Posts Tagged ‘runabout’

Gar Wood, Chris-Craft, and “Nap”

Miss Detroit II

Miss Detroit II

Joseph Napoleon Lisee was the hull designer behind Chris-Craft and Gar Wood race winning days. He was nicknamed “Nap”. He was a master builder, designer, pattern-maker, wood turner, and had a reputation as a  real perfectionist.

He was born in 1891, died in 1946. He started working for Chris Smith in 1905. He designed Smith’s 1916 successful Gold Cup raceboat, Miss Detroit. That racer was “a broken, battered hulk after the race, fit only for junk”. After the race, Smith lost a poker game and only had pennies in his pockets.

Gar Wood brought Miss Detroit from Chris Smith for $1,000 cash and a note for $800. Soon after Gar Wood also bought a controlling interest in the C. C. Smith Boat & Engine Company, what we now call, Chris-Craft. “Nap” as well as Chris’ sons; Jay, and Bernard came with the percentage ownership interest in the company.

“Nap” designed another racer (Miss Detroit II) to use the 250 HP engine from the hunk of the original Miss Detroit boat. That was also a successful single-step Hydroplane. She was 20 feet long.  Miss Detroit II set a speed record of 61.724 MPH. Jay W. Smith was aboard as the riding mechanic when the record was set. All of the Miss America hulls were a “Nap” design, including Miss America X, which set a record of over 124.42 MPH.

Gar Wood had “Nap” design the hull of the famous “Baby Gar’s”. They were a 33 foot long and had triple cockpit layout, brought to market in 1922. They were the cream of the crop of luxury runabouts.  A second, Baby Gar, at 28 feet in length was introduced in 1927. In 1930, a 22’ speedboat came along. By 1931 an 18 and 25’ models were added. By 1934 a 16’ sports racer was offered, primarily in the Clayton and Alexandria Bay area. A 40’ commuter was also offered.

Open cockpit or a Utility cockpit design came in 1936 in two lengths 18’ and 20’. By 1937 a 24’ model was available.  Later 19’, 22.5’, 24’ , 25’, 32’ models were added.

Chris Smith exited his ownership relationship with Gar Wood in 1922. He built a new factory and Gar Wood got the old C. C. Smith & Engine

company location. Smith’s sons (Jay, Bernard, and Owen) stayed with him.” Nap” stayed with Gar Wood. Chris Smith, born in 1861, died in 1939.

By 1930 the demand for Gar Wood boats outstripped the old plant. A new plant in Marysville MI was built from scratch. They could build 1,200 boats per year here. Demand for Gar Wood peaked just before World War II.

Gar Wood born in 1880 and died in 1971. He retired from racing in the fall of 1932, and retired from his business interests in 1940. He bought Fisher Island in Miami, FL in 1946 for his retirement home. He invented and tinkered until near his death.

After War II, the people that ran Gar Wood boats had noted industrial stylist, Norman Bel Geddes, restyle decks of the hulls of “Nap” to update them. Gar Wood boats closed in 1947.

Miss America X

Miss America X

Gar Wood Baby Gar

Gar Wood Baby Gar

Gar Wood Baby Gar engine

Gar Wood Baby Gar engine

1946 22.5 Gar Wood

1946 22.5 Gar Wood

1946 Utility Gar Wood

1946 Utility Gar Wood

bow photo 22.5 Gar Wood

bow photo 22.5 Gar Wood



Cobalt Boats Sets the Runabout World on Fire with its New R 5 Model

Her hull is designed for big lakes, open sounds, and expansive bays. Her interior is especially “yachtesque” with a dance-floor-wide cockpit in a bow rider configuartion. Exceptional water and pier access has been designed-in, not offered as an option. The new R 5 Cobalt is a customer’s boat. Understanding functional luxury requires study of this boat.

fiberglass boat photo image cobalt r 5

The running surface of the new 2013 Cobalt R 5

Cobalt listens to its customers and then it designs a boat to meet their needs. This Cobalt boat has a 21 degree transom deadrise, narrowed strakes, a sharper bow entry angle, and a careful respect to boat balance. Take a ride, experience how a sport boat can perform on your waters.

