A few weeks ago we ran a story here on Woody Boater designed to reach out to our viewers asking the question – “What are we doing to attract younger folks to the hobby of classic boating?” And we were thrilled to receive 69 comments from the Woody Boater Community with some great insight and suggestions on the subject. If for some reason you missed that story on January 22nd or you need to refresh your memory, it was titled – Is 30 The New 15 When It Comes To Classic Boating? (click on the title to go to the story)
Of all the great comments, one viewer comment caught our attention, it was from fellow Woody Boater Michael Vannier in Colorado. Here’s the original commet from the that story…
January 24, 2013 at 1:07 AM
Michael Vannier says:
Matt, I purchased my first boat at 50, a 20′ 1949 Century Sea Maid beautifully restored by Wayne Spaulding here in sunny Colorado. Nearly every winter since, my son and I revarnished her to keep her looking her best. Five years after catching the bug, my 17 year old son Jack and I spent nearly every weekend being tutored by Wayne in his shop outside Breckenridge, restoring our first venture, a 1960 Chris Craft Cavalier Custom Cruiser. While Wayne and another Rocky Mountain Classics club member, Rom Nellis, did most of the restoration craftsmanship, Jack and I meticulously worked on dissasembly, documenting parts and measurements, and stripping and sanding. The restoration continues in our garage outside Denver.
The exterior is nearly ready for final sanding and prep for those first colorful coats, and Jack and I are creating memories each time we tackle the next job. The video games and texting come to an end and we focus on the art we are trying to learn, together. Jack is a member of the next generation you speak of here. There’s really nothing like the Woody Boater experience. Much to learn and do, but wonderful times together doing it. – Michael Vannier
After reading Michael’s comment, we just had to learn more about the Chris-Craft Cavalier project that Michael and his son Jack were doing together as a “Father & Son team” so we sent them an e-mail. And a few days later we received this great story from Michael & Jack, about the boat they now affectionately refer to as “Mike’s Mess”.
Mike’s Mess – 1960 Chris Craft Cavalier Custom Cruiser Restoration
By Michael Vannier
Texx – Early in 2012, I had an opportunity to acquire a Second Hand Rose, a 1960 Chris Craft Cavalier Custom Cruiser. As the story was told to me, a friend and member of our Rocky Mountain Classics Chapter of ACBS purchased her, intercepting her on her way to the dump. Circumstances enabled me to purchase her from him, and begin our journey of restoration.
When I contacted the Chris-Craft Cavalier section on the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club’s Boat Buzz Forum, I received mixed messages of encouragement to move forward with the restoration. Right or wrong, while I had no link to her, and didn’t know her story, I saw this as a project for my son and I to tackle. He very much enjoys working with me on our ’49 Century Sea Maid, and often asked for opportunities to go up to Frisco, Colorado, and work with Wayne Spaulding in his shop just outside Breckenridge.
Well, we purchased her in the state you see in the first two picks. Jack and I spent the summer commuting up to Frisco/Breckenridge from our home in Mead nearly every weekend this summer. Wayne Spaulding tutored us on the critical steps of disassembly, and we developed what I hope to be a good way to catalog and mark all the pieces and parts as we tore her down to what could be saved.
With the tear-down complete, Jack and I spent most weekends stripping and sanding, bringing supplies and materials up to the shop from Denver, and learning some very basics of what it takes to craft the new deck and transom you see in the pictures. No, we are not restoring her to original plywood construction, so we’re not about to win any awards or anything. Let’s just say we are taking the word “Custom” in her model name to another level of beauty.
As you can see, we have much work ahead of us. We know a little more about what we are currently calling her, “Mike’s Mess”, having received a packet from the Mariner’s Museum. She was originally shipped to a Chris-Craft dealer in Sterling, Colorado. We haven’t taken the research much further than that.
A local auto-repair and engine shop specializing in the restoration of early era automobiles is restoring her original Chris-Craft 283. Dale Kocian at Kocian Instruments has her instrument panel, and Jack and I have many months of work ahead of us.
Stay tuned. We’ll keep you abreast of the journey.
Thanks Michael for sharing your story of “Mike’s Mess” with us here at Woody Boater. It’s fantastic to see that you and your son Jack are spending your spare time together saving this classic Chris-Craft cruiser from the bone yard. I’m sure you will both have some fond memories of the days working on her together and when she is re-launched in Colorado. Memories that will last a lifetime…
It’s also great to hear from a member of the Rocky Mountain Classics ACBS Chapter out in Colorado, this is one area of the country we haven’t had a chance to report on yet. Checking on line I learned that the folks in Colorado spend time classic boating on Lake Dillon, at an elevation of 9,017 feet above sea level.
Lake Dillon is located about 75 miles west of Denver on I-70 and is surrounded by the snowcapped mountains of the Colorado Rockies. The lake is considered to be a boat lover’s paradise with its crystal clear, blue water, mountain vistas and fresh air and is just short drive from the the towns of Breckenridge and Vail, Colorado.
The Rocky Mountain Classics website is currently under construction, but you can get a taste of their classic boats by visiting the Rocky Mountain Classics Facebook page and checking out their photo gallery.
Michael and Jack are also in the process of learning more about what the 1960 Chris-Craft Cavaliers had for interior / upholstery colors which will soon be on their To Do list for the project. If you can help, let us know.