I Only Have One Vintage Boat And I’m Happy. Is There Something Wrong With Me? – By Bruce “Rabbit” Bildsten

The Rabbit hole!

A huge thanks to longtime fellow Woody Boater and pal Bruce “Rabbit” Bildsten for writing some wonderful copy to keep us all going through the winter of unfortunate ebay stories. We shall all make it through.. But with only one boat? Take it away Mr Rabbit! And no captions on the photos, so I get to make them up

Rabbit and Rabbit! They should multiply?

I Only Have One Vintage Boat And I’m Happy. Is There Something Wrong With Me?

One thing that’s clear to me after reading Woody Boater every day: Most of you have a disease. It’s sick. You just keep accumulating boats. Or, as soon as you finish one restoration, you immediately drag home another trailer full of firewood and start all over. Then there’s my good friend Mark Setterholm who owns a perfect Riva Ariston (with a new row of trophies to prove it) yet sheepishly confessed to me that someday he’d like to upgrade his fleet and add another Riva. Whaaaat!

Mr Ruin your chances at any show that he comes too, Mr Setterholm.  trouble maker!

And to make matters worse, you lie about your addiction, don’t all of you out there? You think your wife (or husband) won’t notice another hulk in the pole shed. Or, even worse yet, you hide the latest I-couldn’t-resist-it in someone else’s pole shed.

Jimmy’s barn! He has room for more!

And, Matt, you already had the dream dock, but you had to add another boat this Summer, didn’t you? Don’t even get me started, Alex Watson. Even your docks ooze perfection. (I won’t mention my fellow Minnesotans like Lee Anderson or John Allen: That’s just a different league.)

Dock Watsons – Sorry Bruce bad pun!

A part of lee Andersons boat house.. There is more.

Not to gloat, but I’m proud to say I still have not been afflicted by this dangerous disorder. I have a nicely restored 1947 Gar Wood Ensign and that’s all I NEED. Really. Truly. I don’t need anything longer, since the little Gar squeezes into our old boathouse with only inches to spare. I don’t need a big water boat, since the 2,200 acres of its home –

North of Minneapolis. Up there near Antarctica I think

Balsam Lake in Northwestern Wisconsin- is nicely divided into small bays and inlets. And I don’t need a boat to handle a crowd since I have a pontoon-like plastic deck boat thingy. Ooops, I let that slip, didn’t I?

The Pooches love the Pontoon! Then again, BRUCE, dogs roll around in poop and drink from mud puddles. Just say’n

(Yes, much to Dave Bortner’s chagrin, I do have one of those hideous craft mainly because I can let my brother-in-laws ram it into the dock without remorse. It also serves as our water’s edge patio, as the cabin is forty steep steps away.)

Pretty lake, ugly fugly boat.

Bortner and his shorts

Maybe it’s because I know I’m incapable of doing any real restoration myself. The research, yes. The work? You might as well let that cigarette-smoking chimp who shows up at the Woody Boater Virtual Christmas Party do it.


So, yes, I’m quite happy with my diminutive Gar. And every weekend, we run the heck out of it, taking friends and family out in shifts. In fact, I judge the quality of my weekends by how much I spend at the gas dock. Instead of dreaming of an upgrade, I dream about the joy I’ll feel “way up there” when my ashes are dumped off the transom and my children, Will and Katherine, take the helm for the next generation.

Will and Katherine

I mean, Dave and Mark and John Karlson and some of my other pals DO have a point that a 24-foot Sea Skiff would do everything the pontoon thingy does, while providing a far more aesthetically-pleasing shoreline. Yeah, I get what they mean. Let me ponder that…

Oh, wouldn’ t ya just know it! Daves gotta whopper Sea Skiff for sale. Right in your back yard. I bet Dave would even deliver it to your Dock. Just click here Bruce.. Just click here


16 replies
  1. Rick
    Rick says:

    I actually do understand. I LOVE my wooden boat. But I also like my Hobie fishing kayaks (2), paddle kayaks (2), zodiac, pram and plastic cruiser. There’s only so much free time available and yes when the chimp is done with your boat he can work on mine. Basically all things water related are of interest to me so I will probably never have a fleet of just one type but I enjoy each in their place. Work is what really gets in the way.

