Oh, We’re Off On The Road To Al-GO-Nac – With “UNCAS”


“The Rig” with the iconic Algonac water tower in the background.

IN REFERENCE TO YESTERDAY’S POPULAR STORY titled “It’s Windshield Day On Woody Boater! On The Road To Algonac” we received this interesting story from Dave Bortner at Freedom Boat Service about his trip to Algonac yesterday with a different twist (or should I say “tilt”?). – Texx

Long, Long Trailer

Quite possibly the best vintage road trip film about dragging a trailer across the country – From 1954 the film “The Long, Long Trailer” featured Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. – Texx

Windshield time? Ha! Reminds me of a Bing Crosby/Bob Hope “Road” movie. – Dave Bortner

I did my windshield time yesterday, and I got to do it pulling a Boathouse Classic Trailer! When we were looking at which boat to bring to Algonac, a conversation with our customer who owns the (only) 1930 28’ Chris-Craft Model 118 Limousine went like this:

“Wouldn’t it be cool to bring this boat back to the place she was “born”?”, as the Algonac show takes place at the Algonac Harbor Club, which was the original Chris-Craft factory. Not only was the answer a hearty yes, it was also accompanied with “ why don’t you take the whole rig?” The “whole rig” being the Boathouse Classic Trailer, gooseneck size, and the Ford F350 Power Stroke Diesel puller. “Sure thing”, said I. – Dave

The Boathouse Classic Trailer premise is a pretty cool engineering concept: an enclosed aluminum trailer with soft, roll-forward sides, adjustable bunks to accommodate almost any boat with a beam that’ll fit inside the rails, and a host of hydraulic suspension tricks to make launching and retrieval as easy as possible. While they’ve engineered a number of trailer sizes since, this one was designed to maximize the size of boat, up to 30’, that’ll fit inside.

It makes for a pretty big mother of a package, and while I’ve got thousands and thousands of miles under my belt pulling pretty big runabout size boats, this was a little daunting at first.


It feels pretty close to pulling a semi-size trailer when you start out, and I was especially vigilant about maintaining lane discipline, as the trailer is wide by design. After a little while, I found that constant scanning of the rear-view mirrors to make sure the trailer was in the right place was counter-productive, and that focusing on making sure the truck was in the right place does the trick.

With its’ aluminum construction, the trailer itself isn’t real heavy, so it’s not a substantially heavier load. The trailer is substantially taller than pulling a boat on an open trailer, and the additional wind resistance has a significant effect on fuel economy, but all in all, it’s easy to tow. The geometry of the fifth wheel arrangement makes for a different turning experience, particularly on city streets and in and out of Popeye’s Fried Chicken driveways along the way.


Fuel fill-up at the Algonac Harbor Club (location of the 2015 Algonac Boat Show), from the shore side.


The real genius of the trailer reveals itself when you get to the boat ramp. The trailer axles “kneel” hydraulically to lower the back end of the trailer, which results in not having to back the trailer as far down the ramp and into the water, easing launch and retrieval.

The gooseneck rises hydraulically, by about 18”, to allow the trailer to back down almost any ramp without scraping the underside on the “hump” that’s so often present. Once you get past the “hump” and into the water, the gooseneck also “kneels” about 6” below ride height, which lowers the front end of the trailer, easing launch and retrieval. The bunks and guides keep the boat in the proper position, and the heavy duty Warn winch on the bow stand tugs the boat in place gently. Once out of the water, there are plenty of well placed “D” rings to attach tie-down straps in any configuration you can imagine.


Backed up to the dock at Algonac.


Trailer axles at normal ride height.


Adjustable bunks, adjustable guides, and “D” rings for tie-downs.


Gooseneck at ride height, safety pin installed.


Gooseneck extended up for maximum backing clearance.


Gooseneck extended up, note clearance is almost the same as rear bumper of tow vehicle.


Gooseneck at ride height.


Gooseneck at minimum height, lowering front of trailer for ease of launch/retrieval.



Hydraulics controlled by hand-held wireless remote.


The Boathouse Classic Trailer is a great solution to enclosed vintage boat transport, providing safe, secure transport, while minimizing the challenges of enclosed trailer transport.

Dave Bortner
Freedom Boat Service

Thanks Dave – It looks like trailer technology for your classic boat has finally turned the corner. Lucy & Desi could have used that technology back in the day. To learn more about Boathouse Classic Trailers you can check out their website and video by Clicking Here.

“UNCAS” is a stunning antique Chris-Craft triple with period power and I’m sure we will be seeing more of her over the weekend as the reports start coming in from the 2015 Michigan Chapter Boat Show at the Algonac Harbour Club.


7 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    That trailer has more tricks up it’s sleeve than I ever imagined. We are packing up the truck, hooking up Tiger Lily on her old fashioned trailer and heading to Algonac this morning. Looks like a great day for the Friday cruise and lunch at Bryson’s island. Looking forward to a great show, and seeing all of our WoodyBoater friends. WooHooo!

  2. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Funny! When I was in Texas having lunch with Jim Frechette, Kerry Price and Mark Fender I mentioned wanting to go to the Al-Go-Nac show. Luckily Jim was able to interpret my yankee slang and informed the others I was talking about Algun-ac.

  3. Hub Cooper
    Hub Cooper says:

    I believe there has been a mistake on the ownership of UNCAS, when the boat was at Hessel last year the owner was listed as Kermit Sutton, not Dave Bortner. The restoration was done by Northwood Boatworks.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Hub – Yes, you are correct. “UNCAS” is currently owned by Kermit Sutton. It was being represented in Algonac by Dave Bortner at Freedom Boat Service at Kermits request.

      “UNCAS” won Best Wood Runabout and Best of Show at Algonac last weekend. – Texx

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