wood Boats moved into a new factory in Marysville, MI in 1930. This plant was capable of making 1200 top shelf wooden boats per year. Now 22’, 40’, 28’, 33’ boats were made. Some of these lengths were offered in a variety of model configurations. Later 16’, 18’, 19’, 22.5′, 24’, 32’, and 25’ models were added. Production of boats for Gar Wood peaked just before W.W. II.

Gar Wood, himself, retired to Miami at the age of 60, and the new management of Gar Wood Industries ordered a restyle of the boat line up and engaged Norman Bel Geddes, a noted industrial designer, for a new post war feeling.

post w.w. II bright finished wooden runabout on the chesapeake bay

Show winning 1947 Gar Wood 22.5' wood runabout

With high new design and jig costs, quality wood shortages, hardware out-of-stocks, and a somewhat distant management running the company, the company closed down in 1947. My Seabuddy photos show a restored 1947 Gar Wood 22.5’ wood boat in the brackish waters of the Chesapeake Bay. She is an ACBS award winner down from CT.

1971 Critchfield

This is a fully restored 15’ outboard boat that is powered by a 1970 Mercury Marine 1350. She is a show quality boat that represents the “top dog” type of outboard boat in Florida at that time. She is finished in her original color and sports all the right stuff in period correct rigging, steering, gauges, and seating. The owner did a very nice job, and she draws crowds.

fiberglass outboard boat photo image mercury marine classic restored

This boat is refinished in her original color

She is also a speed demon up and down the ICW route that runs along the east coast of mid-Florida, just south of Merritt Island and Space Coast. One ”flys” a vee bottom outboard like this, with the bow trimmed high, well out of the water, with as little of the hull in the water as possible. After all, air presents less resistance than water!

Critchfield was a racer turned boat builder. He first built boats around the late 1950s out of wood in Orlando, FL. He moved his boat plant to Avon Park, FL (near Sebring, FL). He was big in Avon Park. He had several models of boats and occupied a 110,000 square foot factory.

By 1973, it was over for Critchfield. He sold the operation, building, and his boat molds to Wellcraft Marine. They built 16 and 18 foot family runabouts of their own design in that plant. As a Wellcraft dealer, I was flown to this plant to see some of my boat stores most popular models in the early 1980s in their production home.

Wellcraft sold the Critchfield boat molds to Bill Farmer. Farmer later moved onto his Excalibur Marine boats in the 30-31 and 40 foot sizes. The Farmer 31’ was a Jean-Claude Simon (Cary Marine) hull. He sold the few first production 31’ to Chris Craft, where they met with dealer acceptance and Chris Craft then bought molds to make their own. He also sold a 31 boat to Reggie Fountain who re-did the boat bottom, changed the engine’s drive heights, re-worked the props to work with the new drive heights and stretched the nose and tail to make the mightily Fountain 35. That boat bottom was the foundation of Fountain Power Boats.

cockpit outboard racer 1971 restored classic

note the seating


bottom detail of outboard race boat classic restored

note the good amount of vee to the bottom shape


Gentleman’s Classic Outboard Runabout

chris craft james craft kit boat

She is a fun ride!


This is a Chris Craft – kit boat version. About 345 lbs. of speedboat in fewer than 14 feet. She is powered by a period correct Mark 55 Mercury Outboard of 40 Horsepower. She is just been restored in April of 2013 but this model was offered by Chris Craft back in the 1950s.

She is a great ride for the Captain and his passenger. Sporty, stable, and quick to maneuverer, this is a boat one launches for a fun time on the water. It is compact luxury craft that draws friendly smiles for her classic bright-finished good looks.

Her period correct Mercury Marine 4 cylinder outboard has been rebuilt by a pro and starts easily. It is the top power for the 13 1/2’ long boat. She is an opportunity to experience the classic wood boat life in a beautiful product of Chris Craft engineering.

