How Many Classic Boats Is To Many For One Person To Own?


For most of the planet, one new plastic boat is just enough, same with folks in the world of classic boats. Boats can be thought of as a bottomless pit to pour cash into. But for a very few, my self included, some sort of genetic defect takes over and finds the need to own as many as possible. Thats right, we like to “collect” boats. Like others collect snow globes, we collect.. not just boats, but wood classic boats. For me, the only real thing holding me back is funding. As in I can’t afford a divorce. For some though it’s an addiction. Or is it? I don’t feel addicted to any classic boat, but I do enjoy many aspects of each boat I own. I see them as art, and each one of them is used for a different reason. But when is it a good idea to thin out the heard? Or god forbid, stop? Or turn it into a business?

I aint naming names, but this is one mans dock, not a boat show or marina.

I ain’t naming names, but this is one mans dock, not a boat show or marina.

One fellow long time Woody Boater is always on the hunt. He has used every excuse in the book to justify a different boat. One, two, three, of them  for the kids, one for social occasions, one, OK two 25 sportsmans. that’s right,, one is show, one is go? Makes sense to me, sign me up. Another nameless pal, has over 100 of them, of course he has turned his obsession into a successful business. Another long time woody boater has justified it, by opening up a museum of sort. Now some of you may say, oh this is a rich mans game. WRONG! I know some folks that are not listed in the Forbs 5 million. Just regular guys that own many fun boats. Whirlwinds, Yellow jackets etc. It’s perfectly possible to go boating all day long under 5K by the way. If you own 20 or so boats, its not like you are wearing them out? So maintenance is not all that bad…ish….

My barn years ago, it looks different these days. I like to change things alot.

My barn years ago, it looks different these days. I like to change things alot.

I have a theory; I have a bit of a learning disability, I don’t read well. I do not have the ability to read and follow stuff I read. Words float around and I cant concentrate. But if I touch it, take it apart and live with it, I understand it better than anything one can find in a book. I can feel it. I understand how and why it was made. My theory is that folks like me, need to own a boat to truly understand them. And then, we are done with them. I am personalty someone that after that, I don’t need it so I sell a boat. Some on the other hand can’t part with things. Hence massive collections, but that’s just me. Today, we invite you to confess your addictions. After all, the first step to currying your addiction is admitting you have one. Wait, what if you don’t want to cure it?

38 replies
  1. RiverRat
    RiverRat says:

    Lymans, 5 with a concentration of 3 eighteen foot out boards. Need two more to have one from each year made. Storage the biggest hurdle. 2 owners.

  2. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Having grown up on wood boats, I guess I went into remission for about 25 years, and then it hit me again. Since then I have had three. I sold the first one after I finished the second, as I did not have storage for two. Then I built a storage barn and turned into the “keeper” kind of addiction. I know I will probably never part with the two I have now, and although I tell me wife I am done, she always gives me that certain look, as she knows I am hopelessly addicted. I do have my eye on a ………

  3. Greg Carpenter
    Greg Carpenter says:

    Well I guess I am the strange one here! I am always asked “how many boats do you have? ” I only own one ! It is a one off from famous builder William Burgess out of Grand Rapids, MI. It Is a 17.5 foot custom built two cockpit runabout. He was famous for building 30 foot race boats that were only 48 inches wide. If you had one of his boats at a race on the Grand River or Spring Lake, you were held back at the start thru a handi cap time constrant. My 17.5 footer was his family boat that has all 1940 hudson running gear including a two speed tranny and the dash boaed from that Hudson ! So Any collectors out there, this is the only boat in the whole world this size built by him. Has classic lines with a long entry and supports a brand new bottom as she sits. I hope to get the boat turned back over and finish it before the big Grand Rapids boat show in Feb. 2014. Call me if you want to own this one of a kind, not too late to pick out colors !

    • Alex
      Alex says:

      Greg, please post pics of your boat if you have them. Sounds cool.

      BTW, I have a boat with a 3 speed tranny and a Willy’s dash. It’s most definitely not a racer though.

  4. Mike W
    Mike W says:

    I started to think how I was going to respond to this and so many thoughts started flooding into my brain I became overwhelmed. Own two classics but neither are in the water. My want list is long and time and money are short. Thankfully my sickness is limited to plastic fantastic Commanders but one of those is a cruiser and she sucks the life out of me. I don’t own any wood and yet I visit this site daily if not more. I live vicariously through others that have wood also enjoy enabling their additional purchases.

    I gotta go before the fever puts me on the couch all day.

