5 Years Of Weekends And Nights In The Garage – Live’n The Woody Boater Life!


Bring it on Craig

A huge welcome and thanks to “lurker” and fellow Woody Boater Craig Watkins for sending in a great report from the Chicago area. Take it away Craig. BTW, we are all Lurkers! HA!

I’ve never written to you before but I have lurked on your website for years., I’m new to this hobby and wanted to tell you about our last couple weeks.

Craigs boat! Dang!

Mind you, this is only the second time this boat has been in the water. It is a 2017 and where it isn’t a ‘classic’ by definition based on age, I think you’ll agree it still fits in the ‘classic’ area.

First, after 5 years of weekends and nights in the garage, we launched the boat August 5th. My wife had said that she very much wanted to be a part of the first launch but she also knew if something went wrong (possible mechanical issues) that she knew me and didn’t want to be around. Ha. She knows me very well.
It floats! First time in the water and I was actually concerned.


So, I invited several ‘car buddies’ up to Wisconsin. One guy even flew up from Florida just for the boat launch. They all enjoyed being a part of it and we had a great day.

Panoramic shots, Captured the boat in two places and GAAAAAAA a Pontooner!

We had our other boat alongside in case any issues came up, but within 15 minutes, after things were going so smoothly, we parked the other boat and all piled in the wood boat. Here are a few pictures of the launch.

Underway. (the hat was a gift from my friends)

No wake zone. Rides and sounds nice.

nice ride

It really moves!

Back home after a successful day.

So for my families first cruise, we decided to do something different. Instead of cruising the same lake as the weekend before, we found a public boat launch out in the suburbs of Chicago. We took the Calumet Sag Channel west to meet up with the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (yes, it sounds gross, but it primarily a barge canal into the city that is open to pleasure boaters). This eventually put us in the South fork of the Chicago River. Which took us downtown and out through the locks into Lake Michigan.

Here is the path we took.

Countless railroad bridges.

Still have some final trimming to do on the windshield gaskets.

This low bridge was no problem for us but the boat on the other side had to turn around.

Getting closer

I don’t have any photos on the lake because it was so rough that the boat was actually submarining under huge swells. We were completely soaked and tucked the phones away. After the first few minutes of concern, we were all laughing and having a good time. We got gas on one of the lake harbors and quickly made our way back to the locks for the calm water of the Chicago River.

On the way home it was late in the afternoon and I asked my wife if she wanted to drive it. I was very much hoping she would. I pointed out the canal was straight as an arrow, the water was glass smooth and we were going 20-30 minutes between even seeing another boat. She took the wheel.

Here she is clipping along at 40 mph.

Coming to some interstate highway crossings.

So I know it’s not a write-up about a boat show or a group outing but I wanted to let you know that people are getting into the hobby in many different ways. We all don’t take the same path, but in the end we are all having a blast!


20 replies
  1. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    Beautiful job Craig! I’d love to know more about your design plans, build technique and power. Happy Boating!

  2. Cameron
    Cameron says:

    Brilliant job, Craig! Being a new build it’s interesting to see some of the hardware and gauges you chose. I too have Faria gauges in my restored runabout, about a fifth the size of yours. Could you tell us what wood you used and how easy/difficult it was to come by. BTW, why not try strips of cork tile to hold the windscreen.

  3. Ranger
    Ranger says:

    Congratulations Craig, you built a beautiful boat! I’m looking forward to the answers to the questions the others already asked. Well done!

  4. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    like the guys above have said,,,great job,,,,more on the build. This is one of the best stories ….what a project and I can just imagine the thrill of that first ride!

  5. Carl Garmhaus
    Carl Garmhaus says:

    Nice job Craig, I was lurking again this morning, Bring it over to Algonac, MI next June. We have some very nice cruising waters too.

  6. Dennis J Mykols
    Dennis J Mykols says:

    WOW, Glad to see the younger generation, jumpin in with BOTH feet and hands. Today’s story is great about the end of a five year build. NOW, we all want you to back up and fill us in on those five years. What inspired you to take on such a massive project? What can those from your generation learn from your experiences?
    To jump on Carl’s invite, are you considering bringing her to the A.C.B.S. big September 8 and 9th boat Show Racine, WI. You would be a real center of attention, once people learn more of your build. A.C.B.S. need more young blood like you to carry the torch, so to speak…

    • Dave Nau
      Dave Nau says:

      I’m with Dennis. Please give us more detsils on the build and get involved with ACBS.

      Well done. Beautiful boat!

  7. Captain Nemo
    Captain Nemo says:

    Excellent work! What does she have for power? Your wife is a smart woman. There is an unwritten rule that you don’t bring along your spouse on the shakedown, for obvious reasons.

  8. Craig
    Craig says:

    Wow. What great compliments! Thanks everyone. Yes, it was based off the Hankinson design Belle Isle from Glen-L. I made a few modifications (opening up the center cockpit to be much larger for example). I used a modern, port fuel injected, 5.7 liter engine from Pleasure Craft Marine. It’s 343 hp with their brand trans (1.23:1). I really wish I could send you to my build thread showing every step along the way but with the recent photobucket policy change they have broken all 3rd party photo links. So the build thread is all text but it does go over the mistakes made, the milestones…everything. I’ll work on restoring it and post back.
    As to the ACBS show in Racine…yes, I plan on attending. I hope to meet several of you there. It will be the first boat show I’ve attended and really don’t know what to expect other than meeting and chatting with like-minded people. Sounds like fun!

  9. Gayle Brantuk
    Gayle Brantuk says:

    Beautiful boat Craig and congratulations! What a neat story too about your trip. You’ve built a beautiful boat and should be very proud–we are very proud of you as well!

  10. Anthony
    Anthony says:

    I’ve been on a lot of boats in my life, but this was the most beautiful boat I’ve ever been on or seen. I’m so appreciative of the opportunity Craig !!!

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