In the restoration, this boat’s owner took advantage of all of today’s boat building materials. All the wood was sealed with Smith’s CPES and the joints of bronze and Stainless Steel bolts and screws were further strengthened with West System products. First class, top-of-the-line parts combined with a critical design eye and excellent skill towards making her a real beauty either on her trailer or out on the water is reflected the first time anyone sees her.

Boats like this Chris Craft were sold by them as complete kits in a box and this one was located already assembled, but in need of a complete restoration. That restoration took several years, not months. One just needs to see her now to enjoy classic boating at its best. She is the winner of the Best Outboard Boat at this year’s big Annual Antique and Classic Boat Society Show and Festival in St. Michaels, MD.

james craft runabout outboard boat photo image

She has storage under the rear deck


chris craft james craft kit boat model classic boat photo image

Note the level of finish inside this boat


chris craft kit boat outboard runabout boat photo image

Top level finish!

Seventh report, Sunnyland ACBS Antique and Classic Boat Show, Tavares, Florida, Chris Craft Cobra

One of the most recognizable “wow” boats ever offered for sale is the Cobra by Chris Craft. Chris Craft made this one model its image boat in the mid-1950s.

chris craft cobra classic boat photo image tail fin wood mahogany planked

The tail fin makes this Chris Craft classic Cobra boat model

Ever since Chris Craft figured out how to make money in a nation-wide depression economy every year since 1936, they then wanted to be THE boat builder for every man, woman, and family in the world. In a very wide mix of boat models, one boat model was selected to lead in its lust factor.

chris craft cobra script tail fin

close-up of the script on the tail fin

The profit from other models would cover whatever this one would cost. This one was the one that should turn heads on the water or at a boat show. Women remembered it. Kids stopped in their tracks when they saw one and talked about it. Men wanted it.

chris craft cobra classic wood boat photo image

fully restored and a real "looker"

For the underwater hull shape, Chris Craft used the same naval architectural lines of one of their existing boat models as the running surface.  They had already sold 503 of those hulls.

chris craft cobra dash wood classic runabout boat photo image

note the alligator texture touches in the cockpit

To that underwater running surface they crafted a sleek, stretched, curvy bright finished planked mahogany boat that started at the bow as high, wide, and bold and then  tapered aft to nothing. Next, Chris Craft took out the back seat. Then they added a “Chris Craft” gold fin. Finally, they added alligator upholstery touches. Like seabuddy said, it is a “wow” design themed boat.

chris craft cobra long deck boat model photo image

Just look at the finish of this boat, top shelf, in seabuddy's book

She was a 20’, 10” boat with only one seat, so naturally they put a big, loud, and bold 200 horsepower Hemi Chrysler in most of them. A few Chris Craft Cobras topped that engine with an even more powerful 285 horsepower Cadillac Crusader from Detroit car dealer Cal Connell. Only ten of the 55-56 boats built had Chris Craft six cylinder engines in them.

chris craft cobra wood planked boat model photo image

single cockpit seating


Figure on 45-50 MPH speeds out of a Hemi powered boat. Add another five MPH for boats powered with the dual four barrel Cadillac 285 engine.

chris craft cobra engine wood runabout planked mahogany boat image photo

restored engine classic chris craft cobra wood runabout boat photo image

Sunnyland ACBS Boat Show on Lake Dora in Tavares, Florida sixth report

A classic fiberglass hot rod go-fast sport boat from the 1950s this time. She is one wild looking, curvaceous fiberglass catamaran powered by two “Tower of Power” six cylinder 100 horsepower Mercury Marine outboards. She is now fully restored and is ready to tear up the lakes of the nation’s waterways.

fiberglass boat antique and classic boat photo image

bow photo of Cat hull classic

Early fiberglass classic examples of hot boats are rare. Seabuddy has never before seen one of these boats before this year’s Sunnyland ACBS boat show. Let alone, a ready to blast off example of one restored with the power and set-up that matches the 1959 Mercury Marine test report specs. See my photo here from that report. She is not over-restored, just a late 1950s rig brought back to as first-sold condition by an expert fiberglass boat loving owner.

