"I started out as a child" - Bill Cosby
The quote above has several meanings with a project such as this - I'll let you figure them out. Click here to skip the preamble and get to the boat.
I grew up having access to boats and water thanks primarily to my Grandparent's cottage at Sauble Beach, Ontario Canada on the shores of Lake Huron. My Grandfather Wally Cromie built a Sunfish sailboat in the 1950s and around 1970 purchased a Georgian 19 sailboat. He named it "TAWL" for To Alice With Love. I don't know if my Grandmother ever really thought it was for her, but I never heard any complaints. Family members went out on countless adventures, and I know that it brought much joy to my Grandfather. Though I don't consider myself a sailor, I know I can handle the small ones by myself and I think it's a skill every power boater should learn.
When I was about 11 in the mid 1970s, I had saved enough money from a paper route to buy a used 8' fiberglass rowboat from the ads in the paper I delivered. I spent $75 on that little boat - my first. I think my mother ended up naming it - probably inspired by the song Afternoon Delight - as "Dan's Delight". Kind of sappy sounding now, but hey, I was young and foolish, and when you're a kid who cares?
After a couple of years later I outgrew that boat, and my Dad bought a brand new 12' aluminum boat complete with an electric start 7.5HP Mercury. It worked OK for me, but with my Dad piloting, it was bow high and couldn't be trimmed out, and my Dad was not heavy. So he was able to return the boat and upgrade to a larger 14' model. This was a great boat in that it was stable and had lots of room on board for all your "stuff", and would plane nicely. We had this for several years until we moved out west and sold it.
Fast forward almost twenty years to August of 1998; I'm grown up (mostly), living outside Chicago, married to a wonderful wife Tami, have a wonderful daughter Sheridan, and have just sold my two classic cars, a 1966 Mustang and a 1965 Lincoln Continental. Well, we all know that nature abhors a vacuum, so one day while looking for a house closer to work I spy an interesting boat for sale only a few blocks from the office. It was calling my name.
I'd never seen anything like it before. It was fiberglass, but looked like an old wooden boat. It had two cockpits just big enough to sit in, and not much moving around room. It would never do for fishing which was fine with me. It was painted a burgandy red all over and had a smoked plexiglass windshield along with a chromed rusty automotive steering wheel. The floor sagged to the touch, the seats were two sets of automotive bench seats, the motor was missing, and dirt and debris were everywhere inside. But it had terrific lines - I had to have it!
A very faded "$100" was written in white shoe polish on the dark windshield. I hummed and hawed over it for a couple of weeks trying to figure out the logistics of whether I could tackle this. When I went back for the boat, I offered the seller $60, but then he countered with $50. I think it had been a long time since anyone showed any interest in this boat. I bought a set of trailer lights, a receiver for my hitch, and all of a sudden I'd doubled my "investment"! I trailered it home without incident, though the first time towing anything is not something you'll soon forget. Every time I looked in the rearview mirror I kept seeing this boat tailgating me and filling my rear window!
Also at this time I searched the web and found a then brand new site called Fiberglassics.com, which was launched the month before. I spoke with the founder of the site Kelly Wood, and he made links to my earlier site. I have to wholeheartedly recommend joining Fiberglassics.com as a member if you're interested in restoring an old fiberglass boat. The forums are free and available to the public, but it costs money to run the website, I think the membership fee is well worth it, and the advice there is invaluable.
Fast forward again: we're now in a different house with a two car garage, most of the house restoration has been completed, and it's time for me to start restoring my boat. On a nice fall day, I went to the storage lot to bring my boat home, but couldn't find it! Eventually I did find it; it had been conveniently moved to the other side of the lot, bow down, cover blow off and half filled with water, and one of the tires had completely deflated. Eventually I got her home, and started readying her for restoration. I still drained another 10 gallons or so out after I got her home, but I figured it would dry up in the garage by spring, at which time I would start the restoration in earnest.
Click here to go Phase 1 of the restoration process.
Updated December 17, 2001 Copyright Dan Kruitz