Win tickets to see the smash hit musical Mamma Mia at the Roanoke Civic Center. Two winners will each receive four tickets!
It’s like your first love. There may be others, but the first always will hold a special place in your heart. So it is with boats.
George and Joan Blosser's Happy Days, a 1956 Chris-Craft.
Daniel and Drew Hurst check out the family's former sailboat that was sold to and restored by Bud Swiger and Joan Ramsey of Roanoke.
Pete Phillip sails with his future wife, Judy, on his Alcort Sailfish.
Robert Cramer said that despite the small size of his Penn Yan Swift, it was fast and provided many thrills.
Jerry Hale pictured aboard his Classic I/O ruanbout in the 1970s.
Friday, February 22, 2013
Because there may be a number of prospective boat owners, some of whom will be testing the boating waters for the first time, visiting the Southwest Virginia Boat Dealers Boat Show beginning today, we asked some SML skippers to share memories of their first boat.
My first boat was a well-worn Penn Yan Swift. It was built in the late ’40s as a class A/B rough-water racing utility. The year was 1955, and I was 17 years old living in Maine. The Swift was built with oak ribs and cedar planking and was covered with plastic coating over canvas. It was 10 feet long and had cable steering from the rear compartment.
A rear deck had been added by the previous owner. There were many patches, and some ribs and planking were broken, but it was watertight and still capable.
I first powered the boat with an 18-hp Mercury and used it for pleasure cruises with up to four people, racing, and towing up to two water skiers. After a few years, I up-powered to a 30-hp Mercury that upped the speed and towing capability, but aggravated the previous damage.
I then repaired and strengthened the hull and covered it by epoxying over double layers of glass cloth. The weight of the boat doubled from 150 to 300 pounds. I up-powered a few times again over the years and ultimately ran a modified four-cylinder Mercury that pushed the boat well above 50 mph. I sold the boat in the mid-1960s.
I truly loved this small, fast boat that gave me lots of thrills and won many races. I retired and moved to SML 14 years ago so I could cruise year-round in various “small” boats and “relive” my youth. The trend here on the lake is “bigger is better,” but I truly enjoy my stable of small boats that range in length from 9 to 14.5 feet, not counting my pontoon.
— Robert Cramer, Huddleston
Our first boat, in 1981, was a Hurley twin-keel sailboat, the only one on the lake. Purchased in 1981 by the Hurst family, it was docked at Pelican Point until 1983, when it was moved to a Virginia Inland Sailing Association slip, the exact same slip where Bill Murray docked in the movie: “What About Bob?” (Bill Murray was tied to the mast in that movie clip.)
One sunny spring day, the Hurst family stopped by Pelican Point to enjoy the view. We came away owners of a 1965 English-made 20-foot Hurley sailboat. It was an unusual boat for the lake — twin keels for the shallow waters around England (it was made there), and it sailed across the Atlantic, then [was] trucked to SML.
Our family loved the solid stability of it. New to sailing, we were confident that this boat would never tip over. Never.
It was named the Kindergarten Boat because of the number of young sailors aboard during the sailing season. And sail we did. We ventured into every nook and cranny around VISA. Life was good.
In 1991, our teenage sons, Drew and Daniel, were hired to sail in the background for “What About Bob?” They were paid $100 daily to sail back and forth.
In 2000, owner Andy Hurst died, and the Hurley went to Joan Buchanan Ramsey, a family friend who offered to restore it.
— Cathy Hurst
Vice commodore, Virginia Inland Sailing Association
Our prize possession is a 1956 Chris-Craft 23-foot Continental named Happy Days. She was originally ordered and delivered by Chris-Craft dealer Harmon Dudd, from Sturgis, Mich., on June 6, 1956.
Dudd delivered the boat to his customer in Manchester, Maine, where she remained for 21 years. The boat changed owners three additional times before finally finding a home with our close friends from Jacksonville, Fla., in 1984.
We purchased Happy Days in January 2008 from our friends and delivered her to Lowell Boats in Greensboro, N.C., where she underwent a total restoration.
One of the interesting aspects of restoring a wooden boat is to tract its heritage after manufacture. After purchasing Happy Days, I attempted to locate Dudd. I learned he had passed away three months earlier at the age of 96. His obituary led me to his sole surviving family member, Becky Dudd Shank.
