The Unforgettable Blond – A 1948 Century Sea Maid
While attending the Priest Lake Dry Rot event in Northern Idaho last September, I was introduced to an Unforgettable Blond named “Dandee 1″, a 1948 Century Sea Maid 17’5”. She’s owned by Dan & Diana Indgjerd from Spokane, Washington and is powered by a 140hp Grey Marine 6. She had that rich, classic boat sound cruising across Priest Lake that day. Although it’s been over 6 months since I first was first introduced to “Dandee 1”, I have fond memories of that day when we first met. When I returned home from Priest Lake, the next day I ordered the book Classic Century Powerboats, by Paul, Frank & Trudi Miklos so I could learn more about the history and architecture of Post War Century runabouts.
In the book they write, The 1948 17’5″ Sea Maid, with it’s new torpedo-line deck styling and modestly rescupted hull, sold 281 units, making it Century’s bestselling model to that point. In all, Century produced more than 900 inboards that year (1948), finally meeting the demands of a prosperous and eager public. With the official end of the war in August 1945 …. As the country began settling back into peacetime activities, manufacturer’s began feeding the public, hungry for consumer goods. In 1947, Century answered with it’s first line of truly different boats since the war. After modest attempts at adding interest to the decks, Century made a bold move by introducing intricately patterned, high contrast deck designs that now featured extensive use of bleached mahogany (or blond planking) and heavier 1-1/4″ covering boards in bright mahogany rather than walnut. Note above the distinctive Eagle Claw vents.
The Miklos book goes on to say that, The bold designs of newcomer C. Hatfield Bills and the introduction of new models captured the attention of consumers. Century first featured the designs of C. Hatfield Bills with its boats and in its literature in 1947. The steering wheel, dashboard, and other elements reflect Bills’ directive to bring Detroit (automotive) styling into the marketplace. A heavy mahogany dash was redone in a distinctly automotive style, with a steering wheel and instrument panel directly from automobiles. A 1946 Pontiac (General Motors’ AC Division) chrome plated gauge cluster was converted for marine use with a Century signature tachometer in place of the speedometer. Chrysler provided a deluxe 17″ molded plastic steering wheel.
Then the Chief Starter for the event reminded them that they were ahead of their start time and had to make another loop to kill some time! Never cross a Chief Starter with a Bull Horn!
The all girl crew was not impressed with the Chief Starter’s directions as you can see.
Moments later the girls were finally off, racing across the lake to the first check point, with Dandee’s powerful Grey Marine 6 barking a sweet exhaust note out the back. The all girl team ended up with an impressive second place finish out of 45 teams entered in the Poker Run.
Then as dusk fell, just as quickly as we met, the Unforgettable Blond Century returned home and that was the last I saw of her……. Now every time I see a Post War Century Sea Maid with the bold deck styling and eagle claw vents, I’ll think of “Dandee 1” and the day we met in Idaho.
The Sunnyland Antique Boat Fes
tival on Lake Dora, Florida is on from March 26 to 28. This year they are featuring Century as the show marque, and the Century Boat Club will be out in full force for the event.
Maybe if I’m lucky I’ll get to meet another Unforgettable Blond at the show.
Nice story, beautiful boat. Big heart.
Great work Texx. Thanks. That goes for you too WoodyBoater. Yet another nice new header for Centruy series and I like all the extra woodies in the animation.
Great story Texx. I met a similar Century at the Sandpoint, ID. show in 2007. It was a 1950 Seamaid named Blackberry. I had never seen such a wild deck design. The perfect red and white interior sticks in my mind to this day.
Great story today. Listen how often does my wife find me in the living room watching and listening to the thunder of a classic boat motor on my laptop….movies I have shot or watched on Youtube…..once she came in and turned on the fans so I could feel the breeze in my face and laugh…..ahhhh the sopunds and sights of summer……soon…real soon. Allen
Great story! I too like the new header. The colors are easier to look at before I've had my coffee!
The designer of this boat, Clarence Hatfield Bills was my Grandfather. In 1961, he and my father found a poorly-maintained 1948 Sea Maid for sale in a classified ad. They purchased it and performed a full restoration. It was identical to the one pictured in the article, and I have many fond memories of it growing up on Orchard Lake, MI. The URL above is a recent archive of scanned pictures of C.H. Bills’ work as an artist and a designer. Unfortunately, he passed away when I was a toddler, so I never knew him.
That’s fantastic. One of the reasons we do this site. Thanks..
Steve, I would like to speak with you about a painting your Grandfather gave to my Grandfather. Email me ASAP. Thank you in advance.