On Golden Pond. Chapter 3. Thayer They Go!

The Main Picture Boat Thayer IV U22 - 1460 and the U.S. Mail Boat Mariah a Century Raven at Katz's marina , Lake Hopatcong NJ.

Many of you have been following the news on the Barn Find Golden Pond Boats, Thayer IV 1460 the main picture boat and the U.S. Mail Boat Mariah. Well, welcome to the next chapter and a clear comment generator. This time with a bold move and a beginning of a beautiful next chapter in there lives. We here at Woody Boater have as many of you know, been sensitive to the care and feeding of these two boats. We always wanted the story, not the boats, but as I got to know the family that owned them, Pat and others and the love that these boats meant for so many. It became infectious. We, I, was all in, in saving them and preserving them. One thing that kept nagging us here at Woody Boater was the fact that at some point these boats needed to under go a massive restoration/preservation….not a Woody Boater strength..

The Golden Pond Boats leaving Falls Church VA.. on there journy to being restored and preserved

Today… Actually yesterday, they were picked up by Katz’s Marina on Lake Hopatcong for a complete bottom to top restoration/preservation. After about half a year of struggling and interviewing people on what to do with these boats. Katz’s was the final answer. Some other places also volunteered to restore them for free, or be part of a board of directors on the proper thing to do. I reached out to auction houses in Hollywood, and top brokers and Museums in the country as to the what should be the correct way to preserve them.. Leave them alone or restore them? That became our burden and focus here.. Leave them alone or restore/preserve them. And after all that, what good were they going to be in my barn.. Ego and pride is a dangerous thing…the responsibility of owning a icon or treasure is not for the faint of heart.. or small bank account… They need to be used to grow the sport/hobby, lifestyle of Classic Boating. My plan was to take them to shows and do that.. To let them be a beacon to attract new folks to the lifestyle. And guess what.. It worked.. Mt Dora, Lake Gaston…. And then we hit a wall. We are not in the show business. Woody Boater is and should not be in the show, but rather report on the show. To be your eyes, not be the news.. I have known Seth Katz and Katz’s marina for years. I also know the folks on Lake Hopatcong and the gang there.. No place on earth is better for these boats to be. It’s close to New England and the mid Atlantic.. And stay on the east coast… The lake loves classic boats and embraces them as art and lives and embodies the Woody Boater lifestyle. And Katz’s Marina does amazing work. AMAZING WORK! It’s one of the go to places in the world when you don’t want excuses and want the best.. It is the right place, they are home..

Thayer IV close to water.. Being inspected..

The deal.. and I tell this because I am very sensitive to what our motivation is here. And after all, you the readers have been part of this journey… We are not brokers or profiteers. No sir.. I was told several times that I could name my price, offered double what we paid in one case… or the most common as mentioned above that someone would restore them for free. And then what? Money and greed have no place in this for me. So we sold them at cost to Katz’s. Period.. Follow the money and you will find true intentions.. That way the restoration is there business not all mixed up with us. .. If they wanted to save them and could. Then that was and is the right thing. .. Also part of the deal is that the boats be used for the same agreement of using them to promote the lifestyle. And in what was a 100% agreement Woody Boater stay part of the process. In a way, we are in a partnership with Katz’s, and VanNess Engineering who will do all the engine work..All the top players in the hobby will be helping on these boats. Volunteers are signing up to help as well. Each and every step will be documented for the readers and the entire community of Woody Boaters can participate and watch the preservation. This will be a massive undertaking to do it well.. and this team can do it.. We could not.. Photoshop can only do so much.. They are not to be tucked away in a collection as a trophy or sold off in a side show sale.. We all here in Woodyboaterville are part of these boats.

