Hurricane Irene 1 / Chris-Craft Connie 0 – Is The Journey Over For “Journey?”

Connie 1 - Copy

Sadly, the 48′ Chris-Craft Constellation sank during Hurricane Irene in August of 2011.

The last few years haven’t been kind to “Journey” – a once elegant 1958 48′ Chris-Craft Constellation. After being abandoned by her owner in North Carolina, in 2011 Hurricane Irene delivered a knockout punch to “Journey” when a broken piling pierced her side, leaving her to sink. Does this mean the journey is over for “Journey?” Is there a few more chapters in this old girls life or is she destined for the burn pile?

Here’s the story from fellow Woody Boater Al Benton at the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club. – Texx

Texx – A 1958, 48′ CC Constellation sits on the hard near the coast in North Carolina waiting for someone to rescue her, or to salvage what’s there. The big Constellation sank in shallow water 2-1/2 years ago during Hurricane Irene on August 27th when a broken piling pierced her side.

Connie 2 - Copy

The Connie being floated after a diver patched the hole in her side.

The owner let his insurance expire and couldn’t pay for the recovery. In spite of this, two weeks after the hurricane, Ashley Erwin and his crew at the local marina in Oriental, NC patched the hole in the side, raised her, towed her a quarter mile, pulled her with their travel lift, blocked and parked her where she now sits.

Connie 3 - Copy

“Journey” now floating and being towed to travel lift.

The legal battle to claim possession by the marina was settled earlier last week and now the marina was just given salvage rights after 2-1/2 years. What a waste. If the recovery costs could have been resolved quickly, they may have been able to find a new owner, but after sitting for 30 months, its unlikely that she’ll ever be restored. It’s sad to see, as only 26 of these big 48′ Constellations were built by Chris-Craft in 1957 & 1958.

Connie 4 - Copy

Her home for the last 30 months waiting for legal possession.

They’re now trying to recoup some of their expenses for the recovery. Last week, Ashley Erwin (the new owner) from the marina in Oriental, NC who recovered Connie contacted me at the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club looking for someone who may be interested in buying it or salvage anything of value from the big cruiser. I suppose the rest becomes fire wood.

Connie 5 - Copy

Port side view of the big 48′ Constellation.

If anyone is interested, for more information you can contact Ashley Erwin in North Carolina at 252.675.2554 or by e-mail at

Thanks – Al Benton
Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club

Thanks Al – Lets hope someone is interested in extending the life of “Journey” to cruise another day.


29 replies
  1. Cliff
    Cliff says:

    How much was that restoration of the 65′ Chris Craft motor yacht on the west cost? How about “Starlight Express” the 42 Matthews Martinique? This would be more, I think it’s sad how the boat was killed but that happens more often than not with “live-A-boards” look at whats listed in bone yard boats. Lets face it if you can’t trailer it it probably won’t get restored unless you have mega millions money. Finding the space is a challenge. The smart way would be to own a building and not have to pay rent. I own a 1941 29′ express that I would call a pocket cruiser, this is my retirement project(I’m 42 next month) I should be buying lumber every month because its just going up. In today’s money I have figured that that boat will cost me $200K to do. And that’s a strong guess. I know this Connie is toast.

    • Tom F.
      Tom F. says:

      Cliff, couldn’t agree with you more. Love your 1941 CC Express by the way. I wanted to buy that boat but was right in the middle of a self restoration on a 1956 25′ CC Express…new bottom, the works. Almost there after 7 years. It can be done. I’ll try to post a couple of pics of two other 1941 Express’

      • Cliff
        Cliff says:

        Wow! Great pictures, thanks. Gives me something to aspire to, and I hope to see them in person this summer.

    • High Seas
      High Seas says:


      We budget around 20K a year into the restoration of our 65′ Connie. I have a client with a 44′ that we have put almost 200K into it in the last 2 years…. Projects like these are not for the faint of heart……..

  2. Troy
    Troy says:

    DANG that is hard to see on a Monday morning.

    I wish I had the resources to bring her back to life.

    Being a ’58 she is dear to my hart. It would be so cool if someone would save her and we could somehow bet Betsy (a 28′ ’58 Connie), American Beauty (a 38′ ’58 Connie) and Journey (a 48′ ’58 Connie) all together.

    Now that would be a show all in itself!

  3. Sean
    Sean says:

    Unfortunately, projects af this scale are well past the scope and resources of the vast majority of antique boat enthusiasts. Of the relatively few individuals that could manage such a project some will have interests in other areas of boating and some may look to more immediate utility of their allocated dollar. What remains is an extremely small subset which may already have projects underweigh.

    One possible solution for truly significant project boats is for organizations like the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton to allocate a specific portion of their resources to ensure these great giants do not become extinct. I’m not saying they don’t already do this…but if many are to be saved, this is the best chance for them.

  4. Alex
    Alex says:

    Maybe Journey could buy Journey. They could re-power ballad her, so she could go “on and on and on and on.”

    Don’t stop believin’.

    • Al Benton
      Al Benton says:

      Good idea! I suppose that would call for an “Oriental Journey”, not their song but…

      If Journey is compelled to call Ashley they need to dial 252-675-2554, not the 775 exchange shown.

