As we travel to the various boat shows and boating related events around the country, the subject of future growth of the antique & classic boat hobby often comes up. Over the last few years, at many of the local events, and even the larger events, we are noticing more and more entry level classic boats in attendance made from wood, fiberglass and alumimum. It’s just great to see that these old classic boats are being saved, their owners are bringing them back to life, and proudly displaying them and participating in the hobby.
Local ACBS Chapters are always looking for ways to attract new members, which has a direct impact on the overall growth of the hobby nationally. Some folks feel that more should be done to encourage folks to get involved in the hobby with these less expensive, reasonably priced classic boats. After all, the reasonably priced wooden, fiberglass and aluminum boats from the 1950’s and 1960’s are cool too, and represent the history of boating during that period.
In early January, fellow Woody Boater Chad Durren ran across a listing on the Internet for a 1959 17′ Feather Craft cruiser. The only problem was, the classic aluminum Feather Craft was located in an outdoor storage compound in Calgary, Canada not far from where our friend and fellow Woody Boater Paul Harrison lives. (Another fine example of how the Woody Boater community works together)
Chad (who is currently restoring a Feather Craft runabout) and Paul did some quick research on the marque and determined that this particular Feather Craft was called an Islander Express Cruiser, which according to their research was not that common. They also communicated with some folks on one of the very active Feather Craft owner’s forums to find out that the boat was a rare find. A few days later, after an initial inspection, Paul ended up buying the boat. The first two photos of the Islander (above) on the flatbed trailer are from the original on-line advertisement.
Below is a rendering of a 17′ Islander Express Cruiser from an original 1959 Feather Craft brochure.
This is what the Islander actually looked like when Paul arrived at the storage compound. But from what he could see, it looked to be in fairly good condition for a 52 year old aluminum boat and he was able to locate a serial number on the transom which confirmed it was in fact a 1959 model.
The cabin top was originally constructed from fiberglass and the plexiglass windows were weathered but all there. The ventilating front windows were made from flat glass and almost all of the hardware to operate the windows was intact. Except for the bow light and stern light, it appeared that all the original hardware was there, rub rails and original custom side grab rails were intact.
Although from the photo it looks a bit rough on the interior, the original plywood interior components appear to be there, but the original folding captains chairs are missing and will have to be sourced. According to the seller who knew the family history of the boat, it had been stored outside for a number of years awaiting restoration. As noted in the original 1959 Feather Craft brochure, they claim “The foam filled flotation compartments under the seats and in the bow make your Feather Craft virtually unsinkable.” The foam flotation sections are what you see scattered around the inside of the boat.
The aluminum transom appears to be in good condition, and Paul was able to locate the original wooden boards that were used to mount the outboard motor to the transom. For purposes of originality, all the original wood will provide good baseline templates for the new wood located throughout the interior.
So at this point your probably thinking to yourself, “Why is he telling us this stuff?” Well, Paul’s vision for this Feather Craft is to attempt to restore the Islander as a period correct “Reasonably Priced User Boat” and get it back into shape and in the water by the summer. Last week he was very fortunate to locate the original Mastercraft trailer that came with the Feather Craft Islander and will arrange to transport the boat 300 miles to a restoration company for an assessment. Paul’s ultimate objective is to complete the project within a specific budget of under $10,000.00 – all in, including a period correct outboard motor.
We thought it would be fun for Woody Boater to follow the project with weekly updates, covering every aspect of the restoration process, to experience the ups and downs of the restoration and see if Paul can meet his objective of completing it as a “Reasonably Priced User Boat” and get it back in the water by the summer.
While Paul was in Tavares for the Sunnyland boat show, through the flea market he located a 1961 Evinrude Starflight 75HP (simliar to the brochure below) that he had completely rebuilt in time for his return to Canada, c/w period correct controls, etc. More on that later.
If you look closely at the boat in the Evinrude ad, you can also see the folding captains chairs similar to what Paul needs for the Islander. Many of the express crusiers from that period used them.