A huge wonderful thanks to long time fellow Woody Boater Steve Bunda and Chapter President Of The Sons Of Varnish Wisconsin Chapter, for sending us in this incredibly insightful story. Dang, Not only does Steve have a way with boats, but a way with words! Enjoy. I did.
I and many other woody boaters caught the bug , started with one wood boat and then added more. For me it was easy as I had a supporting wife that loved woody boating as much as working on them. The reasons to purchase another one always made sense at the time and could be justified by any number of things. May it be a different style , size, rarity, investment, cost, or any other rationale that came after a few beers. A few years ago my good customer Gordon Moore brought me another boat to restore a pre-war 21 foot utility . I said to him, Gordon you do not need another boat, his response ways,” Steve it is not about need”
After being involved with wood boats since working at Kinn Marine , Oconomowoc, Wis, in 1976 and subsequently buying our first boat a 1946 Chris Craft 17 foot Deluxe in the 80’s . We turned a hobby into a nice little business and have installed over 75 5200 bottoms and restored many more. We bought boats and stashed them everywhere, built buildings and filled them up with treasures including Chris Crafts, Century, Thompson, GarWood, and others.
The reason to save them was obvious because it would be a crime to scrap them and burn the hull . But as time passes , 10 , 20, 30 years and the boats are still there something has to change . Throughout the years we have seen many collections sold off at auction, and I have come to the realization that I have more boats than time to restore or use.
A few years ago I set off to sell 2 boats a year and it is not easy to find new owners for average everyday woody boats. Wood boats are maintained and restored based on Value or Love. But when the boat’s value is not shored up by being a rare or highly sought after woody like a Barrel, Cobra, Racing Runabout, or other special collector boat. And the love is lost when the original boat owner and the family walk away from their wood boat.
The problem is finding a new owner for an average every day survivor or project boat that does not meet this criteria. So what do we do with these boats? They cannot be made rare, hard to create love, all money and time invested restoring them is not easily recovered.
I think the answer is to help people of all ages to understand the uniqueness and the ability to restore a wood boat whether doing it yourself or having a professional do it. I have helped many people restore their boats and that process has saved many a wood boat and filled it with love. Restoring a wood boat is about the “Journey” from the purchase, planning, taking the first piece of hardware off to the completion and boating on your favorite waters.
When we completed a restoration on our 1937 25 foot Triple and subsequently launched it for its maiden voyage it gave us a great sense of accomplishment. A feeling you cannot get by going to your local marina and purchasing a new plastic, aluminum boat, or pontoon. After completing our last project , Laurie and I looked at each other and said , now what do we do? Which one is next?
Again, thanks to Steve Bunda and this amazing 1937 25 foot Roll Deck. Found abandoned in Sturgeon Bay Wisc, restoration started by Keenan Bunda and then completed by Steve and Laurie Bunda over 8 years between customer projects. Named Who’s Your Daddy , because we would love to find the original owner some day . The boat is now filled back up with Love.
Steve owns what used to be called Bottoms Up Restoration and is now search term named Antique Boat Restoration. Oh Google, you have messed with a fun brand name. Photo credit Marc Blazich from and taken on Lake Lucerne Wisconsin.