In Search Of The Lost Sportsman! Calling All Woody Boaters!

1953 Special Sportsman. Note the wheel

1953 Special Sportsman. Note the wheel

Fellow Woody Boater  Jeremy is…has been looking for his family boat for years to no avail. He contacted us for help and we started in on all the first places to go. We were able to find out some interesting things, but still no luck. It is a little like finding a needle in a hay stack. but if it can be done, its here. We would love to reunite the boat with Jeremy and his family. Sadly his dad passed away a bit ago, so the only history is in memory form and a couple pictures. Now.. We have some details that help big time. Like a hull number, where the boat was purchased, and sold. No names though so the trail ends in the late 80’s Here is what we know.

It’s a 1953 Chris-Craft 17 Special Sportsman  Hull Number CC-17-348

with a KLC # 61842 Purchased in Sharon PA,

Sold in 1987 in Newcastle PA

No Name on the boat, red interior.

OK.. Now, here is an interesting detail. She was ordered with a deluxe wheel? Look familiar?

The boat was dented on the bow. A Triple A sticker was placed on it. Ya ya, all that may be gone. But you may remember such a boat, or may have owned it and sold it. Any small detail is a lead. Below is the original email from Jeremy that might also lead to a recollection..

What we tried, We searched the ACBS registered boats, we searched anyone that may have ordered a hull card, we searched the Chris Craft Hull registry, we searched the web, and other boats for sale on the web that are kinda close. Things change. Now we are reaching out to you. The community. Please forward this to your pals in the hobby. You never know.

We located the original Hull card from the Mariners Museum Chris Craft Collection. Thanks! Great folks by the way. If you don't have your hull card, click here.

We located the original Hull card from the Mariners Museum Chris Craft Collection. Thanks! Great folks by the way. If you don’t have your hull card, click here.

Take it away Jeremy,

“I grew up with my dad’s classic 1953 Chris Craft 17’ Special Sportsman, which he bought new for $2,336! I still have the original receipt.  I was raised knowing we had a very special boat that many admired, but as a kid in the 80s, it was hard to fully understand why.

Bill of Sale, Note the wheel extra charge. The boat was ordered and delivered to the closest place with a rail station. Ordered from Chris Craft..

Bill of Sale, Note the wheel extra charge. The boat was ordered and delivered to the closest place with a rail station. Ordered from Chris Craft..

There were lots of flashier, sportier MasterCrafts and Ski Natiques on the boat, but even the younger guys always loved skiing behind my dad’s powerful classic boat.
Dad was one of the founding members of the Conneaut Lake Area Ski Society in the 50s and they used to do the ski shows on the lake. That boat saw so much history, decades before I was born.  Dad was known to the younger guys as “Frosty”, but they were always shocked when they learned how much older he was than he looked. He was water skiing with guys in their 30s until he was in his 70s.

Lost sportsman 6

Vintage pontoon! Nice…. Note the light on the deck? Also of note, the boat was finished on the inside. No exposed frames, all finished.

For me, even as great as the last day of school was every year, summer was not summer for me until I helped my dad get his boat out of winter storage. The next couple weeks would mean careful touch ups to the varnish and attention to the bottom. Every time I attend a classic boat show and smell that wonderful combination of old mahogany, new varnish, gasoline and slight mustiness of the lake, it instantly transports me back 30 years to those happy times.

The key photo that may save the day. An oddity! Unique to this boat. We all hope its still on the boat.

The key photo that may save the day. An oddity! Unique to this boat. We all hope its still on the boat.

When I was a teenager, my dad was getting too old to continue all of the work required to keep up his showpiece, and I wasn’t yet mature enough to take it on. I was heart broken the year he sold it, especially when I learned the buyer planned to take it on Pittsburgh rivers. Dad was always proud of only running it in the cleanest of lakes.  I’ve recently connected with some awesome people as I try to track down Dad’s boat. I’m hoping to find it still around and having received the love it deserves over the last few decades. It is truly the most enduring memory of my dad and the happy times I had as a kid.”

Yes its BW, yes its fuzzy, and yes its impossible to tell anything.. Except "Frosty" is having a good time!

Yes its BW, yes its fuzzy, and yes its impossible to tell anything.. Except “Frosty” is having a good time!

32 replies
  1. Cliff
    Cliff says:

    Snow on Tuesday and now I have “Frosty the Sportsman” running through my head…..I’ll look through some regional boat show pictures and see what at stands out with that wheel.

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    What we need is access to DMV records in all 50 states. Any LEO’s who read Woodyboater who can search PA registration records for the hull number?

