Another One Bites The Dust – Maybe

Sebec - 1 Late last night we received an e-mail from fellow Woody Boater John to let us know about this classic 1954 50′ Chris-Craft cruiser that’s listed for sale on Craigslist in Sebec, Maine. Sadly, it looks like this one is pretty far gone and will be probably sold for parts (or the scrap yard).

The seller notes in the Craigslist ad: – Made for Guy Lombardo, has 2 International V-8 Motors 225 H.P. ea., all running gear, controls, all kinds of parts all original. Copper exhaust, pumps, marine radios, power box, lights, windows, all going parting out, alot of brass parts etc… Reply for prices or offers.

Sebec - 2
We are not exactly sure what this is, but the boat is listed as a 1954 50′ Chris-Craft Yacht. To give you an idea of what this old girl once looked like, we went into the huge archive at the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club website and found these factory brochure photos of a 1954 50′ Chris-Craft Catalina, which looks close to what is listed on the Craigslist ad.

Chris-Craft Catalina - 1

1954 Chris-Craft Catalina Brochure – Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club Archive

In 1954 the big 50′ Catalina was offered with a Super DeLuxe Sun Deck. Chris-Craft notes in the brochure – “The Sun Deck on the double cabin flying bridge cruiser added a third living area.” That must have been a fantastic place to spend the afternoon cruising with family and friends.

Chris-Craft Catalina - 2

1954 Chris-Craft Catalina Brochure – Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club Archive

Sleeping capacity on the 50′ Catalina was 10, fresh water capacity was 84 gallons, and fuel capacity was was 300 gallons. Power options at the time were Twin Diesels or Twin or Triple gasoline engines with up to 435 HP, with speeds up to 26 MPH.

Chris-Craft Catalina - 3

1954 Chris-Craft Catalina Brochure – Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club Archive

Now, based on the photos on Craigslist, she’s appears to be in the “December of her life.” It’s interesting to note this boat is powered by Twin International V-8 engines. Although not a cruiser expert, I was not aware that International power was used in these big cruisers.

Sebec - 3

Sebec - 4

Sebec - 6
Over the years we have all seen many of these old classic wooden cruisers parked in fields, behind marinas, in poor condition, abandoned by their owners usually due to the high cost of restoration and maintenance… Left to die a slow death at marinas around the country.

But somehow – it’s still difficult to see these once elegant, prestigious yachts headed for the burn pile or scrap yard. R.I.P. miss Catalina.

Here’s the link to the Craiglist Sebec, Maine listing.


42 replies
  1. Sean
    Sean says:

    I’m sure she cost a buck or two in 1950 so, It always seems odd to me that these type of “investments” see such little care and a great lack of attention to degrade into conditions like this.

    You would think along the way that “someone” would have found her and shown some love, before it was too late.

    Such is the disposable society…So long Miss Catalina… just one bonfire left to give.

    Hey, is this starting to sound like a song?

  2. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    I second Sean’s comments. I’m sure she was still in good repair when she was owned by guy Lombardo, but what the subsequesnt owners allowed to happen to her is a shame. Another great lady is put to rest!

  3. Rick
    Rick says:

    I think Alex should add her to his growing collection, after all the Red and White is already sweet looking so he really needs something that’s more of a challenge. Once completed she can also extend his boating season as an icebreaker for his recently constructed marina.

  4. Bob Sheridan
    Bob Sheridan says:

    Try listing it on They are also on Facebook. Still looks like it has potential as a project.

  5. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    way too far gone to be any kind of financially viable undertaking. It is a rather ignominious demise for what was one of the grandest boats in the CC fleet at the time. But, it is 63 years old and probably had many owners as it descended down the food chain and the level of care apparently descended along with it. These are very appealing boats visually, but beyond that, boats of this size are so much harder to care for, store and maintain that it is almost a miracle it lasted as long as it did. Someone must have hauled it with the idea of fixing it, but obviously common sense, if not nostalgia, must have prevailed.