    • kentucky Wonder
      kentucky Wonder says:

      Actually, I think “Sentimental Journey” is a more appropriate tune. And with all the artists that covered that tune over the years, you might be able to put together a consortium with enough cash to actually complete the said “Sentimental Journey.”

      Besides, without Steve Perry, Journey the band really isn’t the same. And I’m still ticked because the sound quality of their last concert DVD was TERRIBLE.

  5. Wilson Wright
    Wilson Wright says:

    Depending on shipping costs, she might be shipped off to a country where labor costs are much cheaper and put back together…

    On the other hand, I suppose if a bunch of guys could get together and put and ole PT boat back together, a similiar group could get interested in this project.

    Wonder what her pedigree is…Like, who bought her originally, where has she been, etc.

  6. Rob Bergevin
    Rob Bergevin says:

    I am happy restoring the bottom of my 1937 35′ Double Stateroom Enclosed Cruiser (whew), because she was in very good shape to begin with and we used her hard for twenty years. But, Journey is just way to big and seemingly too far gone for an amateur or hobbyist like me. If I was 30 and she was very close by…maybe. The first order of business would be to get a dome shelter over her, strip out anything fabric…. oops, my wife just saw what I was doing and said to stop! Seriously though, what may be helpful is for a club member to get permission from Ashley to go through her and provide a short report with some pics.

    Rob in Toronto

      • Grant Stanfield
        Grant Stanfield says:


        That’s the back of a four-page foldout ’58 full-line CC brochure; open it fully and it’s a huge poster…this is only one side of it.

        Beautiful illustration- even bigger Connies on the side you can’t see!

  7. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Hmmm, now that we can post pictures, can we put imbedded sound on the Woodyboater feature request list? I would post Fall Out Boy’s recent hit song about the economics of restoring wood cruisers…

    So light ’em up, up, up
    Light ’em up, up, up
    Light ’em up, up, up
    I’m on fire

    When you restore a small wood boat you need to expect to lose a large amount of money in the process. With a cruiser in that condition, the financial loss is going to be massive. I am not even sure that boat would be an economical source of fire wood. It is unfortunate, but they were never meant to last forever, and they aren’t all worth saving.

  8. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    I see a lot of opportunities to part out a big cruiser like this one. The transom could be a big bar, or desk for a boat show, the helm an office/desk setup. A lot of décor items on a big boat like this one and looks like it is all there, hardware, rails, windows. All could be recycled as furniture/décor items. Now what could we make out of that big old “Bull Nose”?

    • Alex
      Alex says:

      Dennis and m-fine. Couldn’t agree more. Some shouldn’t and /or can’t be saved when they’re this far gone and this prohibitavely costly to restore/rebuild. It’s cool and wonderful when it happens, but it’s a rarity for good reason.

      That said, the idea of parting it out and repurposing whole components, to the degree possible, is great. Parts will surely go to eBay or a dealer, which is a good thing. Because they will eventually find use on a better condition boat.

      People can’t all be saved either. And it hurts to lose great ones. But you know, when they donate organs so that others may live, it’s a beautiful thing, and it’s another way a part of them lives on. I write this with the utmost sincerity.

  9. thomas d
    thomas d says:

    i’ve been working on this clipper for 6+ years. it’s only 24 ft. and it seems there is still no end in site. the only thing is see of any use on the connie is all the mahogany that could be reused.

  10. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    Very sad to see her sittin’ on the bottom but there’s going to be even more as fuel prices stay high, continue to go up and the economy continues its anemic path.

  11. chris bulla
    chris bulla says:

    I am crazy enought to attemp to restore her . It is perfect for my retirement years I will do 99% of the work myself. Then I can travel on her after retirement.I have axcess to alot of materiels . I hope I will soon be the new owner!!!!!!!!

    • Rob Bergevin
      Rob Bergevin says:

      Ok. I’ll come down from Toronto and look at it with you. But only on the condition that is it ok if I slap you now and again when I think you are getting romantically attached to this boat. It is really, really big, and probably really, really decayed. If you retire when you are 27 and live to be 103, you might have enough time to fix it up. I am a wooden cruiser guy since 1982 and do all the work myself. My view is that you must be cold and ruthless (with yourself) when assessing these babies. One last piece of cheap advice; if you can’t properly protect it from the weather you will never, ever keep up with the decay process. And that’s the truth!

  12. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    Well Ashley, we tried.

    Thanks Texx, for getting the word out about this once elegant watercraft to the largest community of classic boating enthusiasts in the world. I’m sure that Journey’s present owners, not by choice, more by default, truly appreciate your willingness to post their story.

    • Alex
      Alex says:

      A, in a sense, your story is another way Journey lives on. The kind of discussion it brought out in the Comments does a service to future prospective buyers of cruisers — who regularly follow this blog, or happen on it as they research and consider a cruiser project — by helping them to proceed with caution and make informed decisions.

  13. Jimmuh
    Jimmuh says:

    “….The legal battle to claim possession by the marina was settled earlier last week and now the marina was just given salvage rights, after 2-1/2 years…”

    The essence of the problem….

Comments are closed.