Falling Out Of Love With Classic Boating? It’s Not You.


I was upside down two seconds in.

Yesterdays story brought up some bad memories for me. And, a reminder of why I started Woody Boater 11ish years ago.  I never wanted anyone else to go through the pain I did on a restoration gone crazy expensive. By the time I was finished with the boat, I was finished with the boat. It was a daily reminder of my ignorance. I have written it off as a collage education in the hobby. It cost more than one, that’s for sure.

Done! Kinda

I know I am not alone. It’s a dirty little secret among many of us. Mind you I am not a wealthy man. Spending anything over $100 requires a family discussion. And that’s if we have it to spend.. And further more, a boat, a wood boat is so far down the list, it’s behind cleaning the septic tank being cleaned, for example.

Super Duper finished. I pulled the boat from the bottom restorer and felt better and life started looking better.

I have noticed boats that are finished and then all of a sudden pop up for sale. You start the project as a dream. It can be fun. But near the end so painful, that you just want to at least get some of it back. So is there a solution? What have I learned over this past 11 years?

I used Graves Plating and still do! Trust. Rod is up front and a straight shooter. You know what you are getting into before you leap.

Trust! It’s all about trust. Find a good place to do your boat right, and be transparent, on both ends, restorer and owner. I was told once if we told the owner the real price they would never do the job. BULL SHIP!

WECATHCEM and Stinky at Katzs Marina ready for the Lake Hopatcong Show

This is why I am so passionate about who is on this page. Each one of these companies and the folks that play along in the comment section are class acts and TRUST worthy. I LOVE WECATCHEM, and all my boats I love using them, and fear nothing having it worked on. That should scream volumes about the process.

Sierra Boats in the Lake Tahoe area.

I know the same can be said for folks that use Sierra, Hacker, Freedom, Katz’s, and all our other supporters. They all have loyal customers and folks that love their boats. Meet a person who loves his or her boat, and you will find a great restorer and marina to service it. They are here on Woody Boater from reputation and personal experience. We are very passionate about that.

Lake Dora with friends

So, if you are in this part of the horrible process, you are not alone, and it’s not our culture, not our love. You may just need a different partner. There is a wonderful light at the end of your tunnel.

11 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Since I started woodyboating about the age when I was learning how to say “Boat”, I will never get it out of my blood. I have also been fortunate to have either done the work myself or had a trusted, quality restorer work on my boats. I will add Marine Services Unlimited to your list. I also think it is a must to find a knowledgeable mentor to guide you when you get into this passion. I was fortunate in that way, and I am now working with a young man that purchased his first classic boat last year. The old timers must “pass it on”!

  2. Rob
    Rob says:

    I enjoy doing everything on my own. It is not that we don’t have means or that I don’t trust the professional shops. I simply get peace from it. Coming up fast on forty years of wood cruiser ownership. Fifty years since I built my first sea flea. That said, DIY is not for everyone. Too many folks buy a big wood boat and start into a project by sanding brightwork and re-doing paint. Have you ever noticed how few wood boat ads have extensive photos of the entire bilge. Cruiser ads being the worst offenders. When asked if a boat is worth buying, I always advise hiring a Surveyor and taking a long, SKEPTICAL, well lit crawl through the bilge. Start at the bottom. I would think researching and finding a great surveyor and shop is probably the most important part of a purchased restoration. Otherwise….misery.

  3. Sean
    Sean says:

    I’ve only been in this about 15 years but, my first experience was getting screwed by a long time, well respected big name boat shop that has ACBS approval. They continue their dubious practices today and nobody says anything (it’s just not polite). Otoh, I’m pretty handy for most things and I can certainly sub-contract out the jobs I can’t do. I have become the Project Manager for my boats amongst wearing other hats. My second boat was a good learning experience and thank goodness I did plenty of research between the two. I’ll never trust ANY boat shop with the whole job again, no matter their recommendations and I certainly have more tools in my toolbox than a cheque book. I agree with Rob that I enjoy doing things n my own and feel a sense of accomplishment when they’re done….. and I’m always thinking about the next one and how I can do better. Plus I learn a lot about each of these boats.

  4. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    You really have to LOVE it. A high quality restoration will always cost much more than the boat will be worth at the end of it all. You can do the work yourself if you have the skill and save cash but you’ll spend lots of your time. Just gotta LOVE it or JUST DON’T DO IT.

  5. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    I have always done most of my work myself….but last year I got the very best guy and marina in my area…and opinion,….to do a ton of “second wind” work on my Fairchild Scout 30…I went into this knowing the guy, and his reputation. Which was: you tell him what you think your boat needs and what you want..and then you let (expect) him to do what he sees you require. Sure it cost…but the best always does….and my sole complaint is that I now have nothing broken to work on…but that too will pass!!
    John in Va

  6. Jerome
    Jerome says:

    Thank You Rob for the best advise ever on WB. When buying a boat your first step must be to find a trust worthy boat surveyor. Sleep well.

  7. Herb Hall
    Herb Hall says:

    Thank you for the article Matt. At Sierra, we give honest and accurate estimates. Not everyone likes our price, but it is honest. I can’t tell you how often I hear, ” I should have just brought it to you first, I was quoted a lower price, but ended up spending more and I am disappointed in the work”. Quality take time and time costs money. And the money goes to paying good craftsmen who know their work.

  8. Lying to myself
    Lying to myself says:

    The day you pick up your newly restored boat from the shop should be a happy day. I felt like I had been punched in the gut, I was almost sick. I recalled how Matt had sold his boat because he didn’t want the constant reminder and would have done the same but the thought of selling the boat for half of my cost was more than I could bear. By keeping the boat I can just lie to myself about what the boat is worth. As time passes, I think about the cost less often and the love for this old friend grows. I tell myself that I saved her from the burn pile. When I pass on, the boat will go to the kids that way I will never take a loss on the boat.

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