  2. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Keep it to one, it is much simpler, but then again there are a LOT of nice boats out there.

  3. Steve Bunda
    Steve Bunda says:

    Wood Boats are art , does a collector only have one example? One painting? one coin or stamp? Every boat in a collection is different and has a story and specific design accouterments.
    Most gentlemen and gentlewomen have more than one suit or dress for different occasions. It is just natural to have multiple wood boats, and logical to improve and restore their integrity with new bottoms and upkeep.

  4. Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U P )
    Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U P ) says:

    Thanks to all you Woody Boaters who have sent in stories the last few days. Matt was in a slump and needed a little help. Its good to keep our fearless leader fueled with Ideas and stories!

  5. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    Oh boy, my husband and I are adding a 3rd boat now! It is an addiction. We started with a 55 Century Coronado, added a 1946 Gar Wood Ensign, just bought a 28′ Chris Craft 1957 Sedan Cruise. All he says is now a Hacker Craft would just complete the fleet lol. We need to sell our house and live in a metal building that mostly storage and garage with a small living area built out. I have to admit I’m game for all of this!

  6. JFKarlson
    JFKarlson says:

    Sounds to me like you’re in denial Rabbit. I think there’s room for a Fitzke SPB (or two) to hang in the boathouse. Best of luck scratching your itch.

  7. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    If you only have one classic boat you are a derelict and not doing your part to support the disease. Jus sayin

    John in VA

  8. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    Nice story angle, Rabbit, one to shift gears, and helping to keep it interesting.
    Since 2010, when I got back into Classic boating, I was turning them over every two years because of two reasons;
    1. to find the “Right” boat, and 2. was to enjoy different hull styles. I had the philosophy that there were so many different classic boats (and Cars) to enjoy, and at my age SO LITTLE time left to truly enjoy them.
    Well, that got costly and I think I found TWO boats that I can live with for a little longer than two years.
    So while I agree with Rabbit that one is enough, it really is two, if you count his pontoon!
    Same with me, a Classic Coronado, but also a classic Boston Whaler!
    41 boats over my lifetime and still counting, but don’t tell Ronnie. My roaming Eye, still gets me thinkin, humm…

  9. Briant
    Briant says:

    I put all of my time and money into one woody in the garage. Spreading out the time and money between many boats would not be fair to the one.

    Think of it this way….Only a real schmuck would have more than one mistress.

    In Rabbit’s case though, he has a mistress (woody boat) who also happens to have a pet pig (pontoon)……

  10. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    If I can only have one wife then I’m going to have multiple mistresses as long as they all give me pleasure.

  11. mahoganymadness
    mahoganymadness says:

    1 boat is a hobby 2 boats is a disease …more than That well we have an outbreak the the CDC would have a problem identifying a cure for…so for short 8+ I’m a goner

  12. RiverRat
    RiverRat says:

    I have two mistresses. The River St. Lawrence and the Big Lake Michigan. I need at least one boat in each place. The more I have, the more live to see another day.

  13. Ronald
    Ronald says:

    I had 5 at one time, It is a disease, There are a lot of people with way more than me. I am down to two and looking to sell one. Like Dennis it took me a few boats to decide on what I wanted and Its way more fun to buy more than is is to sell.

  14. thomas d
    thomas d says:

    a friend told me the first step to a cure is admitting you have a problem. I now have 4 C-C woodies, 1 aluminum and pontoon (just add mahogany) last year for the wife. I realized I wouldn’t have enough time, or money, so I sold 1 woody, 3 glassics and 1 aluminum. i tried to sell and then give away a nice sea skiff hull but no takers so it will be deck and beach furniture this summer.

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