Reporting Live-ish From The West Coast’s Largest Boat Show

Seattle caps

Reporting Live-ish from the Pacific Northwest Chapter ACBS Anchor Desk at the Huge 2015 Seattle Boat Show – Karl Hoffman and Roger Cox

TODAY WE ARE TRAVELLING TO THE GREAT PACIFIC NORTHWEST for a Live-ish report from the 2015 Seattle Boat Show. This time of year, many of the local ACBS Chapters are representing the hobby at winter boat shows around the country – and, as many of our viewers have touched on over the last few weeks, booth or display space at these big winter boat shows is becoming expensive and in many cases difficult for the local ACBS Chapters to secure.

I suppose this is a good thing for the show organizers, and maybe a sign that the recreational / pleasure boating industry is thriving. However, this usually means that only limited space is available for the local ACBS Chapters and clubs that represent our hobby. These boat shows are great venues to bring awareness to the classic boating hobby, and potentially attract new members to the ACBS Chapters and marque clubs – providing they can secure space.

As you will see in today’s story, the nice folks at the Pacific Northwest Chapter were able to secure a small space just days before the start of the show, and the dedicated Chapter volunteers jumped into action to make it all happen in a very short period of time. Nice work Guys. – Texx


Photo courtesy

The West Coast’s Largest Boat Show – the Seattle Boat Show, Indoors + Afloat – kicks off January 23 and runs through February 1, 2015. The Seattle Boat Show features ~1,000 boats for every budget designed to meet every recreational need featured at CenturyLink Field, plus world class yachts, trawlers and more at South Lake Union. The show, the largest on the West Coast, features a free shuttle service between the two venues. For more information, visit


Photo courtesy

Live-ish From The 2015 Seattle Boat Show
Story by Ron Stevenson / Photos by Brian Flaherty

It’s that time of year again, this is when our boating season really starts out here in the Pacific Northwest, with the BIG Seattle Boat Show, advertised as the largest on the West Coast (aka, the Left Coast or the “wet-edge” of the USA).

Our many shades-of-gray skies begin to stop drizzling all the time and we see a bit of blue occasionally; and thanks to the Northwest Marine Trade Association (NMTA) for putting the show together, we really start to think about boating! They have 700 members for our $3.9 billion industry of recreational boating.

And while our ACBS chapter is not a member, we are invited to display, if they have a empty space. “IF” is the big word here. With 700 paying members wanting to be part of the show, we are lucky to get a spot, and of course we don’t know until typically two days before it opens!

TWO DAYS to come up with what and how to display in whatever size booth we get. This year, I got the word at noon on Tuesday, we pulled in the big stuff Wednesday, and I could not finish the details until Thursday nite, and the show opened Friday. It usually runs 10 days, but for some strange reason, they will shut it down a day early, something about some lame football game that people in Seattle may want to watch. Humph! I mean really, what is more important?

Seattle 8

From the Franchini family collection – Brian brought their 1957 6’3″ Skeeto with it’s 3HP West Bend engine restorted by Brian’s son, Cole Franchini. The little Skeeto is always a crowd favorite.

Thanks to Frank Gonzales our PNW Chapter member, Chris-Craft owner, who works at the NMTA for his persistence in getting us a booth. And to Curt Erickson, Ike Kielgass, Brian Flaherty, Brian Franchini, and Ingvar Carlson for their part of the display, and doing the set-up. And to Rick Means, who stitches up and loans us boat manufactures special large size burgees that he makes, which are also great for man caves! He makes regular size ones too – check out his website at

Seattle 2
Our chapter curmudgeon Curt Erickson brought his huge 1914 Hispano-Suiza V-8 to display, an all aluminum (only 600 lbs) World War I fighter plane engine that has been marinized and has run in “Miss Sydney”, the Gentleman’s raceboat replica he owns. That polished aluminum monster motor catches peoples eye right away! BTW, a plug for FLITZ, here at the show, Gigi GAVE us polish and cloths to polish it with! Curt is the guy who for years – looked for the old guy with a bunch of old boats and boat stuff, and now realizes that guy is him!

Seattle 7

Hispano – Suiza Model H-3

In 1914 Swiss engineer Marc Birkigt designed the V-8 Hispano-Suiza airplane engine. It was adopted for French fighters in 1915 and used in the Spad airplane in WWI.

1915 Spad

A shot of an original 1915 SPAD with the Hispano-Suiza V-8. (No, that’s not Curt in the photo)

The basic contribution of Birkigt to engine design was the in-block cylinder construction with a cast aluminum water jacket containing steel cylinder barrels and enclosed and lubricated valves, and valve gears. The success of this engine started a revolution in liquid-cooled engine design which culminated in the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. Hispano-Suiza was designed in 1914, then licensed it to Wright Aeronautical in 1921. This particular Hispano-Suiza V-8 engine is a 1921 model.