  6. Alex
    Alex says:

    Paul, I’ve done my part. This one’s yours.

    Talk about your dream of owning a cocktail cruiser, this one’s a freakin’ distillery cruiser!

  7. brian t
    brian t says:

    What a waste. It really is pathetic actually that this boat be in such a state after the vast amounts of time and energy were put into it during the manufacture and first bit of ownership. It makes sense to toss out a 20 year old toaster but it makes no sense to toss out a beautiful old boat. I cannot understand the mental process that would allow for the decay of such a boat.

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      I have wondered about the cascading levles of neglect that must occur to allow a boat to deteriorate to this point. Anyone buying a water worthy cruiser must have some resoruces, and some idea that they all require in the form of maintenance and upkeep. What happened that set this decline in unarrestable motion can only be guessed, but likely changing financial priorities or conditions on the part of an owner. Rather than recognize it and sell it before it got beyond repair, someone held on to a fading dream for too long, and by doing so consigned this glamorous design to the burn pile. Not a rare occurance to be sure, but a sad one. I think this series of early ’50’s big cruiser was one of the most nicely styled of anything CC ever did. I would guess that this would be a minimum $350k-$500k project to bring back, if one hired professionals. Who else has the facilities to handle it? Easy to see why he could not give it away.

  8. Grant Stanfield
    Grant Stanfield says:

    What a sexy beast; this was Chris-Craft’s finest hour in large cruiser design. The DCFB boats are beautiful in print but absolutely mesmerizing to see in person; I’ve been privileged to witness some very well-preserved ones in WI and MI; some gorgeous ones frequent the St. Clair Flats region near Algonac. Sadly, the bigger they are the harder they fall- a nice 1956 46′ Corsair DCFB nearby is awaiting her own tragic fate as we speak…few can afford to put them right, unfortunately.

  9. Grant Stanfield
    Grant Stanfield says:

    Here: a typical day in Algonac! ‘…La de da- oh, look- another giant wooden Chris-Craft cruiser burbling past on the St. Clair river…’ :O

  10. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    That must have been one helluva high tide on the coast of Maine, lol. Can’t imagine hauling her that far in, what is she 12 or 14′ wide? On those narrow back roads of Maine must have brought her in on a logging truck.

    The screws and bronze bolts alone would be a small fortune today. She must have been a grand lady when launched and for quite a few years. Its like seeing what Dolly Parton would look like in her late 80’s, certain things are sagging beyond the ability to shore up.

  11. Tom
    Tom says:

    Using our local marina rates, the cost for one year of winter storage, shrink wrap, travel lift, summer dockage and hydro is $7400. Don’t forget to add the taxes (13%) you come to $8400. Best of all you haven’t put gas in the 300 gallon tank or left the dock.

    My brother had the same boat that has met the same fate. He tried to give it away but no one was interested, so it met the chain saw. It took a lot for him to cut it up but the yearly costs just became too much.

    Unfortunately more and more of these boats will hit the burn pile.

    • floyd r turbo
      floyd r turbo says:

      $8400 would be about the low side of annual taxes on a cottage. The $300 for tank of gas would be equivalent to utilities to the cottage. So the boat would be the cottage, if you get one for less than $30k, what cottage on the lake could you possibly get for that kind of money?

      And talk about a water view, if you don’t like the one you have, move to another lake. Cost of a new bottom = equivalent to cosmetic refurb on the cottage. This is why I’ve always dreamed of a cruiser – poor mans lake cabin, except one does have to afford the dockage fees. How about paying a cottager for a tie up at the end of their dock for half the price, they might appreciate the revenue source.

      Since the super structure on that Cat is about gone, cut it off and make a nice 50 for quintuple/sextuple? cockpit.

  12. Jimmuh
    Jimmuh says:

    ….she appears to be in the “December of her life.”

