A Franchini Family Barn Find Story – A Classic Wooden Boat with Fins?
I had the pleasure of meeting the Franchini Family in July at the 2009 Maritime Heritage Festival in Portland, Oregon organized by the Columbia-Willamette Chapter of the ACBS.
Since then we have stayed in touch sharing boating stories, information and contacts, and we have followed young Cole Franchini’s successful cart racing season this year throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Brian Franchini (Cole’s father and Steve & Diane’s son) has a great barn find story that we thought would be fun to share with the WoodyBoater viewer’s. Here’s the story as described by Brian …..We all talk about how the restorable numbers of wooden boats are starting to dwindle. The barn find legends and abandoned boat house myths are fun to dream about, but are they really just that, myths and legends? While it is true there were a finite number of wooden boats produced, and a large majority have been found and restored, there are still enough left in hiding to make every enthusiasts’ heart jump when they hear the words “Boat” and “Barn” uttered in the same sentence.Such was the case on a warm summer evening in 2007 when my son, Cole and I were launching my Tollycraft for a lap or two around Lake Tapps (South East of Seattle). We live across the street from the Lake and use a good friend’s private launch that is just a few houses down from ours. Greg is a bachelor living the lakefront dream and regularly has a deck full of guests during the summer. As I backed my boat into the water, one of his guests leaned on the deck rail watching us intently. I just assumed he was marveling at my flawless launching skills (on the third attempt) or the fact that my (then) 8 year old son can handle dock lines like a pro. Instead he yelled to me, “I’ve got an old wood boat in my barn you might be interested in.” Might be interested?! He must have not have realized he used both of the “B” words in the same sentence. Without trying to seem too eager, we spoke for a few minutes and exchanged phone numbers for the following day. He did know that it was a Correct Craft and it was a plywood boat, but other than that, it was just an old wood boat in his barn.
I spent most of that evening and early hours of the next day on the computer trying to make myself knowledgeable about Correct Craft boats. The company was founded in 1925 by Walt C. Meloon and originally called the Florida Variety Boat Company. In 1936 the name was officially changed to Correct Craft. They built boats that ranged from 14′ runabouts to 55′ cruisers. Great! That really narrowed down my focus. Needless to say, there was not much sleep that night and I fought off the urge to call the owner at 6:30 AM. “Might be just a little too early, I will let him sleep until at least 6:45.”
An hour and a half later I was back with a flat bed trailer and loaded up the boat and all of the miscellaneous parts. I marveled at the boxes of parts as I loaded them. Each part was tagged and a small note as to where it had been on the boat. At the bottom of one of the boxes was a file folder stuffed full of original Correct Craft factory photos and manuals. As we were freeing up his barn space, he told me that his Dad had bought the boat from the original owner in the early 70’s. On his first trip with the new boat, he had hit a submerged log in the Columbia River and tore off the raw water intake. The boat sunk at the shore before they could get the trailer back under it. He brought the whole boat, complete with the raw water intake that was still hanging on the bottom, back and put it in a barn where it lived for the next 30 years.A rebuild was started in about 1995, but only made it to the hardware removal stage. With a little research, I found that the boat is a Correct Craft Atom Skier Deluxe. The Deluxe version had fins, the standard version had none. The boat is complete, including a 70HP Universal Unimite 4 cylinder flathead engine and all of the hardware. I am currently working on the research to ensure the finished boat represents the original as closely as possible.
Well folks, it may not be a Chris-Craft Hemi Cobra or a 25′ Sedan with a Scripps, but Brian saved it from the burn pile and will give it the respect and attention that it deserves for all to enjoy another day. Thanks Brian for sharing your story with us!
Love it! great story, and even better to see it coming back to life. You are going to have a fleet of cool finned boats. I think it is especially nice that you are spending the time, money and effort to save a small, not too well known boat of somewhat modest value. Few would do that, and these boats also need to survive.