As we get closer to the start of the 2011 Sunnyland Antique & Classic Boat Festival on Lake Dora, FL our plans to cover this year’s event are beginning to come together too. One of our many objectives this year is to incorporate a few short live-ish video reports into our regularly scheduled daily coverage, including audio… on Lake Dora aboard a Classic 1965 Chris-Craft Sea Skiff. All I can say right now is that it will either work real good or blow up in our face… Lights, Video Cameras, Wires, Power Cords, Microphones, iPhones, iPads all in the back of a 24′ Sea Skiff sitting on top of a 60 gallon gas tank. It’s comforting to know that Paul & Karen recently replaced the original 46 year-old fuel tank in “Kabot’s Habit”. Stay tuned for that, it should be interesting…
The Official Woody Boater Shoot Boat (and on-water transportation / fun boat for the weekend) is being provided by Paul & Karen Harrison. And it gets even better… This very original Chris-Craft Sea Skiff has quite a unique history as well, and here is what Paul Harrison had to say about this cool old boat…
“Kabot’s Habit” is a 1965 24′ Sea Skiff Sportsman. We bought it from Joe Kabot last year, and took possession just about 2 weeks before he passed away. He had owned it for a very long time – never really found out for sure but I think about 35 years. He bought it from the original owner who was a preacher or something. It was origainlly named “JimmyJoe”, which was some amalgam of his and his wife’s name. Joe Kabot never changed the name.
During the Sunnyland Show last year (as you likely recall, Texx) I became impulsively interested in the Skiff style of boat, after seeing one at the show that had been very nicely restored. I found Joe’s online through Macatawa Bay Boat Works and the long process of acquisition was initiated. Unfortunately, though I inquired after Joe’s boat while still in Florida, I did not hear back from him for a few weeks. It turns out that Joe was actually at Lake Dora for the show when I was inquiring after the boat but I did not know this. This is sad because I never did get to meet him – he intended to meet me at the ACBS International at Bay Harbor, MI last fall when the boat was delivered to us, but he was prevented by illness from doing so. Sadly, Joe Kabot passed away less than two weeks after that.
The boat was used by Joe for fishing on the St. Claire River and had only 117 original hours on it. It had been fully equipped for fishing by the original owner, with much dealer-installed equipment, including a 1965 depth finder and a very tidy side-steering arrangement for a trolling outboard -added at delivery. We have specifically chosen to do only the mildest possible cosmetic touch up on the boat in order to preserve it in the style that it was used for so many years by Joe and the original owner. While not as delivered because of the dealer installed equipment, it is absolutely as-used.
We will use this as a utility boat, which respects the way Joe used it. During the period between when I became aware of the boat and delivery, the universally evident respect with which Joe Kabot was held by literally everyone in the hobby with whom I spoke with, convinced me that the boat should be preserved and used in his memory. My wife Karen came up with idea of naming it “Kabot’s Habit”, and we re-launched her yesterday at Lake Dora. Before we got it I don’t think it had been in the water for at least 5 years. It has taken on less than a cup of water in 28 hours in the water.
Everything is original – from the tops, upholstery, engine, vinyl decks, fire extinguisher – everything except the fuel tank which had to be replaced due to internal corrosion. I should point out that because of long-term storage the paint was peeling and we had to have the sides re-painted (above the water line), and I don’t want people to think the paint is original when it is not. Also, a fresh coat of varnish was applied to brightwork but it was not sanded down to wood – just roughed up and varnished. The minor repairs to “Kabot’s Habit” were recently completed by Richard & Kathy Arnold at Rejuvenation Woodworks in nearby Eustis, Florida.
It is a beefy, big user boat and we love it already. Although it’s entered in the Sunnyland show this year, it is not a show boat. It is quite loud and sure is a brawny big boat. Tons of space and clean – the cuddy and bilge are almost like new. The original owner installed fitted coolers with full water circulation underneath both front seats, presumably for bait and as a live well. Those coolers will be used by Karen and I, but not for the purpose intended by the original owner!
More than the boat, the story is about the sometimes simple pleasure that the founders of our hobby, people like Joe Kabot, got from these sometimes everyday boats. Besides over restored Tahoe boats, we need to keep these users around as well. As you know, that is increasingly my point in the way I am trying to do my boats. After the show it will be taken back to Shuswap Lake, in British Columbia, Canada and used there. It is not a show boat.
Thanks Paul… We had a copy of an original 1965 Chris-Craft Sea Skiff Brochure and thought it would be fun to see what the boat originally looked like when it left the Chris-Craft plant in Salisbury, Maryland back in 1965. When compared to the photos from the original brochure, it gives us a true appreciation for how well Paul & Karen’s boat was cared for over the last 46 years.
It’s fun to read through Chris-Craft’s description of the 24′ Sea Skiff in the brochure and wonder just for a moment… When the advertising agency was writing the description and preparing the brochure for the 1965 model year, did they ever (in their wildest dreams) think that 46 years later there would be two goofs out in the middle of a lake in one of these boats attempting to beam a boat show story around the world with a portable video camera and something called an iPad?