I am not sure where to start. So I will start on Friday night.. You may want to get a cup of coffee.. I left the office mid day Friday to head up to Lake Hopatcong to Katz’s marina to pick up the new b. 7 hrs later at an average speed of 25 mph I made it. Met the gang and had a nice dinner and soft ice cream. Then a well deserved sleep.. Ya ya , you want to see the boat.. So did I! So I am torturing you like I was.. Saturday 7 AM, Seth calls. I am at the marina.. I said, I am already half way there.. A loooong 5 minutes later there I a.. At Katz’s marina. Waiting to see the boat. The Boat! A 1960 24 ft Chis Craft Sportsman! Brite sides and all. 203 original hours. Lincoln 430 V8, rebuilt by van ness.

The boat is 99.9% original. the only new item is the flooring. The boat was found in a barn a couple years back in PA, from an eBay listing by Don Ploenter Jr and Don Sr. The boat had never been registered since the owner was a Chris Craft Dealer. So even the Hull card is included, yes the original, the Mariners Museum does not even have it. The interior is perfect and original. Everything.. The boat was stripped down and restained and vanished by Fellow Woody Boaters John Kadimik of Northwood Boatworks. It’s magnific, the chome and gages were all cleaned up and redoneif needed..

We put the boat in the water and not one drop of water in the bilge. NOT A DROP.. Insane stuff. With her massive big block she lites up the water and will gently cruise at 2000 rpm at 25 knots all day.. until you run out of fuel.. Her trailer is a very nice performance trailer, considered by many as the top in the trailer world. For our needs this was the magic set up on a perfect boat for our water needs. The original owner Don Ploatner said. It’s a huge shoe box with varnish on it! No kidding.. Its massive.. But stunning.

So there she is.. Sitting in the work bay.. All perked up ready to go. To add to the fun, we had secretly named her “Suzy” the boatress’s name and my guiding light. She had no idea and I had to keep this all secret since she was at our river house.Katz’s marina even arranged for  Alan Johnson, Gold Leaf master did the lettering before leaving to the west coast to pin stripe hot rods and other fancy cars for the Pebble beach Concours.. Wow, we were very lucky to get that as well. The transaction was way beyond the usual stuff. very professional, and fun.. Lets see, a all day test drive, boat all perked up.. Take it to a show and. And on my way home with a 1 year warrenty? mmmm…. Is there a better way to buy a boat?

So.. Next thing, we are all loaded up.. Dave Van Ness of Van Ness Engeneering with a killer 1941 19ft Chris Craft Barrel Back, Don Ploetner and his massive award winning Higgins, Foxy Lady and Seth and his best of show winner Finito, the last 21 ft Cobra made.  All in a caravan through the roads of New Jersesy on our way to Greenwood lake in NY.. It was a site to see.. 1/2 a million dollars of show boats lined up going  down the road..

The Greenwood Lake show was fun, and one of the best in there long history according to Phil Widmer the show chairman..

Here is Phil the boat show chairman and a pal, making the show happen!

We had a ton of fun, motored down the lake looking for Seth’s old house that he spent years in.. Lots of memories and a great day of classic boating on some fun boats..

In the water and heading to the show. Here is Dave Van Ness and the Barrel Back.. What a scene

The Ladies all enjoying the ride. I am telling ya, this boat is a chick magnet!

I never have my boats judged.. I dont like being a judge and always feel sorry for the judges at shows since it is a thankless job.. But.. I was asked if i wanted to have the boat judged.. I said sure, did the parade and everything.. When in Rome! And guess what. We won best utility! go figure.. Seth won Peoples Choice, Dave won Best Runabout, and Don won Best in show.. What the hell.. We show up late in a carivan of mahogany and chrome.. Eat, have a great time and take home all the awards.. I felt bad, and good all in the same time. I was there for a good time.. And had a great time instead..

Dave on the left, Seth, Me, and Don with our winnings!

Woohooo… back to lake Hopatcong and a fun dinner d a good nights sleep.. The long journey back to DC in the morning.. Dear god what was that going to be like! hauling a box of varnish back on the NJ turnpike..

