Only Child – Discovered In Historic Mystic, Connecticut And She’s In Good Hands


Back in November we featured the rare 17′ Chris-Craft Runabouts from 1930-31, known as the Model 99/199 series. We originally planned to do a one-day story about “Rowdy Dow” (Hull #14131) a Model 99 that (at the time) Tommy Mertaugh and his crew at Classic & Antique Boats were just beginning to restore. (You can see that story by clicking here)

The response to the “Rowdy Dow” story that Monday was huge, with folks from around the country, and around the world chiming in with information on more Model 99/199’s known to exist. Amazing considering only 226 were produced by Chris-Craft in 1930-31 (Hull #14000-#14225) over 80 years ago. One of those responses came from Leland Bisbee, as young fellow Woody Boater and owner of a Model 99 (#14119) from Philadelphia, PA. Leland shared a list of 13 surviving Model 99/199’s he was aware of at the time, which we used to do a follow-up story on Wednesday. (You can see that story by clicking here)

Then we heard from more fellow Woody Boaters including Bob Kays, John Kadimik and noted restorer / author Don Danenberg, all with more leads and information on surviving Model 99/199’s. And thanks to Anders Værnéus at Swedish Classic Boats in Sweden, we even learned of a Model 99 that ended up going to Norway in 1988, via Lake Hopatcong, NJ.

And the next thing we knew, it became Model 99 WEEK here at Woody Boater as the information continued to roll in.

But there was one Model 99 in particular that was noted in Leland Bisbee’s original list of 13 that we had no information on, other than it’s name – which was “Only Child” and Hull Number which was #14117… Until earlier this week when we received an e-mail from her new owners, Eleanor & Ben Tamsky from Mystic, Connecticut. And based on what they do for a living, it’s safe to say that “Only Child” is in good hands! Here’s what Eleanor had to say…

Hi Texx – I just read your articles on the Chris-Craft Model 99. My husband Ben and I are the proud new owners of “Only Child”, hull #14117. We purchased her in September 2011 and are now in the process of refinishing her. When she is completed we plan on exhibiting her at the Wooden Boat Show at Mystic Seaport in June to promote our business Brightworks. Inc.

We have been in the business of varnishing boats for over 25 years and would love to work on more Chris-Crafts and other runabouts. Here are some pictures of “Only Child” when we bought her in September and launched her. By the way, we are keeping the name since our daughter Lorraine who also loves wooden boats is our “only child”…

“Only Child” was in working condition after being stored for almost 2 years. The varnish was breaking down so we have stripped and re-stained the boat and are in the process of building up the varnish. We are trying to maintain the boat as is. It is hard to tell what may be original and what has been replaced over the years. The decks appear to have been replaced. She is structurally sound and has had a new bottom put on recently by a boatyard on the Connecticut River. We have decided to replace the engine hatches since they have some stress cracks and rot.

Here are a few “work in progress” pictures of our Model 99.

Mystic, Connecticut is a quaint little town situated along the Mystic River. The big tourist attractions are the Mystic Seaport and the Mystic Aquarium, but for us boaters the easy accessibility to Fishers Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean is the big draw. Everything from fishing boats to mega yachts can be found in our waters and it’s a sailor’s paradise.

In our varnish business we work on all kinds of boats from production fiberglass boats with teak trim to classic Herreshoff sailing vessels. We have shop space that can accommodate boats up to 45′, but a good portion of our work is done while the boats are in the water during the spring and summer. Here are some pictures of boats that we have worked on. We also have a gallery on our website.

The boat shown above is a 53′ 1937 Camper Nicholson named “Mavourneen”. We maintained the varnish on her for a number of years for a gentleman in Watch Hill, RI until she was sold a couple of years ago.

I just discovered your Woody Boater website and look forward to reading more articles.

Thanks – Eleanor Tamsky
Brightworks, Inc.


Thanks to Eleanor & Ben for sharing your story with us, and welcome to the Woody Boater community… It’s great to see “Only Child” getting some TLC and when she is re-launched this summer please let us know how she looks with her new outfit as she prepares for the WoodenBoat Show in June.  To learn more about Brightworks, Inc you can click here to go to their website.

WoodenBoat Show - Image Courtesy

The 21st Annual WoodenBoat Show at Mystic Seaport, June 29-July 1, 2012 is presented by our friends at WoodenBoat Magazine and is one of the most popular events in the northeast.  For more information on this years show you can click here to go the the WoodenBoat Show website which is great!

In case you missed the original Model 99 series of stories during Model 99 Week, below are links to all the stories by day – Texx

Monday – Rowdy Dow – Part 1

Tuesday – Rowdy Dow – Part 2

Wednesday – List of Model 99 Survivors

Thursday – Model 99 Found In Norway

Friday – 14th Model 99 Found

Saturday – Revisiting The Model 99


8 replies
  1. Randy Rush-Captain Grumpy
    Randy Rush-Captain Grumpy says:

    Ive heard of them, looks like they do nice work. Got to say im not a big Chris Craft fan, but I really like the size and looks of this one, and the name on the boat is great!

  2. don vogt
    don vogt says:

    Thanks, Eleanor, great story on a unique model. If you havent done so already, please consider joining the Chris Craft Antique Boat Club. I think you will find it of great interest.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      I agree Don, a Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club membership is a great value, and the amount of information on the Boat Buzz Forum is worth the price of membership.

  3. eleanor tamsky
    eleanor tamsky says:

    Texx, thanks for the article! This has been fun getting connected with other Chris-Craft owners. As of today we have applied 5 coats of varnish to “Only Child”, and plan on building up many more. We’ll send more pictures when she is done.

  4. Alex
    Alex says:

    A perfect name for a sweet little boat. Glad to hear such deserving people are keeping it — the boat and the name.

  5. Charlie Pious
    Charlie Pious says:

    Great to see our old boat “Only Child” in such great hands. It was named after our son Harrison who is an only cchild! After he moved to Chicago, we lost our best deck hand and she sat un used for two seasons at Boyds Boats in Canton ,CT. We are Thrilled to see her in such fine shape and the greatest news is that her name will remain the same!!

    The boat was formerly named “Our Gan” After 5 years, we re-named her in honor of our ‘Only Child”

    Great photos and great memories!

    Enjoy her as much as we did

    Steffi & Charlie Pious

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Thanks for commenting Charlie, great stuff!

      I let the current owners (Eleanor & Ben Tamsky) know that you commented today as well.

Comments are closed.