  3. Troy
    Troy says:

    Since I can’t help out with the boat I have to say that one picture with the guy in the ’70’s shorts and the Starsky & Hutch hair did not start my day quite right.

    Maybe this will help?

  4. matt
    matt says:

    Thanks Cutwaterguy, that is our hope. We have the numbers, and we know the boat was loved. And in the late 80’s it would have gone to someone that made a Woody choice, since there were other options out there.

  5. Don Ayers
    Don Ayers says:

    Wheel will be the dead giveaway!!!

    Lots of those boats out there but the wheel with be what gets it found. Then verify the hull number.

    Good luck.

    I was able to track my Riva back to 1975 when it came to the USA in NC area. Before that, really hard to track from another country

    • Greg Lewandowski
      Greg Lewandowski says:


      My ’59 17 ft. Sportsman did not have that dash tag, but the instruments were in the center of the dash, so the space was not avialable.

      • matt
        matt says:

        In my search I have seen others and old BW photos of that on the dash of the special Sportsman. They made about 260 ish of them. If it drives like the rocket, thus little boat is an amazing boat. Smooth ride, peppy and fun. I can see how He got his nick name by Frosting others as he passed them.

  6. Jim Staib
    Jim Staib says:

    Take the Hull card in to whatever department in PA that registers boats. Tell them your story and ask if they can trace the serial (hull) number. If they won’t do it ask how to fill out a “Freedom of information act request”

  7. shawn
    shawn says:

    Wonderful memories Jeremy and best of luck in your search! You certainly have the right group searching for you if it’s to be found! Matt found our boat “work boat one” in less than a day!

  8. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    If I remember correctly, I saw a picture of Paul Pletcher walking down the steps of the Tennessee state capitol? (or some Tn state bldg) with a Telex computer tape contain all the Tenn. registered boats back in the day. Ahh, those were the days. Did Paul have a mainframe tape drive he had access to? (I did.)

    Now, at lot of states outsource their boat registrations and you’ll pay dearly for a freedom of information request just to process the stupid paper to send it on to a nerd at the vendor who would do the same thing you should be able to do (a ten second database search) but you’ll be charged somewhere north of $40 to as much as $120). That’s a paltry some tho, I guess, to know if its registered in state or not.

  9. Kevin F
    Kevin F says:

    Yes, Paul still has two Woodies; both 17 ft from the 50’s…..

    He is mostly into CC Commanders now; contact him at Chris Craft Commander Forum. He will be more than happy to help!

  10. matt
    matt says:

    Are we giving up? Got pals with one? Ask, How about local chapters? My guess is that it may still be in PA.. Ohio? Maryland? Michigan.. The indian Ocean? To soon?

  11. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    Maybe they were able to track down my grandfathers boat and it was last registered in 1960…they may be able to find something

  12. Rory
    Rory says:

    Argh! i know your frustration. I spent years trying to find 2 classic wooden boats in the same part of PA. My grandfathers first two plywood boats that he built in the ’60s. I had pictures, registration numbers and years and places of when/where they were sold. I checked with the PA fish and boat commissino….the only thing they were able to confirm was that the boats were no longer currently registered. I even posted adds on craigslist with pictures in those areas, contacted the marina that sold them and other marinas in the area but never did find anything.

    Now, its not much but i guess anything counts. I knew an older gentleman who lived in Linesville PA (same half of the state) who had an “old wooden 50’s or 60’s era Chris Craft” that had been buired in his garage for a few years. The fellas name is Glenn Shellito. I used to scuba dive with him but havent seen/heard from him in 10 years or so so i don’t have any current contact info. Its thin, but i suppose any lead helps. I talked to him about the boat ( would have been 10 years ago) and i believe he used it on conneaut lake before it was “stored” in his garage.

    • cutwaterguy
      cutwaterguy says:

      its a $5 plus change upgrade for that model boat, more delux looking than the standard wheel. the hornring, throttle lever and chrome tube are parts of it. jim would know more.

  13. MikeM
    MikeM says:

    I have CC-17-3698 in my care and it has the same wheel, in black. All original ’58 with a KFL in it……but not “that” boat.

  14. Chris from Boston
    Chris from Boston says:

    Jeremy your almost there I just read your sad posting on woody Boater’s. I just finished a major resteration on my classic 1953 17 ft. Special Sportsman, that i just purchased in Oct. 2013, I could not beleave when i looked at the Hull Card i ran out to my car thats were i had my folder because the number’s looked very close to mine they were off by one, they were purchased the same day my Hull# is CC-17-347 B.S.O.#D-2406 Engine#KLC-61713 If you wont to talk give me your Info GOOD LUCK! It has the same Deluxe Steering Wheel and Dash Tag The boats are sister’s they are Identical

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