    • Alex
      Alex says:

      C’mon Mike, just one more. As I recall, you are more than partial to a 42′ Commander Tournament Fisherman.

      • Alex
        Alex says:

        And after you buy the 42 TF, you’ll need something a little more modest. You know, to putt around the Lake in. A 30 SP will do nicely.

        • Mike W
          Mike W says:

          A 42TF is a wonderful boat. But actually the dream is a 45TF which dwarfs the 42. Of course a 47 Commander would be the most comfy ride. The good thing about cruisers is that you really can only own one at a time. I do see a small Lyman in my future.

  5. Jim Staib
    Jim Staib says:

    I’m addicted to Sportsmans. I had 3 big ones only to find out they only went in the water one at a time. Took up too much good boating time working on the others. Now have LUCKY7 and a spare. And a FGL17. WAIT, my real addiction is canoes. Must have a dozen of them. From Old Town’s in the teens, Thompsons, some weird 30′ Canadian ones to modern aluminum.

  6. Rick
    Rick says:

    Matt I never thought of using the argument that the more I have the less worn each one individually would get and so protect the “investment”. I have owned 5 boats since I was 8 and have only sold the one I got at 16. I still own the other 4 after all its “Honey why sell it? Its paid for and how much do you think we can get for an old boat anyway.”

  7. Walter
    Walter says:

    Thanks to inheriting family “treasures” and my own personal addiction, I am the proud owner of 2 1950’s Sears kit boats (12’C/D racer & 14′ runabout), 1959 Elgin 17′ lapstrake, 1961 Broadwater 17′ cuddy cabin, 1961(?) Sears 8′ pram, 1966 13′ Boston Whaler, 1970 Seaking 14′ fishing boat, 1974 Sears 12′ aluminum skiff, 1977 Sunfish sailboat, and a 2001 23′ Baja. That’s 3 plastic boats, 1 aluminum boat, and a bunch of plywood.

  8. donald hardy
    donald hardy says:

    I have the same ideas going on here. I just can not leave them in the potato barns, or the mint fields. They are just rotting away. Here in Idaho, there are few to find, but they are there. Mountain tops to the snake river custom 20’s.
    I like having parts available, product for customers to pick, and it has proven to work. Some were free to just haul off. How can you turn that down? I have taken my Hobby and made money doing what is fun. I am on the lake every day and making a pay check. I get to deliver over 60+ boats every year with that number climbling. The sunrise and sunsets are the best, I tell my self every day “how lucky I am”. Keep in mind it is not easy work, I usually do 15 hr days in the summer to keep up. My employees have the wood shop, I have the lake. Right where I belong.

  9. Sean
    Sean says:

    I have 2 classic boats. A 1972 Greavette Sunflash IV and I just acquired a plastic 1969 DONZI ski Sporter 16 project. Okay, to be truthful, I have a ribless cedar canoe too (but, I don’t count it).

    As a former road racer and restorer of classic Porsches I’m a hands on guy that always needs a project. I like the performance stuff and am not much of a purist. However there are reasons for every vehicle I get.

    Space constraints have liquidated all the cars (and my ’70’s racing snowmobile collection) but a “woody in the water” has become a great way for the family to do things together.

  10. rabbit
    rabbit says:

    I have one beloved woody, which we use the heck out of, and a pontoon/deckboat kind of thing that also serves as both a moving patio and dock patio. (Yes, they’re ugly, but those things have a role and it’s why there’s one at virtually every dock in Minnesota and Wisconsin.) But we also have a kayak and a beautiful partial wood canoe. I was carrying the canoe up a couple of weeks ago to store it for the winter and my said “You never used it, did you?” And she was right. An entire Summer and it just sat. Time to simplify.

  11. Gary
    Gary says:

    Consider slippers. You wear one on each foot. Can you do the same with boats? No, and I will never reveal to the rest of the family these tumultuous thoughts as I have two at the main home and one under going restoration at the other and 3 squirreled away at the family farm. I k now there is unused space in that barn but someone is going to realize that I have 90 feet of wood stored there and the jig will be up.
    My second woody took 10 years due to work and getting the kids through college but now the 3rd is 1 or 2 years away from being finished. Ah, a new thought has reavealed itself, how long will it take to get through 90 feet, or 3 woodies? How many years of wooditus do I have left?
    I have gotta remember this is a blog.

  12. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    You must remember that boats are inherently unreliable machines. It is not uncommon to have multiple boats out of service, so if you want a boat available on those rare sunny summer days, you better have four or five in the stable.

