How to Find a Classic Wooden Powerboat
A Thing of Beauty
Restored Wooden Powerboats are in Demand
When asked, "How do you find _________" most people would say, "Google it." But if you're looking to purchase a classic wooden boat, it isn't that simple. By all means Google your questions, but be aware that a classic wooden boats are unique gems, and finding and owning one takes care and knowledge.
A Restored Classic or a Replica?
The first questions you should ask yourself is whether you want an authentic restored (or well cared for) boat or are you willing to accept a replica. A replica, of course, is not the original but a new vessel built to the original specifications. Many old wooden boats that have been restored have had so much of the original wood replaced that it's a real question whether it's the original or a replica. Old Ironsides, The USS Constitution on display in Boston, is only 15% original. So is it really the USS Constitution? Good question.
Museum aficionados enjoy the old story about an antique ax. There was once an old 17th century ax that was kept in a barn. Over time the wood rotted so the owner fashioned an new handle for it. As the years went by the head of the ax became so rusted and pitted that the current owner decided to put a new head on the handle. Question: Is it the original ax? This story is good to keep in mind when looking at classic wooden boats.
Have Fun With Your Search
Visit Maritime Museums. There's a vast number of maritime museums in the United States. Some, such as the Long Island Maritime Museum, sell replicas and occasionally a classic boat to raise funds. Most maritime museums have skilled nautical carpenters, either employees or volunteers. These folks are a positive wealth of information and will tell you what to look for and what to be cautious about. Perhaps the best maritime museum in the country for wooden boats is aptly named the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, New York on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. Their 4.5 acre campus houses some of the best classic boats you are likely to find anywhere. Visit the museum website at www.abm.org.
Subscribe to WoodenBoat Magazine. Every interest group has its magazine, and WoodenBoat is the one for lovers of wooden boats. See their website at http://www.woodenboat.com. It is published six times a year for a $32 annual subscription. Add $10 and you get a digital subscription as well.
The Classiest of the Classics
Chris Craft used to make beautiful wooden boats. It went defunct in 1960 but its name lives on as a manufacturer of fiberglass boats. The famous 1936 boat Tempo that belonged to the late bandleader Guy Lombardo was a 44 foot Chris Craft. Visitors to the Aquashow at Jones Beach, New York were thrilled when Lombardo would drive by in Tempo and wave to the crowd.
Hacker Boat Company, founded in 1908 built vessels of lasting beauty and was the leading manufacturer of wooden powerboats in the 1920s. Look at a Hacker and you can imagine a rum runner during prohibition.
Carlo Riva was an Italian boat maker who created beautiful vessels that were sought after by the glitterati worldwide. Rivas were very popular in the 1950s and 1960s.
Lyman is another great name in classic wooden powerboats. Lymans can be seen on lakes nationwide. There is a company, Koroknay's Marine in Lexington, Ohio, that specializes in the repair and restoration of old Lymans. The original Lyman Bros. boat company started in Cleveland, Ohio around 1875. Production ceased in the early 1970s, but the craft is kept alive by the restoration efforts at Koroknay's Marine. The owner, Tom Koroknay, is known as Doc Lyman.
Classic wooden boats are art objects on the water. But finding and owning one is not an easy task.