The Toughest Move Ever! A Classic Boat Barn Find Extraction.

Gary's 1928 Chris Carft 1Fellow Woody Boater Gary Michael  Inland Boat Works sent us this cool series of photos from the “toughest move ever”, 1928 22′ Cadet [Pontiac Chief] on a rusted railway under the house in Melvin Village NH on Winnipesaukee, 14 degrees with wind. Left there untouched for 28 years. Take it away Gary.

Gary's 1928 Chris Craft 2

I was called to look at a Cadet in NH that had been stored under the house for 28 years by the 2nd owner and i agreed to meet the owners daughter to take a look, it was late November in Melvin Village on Lake Winnipesauki. The house was for sale and the boat had to be moved as soon as possible. When i arrived i found a 1928 22′ Chris Craft Cadet missing the wheel and with replacement engine otherwise complete and original and as i was told under the house.The Pontiac Chief was on a rusted trolley with extra rusted tracks covered with sand from lake flooding over the years and was 3′ from the lake with not much room to work.A deal was made and a date was set for extraction, 14 degrees with a good wind, perfect.

Gary's 1928 Chris Craft 5

Gary's 1928 Chris Craft 8


I had Big Tony load load things we never used before like shovels and a 4” ditch pump, grabbed a crew and set up the move. I originally wanted to wait for the lake to freeze and take it over the ice but the owners wanted it removed right away.The exhaust tube was out so 2 pieces of ice and water shield on either side of the transom always works and the shoveling and pulling began.We did bring and aluminum boat to winch from and used it with a 5 hp engine to tow a 2,800lb boat with no steering 1/4 mile to a landing, it took a minute with the headwind and every splash freezing instantly on both boats.The original owner was a Pontiac dealer in Fitchburg Mass. he gave her the name Pontiac Chief.

Gary's 1928 Chris Craft 11

Woody – In 20 years of buying boats this will always top the chart for extractions every thing else seems normal now.  In the pictures I am in the aluminum boat with the winch and my favorite picture tells it all’

Gary's 1928 Chris Craft 7 Big Tony is the only one there that works for me and I asked him to straighten the boat out, he is the one with the timber prying the Chief and the trolley off the pier. He is a rigger and can move things wherever you want and never says no.  Gary

Gary's 1928 Chris Carft 12

Oh and we never had to run the ditch pump and the boat was in the water over an hour.

Gary's 1928 Chris Craft 14

Thanks Gary for sharing with the rest of us. No barn find will be the same now. You can find out more about Gary and his company here. Inland Boat Works.

24 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Wow, what an adventure. Even with the 14 degree temperature, Iwould have loved to have been part of that recovery. Being a little nuts is all part of the woodyboater lifestyle,

  2. Troy
    Troy says:

    That is a Fantastic find!
    Again it just goes to show that there are more boats out there than any of us can even dream of.

  3. Rick
    Rick says:

    Fun move. I also would have loved to be part of that. We need to have a WoodyBoat extraction party some day and then follow the restoration progress here.

  4. Alex
    Alex says:

    Seriously, that was a way cool event.

    But am I the only one who thought in the header photo the guy in the foreground was going to dynamite the boat out of there?

  5. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    yep, me too, thought he was setting up to push the plunger and blow the place!!
    Great job, great story, 14 F???? are you insane….oh…woodyboater….forgot…of course you are!
    I really like stories about a task like that one.

    Real men, real boats, real cool.

    thanks for sharing.

    John in Va.

  6. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    I thought the boat was owned by Ichabod Crane, ’cause you’d sure be a head less horseman pulling that boat into the basement. Nice score tho, amazing the bottom was so tight. Its that cold water up north.

  7. Philip Andrew
    Philip Andrew says:

    ” So two pieces of ice and water shield on both sides of the transom ” Can someone explain that to me?

    • Mike U
      Mike U says:

      Ice & water shield is a rubber membrane product with a sticky backside that adheres well to most surfaces. It comes in various sizes and is typically used as a roofing product on the lower first 3′ of the roof instead of tar paper. In northern climates during winter months, it prevents leaking from snow that has melted & then refreezes near the gutters. It is also used as flashing around windows.

      • Randy Rush Captain Grumpy
        Randy Rush Captain Grumpy says:

        I used it to hold the fenders on mu 67 International plow truck for 6 years! Miracle product!

    • Mike U
      Mike U says:

      Gary used it to cover up the exhaust hole to prevent water from entering the boat – it appears to worked like a charm.

  8. Grant Stanfield
    Grant Stanfield says:

    I love stories like this- can’t get enough. I’ve heard one where an estate was being sold off, so a brave soul swam into the locked boathouse to discover an intact but forlorn late-’20’s CC triple; another one where a late-’40’s GarWood runabout was pulled from a boathouse where both a footbridge AND a large tree obstructed the boathouse doors…cool stories that add lustre to the boats themselves!

    There’s a book in the collector-car hobby called “The COBRA in the Barn”..when will someone write “The Shepherd in the Haystack” or “The Riva in the Cave” …and so forth? (feel free to add more titles as they occur to you)

      • Grant Stanfield
        Grant Stanfield says:

        I just answered my own question over Thanksgiving and bought a copy of “What’s In Your Boat House?”, which the author admits was inspired by “The Cobra In The Barn”. Matt Smith himself did the amazing cover graphics, and the softcover book had a write-up on WoodyBoater not long ago. Available cheap on Amazon…and very entertaining. Get one for yourself and a wooden-boat friend for Christmas!

  9. Cedar Posts
    Cedar Posts says:

    The story beats mine by a mile.

    Last week I removed a 1956 Capri from a garage. Trouble is when the Capri was put there it was 1976 and the garage was a carport, open on both ends without an addition to the house which made using a trailer a non starter.

    Along about 1985 the carport was enclosed with only a six foot door for the wider than six foot boat.

    Just enough room to put her on a dolly and swing her sideways inside the garage, then out the second double door into daylight for the first time in 37 years.

  10. Gary Michael
    Gary Michael says:

    Donald thats not blood on Big Tony, he gets into a lot of stuff, once i had to pry him off a boat we were putting a bottom on when he leand over and bedded himself in 5200.He is a great guy he, understands boats, people and knows this is all about fun.

  11. George Emmanuel
    George Emmanuel says:

    Just because someone wants you to look at what you think may be some more junk to haul off, go look at it. For 15 years an elderly man wanted me to look at the boat under his lake house. I finally did and found what may be the oldest Swift in existence. A 1948 13′ made in Mt. Dora. We had to dig it out from under the house. It is on it’s original trailer.

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