Brian at his HQ in Algonac

This morning we were all notified that a fixture in the Wooden Boat universe Brian Cuthberson had passed away suddenly up in Algonac. What became quickly clear is how special and loved Brian was. He was a fixture up in the center of it all, the heart in many ways of the classic boat culture. He was always there when needed, and always with a smile and great sense of humor.

Brian gave us all a quick tour and boat ride on the boat his family built

The Cuthbertsons are part of the DNA of the Chris Craft heritage, and we were fortunate enough to capture some of that charm and history years ago with photographer Eric Frazier. Today a look back on that photo shoot, you can see who Brian was just by looking at the way he was on film.

But first a quick call

Brian spent his life in paradise

Okay lets go

Flat waters of pure aqua

Chill’n with Brian

Brians classic smile

Thanks Erik for capturing these special seconds

Brian. Thanks for all you gave to our universe.

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21 Responses to “Longtime Woody Boater Brian Cuthbertson Suddenly Passes Away”
  1. Anthony

    That’s devastating news, I had him help me with my first boat 20 some years ago. The story sums up the kind of person he was. I can still hear his answering machine message when you called his shop and he most likely was working on something or busy. One of the last of his kind, thank you for sharing.

  2. Greg Lewandowski

    Matt, thanks for this tribute to a very admired and respected member of our Michigan gang. He will truly truly be missed.

  3. Mark Edmonson

    I have known Brian for over 40 years, Brian and Tom Cuthbertson, helped us at Diamond Boat Works restore the “Shaker Girl II” back in the early 90’s. What a wonderful gentleman. He will be truly missed. A wealth of knowledge gone.

  4. Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U P)

    RIP Brian, I never met the man. Although he sounds like a person I would have had a lot in common with. It also looks and sounds like he was a very special person. May all the engines he touched run forever.

  5. Murdock

    Met him many, many years ago and indeed a gentleman of the first order with tremendous hands on knowledge.
    The African proverb is true: “When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground.”
    We’ve lost a great deal of tribal knowledge these last few years……..

  6. Rob Richmond

    My Dad did his first restoration of The Sub with Tom Cuthbertson back in the 70s. Since then we’ve always had Brian help us with our engines. I remember the last time we spoke he said he was retiring but still offered to come up to Port Huron if needed. A super guy, so sad to hear the news. Sincere condolences to his family.

  7. David Irvine

    The first time I heard the name “Cuthbertson” was when my parent’s moved to Algonac on St. Clair River Drive and bought a 1957 23’ Cuthbertson utility.

    Over time, I got to know Brian much better. He’d help my dad to keep the old girl going. I’d run into Brian as a substitute teacher at Algonac High. After college, I moved away but would come home frequently to see my parents and go boating. I’d go to Cuthbertson’s for maintenance, but also got involved with the Michigan Chapter ACBS and the local Algonac/Clay Historical Society activities. I would not only run into Brian at his shop, but everywhere I’d go. Need a small adjustment to the engine? “Brian, how much rdo we owe you? Nothing. “Brian, may I remind you that the 60-year warrantee has expired on this Cuthbertson Craft? :)”

    I will miss you dear friend, and having you show up wherever I happened to be… the Algonac/Clay Historical Society. The Algonac Wooden Boat show. Hessel. Everywhere. Your memory will always be with us. Until we cruise again!

  8. Troy in ANE

    Brian is still hanging out on the home page of the CCABC.

    Not sure where he wants us to “Join Us” now.


    • Susan Kleintjes

      We have known Brian our whole life in Algonac. Such a kind and caring man always there to help you if you needed it. We were so blessed to have him in our lives and so very saddened to hear of his passing. His smile and laughter will be so missed. Life just won’t be the same without him in it.

  9. Charlene Pike

    Brian installed the new 454 engines in our 1964 CC Commander. He was one of the only people my OCD hubby would let work on her. I cherish the memories of Brian. Our lives are richer having known him. Charlene Pike, Chris-Craft Commander Club

  10. Van Holton

    Shocked to hear this news we are in Virginia, Florida, Washington, Illinois and Mississippi. Broadly dispersed, our family has relied on the expertise of this gifted and benevolent soul for all of our classic boat challenges (of which there are many!) Russell Island will never be the same in that regard. In the 90s when working on my family ’27 ChrisCraft Cadet (at Cutherbertson Marine now), I offered the idea of collecting all of the old forgotten wood boats that seemed to be all around in coves with keels in the mud and restore them and sell them on ebay or something…Brian immediately admonished: “thats a bad idea, these boats need to stay here on the river!” That’s Brian, rich and his roots are deep.

  11. Ern Mink

    On December 13th, 2022, the community of Algonac Michigan lost a true hero, and I lost a great friend. Brian Cuthbertson was a leader and friend to many of us in the Blue Water Area. He had a unique brand of character that instantly gained your attention on first meeting.
    Brian stood very tall, so most of us had to looked up to him naturally. He was also a great listener. He would hold back his thoughts, gathering and collecting the conversations of others. One could literally see from his expanding toothy grin that he was brewing his thoughts, and you were about to get a dose of wisdom.
    I first met Brian in the 70’s. He worked in his father’s Marine Engine shop, part of the Cuthbertson Marina and Boat Works that built and repaired all manner of boats, including Chris Craft, Garwood, and their own Cuthbertson makes. I learned a lot of practical knowledge from Brian while maintaining my U-22 Chris Craft. He had a rather old-school maintenance strategy of what I call the Band-Aid approach. This concept involves doing the least possible repair of a broken part instead of replacing with new. His argument was that the new part could break just as fast, and the simple fix was cheaper. Brian saved me a lot of money over the years.
    Another aspect of the Brian Cuthbertson persona is his apprehension to new technology. For example, He refused to own a cell phone. This made for real challenge for friends to get ahold of him, especially in today’s environment of changing circumstances. Many times, I had to drive around town looking for him to ensure he got the group message of a changing event.
    Brian’s strongest asset was his knowledge of everything mechanic. He was my go-to library of how to fix and repair everything from marine engines, boat construction, marine electronics, and everything in-between. He was even known to have renovated an old tractor. With the passing of Brian’s best friend Mike Murley just last year, Brian’s lost to the community adds to the depletion of our Legacy Craftsmen. Brian surely will be missed. May the memory of Brian Cuthbertson live in Algonac’s historic heritage.

    • Denny DOWNING

      Thank You Mr. Mink,
      You spoke true to the heart. Your well chosen words did capture his spirit.

  12. Guldemond Ann

    Brian was just “Brian.” He was well known by many in the Algonac area, but for much more than just his knowledge of old boat engines. In the last two days I have heard stories of “Brian” at the coffee shop, riding his bike, participating at various Algonac events, and his pivotal role our Maritime Museum. He was Bob’s “go to” guy and also a great friend. He is so missed by so many.

  13. Floyd r turbo

    Chris Smith, Murley, and now Brian, a very sad time for these families and our hobby. RIP Brian.

  14. Marsha T

    Such a nice man, he came over and worked on getting my 1936 firetruck running a few years back… didn’t even want to take any payment for working on it said he was having fun because it wasn’t a boat for a change, but still had one of the engines that boats do. He’ll definitely be missed in this community rest in peace Brian!