Thanks to fellow Woody Boater Chris Ritchie for send in this nice story about his life long love of Woody Boats.
As a child I grew up on The Big Rideau Lake, Ont Canada. So fortunate to literally spend every summer on The Big Rideau until I was about 16. My first real memory of a wooden boat was about 7 yrs old.
It was early spring/summer and I was looking for my blow-up raft. I headed into the boat house and dad was in it, floating under the family boat which was still on rafters from the winter painting the hull. I think I was upset because it was now all covered in copper colored paint! I just remember that day because it was the first time I remember seeing the Lal-Buddi out of the water. So big, so massive. The Lal-Buddi was a 1952, 24ft, 3 cockpit Richardson built for my grandfather, Jake. So many great memories. The sound when she initially firing up, the low deep rumble when idling, the jet of water firing out of the exhaust, how she slide through the water, how her bow raised when planning, the rainbows caused by the spray off the stern….it was always my happy place. Unfortunately the Lal Buddi has been lost. However, this did not stop my lifelong appreciation and love affair for wooden boats.
Just recently my childhood dream of replacing the Lal-Buddi presented itself. It’s funny how if you ask the universe for something, it will deliver. I was fortunate enough to pick up a 1949 Century Resorter. Actually my Dad found it. It has a very similar hull design as the Lal-Buddi. I currently live in Scottsdale AZ, and the boat was is Kemptville Ont, about 4hrs East of where my Dad lives. With that being said, next thing I knew the boat is in my Dad’s driveway. What just happened?!? Ha. So booked my airline ticket and off I go to see, touch, smell, bond with Lal-Buddi II. No doubt she needs a “hug”. We really didn’t know the last time she was in the water or ran. So off I go to Picton Ont, for a week.
My goal was to drive it off the dock! What a fantastic week. I spoke with Dave Van Ness, what an amazing experience with him. Order new carb kits, fuel pump, points/condenser and cap & rotor. My dad has an amazing local mechanic (Les Walker – Picton Ontario) who knew these Gray Marine Fireball V6 motors. So, was able to be Les’ assistant while going through the systems etc. Then the moment arrived. Hearing it run! Les and I did the bucket/by pass hose deal while at the shop and got it to fire. After a very long nap, she woke up with a vengeance, she’s alive! What a moment!! My heart was jumping through my chest.
OK, half the battle was done. She ran. Now phase 2 was getting her in the water. Yikes. The following day, time to go down to the harbor. Oh boy. Had a commercial pump in the bow and another in the stern. Slowly backed the stern into the drink and just let her float a bit off the trailer. Then water just started flowing in. Not having anything to compare to, I thought for sure something was wrong. It was like the kitchen sink faucet was on. But over a few hours, the water level maintained and then said screwed it. Backed it all the way in. She popped off the trailer and you could see her smile! What a great moment. Seeing her tied up at the dock, bathing in the sun. She continued to soak up over the next 36 hrs. The pumps were not kicking on and the bilge was doing her job. That’s another story, she’s a 6 V system. The bilge is a 12v. My mission was almost complete. She runs and floats but my goal was to get her off the dock. So, got her running, up to temperature and Les tuned the dual Zenith carbs. I turned to Les and said….c’mon let’s do this. Let’s leave the dock. I can’t do it without you. My dad was in his boat as a chaser, just in case we needed a tow. We threw the lines and I engaged reverse. Just love that rear gear engagement sound. Goal accomplished…she floats, runs and off the dock! Engaged in forward and off we go.
And wow, even at idle she wants to run! She been woken up from her long nap and ready to stretch her legs. Unfortunately I was not able to keep the transmission engaged in forward by herself. Hopefully just an linkage adjustment. Without really looking into the tranny, didn’t push it and we just idled around the harbor. Even though we didn’t get open her up, still such an amazing buck list moment. So fun!
What is/was amazing to me was everyone’s love, help and appreciation for this old wooden boat to see water again. No way, couldn’t have done this without the help of my dad. Huge help! Les, left the hospital the day after his son was born to wrench on the motor. Mr. Publow for allowing me to use his boat launch and dock to soak up, checking on her during the first night. Fellow wooden boat owners on the Big Rideau checking in. In a time where “community” seems to be falling way side, this was not the case here.
Now back in Scottsdale and will be heading up to Big Rideau for a couple weeks with the Lal Buddi in August. I can’t wait to really get some hours on her on my childhood lake!