A driving push for this boat is the cockpit experience for boat owner and guests alike. Take a look for yourself—Cobalt has done something way different here than others have done in the past. The main seating offers many surprises that delight all onboard. The bow cockpit seating is huge and provides a wonderful place to lounge in the sun on the water. Shade is available for the main cockpit. The on-board storage on this boat is outstanding The head is easy to enter and generously big once inside. This runabout defines “ergonomics” for this class of sport boat. Vinyl, leather, hi-tech fiberglass, custom crafted metal, and a touch of wood accent trim sets an ambiance that few can match, even when one compares this new boat model boat to a classic boat from the 1930s.

fiberglass inboard outboard cobalt boat photo image bow rider

The new R 5 Cobalt bow rider, factory boat photo

Cobalt’s new R 5 has a LOA of 25’ 8” with a beam of 8’ 6” and a weight of around 4,900 LBS. She is certified by the Coast Guard to carry 14 passengers or 2,250 LBS of passengers and gear. Cobalt offers a selection of engines from 300 to 430 horsepower.

seabuddy thanks Cobalt for its photos.

21 feet of custom designed outboard, Tenth Report, Tavares, FL Antique and Classic Boat Show, Lake Dora, Mount Dora She is a one-off hand sculptured beauty

custom one off twin engine outboard fiberglass classic boat

One of the top boats at the Classic Boat Show

It is not about twin engine outboards on a classic boat. It is about fine art on the water in seabuddy’s book. Ventuno is Italian for 21 I am told. To me, this boat looks like an early 1950s fiberglass outboard boat. But, she is still being finished and she was just a gleam in the mind of Gary Mac Norris in 2005.

frame work for custom fiberglass outboard boat

frame work started

Construction started the following year as a chalk line on a shop garage floor. Gary, like most artists, knew what he wanted. He bent a thin flexible section of wood into a more defined outline. Then he made the wood framework. So the boat would come off the building frame, that was covered with visqueen.

scribed sheet balsa squares over building frame work

beginning of composite hull balsa core

Now the hull was started over the framework. Sheets of balsa wood scribed into 21/2 inch square blocks and set on a cloth like backing was applied over the form. That balsa was shaped and sanded into the final contours of what Norris had imaged in his mind.

Then several layers of epoxy saturated fiberglass mat/cloth over that made the outside hull finish. Then, the boat was taken off its building frame and the epoxy fiberglass layup was put on the under (or the inside) of the hull.

transom boat photo image engines outboard mercury custom runabout classic boat

twin Mercury outboard engines on 21' custom fiberglass runabout boat

Thus, this art boat is a composite boat. A boat hull and deck of a sandwich of epoxy resin, fiberglass cloth, and balsa wood. OH! And lots of custom tricks to get that super glossy smooth finish that stops everyone’s eye when they see the boat.

wood finished deck fiberglass balsa composite boat photo image

custom touch shows the levle of finish

There are lots of custom touches on this classic boat. The dash is machine water cut engine turned metal from the aluminum mock up Gary gave to an aircraft builder. No stock seats fit in the narrow cockpit that was in this art design, so four had to be bought and cut / narrowed to fit. One of the top three boats at the Tavares Classic Boat Show, IMO.

custom boat dash panel windscreen 21 runabout boat photo image

Hand made dash and Windshield

F Service Runabout, Curt Brayer, and Dancing Bear

Curt designed, built, drove, and turned the wrenches on his Wood Race Boat, Dancing Bear. He designed and built this racer over a two year period along the banks of the Miami River while he was the sales Manager at the Merrill-Stevens Yacht Company.


racing boat f service runabout

Record Holder F Service Runabout

Curt came to Florida in 1963 after racing his boat, The Violator, in Buffalo, NY, earlier in the 1950-1960s time frame with time out for military service for the Berlin Crisis. He also has spent time in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Before boat racing, Curt raced Stock Cars and Motorcycles for years. Quite the mechanic, Curt likes tuning multiple carbs. Dancing Bear has six Strombergs on a log-type manifold on a 1957 392 cubic inch Hemi. In the theme of F Service Runabout class rules the engine is under 400 inches in displacement and $1,500 cost in cost.

Hemi powered circle race boat

1957 Hemi 392

My photos were taken at the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, New York during the Race Boat Regatta that is held every other year in August. Curt seems to be at the  Vintage Boat Racing effort on the St. Lawrence River in the N Y  side of the Thousand Islands area all the time.

flat bottom circle wood raceboat

Foward passenger cockpit that can be covered with a long fitted wood deck

I really love the either long wood covered or the padded vinyl uncovered front bench seat set-up in front of the main/driver’s cockpit. Sitting behind your guests while driving  is the right idea in my book. Let them have to turn around and twist their necks to hold a conversation!

driver's cockpit is set back behind the passenger seating

The driver is set far back in the boat ans close to the engine

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…


El Lagarto mahogany stepped hydroplane Race Boat

mahogany wooden oak framed copper rivet runabout race boat photo image

El Lagarto (spainish for "The Lizard") wood race boat

This is an 26’ exacting example of the bright finished and copper riveted boat, El Lagarto, which has an outstanding racing record. She won the Gold Cup three times, the Presidents Cup three times, the National Sweepstakes twice, and other racing awards and recognitions. She was first raced in 1922 and only retired from active competition after racing for the 1937 season.