Subsequent telephone conversations with her revealed an alarming remembrance of our boat. It seems she was 15 years old at the time of the boat’s delivery to her father and actually remembered the day the boat arrived at their dealership. Becky Dudd Shank has since sent a long list of material from her father’s records that deal with the history of our boat. Such a “find” is nothing short of a miracle.
Boat names always have a reason or history, and in our case, Happy Days is no exception. The previous owners’ children were big fans of the famous TV series “Happy Days,” hence the name of the boat. We liked the name, and it will be retained to continue the legacy.
— George Blosser
President, SML Chapter of Antique and Classic Boat Society
My first sailboat was an Alcort Sailfish, and I bought it in 1966 with funds from my first summer job after high school. We sailed this boat all over Lake St. Clair in Michigan, sailed it to Canada (Dad was not pleased), sailed across the wakes of lake freighters to get the thrill of the whirlpool and many nighttime adventures.
But most important, it proves that a regular guy with a sailboat can attract a pretty girl. This picture is with Judy in 1968. The sailfish is long since sold, but we are still sailing together 44 years later.
— Pete Phillip, former commodore of Blackwater Yacht Racing Association
My first boat was a joint venture with my ex brother-in-law in the early ’70s, and for unforeseen reasons, I didn’t have it that long.
It was a 47-foot Drifter houseboat appropriately named “Miss Conduct.” I went through a divorce shortly after the first season with the “Miss Conduct,” and don’t forget, my partner’s wife was my ex-wife’s sister. That partnership didn’t work out, and I had to sell my half interest to him.
Years went by, and I married my current wife, Pam. This is when we decided to buy a boat for ourselves since we had been boating with friends for years, and really wanted a boat we could call our own. So I guess you could really call this one our first boat.
We started shopping and spent most of the summer of 1989 looking for the right boat. We finally decided to order a brand-new 1990 Playbuoy pontoon boat. Unlike today’s pontoon boats, there were not many quality options, so we decided to order her stripped down and add our own options. Before she was even delivered, I had an audio company install a high-powered stereo, and then added a CD player to that system.
We would go to raft-ups with large cruisers, and they would always want us in the middle saying, “We want the ‘living room’ in the middle.” We then added a refrigerator, a dual battery system, (which was obviously needed by now), a small bar and custom embroidered towels. We even put professionally painted name plates on each side proudly stating her name … “Miss Conduct II.”
— Chuck Poss, acting president of SML Boating Association
My first boat was a 14-foot aluminum boat with a 9.9- hp Evinrude engine. It was very basic and not very eye-catching! It cost approximately $1,000.
My first real fiberglass fishing boat was a 17-foot Monarch that I purchased from Saunders’ Marina in the early 1970s. It was equipped with a 12-volt Johnson electric motor, an 85-hp Johnson engine, a Hummingbird “Super 60” flasher depth finder and a simple drive-on trailer.
Today, I’m using a 2013 Ranger boat purchased from Ranger boats by way of Angler’s Mariner. It is equipped with a 250-hp Mercury Opti-Max engine. The engine never smokes, and the first engines smoked so badly when you started them you could not see or breathe. It has a 24-volt electric motor with a built-in 3-bank charger, two large-screen Lowrance LED electronics, which are equipped with topo maps, side-scan and down scan, plus surface temperature.
The new model fishing boats look too good to fish in. They also can cost as much as my first house — $70,000-plus! They are a big investment. Make sure you buy a fishing boat with great resale value.
— Capt. Dale Wilson, SML fishing guide and Laker Weekly writer
After my tour of duty in Vietnam, Ferne and I moved to an apartment in Wilmington, Del., where we kept our prized first boat as a couple, purchased at the Philadelphia boat show in 1971, on a trailer in the parking lot. Soon we rented a slip at a marina on the Bohemia River in Maryland, a tributary of the upper Chesapeake. We trailered it to Lake Wallenpaupack, Penn., several summers, and once I hauled it to northern Wisconsin for a family water-skiing vacation. The boat was a Classic 17-foot I/O runabout with a 120-hp four-cylinder OMC Sterndrive with a bad habit of getting stuck in the “up” position after being beached at a quiet swimming spot along the river.
Ferne remembers that we bought that boat before we bought a sofa (let’s get our priorities straight). We did have a sofa of sorts — two ratty straight pieces of an old three-piece sectional from my parents’ basement.
Our skiing back then was somewhat limited by Maryland’s law requiring an observer in the boat. All our friends were having babies and weren’t eager to spend the day on the river with us. Go figure.
— Jerry Hale, Moneta
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