Grand Craft Now With Some Soul.

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Grand Craft

This past week at Lake Dora I was reintroduced to Grand Craft boats from our pal Dave Bortner at Freedom Boat Service. Freedom is now a dealer for Grand Craft, and to be honest, at first I was.. Okay, ya! Hey I am being honest here. Replicas are not my thing, I need more. Like a soul. Some history and a deeper story.

Steve Lapkin arriving for the shootout, he is ready.

The Boats are ready

The light is ready  – Sunrise at 7AM

Bortner is ready

Kent is ready

Wayne and I are ready. The Termite Terror is always ready!

Patrick Gallagher President of Grand Craft is ready.. Wait another sip of coffee first.

WELL! Was I wrong. Ignorance is a wonderful thing as you age. It allows you to learn new things, and boy did I get a fast education. WOW. Hey, just being honest here. I was dead wrong, and the more I dug into it all, I fell in love. And here is the part that they had me. Ready. Cause its gonna change your universe.

New design, and performance out the transom!

You know how you have always wondered what would have happened if Chris Craft had just kept making wood boats? What happened to all those amazing craftsmen in Michigan when Chris Craft left for Florida? Well? Grand Craft happened. Yup. Basically in a very loose interpretation of how it all went down, thats what Grand Craft was and is. Not reproductions, but  the PROduction of a vision. There is a soul, depth, and passion. The real passion that made Chris Craft the worlds leader in boats.

We partied like it was 1964

And all of a sudden it was 2022

Look at this way. Chris Craft was huge, and needed to feed the beast. We all get that. Plastic was the future and all the choices they made kinda kept the Company going. But did lead to the 1980’s when things got a little wonky. And we are NOT talking about the current Chris Craft, which has it’s mojo back. But going back, the people that were passionate about the boats, the soul and so on, said, I ain’t gonna be part of the beast and keep doing what we are passionate about.

A very smooth ride. Like your “other” is gonna really love this.

Bortner putting it all to the test.

Soul Sisters

History, tradition, passion, with modern materials and design. Wait, isn’t this what we are all about? YES!

Fellow Woody Boater Patrick Gallagher who purchased the Grand Craft brand, and is doing what has always needed to happen. Be her voice, and passion. After all that passion in building and producing Grand Crafts has been going on for decades.

I got to drive. Oh hell ya!

Don’t tell WECATCHEM, I was cheating on her with a younger gal.

Okay everyone wanted a ride. it was infectious.


So to keep it short, I bow to thee Grand Craft.. We are Soulmates. And I am thrilled to have met you. Thank you Dave Bortner for being the matchmaker. Thanks to Steve Lapkin and Kent O. Smith for capturing that passionate moment. WOW. That was fun! Here is the link to Grand Craft Boats

17 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    With Chris Smith part of the original founders team I guess the DNA is right. With our friend and Michigan gang sponsor Dave Bortner now involved, all is well!
    Good luck to Grand Craft.

  2. Troy in FLA
    Troy in FLA says:

    Great boats, Great pics, Great time at Dora!

    Here is a Grand Craft from back home on Cobbossee.

  3. Jerry Slovick
    Jerry Slovick says:

    Grand Craft, Streblow and Shepherds are all being built in and around Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. There are many on Geneva Lake.

  4. Muddy Paws @ SML
    Muddy Paws @ SML says:

    A Grand Craft is our featured boat this year at Smith Mountain Lake Virginia Boat show. “Back in a Grand Way” is the theme since our boat shows had been cancelled for the past two years.

  5. River Rat
    River Rat says:

    I remember when they were in Holland on 21 st. They helped me fix my remote control spotlight. They had Ivalite as well. Dick Fly was very helpful. Beautiful boats.

  6. Captain Nemo
    Captain Nemo says:

    They seem to build a very nice boat. I’m guessing the price tag though, you might buy at least two restored Chris Crafts.

    • Dave Bortner
      Dave Bortner says:

      The new Grand Craft boats are targeted to a customer who might not consider a restored classic—someone who wants a new boat, with modern power but with the looks, style and smell of a great wood boat. And surprisingly, that customer can own a Grand Craft for about the same money as a comparable, new high-end fiberglass boat.

  7. Royce Humphreys
    Royce Humphreys says:

    I enjoyed seeing them in Tavares! Dave owes me a ride upon the return of soft water here in Iowa! Beautiful boats done well!

  8. Murdock
    Murdock says:

    I remember well meeting Steve Northuis early in 1980 when he and Chris Smith were working on the new 24’ swept deck. Back then, there also were a lot of retired Chris Craft employees involved and the first twenty hulls created quite a stir. Believe Robert Redford was a buyer too?
    Years later, when Steve and team brought their new 24’ utility up to Hessel, it had the good looks, lines and swept windshield of the original ‘59-‘60 24’ Sportsmans, plus a 3/4 seat. Even with a crowd aboard, the 350 V-8 moved that hull through the water quickly and in comfort!
    The new versions of this hull as seen in Tavares looked great and all the best to the new Grand Craft Team!!!

  9. KW
    KW says:

    Steve, who started Grand Craft, lived about 8 houses down the lake from me back in the late 1970s and I was fortunate enough to get a job there. When he started I was still in high school but learned a lot from those ww11 era guys. I was taught lofting by Chris Smith and carpentry skills by the guy who ran the mill department and another guy who was the pattern maker. Fast forward now 40 years and our shop is working with Grand Craft cutting out frames and stringers on a cnc machine from CAD progams. I think the old timers would be amazed at the process and quality today. Congratulations to Patrick and the team at Grand Craft.

  10. Kent O.
    Kent O. says:

    Fun morning right up until I got on the boat with Dave B and somehow scraped my leg on something. No charge for the blood on the boat. Always fun with Steve L and Matt, thanks for the inclusion, wish we were all still there doing the same kind of thing.

      STEVEN A LAPKIN says:

      KAOS – there’s plenty s’more opportunities this season – and beyond. Mega thanks to the Sunnyland folks and Terry Feist. Bravo Zulu to Matt Smith. Without his unselfish support, the shoot and other weekend details would not have been possible. Thanks Kent, Mr. Smith, Dave Bortner, Patrick Gallagher. 🙏

  11. Patrick Gallagher
    Patrick Gallagher says:

    Thanks to everyone involved that morning! We’re grateful for the kind words, Matt. Having you on board was a blast. I look forward to seeing you all soon. Please know that our doors are always open for a visit of our facility. There, you will meet the skilled craftsmen and conscientious marine technicians which will explain how we are able to produce what so many have called “works of art”!

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