While her racing record was made while she was under the ownership and driving of George Reis, a long time resident of the Bolton Landing area of Lake George, NY, she was built as Miss Mary for another owner. He used a 150 horsepower at first, then re-powered her with a 200 horsepower engine. With the 200 Hp. she was a 44mph runabout, but not a race winner.

mahogany wooden runabout race boat

Foredeck of a wood Racer

Reis took her to his home on the shoreline of Lake George in 1925 and he massaged the boat and motor over the years. By 1928, he had put in a 275 Hp Packard engine. Then, in 1931, he completely re-did the boat’s bottom with a series of ¾” high shingles and after-of-the-shingle controllable dual vents that allowed the vacuum to be released that the steps created. Now El Lagarto no longer was a mild mannered runabout, but a leaping Lizard. She was also a 63 mph race boat.

Further engine and fuel changes made the boat faster yet. Her final engine was a 732 cubic. inch Curtiss D 12 aviation engine burning a fuel cocktail. She set a competition record at 72.727 mph with this set-up.

wood runabout  gold cup winning race boat photo image

look at the copper rivets in this boat photo

As an aside, on a race course the boat was turned left tight to the buoys by closing all the left side vents and then she showed the highest straightaway speed with all the vents open on both sides.

The boat shown here was designed by John L. Hacker and built by the Fish Brothers, of Queensbury, NY, which is near Lake George. I have seen some records that suggest that she was last sold in the 2010 time frame powered with a 500 Hp Chevy engine for just under $200,000.

496 chevy engine race boat photo

note the engine and then the hull battens

Century Boats are High Style

Classic fiberglass Century Arabian chrome name plate trim

High quality and style classic boat model name plate

Century Boats led the styling of runabouts as utilities both in wood and in fiberglass.  This is a 1977 Arabian with its high style use of fiberglass, chrome, and vinyl that sets an image of exciting luxury on the lakes and rivers of our waterways. This is an inland performance boat. She is not a deep vee and is known for pulling water skiers, tubing, and stylish dockside dining events. Give this boat the throttle, hear the exhaust speak with a rumble, and take off with little bow rise as she pushes you back into your seat.

classic fiberglass boat photo image Century Arabian bow

High style Classic Fiberglass Century Arabian

Century made exciting boats from its beginning in 1926 as an outboard race boat builder along with making some other craft, like fishing boats and sail craft. For almost all of the time the Century Boat Company has been in Manistee, Michigan. This was the location, not Milwaukee or Panama City,  that most of the nautical style leader designs were invented.

Early classic collectible inboards were often a Sea Maid model and the small (14’) outboard racer that is still highly sought after,  the Thunderbolt. Century stayed with boats under 21’ in length as that made them different from Chris Craft, Garwood, and Hacker Crafts that built boats into the mid-30s LOA. Note always known, there is another reason for the under 21’ production policy. The plant in Manistee had a limitation on what could be gotten around inside it and out the door!

The Arabian represents an important design for Century as it was made in both wood and fiberglass. Some say it was designed deliberately to help with the boat building material change over during those years of the 1960s and 1970s. The design is credited to Robert Rioux, now deceased.  He certainly led runabout styling with this model Century. Part of this high-style comes from Century’s use of automotive pieces for several parts like the steering wheel, windshield, etc.

classic fiberglass Century Arabian 1977 transom swim platform boat photo

Restored Classic Fiberglass Century Arabian boat


Century Boats 19’ Arabian classic wood utility runabout inboard

model of wood Century Arabian inboard v drive inboard utility runabout

This is a 29" model of a real wood Century Arabian classic inboard boat

She is a classic v-drive (some say vee drive) inboard with one bigger center cockpit wood runabout. But the boat in the photos is a model!

This built from scratch 29” long boat is modeled from a privately owned version of a real boat and is shown here for its outstanding workmanship and attention to detail. John Into, a boat modeler for 50 years and a published author on boat modeling, even discussed this boat model with the real boat’s naval architect, a designer named Robert Rioux, who designed all of the Century Boat Company’s boat models at the time this boat was conceived.

One interesting fact to seabuddy is that the full-size runabout’s windshield was from the rear window glass used in a car. I knew the steering wheel was from an auto, but the windshield information is new to me. This boat that was modeled by John was a wood classic utility runabout, it is one of the last wood ones, as Century Boat Co. was using this and other boat design models as the ones that they would craft in fiberglass, too.

