[V8] Boats....

Roger M. Woodbury rmwoodbury at adelphia.net
Mon Aug 21 06:03:19 EDT 2006

My wife thinks we should buy another one.  

Well, it's a little more complicated than that.  I was looking through the
usual lists and moaning over how dismal the V8 scene is right now:  few cars
available, and even those that look any good are simply not bringing any
money.  (did you notice the rather clean '91 that didn't sell on eBay over
the weekend.  Quite  afew miles but not even $1800....dismal).

All of which made me start to skim through the boat ads, and I wondered if
anyone else on this list has more than a passing interest in wooden boats.

No, I am not talking about a vintage, wood Hinckley Pilot 35...although that
would be nice.  I am too old and have neither the money nor the time to
think seriously about sailing.  No, I am thinking about boats like the Lyman
Islander of the 1950's, or perhaps the Chris Craft Seaskiff's of the 1960's,
and I am thinking again about buying and restoring a wood boat.

Back when my second wife and I decided to go separate ways, and I moved back
"Downeast", shortly after arriving here ("here" is within shouting distance
of Acadia National Park), I spent one bright sunny late August afternoon
watching quite a few boats go back and forth on the bay out front.  I made
up my mind to buy a boat for the next season, and moor it out in front of
the house as my Dad did when I was little here in the summer.  

In Uncle Henry's...the little sell and swap cottage industry weekly...I
found the perfect candidate.  It was a 19' Thompson labstreak and was way
Downeast in Addison.  It was cheap:  around $900 as I recall.  

It was very strange to see that boat, sitting on a barn floor on old tires.
It was in pretty good shape, although it needed paint and endless hours of
sanding on the brightwork of the hull, windshield and interior, but it was
complete and sound.  It was probably a 1962 by the numbers, but it wasn't
important: I would buy it, and did.

The trailer was the hard part.  There wasn't one.  Then, again to Uncle
Henry's, I found a trailer for sale that was perfect.  I wanted a bunker
trailer, and the one that I found was a bunker/roller trailer of suitable
length way the heck and gone up in Millinocket.  Owned by a dentist who had
bought a bigger boat and trailer and no longer needed this one.  

So I put boat and trailer together and started to work.  I have no idea how
many hours I spend painting sanding varnishing and so on.  But in the end,
it looked really good....never really finished the insides, but I did enough
so that it looked like a mint, Thompson of the era, although not a concourse
job....hard to do that for salt water, anyway.

I had a boat mechanic friend who had rigged my first boat ten years before,
and he knew of a Johnson V4 90 horse that he had rebuilt and which was
available....perfect.  As a caveat to that story, in 1978 when I was at the
absolute bottom of my fortunes I relocated here after my first wife decided
that I should live in the Maine woods instead of anywhere near her.  One of
my first jobs here when I was in survival mode, was to refinish the
brightwork on a 19' Thompson labstreak boat owned by a local
contractor....did four days work for $4 an hour and was glad of it.  

Anyway, I ran into the contractor after finishing my boat. He was retired
now, and I asked him whatever happened to his Thompson.  "Oh," he said. "I
decided that it was too much work to keep up, so I sold it quite a while ago
to some fisherman way down in Addison!".  It was the same boat.

So, now my wife and I are thinking about retiring to some new adventures.
On tap is a new home on property that we are looking for much further
Downeast.  Yes, we are seriously contemplating leaving this property because
it is getting a bit too crowded and developed here for us.  AND I have been
thinking about another wood boat for those summer afternoons.

My all time favorites of course, are the wood Lymans, or Thompsons or
perhaps Old Towns.  (But Old Towns are so old now that they are really
scarce).  Then there are the Chris Craft Sea Skiffs.  

Been looking on eBay for this magical boat...it is probably two or three
years away now anyway, so this may be a fantasy.  But when I was stationed
in Florida just after getting back from Southeast Asia, there was a Sea
Skiff at the marina where my friend kept his old Chris Craft.  That Sea
Skiff was about 28-feet long and had twin 283 Chevy's.  AND there is a
gorgeous one on eBay as we speak....it is probably not going to bring any
real money....but, no.  Not that one.

But I might be tempted to buy something around 24 feet with a single engine.
Inboard.  Preferably with a tired engine...and convert it to diesel, maybe?

Because now that I actually might find the time to restore another wood
boat, anything with a V8 will cost so much to operate that I might restore
it and then not be able to put fuel into it...hmmm.  

Yeah,  I know...kinda off topic.


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