classic fiberglass boat restored

Note the classic dash and gauges

Mercury got 43.9 MPH out of this boat in their Lake X boat test report published in 1959 when loaded down for a four person weight loading. 46.9 MPH with only a driver on board. These performance numbers were after setting and propping the engines in the best position on the boat, including the tilt pin hole (no power trim on these classic engines). Remember, those Boat House Bulletins? Many boats were boat tested in fair, actuate boat tests using Mercury Outboard power that covered a broad spectrum of power boating.

fiberglass outboard boat boat photo image

twin tower of power Mercury Marine outboards

A Samoan boat model built by the South Seas Boat Company of Lake Helen, Florida is a 16’ 10” long fiberglass cat with a beam of 94”. Think of a boat-only weight of 728 lbs. To that, add the weight of the engines, rigging, fuel, gear, batteries, and passengers. This one heart stopping boat in my book!

mercury marine boat house boat photo

1959 photo from mercury marine boat house report

Classic Chris Craft modified wood raceboat from Lake Dora, Mount Dora, Tavares Antique and Classic Boat Show 5th report

Sleeper is an antique and classic planked mahogany wooden runabout that has been modified into a race boat by Harold Bauer. She has a 1955 to 1966 racing career over which she was regional high points champion 4 times. This is a boat that raced against Curt Brayer and his Dancing Bear and Forest Johnson and his Prowlers in the F Service Runabout class.

chris craft racing runabout wood antique and classic boat image photo

unrestored Chris Craft twin cockpit wood boat modified for racing years ago

She is a hard riding, porpoising, but fast race boat. While top speeds were over 70 MPH, her crew reported peeing blood after a race. Powered by a 95 horsepower straight shaft inboard by Chris Craft when she was built in 1931, she was re-powered as a racing boat Chris Craft. First Buick, then 390 Ford engines got the boat’s speed up. These engines were moved aft within the hull, a Casalle V-drive installed with a jack shaft to a Borg Warner transmission, a Cary two blade propeller selected, and the two cockpits relocated into forward dual cockpits with bucket seats for both the driver and the riding mechanic, a fuel tank was located under the fore deck, and the hull was fiberglassed. So seabuddy labels her both a wood and a fiberglass antique and classic boat.

chris craft racing runabout transom wooden planked mahogany antique and classic

Note how much wider she is at the chines, which was an owner addition for racing

The boat also had her structure strengthened with extra bracing, while her chines were really widened (see seabuddy’s photo), and a cavitation plate was added for stability and control. This Chris Craft racing runabout is not a Chris Craft Racing Runabout model, she was a standard production pleasure boat modified by her owner.

chris craft racing runabout 390 ford engine f service runabout

Ford 390 vee-drive re-located aft engine


Classic Wooden Boat powered by a Classic Outboard Sunnyland Show Report Mount Dora, Traverses, Lake Dora Four

Not! This a new boat built by Aristo Craft and powered by a new four stroke 40 horsepower Yamaha customized with a 1960 Evinrude Starflite Cowl. The boat is made with the old tooling and materials and in the old way. The motor is a modern one fitted with a hand crafted engine cover that matches the needs of a four stroke on its inside and shows the lines of an old vee block two stroke Evinrude on its  outside (public) shell.

classic outboard cover evinrude

underside showing Yamaha inside / classic Evinrude Starflite outside

An Aristo Craft Torpedo is a wood 13’ 9” by 5’ outboard fun dual cockpit classic ribbon grained mahogany runabout. It and its sister ship, the Typhoon, were made by the Atlanta Boat Works since about 1946. Wood boat construction was replaced by fiberglass boats around 1959.

yamaha four stroke outboard with a Evinrude Starflite cowl cover

Looks like an Evinrude Starflite Cowl hiding a new four stroke Yamaha outboard

Using the same boat building plant, the manufacturing tools were changed, the production lines were ajusted, and the boat models were completely changed. BTW, The famous fiberglass model was a 19 foot inboard outboard (I/O) model often shown with a hardtop. Seabuddy remembers those boat ads, too. It was a roomy family runabout, not a sportster runabout, which is what I would label the Torpedo model boat. Fiberglass boat production ended in 1980.