So .. If you want to see them in BEFORE condition.. They will be at two shows together this year only. Lake Hopatcong and a get together at Lake Mohawk. I will say that it’s worth the trip.. There is something magical about these boats.. They embody all that is good and romantic about this lifestyle. Thayer IV is in my book, the #1 most iconic Woody Boat on the planet. It’s Chris Smith’s favorite model, and the most well known of all of them. It re ignited the hobby back in the 1980’s…After Lake Mohawk, they are being taken into the shop and the plan is to have them done by Lake Dora in the spring to go boating. I am sure if you want to see them with there bottoms off you can go by and see them.. All part of the fun.. Next year marks the 30th anniversary of the premiere of the film. So it will be a huge year for these boats. We will be with the restoration and the shows all the way.. reporting and boating. Stay tuned..

US Mail boat with all the bee hives removed.. Sitting on Sylvias old trailer.

Mariah's interior.. Note the engine top.. It was originally red, but they died it brown to tone down the red .. all the cool details of the shoot are here onn these boats. Mariah has 171 hrs on her. She was taken from the film set to Pats and then in a Barn.. Thats it..

33 replies
  1. Rick
    Rick says:

    Starting right now have a 24/7 live camera on those boats so every bit of accumulated dirt and dust can be documented as they are restored. Hate to read in 15 years that these are not the originals because a certain species of bird poop is not in exactly the right spot. Matt this may be the smartest thing you’ve done (next to starting WoodyBoater and the iconic WoodyWeiners) distancing yourself from these boats.

    • Dave Pickard
      Dave Pickard says:

      Wow, just actually read the whole article, Dave VanNess and Katz are the right people. I have spoken with Dave many times and will be getting together with him soon, hope to see the motors at his shop! He is the right man for the job and he also speaks very highly of Katz marina.

  2. matt
    matt says:

    It was a tough thing to do. My ego kept telling me to be selfish.. Thanks for the compliment. I am not expecting any more of them..Katz’s marina is a very cool place.. They broke the story on Facebook.. All cool stuff these days.

  3. matt
    matt says:

    It was until I spoke with Seth .. He has already sealed the areas that needed attention and is fixing the interior. I dont want to be like a cat lady that just has the boats until they rot from no ability to fix them.. These boats had a short time to be preserved. They were right on the edge.. The mail boat should be in intensive care.. And katz’s can provide that..

  4. Bob Kays
    Bob Kays says:

    I made my first of what is sure to be many visits to the boats yesterday evening. SO COOL!! They are in one of the best restoration shops in the country and Seth tells me they will be restored ‘as they were in the movie”. It will be a fun and interesting process. The boats will feel at home on Lake Hopatcong

  5. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    I am not sure why you expect to be critisized for making a personal and financial decision that harms no one.

    I certainly understand your point of view. As cool as it would be to say you own those boats, it is far from covering the downsides. The owner has a responsibility and a burden to preserve them and to make them available to the public. Personally, I am not anywhere near a point in my life where that is something I would want to do, and certainly not want to have to do. There are other things I want to do on my summer weekends, and I certainly recognize that you have other priorities as well.

    Congratulations on getting the story. Congratulations on getting to be one of the lucky few who will get to own these rare and famous boats. Finally, CONGRATULATIONS on finding a way to offload the burden while still staying involved.

    So…. Now that you have a wad of cash (back) in your pocket what is next? Are you buying that first Tiffany?

  6. matt
    matt says:

    Ha, no wads of cash.. Did I mention I have two kids in out of state universities.. We are on the hunt for a cool go to user boat. I need to not care about what i use right now. But that is subject to change once I see another pony.. Lymans? Sea Skiffs, Red and whites? I smell a future story..

  7. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    everyone makes choices, and your intial choice to buy these boats brought them back into the limelight, so to speak for the benefit of the hobby and fans of classic boating. They were doing no one any good mouldering away in a funky barn somewhere, and thanks to the unique proposition you, as a buyer, presented to the family, they have once again emerged. I can certainly understand why you would rather be on the water as a boater, as opposed to a boat owning sideshow attraction at the shows. I saw all that at Tavares.