    December 31, 11:55 PM to be more accurate…..

  13. Chase 519
    Chase 519 says:

    She was repowered at some point. The Harvester 345 (SV) engine family started in 1959 and was in production until 1985. Anywhere from 266ci to 392ci. I don’t think the 345 made production until the late 60’s…

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      I figured this was a 345, as I have some cursory familiarity with IH and their ruggedly built vehicles. However, I was unaware that their engines were subject to marine conversion. I have never seen one before. Thanks for the insight.

  14. don vogt
    don vogt says:

    Is the roof extension behind the sun pad fiberglass? if so is that the first use of fiberglass by cc?

    would be wonderful for someone to step up and restore. Probably makes best sense for someone with the skills to do it themselves. It would definitely have to be a labor of love in that condition.

  15. newvisionsco
    newvisionsco says:

    ………..Always a shame when they finally go down. they originally had a design intent of 8 to 10 years. I’ve done mid-size cruisers, more managable and still have passenger accomadations. Hold on as long as you can, folks. this grand era will never return. There are still thankfully more of these around than logic would dictate.

  16. Cliff
    Cliff says:

    Yah know when I was 30 I was looking for a 1947-49 47′ dcfb to own and fix up. Everyone I spoke to and went to look at thought they had lightning in a bottle when some dumb ass kid showed up from Cleveland to look at their boat. On the phone it was one story and when I showed up the boat we had been talking about was replaced by a boat that had traveled through 8 years of out door exposure in a weeks or months time. I became discouraged and stumbled on to a free 18 foot sea skiff that I finally restored. I look back at that time when every one had money and times were good and there were a lot of these around yet and I realize that I made out the best. I found out who the crooks are/were in this hobby and who the good guys were/are. Some day perhaps I will be the caretaker of some magnificent lady but now that is not going to happen. One lesson I did learn, and everyone should listen to this one……when I and selling a project to a new classic boat owner regargeless of age I HONESTLY tell them what this is going to cost and what they are going to need to know and where to get it. I steer everyone to Woody Boater and to the Chris Craft site and the Lyman Boat Owners Association. They are impressed with all of you and your dedication to the hobby. I really believe the the best chance for our hobby to survive is to be honest with the new people who are interested in this, they have friends who might be interested too. Just something to consider.

  17. Cobourg-Kid
    Cobourg-Kid says:

    First and foremost-LUV that header Texx makes me pine for my waterskiing days on old Go-Home Lake.

    On to the Catalina. Lombardo was from south western Ontario (London) and I believe that IH had, for many years, a plant in nearby Chatham (near Detroit). There is a remote, possibility (unless the hull card says differently) that Lombardo custom ordered the engines to support Canadian industry?

    As for a potential buyer. If this boat had belonged to Louis Armstrong the Smithsonian would surely be all over it.

    Considering this, it stands to reason that as the storied leader of the Royal Canadians ( Mr. Lombardo’s) boat should be acquired and restored by the Canadian Museum of Transportation.

    Unfortunately while Canadians are rightly proud of their history heritage they are not anywhere as good as our neighbors in saving a whole lot of it.

    While the Canadian Museum of Transportation does have at least one historic watercraft in its collection, a lapstrake Ditchburn, named Pine bark built in 1934, it does not have an extensive collection.

    Buying Lombardo’s Catalina ( for next to nothing) ,arranging for the Canadian Army to drag it to Ottawa (using one of its giant flatbeds) and restoring it in house using apprentice woodworkers from local colleges as an active exhibit, for vistors to view ,would not only liven the museum up it would teach boatbuilding to a whole new generation In the end it would also be a worthy addition to the collection and Lombardo’s legacy would be preserved for all Canadians.

    Just an Idea

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      A great idea. I wonder if the seller has any documentation to confirm that the boat was in fact owned by Mr. Lombardo?