wooden classic ribbon grain mahogany dual cockpit runabout outboard

new Aristo Craft outboard boat powered by a four stroke Yamaha made to look like a evinrude

Now, Bill Turner, son of the company founder, Claude Turner, will make you a new one. He makes them one at a time.  His wood Torpedo updated only where the Coast Guard rules require changes. Your boat is built on the original jigs. And with the same aluminum hardware which is cast and hand polished to match what was done in 1956.

name decal aristo craft wooden outboard runabout

The detailing is perfect down to the Decals and hardware

Sunnyland Classic Boat Show, Mt. Dora, Tarveres, Lake Dora Boat Show Report

Here are a few seabuddy photos of an early Slickcraft outboard powered boat built by Leon Slikkers from the Sunnyland classic boat show. . He is the founding family member of Tiara Yachts and Pursuit fishing boats.

plywood slikcraft slickcraft

classic slick craft outboard wood boat

Mr. Slikkers made boats as early as 1946, when he worked for Chris Craft as a cabin cruiser top joiner. He stayed with Chris Craft until about 1955. Chris Craft boat production was often plagued by strikes at this time, so Leon built his own boats when C-C was having a work stoppage. He built 10 outboard powered boats as early as 1952.

classic wood boat dash slickcraft outboard boat image

stylin in the 1950s

His first factory was below his home in 1955. He was building classic molded plywood outboard powered runabouts at this time. He made about 35 fiberglass hulled boats as well as plywood boats starting in 1955. By 1960 Slickcraft only made fiberglass boats.

outboard motor on classic wood Slick Craft boat

Outboard powered Slickcraft

He moved his plant several times and stopped living above where the boats were being made now. His factory was 29,000 square feet in size in 1962, and went to 42,000 by 1965. Mr. Slikkers made his first inboard outboard boat in 1963. It was Mercury powered.

He sold out Slickcraft to AMF. He built sailboats to respect his non-compete.  Those sailboats were called S2 (S2 stands for Slickers second company). He started Tiara Yachts in 1976. He started Pursuit fish boats in 1977. Both brands are major players in the pleasure boat market today.

Fred McCarthy, Sea Mac, wooden boats, Jersey Yachts, fiberglass sport fishermen, Real Ships, steel yachts

jersey yacht boat for sale

yacht for sale Jersey Yacht listing photo

Meet the only production boat builder seabuddy knows that made boats out of wood, fiberglass, and steel (each of these different matieral boat building companies were at different times in his life) over a lifetime of messing with boats. Here are (left to right) Fred McCarthy, Etta McCarthy, and seabuddy in front of a Sea Mac wooden classic boat at Tuckerton Seaport, NJ in 2012. This photo was taken at the Philadelphia Chapter of the ACBS Antique and Classic Boat Show in this past summer.

Fred McCarthy, Etta McCarthy, seabuddy boat photo image acbs boat show

Boat Builders Fred and Etta McCarthy with seabuddy in Tuckerton, NJ

Sea Mac wood boats were mostly an outboard powered 14’ deluxe runabout water ski boat.  This boat used Philippine Mahogany lumber stock covering boards and hull framing with marine grade plywood being used pretty much everywhere else. Then; forward steering, remote controls, a windshield, and two rows of vinyl covered padded seating made for a Bill Deed designed water sports boat that handled lake, bay, inlet, and ocean waters very well.