    Seth has the means, philosophy, respect and experience to ensure that these icons are protected, preserved and enjoyed in a manner which benefits all involved. The responsibility that ownership, and most importantly conservatorship, confers on an owner is not to be taken lightly. These could not have been left as they now sit, as you point out. To mitigate the deterioration in the boats is expensive, time consuming and means you are not on the water – actually boating.

    The last thing the anyone needs is for these to be rstored to as delivered – I am sure they will be painstakingly returned to the exact appearance they displayed in the movie. That is the only sensible way to do it, and of anyone around that could do this, I think Seth is the best possible person. Good on you for having the stones to make the call to move these along, and lets enjoy the process as they are brought back to functionality -as boats, not deteriorated vestiges.

    Now, about a user lapstrake – do it! You’ll never regret it. Best and least expensive turn-key way to get on the water in a classic inboard that I know of. As everyone knows, they are the most practical and user friendly classic boat design out there.

  8. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Children are expensive, its a good thing I figured out what was causing them after the second one!

    Don’t you have enough skiff style boats? Have you considered a 1963/3 Chris Craft Ski-Jet? They can be purchased relatively cheaply, and what could possibly go wrong? 🙂

  9. Rabbit
    Rabbit says:


    Get yourself a nice user U-22. God knows your readers will help you find the perfect one. Admit it, that’s what you’ve always really wanted. And that way you’ll always have a spiritual kinship with Thayer IV.

  10. Ronald
    Ronald says:

    After seeing the Thayer in person in Taveres then thinking how lucky you were to have acquired it, then being a little sad that you were going to sell it I think you have made the right decision. When I bought my first wood boat a ’60 17 sportsman which I found out was too small, I then wanted a ’22 sportsman really bad until buying one, after much work and using it a short time I was not satisfied, I then purchased a 24 CC Sea Skiff, after hauling it back and forth for a few years I found it was too large, now I own an early 22 sea skiff that probably will be with me forever, not too long, not too short, a lot of space for guest and coolers and a 7 ft beam so it is very easy to trailer, great for grandchildren, did I mention it also rides good, with a good top and side covers we have weathered some pretty good storms, Also note I think the Smith family that still boats all have Sea Skiffs. That should tell you something. I now have that same ’22 sportsman for the second time around but will be selling it soon. Good Luck in finding a suitable boat. What a great job you are doing for our hobby with your website, I look forward to it daily to see what is new.

  11. Mike M
    Mike M says:

    The real thrill is in the hunt. We were all fortunate to have lived that with you vicariously here on WB.

    So, is the old saying true? Was buying those boats the second best day of your life and selling them number 1?

    Someday I’ll sell something and find out for myself.

  12. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    There’s no doubt in my own mind that you have made a very difficult but responsible decission regarding these two treasures. Without knowing the details, it sure sounds like a great partnership has been developed to see this story through to the beginning of another happy chapter in the future of these amazing boats. Congrat’s.

  13. woody
    woody says:

    Oh, we looked that one over with a fine tooth comb.. Here is what we found… It had about a foot of oily rain water in it from being left out for some time. The engines had had issues and were rebuilt, but we dont know by who or how..That comet lettering is a train wreck and detracts from the value, so that needs to go…. So those are unknown.. There is mold in the cushions, its the wrong color boat with what has had some issues withthe sides.. and is a west system bottom.. All these things on there own are easy, but you add it all up and you would have 50K in a boat at 38.. .. .. Now.. the real value.. 15K and not knowing how all the rain over time has effected the bottom? And moisture in a west system bottom? Shipping to the east coast5K but we still LOVE these boats and were ready to go. Comet is a very well known Red and white.. Its a crying shame in the way that its been stored..

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      And Comet wasn’t yet water tested, this is just what was found by obeserving it on the trailer. The water test may have found even more gremlins after a long period of dry dock.