4 AM I am awake! 5AM I am on the road.. The boat trailered like it wasn’t even there, except that i was going through fuel like a sherman tank.. NO TRAFFIC.. Perfect.. Hit DC by 9:45 and the boatress says on the phone..Keep driving, were going boating.. So I kept motering another 3 hrs to Reedville VA.. Presented Suzy to Suzy! “I knew you were going to do something stupid like that!” But she is happy.. very happy and in love with the boat she never saw.. THANK GOD!

Suzy with Suzy.

We motored around the Great Wicomico in great joy. No numbers yet, But fully insured by Hagerty.. So what the hell, it was worth the ticket..


I was going Woody Boating in two bodies of water in one weekend.. Greenwood lake in NY and The Great Wicomico in Virginia.  What a fantastic weekend and a joyful way to by a new boat. I have to go to work now.. Cant wait til Friday

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47 Responses to “The New Official Woody Boater Go To Classic Boat!”
  1. chad

    Fantastic boat. Congrats!
    The look on Suzy’s face says it all..

  2. randy & ginger

    beautiful boat! so happy for you and both suzy’s!

  3. Al Benton

    Suzy is beautiful, and so is Suzy. Wow! What a find (both varnished box and sweet heart). Congratulations to both of you! Well, actually all 3 of you.

    • matt

      I bought it to match a very nice aluminum try “someone ” found for me!

  4. Jack Schneiberg

    What a boat! And, what was that budget figure you were throwing around????

  5. Paul H.

    I think the earlier budget number got blown out a bit. But, when presented with a special opportunity like that boat already done and water-ready? A no brainer..

    GREAT touch on the name, Matt.

    • matt

      budget? HA, actually adding up all the stuff and work, we are in a good place.. The process is what was magical as well. The standards are so high on this boat with no mystery. No repairs from some guy named lenny at a marina in the mid 80’s using dry wall screws.. Non of that. All good folks that did great work and bought the best to take care of it.

  6. John Rothert

    Great story, great boat, hope to get a ride in ole Va.
    Surely at Reedville show….

    John in Va.

  7. Rick

    Congrats. Lots of boat there! If you’re buying a boat without the wife seeing it you had better name it after her.

  8. chad

    I’d trade a dozen, crusty movie boats for SUZY (the boat) any day!

    • anonymous

      But if you have Suzy the woman you can apparently have those boats also, no need to choose.

  9. ARRRGH!

    Congrats, Matt! I wish i had thopught to name my boat for my wife. Great move, Slick! Now that you have a boat for Suzy, what are you going to drive????? Hmmmm. Need another boat . . . .

  10. Larry Forget

    CONGRATS, GREAT PICS, You said it would be a great life-style, bling choice. .Big boat or that lady weights 80 pounds..! , We use to live in that lower NY area , around Newburgh & Fishkill NY. Again, GREAT STORY also, for a barn find, un registered.

  11. Scott Robinson

    Ah, another Woodboater success, congrats Matt & Suzy, you got the best sportsman ! I love those boats even if they look squareish, ask the folks on windy and cold day which boat is best, it won’t be the barrel back. Best wishes, Scooter

    • Ken Miller

      Scott Robinson said: “…..I love those boats even if they look squareish, ask the folks on windy and cold day which boat is best…..”

      Anyone know how different the bottom on these 24 footers was from the 22 footers? I realize the freeboard is much higher. Dang, that transom looks like the Berlin Wall.

      Nice boat Matt. You finally got your utility, and a NICE one at that.

  12. Matt B


    Congrats, sweet ride. So you’re taking it to every boat you go to and giving rides?

  13. Leatherneck

    That’s a real beauty! Sorry we stayed North last weekend and missed Suzy’s debut on the river.

  14. Texx

    “Understated Elegance” Matt. Congratulations on a nice find.

    And the best part… No repairs or restoration work required to get the Sportsman in the water!

  15. DonD

    So it wasn’t 3-years old, and it obviously wasn’t under 10-grand, but I’ll bet you got a super sweet deal on it because of your ‘enthusiam’?
    I suppose we should all call you ‘Rupert’ now?

    Actually, you have just aquired what I personally consider one of Chris-Crafts best utilities. It is so beamy, so deep, it not only stays real dry but if you get the Bimini top, it keeps you warm into November.