      • Cobourg-Kid
        Cobourg-Kid says:

        I’m thinking that the Prime Minister and the Governor General need a yacht. Once restored they could do a summer tour along the Trent Seven Canal, you know meet and greet. What better transport then the ROYAL CANADIAN!

      • lenny koch
        lenny koch says:

        hi im lenny i grew upacross the canal from guy, this is a boat i have never seen at his house i have ridden on too of his tempo,s i will ask al grover of freeport ny if he ever sold or serviced the chris craft he would have sold that boat to him im sure also i have a friend nancy solomen she is the person in charge of doing a syory of his past he lived in freeport for many years nancy can be found at long island traditions she is looking for pics an anything else she can use to display his life an times ps i always loved all the tempo,s he had many!!!

  18. brian t
    brian t says:

    I find it fascinating that the Chris Craft guys would actually design a boat with a lifespan sort of planned in – ie the 8-10 year shelf life for this cruiser.

    I really do not think that the boys in England at MG sat down at the design table and thought to themselves that the MGB should last 10 years or 100,000 miles (whichever comes first) and then afterwards the owner should just merely drive the car to a scrapyard or let it rot in the backyard.

    And with our boats, given that so many have in fact survived or been given a new lease on life, the original thinking appears to have a serious flaw.

  19. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    This year I found a new caretaker (owner) for my cruiser. She’s only about half the length (27′) and a little newer (1960). I kept her fairly well maintained and very sea worthy over my tenure with her but at my age, I simply wasn’t able and willing to give her the full attention that she deserved. While checking on her over the winter someone left a note on her helm saying that he had always admired my little Connie and wondered if would consider giving her up some day. After Karen and I talked it over we called him, met him and his lovely wife and made a deal. Just 4 days after returning home from the Sunnuland Antique Boat Festival I took my last cruise, delivering her to her new home across the Mississippi River and downstream about 10 or so miles; a cruise that I shall cherish for my last few years. Her new caretaker lives 5 minutes from the marina and already has her looking better than she has in years. They invited us to go cruising with them this summer.

    Point is, why can’t other owners find a new caretaker rather than letting their treasure rot away???

    • Cobourg-Kid
      Cobourg-Kid says:

      Al that sure was a tough decision but it was the right one and you and Karen you ought to be commended. BTW keep in touch with the new owners.To them you will always be the captain

  20. brian t
    brian t says:

    It is lil’ dudes like this cool cat that sellers gotta watch out for – as he’ll just scratch everything all up, shred the upholstery, leave fish guts everywhere, and whizz all over the place. And if you try and corner the little bugger to make him take care of his purchase, he’ll just up and bolt on ya.

    This CC 50fter needs to be sold to a good ol sea dog who will care for her.

  21. Jim Evans
    Jim Evans says:

    I have nursed cruisers for nealy 40 years. I bought what I thought were solid boats but as I got deep into them I found lots of hard work and cash to be spent. The ’67 Corinthian sea skiff I’ve had for the last 26 years is getting harder for me to maintain at my standards. She’s a pretty boat and solid but has a few issues.

    The point is not many people have the skills to keep one of these old ladies. You need either lots of cash and a reliable maintainer or lots of skill or some of both. At some point the owners of these old ladies just run out of cash, skill, energy and they just leave them behind to cut their losses. A big wood cruiser is a marina’s worst nightmare.

  22. David Van Ness
    David Van Ness says:

    IH engines were used by palmer Marine Engines in Cos Cob Ct. They were great power for big boats!

  23. tom
    tom says:

    hi to bad on the old cat lady but dod you save any old parts from her i have the same 50 ft boat just got her last week and it needs a lot of love the old man was selling her but gave the big catalina two me he could see it would be best and i will be at the same spot we came to this he can come see her any time as i will be living on her this is the only time i will say I DO and know she will be there in the am if you have some pointers get back to me o i am in socal and love it not the same as boston but its home thanks tom

Comments are closed.