The prototypes were tested in 1954 with a 20 horsepower outboard, but most Sea Mac wooden boats used a 40 Hp. engine with a few being repowered with a “Tower of Power” 70 Hp Mercury Marine outboard. This boat was tuff and many boats outlasted more than one motor’s life span on its transom. Once, this sporty runabout was a prize on the TV show, “The Price is Right, in the 1961 show season. The company also built 8’ prams in New Jersey. The Sea Mac boat brand disappeared in around 1963.

award winning outboard classic wooden boat

Scott Wahlberg photo of 14' classic outboard wood at the St. Michaels Boat Festival

Jersey Yachts and/or Jersey Boat Works were sport fishing fiberglass boats 28’ to 47’ in length. Many of the boats crafted were the popular 31’ and 40’ models. Besides changing over from a wood boat builder to manufacturing fiberglass boats, Fred took his new company from single outboards to twin inboards for power. And then, later, he took it from gas engines to diesel power as the boats got bigger. I think of Fred McCarthy’s Jersey Yachts fiberglass boat building business as alive from 1964 to 1988.

boats for sale yachts photo image

Listing photo for a Real Ship for sale

Real Ships, which was given its company name by Etta, started up around 1993, after several years of living and cruising aboard a yacht by the McCarthys. They build steel hulled, ship-like yachts from 61’ to 76’ in length. These are typically Jay Benford / Fred McCarthy designed 40 to 80 ton long range displacement cruisers, built one at a time.

More info…


Preserved, not Restored, 42’ Classic Wooden Cruiser Yacht

wooden boat yacht cruiser inboard matthews

seabuddy photo of main salon

I was aboard a wonderful classic yacht at the invite of the yacht’s owners this past weekend. Here seabuddy wants to share with you the delightful two hours I had aboard a 42’ classic wood cabin cruiser in Tuckerton, NJ. In doing so, seabuddy will point out for you some points about cabin cruiser layout. During this visit, I had an opportunity to see and feel first-hand the usability of the interior of the yacht; its main salon, galley, and staterooms.  I also moved around and socialized within the exterior of this classic; the bridge area as well as the aft cockpit.  Remember, I was a simply a newly welcome guest on someone’s private home afloat and yet I was welcomed to poke around to my heart’s content and then dialog about  construction treatments, layouts, finish, maintenance, fuel burn, and  the cruising horizons of this yacht during this year. Did I ever say that I love the Philadelphia Chapter of the ACBS Boat Show in Tuckerton? Weather I did or did not, let me say it again, Boy, do I love the ACBS!

This 1961 Preserved Classic Yacht is an excellent example of what made a Matthews Yacht very desirable among cruising yachtsmen. First, let us look at the living room or main salon. It is open, filled with bright sunshine with views outside, and has a bigger sense of space than the square footage that you walk on. The Galley and dinette are at another level, but the main salon ceiling line stays at one, full height, even over these two lower level interior features. This gives a grand vista at eye level anywhere within this main living area. Next, the yacht has a proper, fixed dinette alongside the galley. Other designers may want to squeeze in a third stateroom where the dinette is located, but the functionally of a dinette cannot be over-stated in a boat used for cruising.

wooden cabin cruiser boat photo image

Seabuddy photo of the Dinette at another level compared to Main Salon

Matthews Company Yachts were 100% crafted in wood from 1890 to 1969. Then, there was a switch to yachts using fiberglass hulls from the Halmatic Company in England. These finished hull forms were shipped to Matthews Yachts in Port Clinton, Ohio from  1969 till the Matthews business closed in 1975.There these English fiberglass hulls had decks, deckhouses, engines and the cabin interior added to the hull. The yacht I was aboard was an all wood boat.

Notable high points over the years for the Matthews Company. It made a 16 horsepower custom 35’ gas powered boat that set the record for an Atlantic Ocean crossing in 1912. Matthews built as big as a 110’ diesel powered yacht over the years. This one was designed by the famous naval architect, John Wells. They also built several 110’ Sub Chasers for the war effort. Matthews Yachts also built at least one 50’ wooden yacht for the notable Ringling Bros. Three Ring Circus family for their personal use while on the west coast of Florida.

wood boat photo image inboard cabin cruiser

Seabuddy photo of a preserved 1961 Matthews Yacht built in 1961