One thing to note, the photos here do not show the colors as well as an in person review will. Let me tell you, Into got those color shades right as a match to the real boat he was modeling.

John is a long time vendor / displayer at the Tavares, FL Classic Boat Show on March 23-25, 2012. Look for him and his models very near the entrance to the vendor area of this big show. If you like his work and want to better understand boat modeling for yourself, ask him to autograph a copy of his book for your home boating library.

photo of a boat model of a Century Arabian vee drive inboard utility

note the background to understand that this is a scratch built model

2012 Cobalt 242 bow rider test results

2012 bow rider runabout stern drive 242 Cobalt

A good ride comes standard with a 2012 Cobalt 242 bow rider

Here is a top shelf fiberglass bow rider that goes right at 47-50 MPH with a 305 cubic inch 5.0, breaks 50 MPH with a 350 cubic inch 5.7 and gets another 7 to 8 MPH on top of those numbers with a big block Mercruiser and its Mercury Marine I/O. All these power choices use a Chevy block as a base starting point for the gas engine.

The Mercury Marine Bravo Three drive with two props on one drive shaft is popular as is the similar Volvo – Penta Duo-Prop outdrive. Hole shot or 0 to 30 MPH acceleration times in the seven to eight second range indicates how well the hull and power packages are matched up. By the way, the best fuel economy is in the 22 MPH to 30 MPH cruising speed range.

She is a very well detailed luxury runabout with seating in the bow featuring a special foot well space, good hand rail positioning, comfortable seating, all within a deep, secure cockpit. A Cobalt designed boat really focuses on cockpit space, especially its interior width. High spec materials in a good hefty weight and well attached is all over and under a Cobalt boat. Quality, thoughtful touches, and cockpit comfort with room comes with a Cobalt boat as standard equipment. Cobalt’s warrantee coverage on this 242 bow rider boat is outstanding. Just check all the parts, items, events, and systems that are covered.

Another nice thing with a Cobalt is that one needs only to add 7-8% to the base price for a well equipped boat. A loaded boat takes more than that, but careful selection of the needed options keeps the add-ons down.

Cobalt Boats 2012 bow rider wide interior cockpit boat photo

Finely detailed luxury inside a 242 Cobalt 2012 cockpit

private head compartment in a 2012 cobalt 242 model boat photo

tall inside the private head compartment of 242 Cobalt 2012 boat

1959 Wood Lyman 16.5 outboard runabout power boat

wood power boat 1959 Lyman 16.5 foot outboard model

This power boat is shown being restored in Maine. The photo is from Androscoggin Wooden Boat Works (207) 685-9805. It shows the nice work that they do, particularly on Lyman Boats. This classic outboard runabout is said to be a boat for sale and at a very attractive price. Give them a telephone call if this is something that you need for this upcoming summer boating adventure season.

This outboard Lyman boat seems to have been updated with a painted finish rather than a varnished, but not stained, boat hull interior. The seats, deck and other parts show, to me, the correct, as built, finishes. Lyman mahogany filler stain with varnish over that would be the proper choice. Lyman was also known for its use of ribbon striped (sometimes called tiger striped) mahogany veneered marine-grade plywood in its decks. Check for that feature on this boat. Most restorers use a different style of mahogany plywood if they replace the deck on a Lyman runabout.

The 16.5 foot boat was a popular boat model and it was in production from 1957-1960. In 1959 they made 366 of these. It is a 16’ 7” long runabout with a beam of 70”. It weighs 560 lbs. and could take up to a 60 Hp outboard. That is Hp that is rated at the power head, not rated at the prop shaft as outboards are rated today. Use an older motor or drop back to a maximum rating of about 54 Hp. She goes real well with a 35 Hp, by the way.

Lymans are clinker built or a lapstrake construction style of planking. Each plank edge overlaps the other and are clinched nailed to the ribs and screwed to the frames such that an edge is shown at each plank its full length along the hull side that helps soften the ride, and they are flexible boats that can twist over the waves somewhat to give a better ride than a classic boat person would expect. Ride a Lyman to experience this for yourself. I know of several prior owners of carvel, hard chine classic wood boats that marvel at the ride that they get in their Lyman compared to what they are used to.

By the way, get a Lyman model a little older than this model year and you will see a dimpled finish in the planking on the outside of the hull. Lyman used a duck billed clinch nail for better holding strength and sometime (in the mid-50s?) began to completely fair over both the screws and the duck billed nails for a smooth exterior finish.