  13. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    I own 10 classic boats and share ownership of two others. This is too many and I arrive at that conclusion from the perspective of a being a boater, not collector. I derive enjoyment from using them, not looking at them on display or working on them. With this many boats, it is simply not possible to use them enough to justify owning that many, and even with low hours per year, they have to be winterized, stored and maintained and that is very costly. During boating season I live on a lake and have in-water access literally at my doorstep, so I can only imagine how different it is for folks who are not on a body of water, but have multiple boats.

    I don’t know what defines a “collector” as opposed to a “boater”, but I know I have too many and that wrangling them around tends to actually detract from the pleasures of owning them. I think 3-5 is the most a person who is not a collector (in a practical sense) can own, enjoy and use without them becoming a significant overhead of time, let alone other associated costs and inputs. I also think that people who “own” them for the sake of owning them but don’t properly store or care for them are not doing the boats any favors and they ought to be moved along to someone who will properly maintain them.

  14. Dick Dow
    Dick Dow says:

    BOAT = Break Out Another Thousand… Ahhh, don’t get me started – I love the “doing” as much as the “using” part of boat ownership – I’m down to six now, 1) 1936 20′ Garwood Streamline utility (first year of the hardtop) that needs to be restored. 2) “Sindbad” 1939 19′ split-cockpit runabout – homebuilt. 3) “Rock-it 57” – 1957 Dakota – 15-1/2′ plywood outboard runabout. 4) “Thisuldu” 1965 38′ Tollycraft Mariner. 5) 1986 9’Boston Whaler tender to “Thisuldu” with 15 HP Johnson… 6) Custom Picklefork outboard hydroplane, 12′ – 1988 or so.

    The ones I’ve had and let go are another story in itself… It’s all good, and as for the wife – she’s a boater too and knows when she can’t find me I’m usually with my mistress in the garage rubbing her butt with 80 grit…:)

  15. brian t
    brian t says:

    I’d agree with Paul. Too many becomes evident at the exact moment that the owner cannot properly care for each and every boat. For someone like me, one is enough as it is all that we can and want to afford, both with money and personal time. For others who have many, time is limited but perhaps the funds are not so that an army of caretakers can be afforded. The milli-second the time and/or money is not enough to care for your multiple boats, then you have successfully become the poster child for a hoarder.

  16. mike k
    mike k says:

    im always jonesing for another streblow! i have 3, 2 oldder which are projects and 1 newer. they even let me hang around the shop which is fun.

    mike k

  17. Randy Rush-Captain Grumpy
    Randy Rush-Captain Grumpy says:

    I am struggling with 3 . I dont have the storage for them. and it looks like im going to have to shrink wrap my kit boat.

  18. Philip Andrew
    Philip Andrew says:

    Im definitely a collector. Wouldnt care if I dont go out on the water. I do love running them but I love looking at them and owning them more. A bit like Matt I work on them and love learning how they work. They smell great too. My son came home a few weekends ago and we were having a beer in the garage and he said ” Ahhhh Dad you know I miss the smell of this shed.” I have four. Three things prevent me from having more. Cash, my kids education and storage space. I have a 58 Resorter, 66 Arabian, 55 Palomino and a 75 locally made clinker dingy called Sweetpea. The one that started my interest. When Ive had a sh*t day with clients and deadlines a beer in the shed is better than counseling.

  19. Alex
    Alex says:

    There are at least 10 mentions of boats in the Bible.

    1) Noah’s Ark.
    2) Boat for a baby Moses.
    3) Jonah’s ship to Tarshish.
    4) James & John leave their fishing boat.
    5) Jesus preached from a boat.
    6) Jesus calms the storm (in a boat).
    7) Jesus walks on water (beside a boat).
    8) Jesus fills Peter’s boat.
    9) Paul traveled by ship.
    10) Paul’s prison ship.

    There’s little clue as to how many boats are involved here, but let’s assume each instance involved a different boat. (After all, you’d need at least a 60′ Commander to hold all Noah’s animals.)

    James’s & John’s Fishing boat? Clearly a Whaler.
    Prison ship? A pontoon, of course.
    Jesus fills Peter’s boat? Duh, a Century.

    Here are the takeaways, as I see it:

    1) It’s ok to have 10 boats.
    2) In fact, you should have 10 boats.
    3) They should be different. One for each type occasion.
    4) While coveting is a sin, coveting another man’s boat could only be a misdemeanor. C’mon.
    5) Beyond 10 boats, well, that probably hinges on gluttony.