    I did a total on one of these a couple years back and when about half-way through, the owner forwarded an e-mail he received from a broker for a 24-ft Grand-Craft that was a dead knock-off of this boat (fancier upholstery).
    It was a 2006 model and they had just reduced the price to an (apparently) amazingly low price of $175,000.

    You will see (stop calling it boxy), that is one GREAT Chris-Craft!

  16. Woody

    I could not agree more. This is an amazing boat on all sorts of levels. We can’t find the top that came with it. But I can not imagine that it’s a hard find. We need one bad with this sun. With the motor in it it hauls ass. To be crass.. I had not put the grand craft and thus together but it makes sense.

    • DonD

      You’ve shown photos of the boat I did, named “Brown Eyed Girl”, out of Georgia.

      You could get patterns of his soft-top and bows.

  17. m-fine

    Did Chris Craft really offer these with a big Lincoln? I would have expected a 283. Also, how big is the fuel tank, and does it have provisions for mid journey refueling from a supply tender?

  18. matt

    Its a beast, they offered a 283, A lincoln and twin 283’s. This thing eats gas like me at a Borito festival!

    • m-fine

      I could understand producing gas after a Burito festival, but if you are eating gas, I think you are doing something wrong!

  19. Texx

    According to The Essential Guide there were 149 – 24′ Sportsman’s built in 1959 & 1960. Engines offered were either 283, 430 Lincoln or twin 283’s.

    Fuel capacity was either 36 Gallon (single engine) or 50 Gallon (twin engines).

    With only 149 produced, it would be easy to go through the hull cards at the Mariners’ Museum to confirm how many were shipped with the big 430 Lincoln.

    Also, I have a number of images of “Brown Eyed Girl” in Georgia with her top up if required Matt.

    • DonD

      Don’t show him the dash shots, of the wheel and aluminum panel, Matt probably thinks these should be yellow?

  20. m-fine

    36 gallons is not too bad if you go light on the throttle. I only have 20 gallons, and with the jet it barely moves below 3000 rpm. At 2000 rpm is just converts gas into noise and a lot of turbulence behind you, so there is no go slow and conserve fuel option.

  21. SS Dave

    Beauty, of a boat! Lotso Varish, would have been a good name too, after the wife better idea. I showed up with a boat with our then one month old daughters name on the transom, pretty good idea, it took a full 24 hrs for my wife to get really PO-ed! 3 years later she’s pretty much over it..

    • DonD

      Your boat was built at the Cadillac, MI, plant.

      I did a couple of articles on Forrie Kanipe (hull-dresser-1946 – to Quality Control Manager – 35-year-pin), in Classic Boating magazine.

      Look at his propriatary photos in the background, he helped design the molds and fixtures to build this boat.

  22. Dick Dow

    Fantastic Matt! When we see you out this way some day, we’ll get into what we can do with that motor to make it efficient – there are ways…

    Beautiful boat! Great choice.

  23. BigRed

    I have the 1959 version… sitting in a shed… in fair condition, ready to be restored. Too bad I lost my workshop – this would have been the motivation I needed! After the previous story about letting boats sit, I feel bad to say it, but either she sells or she waits.

    If she stays with me – bring Suzy to a MN boat show in 10 years and we can cruise together.


    Very nice boat. Congrats. Sorry to miss the shows – too much family – too much water in Lake Champlain.

    Someone asked how long you will keep it. I presume the answer is “until I can find a pre-war U-22 in equal condition”

  25. matt

    Hopefully we will see you in Clayton.. Bill MAck is bringing his 24 sportsman with only 100 hrs on it to the show.. Amazing boat.. Always looking for a fun U22

  26. DonD

    Wait a minute,
    You haven’t even told them all why any woody-boatress might allow such a boat?

    The V-berths and toilet, in the forepeak, behind a companionway door?

    C’mon, your 430 will run rings around any 22-U, I’ll bet even Russ’s “Blue-By-U”?

    Tell Gene; sorry, but?

  27. JoanJohn

    We bought the 24′ Sportsman at the Clayton auction this month. Its better than the pictures! Where can we get original looking upholstery material? The red,black and cream is awesome. Also, what is the displacement? See you a Clayton next year.