Marilyn’s Way

A huge shout out to LOOOOOOOOOOOONGtime fellow Woody Boater Chad Durren for sending in this wonderful story of Love, Plastic and your moms kitchen. Mmmm, maybe plastic does have a soul. Take it away Chad!


We’ve all seen the listings and classified ads of boats that claim to be in “all-original” condition. Ready-to-go boats that require NOTHING – just add gas, jump in and go boating. Boats that look and sound too good to be true.


Such was the case with a Facebook Marketplace listing that was forwarded to me by my good friend, Dennis back in May of this year. The text read: “Hey Chad, can you take a look at this boat and tell me what you think?”

Our history goes all the way back to grade school. Dennis and I played High School sports together, and spent countless hours on the water during Summer breaks. We mastered the skill of dragging a +225lb water-skier out of the water behind a 90hp outboard. We only see each other a couple times a year these days with our busy schedules. He stops out to Pleasant Lake on occasion for a beer and a boat ride.

The boat for sale was a 1971 Sea Ray SRV190. At first glance, there were no visible scratches or repairs, the interior looked great and all the hardware was there. Seemed like a great deal for $4,900, provided the engine was in working condition. Being the skeptic, I advised him to go look at the boat in person.

Dennis was excited to tell me that the bilge and engine were as clean as the rest of the boat. The boat is powered by a MerCruiser 165. After the seller started the boat and it ran smoothly, he decided to make an offer. $4,500 and a handshake is all it took for Dennis to become a classic boat owner. I have to say, I was a bit jealous. I’ve spent more than that on a trailer. I love the mint green gel coat and the aqua interior combo. After a bit of research, I learned Sea Ray offered the SRVs in several striking colors; orange, mustard yellow, avocado, mint green. Reminiscent of my mother’s kitchen in the 70’s.

I got a call from Dennis the following week, who had traveled from Gaylord to Cheboygan, MI to get a closer look at the boat. He was met by the son of the previous owner. His deceased mother, Marilyn, was the caretaker of the boat over the years. Owned since 1973, the Sea Ray was maintained “Marilyn’s Way” – wiped down, polished, vacuumed, covered and stored in the garage after every use. The son was selling the boat because it hadn’t since much use after his mother had passed.

He trailered the boat back to Gaylord where he has a place on beautiful, Otsego Lake. Shortly afterwards, he launched the boat and began using it. We exchanged a phone call or two to discuss any issues that he might be having. I was half expecting him to be asking me how to fix an issue, but I got nothing. He just wanted to know what kinds of towels and cleaning supplies he should buy to keep her looking great.

Dennis’ girlfriend, Tina, and his family used the boat all summer on Otsego Lake, anchoring on the sand bar, and enjoying the boat to the fullest. She clips along nicely at speeds over 40mph and her deep V hull is suited well for the 5 mile long Otsego Lake.

Dennis’ amazing luck does not end there. Dennis and Tina got married over Labor Day weekend. While the rest of the world is in pandemic lockdown, it’s refreshing to see them having the time of their life. Smiling like love birds in their hip 70’s fiberglassic.

Fellow Woodyboaters, join me in congratulating them on their recent marriage, and welcome them to our dysfunctional family of antique & classic boaters.

Here’s to many more years of marital bliss and trouble-free boating. I’m sure Marilyn is happy to know that you are now taking care of her boat. “Her way”, of course.

28 replies
  1. Reddog
    Reddog says:

    Congratulations to Dennis and Tina on the marriage. Real nice boat. SeaRays are pretty good boats Hope you two got a prenup. agreement.

  2. Phil Ward
    Phil Ward says:

    Congratulations Tina and Dennis, I will look for you next summer as we have a family cottage on Otsego Lake and run my 1948 Century Restorter “Over Dew”. Family has been going to the lake since 1935. It is my happy place.

  3. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    Great Story……like the boat too…and the nice people…..just what I needed this morning…but the afternoon is already looking fine…as I am Going Boating…getting it out of the boatyard with new bottom paint.

    John in Va.

  4. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    There is something special about the Sea Rays that came out of the original plant in Oxford, Michigan. Many years of happy boating to the newlyweds!

  5. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:


    I am glad that someone else out there has been enjoying 2020!
    I almost feel guilty when I talk to people since it has been a great year so far for Sandi and I.