    I hope this helps some of you find peace continuing to procure.

    After 10 though, I’d be extra careful venturing out if there’s even the tiniest cloud in the sky.

    • M Byrne
      M Byrne says:


      Wow, making bible references to justify your classic boat hording, nice work…..(I’m completely guilty of coveting thy neighbors boats, all 10 of them)


      • Alex
        Alex says:

        It is pretty devilish. But hey, Halloween’s around the corner.

        Hmmm. Wonder if anyone has ever dressed up as a Chris-Craft?

        Better yet, a Woody Addict? Wonder what that would look like.

        Oh wait. I know. A Hobo.

        Can one use the word “Hobo” anymore? I
        mean, without the word “fries” after it?

        Well, I guess if Tarantino can get away with his Django script, I’m ok with “Hobo.”

        Time for meds.

    • Troy
      Troy says:


      I would love to be able to just rub my hands over your collection and I only know of about 3 boats you own.

      Hope we get to meet one day.

      • Alex
        Alex says:

        Troy, coordinate a trip up next summer. Oh, and it’s not a collection. It’s a home for senior boats.

  20. Troy
    Troy says:

    I have been thinking for a while that it would be an interesting conversation to try and defined where this stops becoming a “Hobby” and becomes an “Addiction”.

    I think, like anything else, the point is when it hurts yourself and others. (financially or otherwise) Of course that point is not a number but more of a financial and time commitment.

    I currently own three (3) boats. One wood and two glass. That being said the wood one is a 38′ Connie, so that has to count as at least two. I also steward my mothers ’57 Chis Craft Continental that my parents bought the year I was born (’62).

    I love doing the labor as much as running the boats.

    My biggest challenge right now is that my uncle owns 4 wood boats that I would love to care for and/or own. I hate to see old wood boats going to waste but know I can only do so much.

    So far I do not think I have crossed the line to addiction, however I am aware that I could very easily do so.

    • Troy
      Troy says:

      OK so maybe I do have a problem since I did not mention the 3 kayaks, the dingy, and Mom’s Seadoo.

      Ya she is about to turn 87 and she has her own Seadoo, so she doesn’t have to wait for my brother or me to come take her for a ride in her Chris Craft.

      Maybe it’s in the blood?

  21. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    I’m a firm believer of you can never have too many of anything. I’m down to only one antique boat again but antique cars is another thing I have 13 right now. Only a few fit in our one building. Buy I’m young and have a lot more collecting to do…btw I restore antique cars for a living as well

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      Well, I am the opposite of you Kevin. I just sold my only collector vehicle this month because it was never being used and I wanted it to get into the hands of someone who would take it out to the shows and use it. So, it is going down to Texas and I am left with my 10+ antique boats, 1 pontoon, 1 SeaDoo, 2 motorcycles and 1 ATV.

  22. Chad
    Chad says:

    Like Sean, I have to keep my hands busy and always have a project in the works. It’s more of a “therapy” for nuts like me.

    I have one woody in the water and one plastic in the middle of restoration. My busy work schedule does not allow for me to care for more than that.

    In the Winter, I enjoy scrapbooking and sitting alone in dark closets.

    • Alex
      Alex says:

      So that’s how things roll in the Durren household.

      “Mommy, where’s Daddy?”

      “Honey, he’s locked himself in the closet, ‘scrapbooking’.”

  23. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    well I just have to chime. in its 10 o’clock at night I’m sitting in a suburb of St Louis, Missouri doing a swap on one of my classic cars, the 1970 El Camino for a 1971 classic Thunder bird.
    but I also just bought another boat over the weekend. I bought a 1959 Lake n Sea 14 footer with a 35 hp 1959 Mercury outboard sitting on a gorgeous little Gator trailer. I wish I was home to post the pictures, I have to do that another day…

  24. Texx
    Texx says:

    Dennis – You’re not alone, I have an original 1957 Lake N’ Sea with a ’57 Mercury outboard. And a mountain of research, documents, etc.

    The 59’s were much more reliable than the first 230-ish Chris-Craft versions.

  25. Tom H
    Tom H says:

    You also have to ask yourself what you might be doing if you were not working on, using or buy parts for your boats. Sitting in front of the TV affords little rewards from my humble perspective. I love building, using and repairing my boats and until I either have no money or time left I will continue to do so as “there is simply nothing worth doing so much as messing about in boats” probably not the exact quote but you get the picture.

Comments are closed.