  14. woody
    woody says:

    Its about as painful as it gets to watch a killer boat like this die a slow death. I hate that. The sad thing is clearly the owner does not know he is doing damage to the boat. Its the people doing the work and maintaining it that dont understasnd the difference between a wood boat like this and a car or fiberglass boat. Ugh.. UGH!

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      You know this one is on the watch list of a few folks now. The truth of it’s condition is out, and maybe that can serve as a wakeup call to the owner, who is apparently letting this boat rot, rather than even cover it with a tarp.

      It will sell if the price comes down to a point which acknowledges the work it requires. I doubt it will go much further than it has along the deterioration continuum before it gets into better hands. They only people interested in it will be people who know enough to have it checked, so lets hope the price comes down, it is bought by someone who knows what they are doing and it is returned to it’s deserved condition.

  15. steve bunda
    steve bunda says:

    WEll Matt , Seth has many boats in his stable, and the market for the buyer, nation wide is good , what do you think? And what boat is your choice? a top 10 list is fine. steve and Laurie

  16. woody
    woody says:

    I am strongly in the market and not sure yet what to do.. I am boatless.. Well.. I still have 3 boats.. but they are not this kind..

    In order.. today..I am on a tight budget, unless someone is feeling the Woody boater Love!
    Lyman 25 or so cruisette soft top!
    Sea Skiff , but not a boring one..
    Red and White
    U22.. Alex Watsons U22. to be specific.. LUSH LIFE
    A 60’s or so 24 Sportsman
    A cool cruiser. ya ya.. I know, but the right woody cruser
    A Tolly Craft cruiser. 1960’s
    A big Higgins

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      matt – how the hell are you going to trailer a cruiser? Do you want to be stuck on one body of water? Nice idea but are they really what you want?

      Alex has enough boats, surely he can spare you a U 22? Get on the water with an inexpensive and versatile lapstrake while you figure the long-term boat of your dreams out. There’s my 2 cents! And you need a vintage Suburban to tow it with!

  17. Boat Guy
    Boat Guy says:

    I lived on an old Chris for a few years. There is something about the wood boats that the newer ones just do not have. I am getting ready to build a woody. I start this month. I would love some input along the way. I am documenting the entire build with video on my site. Any input would be a huge help. It is my first build and nervous is the flavor of the day.

  18. randy & ginger
    randy & ginger says:


    never any doubt in our minds that you would come up with the right solution for the OGP boats and you did!

    our question is where is gertrude and the little green motor boat…

    sorry, my friend but your work is not done yet!

  19. Alex
    Alex says:


    Let me get this straight. You want my Lush Life? Are you sure? I have three rambunctious kids. As a result, I can assure you, it ain’t that Lush!


  20. RiverRat
    RiverRat says:

    Woody Boater Rules. I am happy that these boats are in my own back yard. Maybe I will actually go down there to see them. The motor rebuild I believe will happen a few towns over. I am also inspired by all the lapstrake comments and tempered by the reality the two Lymans is all I can handle, and that is a bit of a dream. I can still drool freely at the new boats I come across. My Lyman recommendation is a pre-1961 Lyman 23 foot inboard. My favorite is the 18 foot outboards built between 1956 and 1961. They were less expensive than other boats although there are still people out there looking for the big price tag. It is my boat of choice for the St. Lawrence River. Congradulations and Good Luck.

  21. thomas
    thomas says:

    I got my first woody in the late 70’s but after seeing On Golden Pond my dream was to be just like the Thayers. After many years i now live on my on “Golden Pond”, have a boathouse and i also have 4 Chris Crafts and 1 Garwood. All because of this movie. thanks Norm.

  22. Ty
    Ty says:

    On Golden Pond has a special place in my heart. To see that these boats were even still around is amazing. Just amazing. And I am glad they are being taken care of by people who care. Some day I hope to see them in person….And take pics of em! 🙂 Thank you.

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