Only One Made, And So Many Questions.

1929 Chris Craft Cadet 22

This very cool Cadet on eBay lit up my email yesterday, and worthy of featuring. But. Like most classic eBay listings, this one is missing some critical selling points, and part of the listing, just invites questions. Like.

Brief history 1986

WHAT THE HECK IS AN UNFORTUNATE “tragic consequences”? WHAT?

Does it have a new bottom? 90K for a boat like this that appears to have been restored a bit back, without a new bottom?



I am not sure if this is stock? Or does it matter. I can not imagine this boat goes beyond 20? I would so install modern power in this.

18 replies
  1. Johnny V.
    Johnny V. says:

    Here’s the history from a for sale ad on

    “80 years of History, Mystery and Hollywood…If this boat could talk!

    This elegant craft was first purchased new in 1929 by a dashing and handsome 33 year old advertising man, known in the boating societies on both sides of Lake Ontario: Saint Clair Rogers of Rochester, New York, His friends called him Clair because “he was no saint”.

    A year after buying the boat Rogers sent it back to Chris Craft and had a cabin installed creating a fashionable “mini commuter”.

    The craft was dubbed the Jolly Roger II and Clair used the boat for three years without incident.

    In the summer of 1932 he replaced the engine with a 225-hp Hispana Suiza aircraft engine, causing some to speculate that the frequent Prohibition-era trips across the lake to Canada were more than just a distraction from the Great Depression.

    On its maiden voyage with the new engine, Rogers, a mechanic friend and two teenage boys roared from the mouth of Irondequoit Bay into Lake Ontario, setting the stage for a tragic story that would play out in newspaper headlines for months to come.

    It seems that the new engine was too powerful for the craft and all four men were thrown overboard several miles off shore.

    Cries for help drifted ashore after dark and the boat was discovered the next morning, run aground on Oklahoma Beach.

    Area residents roamed the beaches for weeks looking for the men and discussing what could have gone so terrible wrong.

    Over the next four weeks the bodies washed ashore, but what happened on the the Jolly Rodger II remains a mystery to this day.

    The original 90-hp engine was soon placed back in the boat and sold to a Rochester boat collector.

    In 1982 Robert Drumm bought the boat and worked on it for 4 years restoring it to its original splendor.

    The details of the tragedy have dimmed over the past eight decades, but the boat has lived on in numerous boat shows and is now owned by Academy Award-winning actress Marcia Gay Harden who bought it thirteen years ago.


    Harden fondly recounts a three day, sixty mile trip she took along the Erie Canal, navigating twenty five locks, sleeping in the small cabin and chatting with other boaters about the dramatic past of this historic vessel.

    The boat remains in excellent condition and has been used in the Finger Lakes region of New York by Ms.
    Harden and her family.”

    Bob Drumm was a regular at our Wine Country show in the 1990’s and quite a character in his own right. He towed it with a mid ’30’s Chevy pickup and he kept the boat engine running in gear to help get him up the launch ramp.

  2. Steve M
    Steve M says:

    Wow. A few weeks ago a fellow wood boat guy and I were conversing about the whereabouts of this boat. I remember her at the Clayton show parked down by the public boat ramp hooked to a vintage truck on display. She was at the same spot for a number of years and then disappeared. Really weird how a few short weeks after that talk she shows up on eBay. Cool boat with a cooler history.

  3. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    I really like unique boats like this, and the fact that it was modified at the factory should please all in our hobby.

    Thanks Johnny V for THE REST OF THE STORY.

  4. Miles kapper
    Miles kapper says:

    Hmmmmm? I don’t know…. something seems fishy here though it is a great story. If you put a 225 hp outboard on a boat that has 90 hp as the recommended maximum I can understand with the right conditions how a couple of folks could be thrown out of the boat at WOT, a couple too many beers and basically just being stupid…. but this? Could this boat act so unpredictable with the bigger engine? What increase in speed, handling etc. could we be talking about here? Amusing nonetheless.

    • Randy
      Randy says:

      You can get some big wave action out in those lakes, and being at night if the skipper was not attentive he might not have been able to see very well and at speed things can happen very quickly if you ‘hook’ a wave.

      Whenever I travel after dark I keep the speed waaaaay down cuz’ you cannot see debris in the water out here in Puget Sound — saves on the repair bills (and maybe your life if a hit sends your boat to the bottom).

  5. Greg W
    Greg W says:

    The torque from that Hisso would require a huge wheel and I can see the little thing rolling right over under hard acceleration.
    If the factory cabin mod could be documented this is a real find. I’ve seen the story on this boat in the past….don’t remember where. For some reason I remember a reprint from a boating mag of the era.

    • Miles kapper
      Miles kapper says:

      Didn’t even think about the torque issue, partly because of all the reading we do in the various magazines about guys who replace engines with much larger ones. I have never seen the torque issue come up and read that someone had to put the original engine back or install something equivalent.

      Learn something new everyday. Thanks.

  6. Johnny V.
    Johnny V. says:

    I think Classic Boating may have done an article on it in the early ’90s.

    Greg-you’re right. That Hisso is a big engine for a small and narrow boat. Plus, Lake Ontario can get nasty quite fast.

  7. Ryan Nagel
    Ryan Nagel says:

    It’s cool but is it $89k cool? Probably not. You can find really nice Cadets out there for a lot less. I suppose the custom refit adds some value but for most users I don’t think it makes the boat much more usable. I’m also not sure what “fully restored” means, it looks like the finish was applied with a mop about 15-20 years ago and that manifold, yikes! The boat belonging to Marcia Gay Harden doesn’t add value and the history while interesting is pretty dark. The seller is clearly looking to capitalize on the history or some kind of sentimental attachment but in photos the boat looks like it needs quite a bit of work.

  8. tom gibbons
    tom gibbons says:

    looks like no access to space in bow area? no matter. i could do alot better with 90g’s than this piece of driftwood.

  9. Syd Marsden
    Syd Marsden says:

    I remember going to Mr Drum’s house with our family I believe before he got this one but I do remember him having it later on at the shows., He also took us all out in his Century that he said was the fastest boat on the lake. I do not know what model it was but it was fast. When we got back to the dock he off loaded everyone but told Dad and I to stay on board and took us back out to show what it would do, but what he really wanted to show us was how fast it turned at speed. It was very impressive to a young boy.

  10. thomas d
    thomas d says:

    I noticed on the cadet’s transom bottom corners metal plates in the second ebay picture. I bought a ’41 C-C Utility that has the same metal corners, they’re made of brass. never seen this before, is this something Chris Craft did or after?


    My father and I remember this boat years ago. He was from Rochester, and knew the day this happened.
    G. Cramer

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