    Love those old Sea Rays!! That is a true FiberGlassic!!

    Thanks Chad and Matt for bringing us this story.

  6. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Dennis and Tina:

    Make sure you have the bellows checked out this winter.
    That is one of the first places to fail with on outdrive.

  7. Murdock
    Murdock says:

    Congratulations to you both!!!
    We take care of a LOT of those original Sea Rays here at the marina and they are built like TANKS!!!! The boats are from the ‘70-early ‘80’s and are dearly loved by each family.
    With 90 days of “bad ice” that we call summer in up north MI, they don’t get a lot of time on them and with a modicum of preventative maintenance will last forever. Parts are easy to find, not expensive and the systems simple. No laptop required!!!
    You guys need to come north and do the Inland Waterway too!!! We’ll crack open a bottle of champagne for your first anniversary too!!!!

  8. Mark in da U P
    Mark in da U P says:

    Congratulations Dennis and Tina! You are a lucky man. I know that this is a wooden boat site, but I have to admit I own a Sea Ray also. They are great user boats. enjoy !

  9. WoodyGal
    WoodyGal says:

    Congratulations on your marriage and your gorgeeous SeaRay! Love the color. Wishing you many happy years of going boating…

  10. Bilge Rat
    Bilge Rat says:

    Congrats and nice story!

    Didn’t know that Sea Ray made a Stevie Ray Vaughan model. Does it sound like his Stratocaster?

  11. Dennis Wilkie
    Dennis Wilkie says:

    Thanks everybody for all the great words. And Chad thank you for the Sharing our story and Boat. I can’t wait till you come up so we can take a spin around the lake drink a beer and share stories again.

    • NR
      NR says:

      Chad asked me about the boat and explained it to me and it sounded like a great deal. Generally I’m not a SeaRay fan except for the 19/21. They are the best hull they ever made so I thought it sounded nice. Seeing the pics it’s much better than nice. You have a great boat to cherish.

  12. Ken MacStephen
    Ken MacStephen says:

    Not to take away your great story today, but I think it to be of interest…. Your long time supporter Gene Porter has been awarded the Founders Award by ACBS!

  13. Damon
    Damon says:

    We grew up with a yellow hulled Sea Ray SRV193 which was a tri-hull with an open bow. It had an OMC outdrive with a Ford 351. It would do 55mph on Lave Mohave. I’ve searched and there seem to be none left anywhere not even pictures. I’d love to find it but it must be long gone.

  14. mark
    mark says:

    Had a mid 70’s srv 180 with a 188hp mercury. the most solid boat I’ve ever owned. Sounded like an old Buick going down the road. Sold it to my father so he could have a boat for the family in Les Cheneaux. The insurance company said “To much HP for that size”. Paid the extra premium. Never to much HP. Have had many boats, but it stands out.

  15. Briant
    Briant says:

    It is soooooooooooooo refreshing to see something was and has been cared for since day one. Sadly it is most often the exception and not the rule. Most people spend big money on either a car or boat etc only to let that investment go to hell….which is a reason why WB land is full of restored boats and forty two different classes of condition etc in the judging arena. My rule is is that if you can not afford to purchase AND afford to keep your purchase in a well cared for and loved conditions, then you have no business owning it. I tip my hat to Marilyn as she must have been full of style, grace and class….because that boat shows it.

  16. Shep on Lake Shafer IN.
    Shep on Lake Shafer IN. says:

    Congratulations Dennis & Tina! Awsome story and a great buy!
    I agree those Sea Rays are built like tanks and easy to work on.
    My first boat was 1977 Sea Ray 190 baby blue hull with a white interior. I bought in 1980 and in 1984 traded it in to big Sea Ray dealer in Detriot for a new inboard ski boat. I traded it in for the same money I paid for it 4 years eariler. It was a great boat! Enjoy!

  17. Wes Jackson
    Wes Jackson says:

    Great article ! I have recently decided to encourage my addiction of collecting boats in disrepair. I have started a self restoration on this exact model . Mine is a 1972 Sea ray SRV-190 that has been ridden hard and put away wet …. I live in northern Michigan and was wondering if the owner of this beautiful boat might be willing to share some information so I might rebuild my interior to be like theirs . Please Mine is missing …

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