Number of cylinders: V-8
Bore: 5.5 inches
Stroke: 5.9 inches
Displacement: 1126 cubic inches
Weight: 600 lbs.
Compression ratio: 5.3 to 1
Brake H.P.: 300

“Miss Sydney” (Curt’s Gentleman’s Racer) was built in Australia in 2003 and patterned after a 1936 Ventnor race boat. A 454 Cu.In. Chevrolet engine is swapped back and forth for either show or recreational use. – Curt Erickson, Eatonville, WA

The other eye catcher at the head of our booth is “ROWDY” – designed and built by Movie Star (that’s another story) and Chapter member Ike Kielgass. This replica race boat features a really cool flathead Ford V-8 that has been tweaked from the original HP and features dual-carbs.

Seattle 3

“Rowdy” is a replica of a 1938 Ventor single step hydroplane.

Interestingly enough, while I was concerned about the long, rather narrow booth (15×50?) people seem to do the “grocery aisle effect” and good thing Curt Erickson also brought us “IDLER”, a 1930 21′ Dowsett launch, with it’s exposed great little 2 cylinder St Lawrence, and tiller lever steering. He is sadly thinking about selling this fine vessel.

Seattle 5
We also have our chapter posters from boat shows past here for sale, so we may be able to pay for my parking pass! You can see the posters at the PNW website HERE.

We have had a lot of traffic in our booth and in the boat show itself, all the attendance numbers are up, and they have sold a surprising number of boats this year in just two days, including selling the big ones that are usually just dreamboats. It is a huge sign that people are starting to spend that discretionary income and that the economy is definitely much better, oops, depending on which side of the aisle you’re on….

Seattle 4

Fellow Woody Boater, PNW Chapter member and today’s live-ish photographer Brian Flaherty brought his cool 1967 Chris-Craft 17′ Cavalier Ski Boat down for the display, the first full fiberglass boat CC built.

One last thank-you to all of our chapter members who do booth time and chat up the WoodyBoater lifestyle. And now it is time for me to head to the booth, promote the ACBS mission statement, Woodyboater, and sell ACBS memberships! Blue skies are coming soon! maybe… – Ron Stevenson

Seattle 6

The guys also brought down a nice collection of vintage outboard motors for the display, along with some video equipment.

Thanks for the great report Ron and Brian. If you are in the Seattle area or planning to be in the Seattle area, make a point of stopping by to visit the guys in the PNW Chapter display to talk some classic boating – a favorite subject of theirs. The Seattle Boat Show runs until Saturday, January 31st.


15 replies
  1. Chris Wade
    Chris Wade says:

    Just a note. First all fiberglass Chris was the 38′ Commander. Thanks for the story, always entertaining…

    • Brian Flaherty
      Brian Flaherty says:

      Chris you are absolutely correct!! My poster, on display inside the boat, calls this the “first all fiberglass SKI BOAT” Chris Craft ever built… Prior to 1969 all the “ski boats” were planked or plywood or had major structural elements made from wood. The Cavalier, however, has now structural wood, just seats and floors.

  2. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    Good thing you have all that polish to clean the drool off that Hiso. Hope you don’t have a “clean up on aisle 5” moment down that “grocery aisle” display. Nothing like having a big black max Mercury poking you in the back while trying to sign up ACBS prospects. Their may be some Canadians that might want to get that Dowsett back on their “side of the aisle” and closer to her home of Portland, Ontario.

  3. Mark
    Mark says:

    What is that funny looking bird on the guy’s tee shirt in the header photo ?

    I’ll take flying Elvis over that.

    Go Patriots !

  4. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    Although I admire and respect the Patriots, both the ones from the late 1700’s and the ones who wear the “Flying Elvis”, I’ll go with the “funny looking bird on the guy’s tee shirt”. Who ever wins, the other team are far form losers, being second best ain’t bad.

    You guys in the PNW Chapter made splendid use of your 50-foot grocery aisle. Very impressive and versatile display.

  5. Jordan Heath
    Jordan Heath says:

    Love the header today. My dad had an older (not quite classic at the time) Tollycraft 17′ inboard ski boat when I was a kid. Fond memories out on Lake Berryessa with the smell of gas and varnish and the gleaming chrome…

    • Robert Lyman
      Robert Lyman says:

      Jordan, I’m with you. Except it was my Uncle Bill in the delta with a ’62 Tollycraft Sportabout. Fun times!

  6. Greg Shaw
    Greg Shaw says:

    Great showing Seattle. Dang shame the show generals could not provide more space for your fine examples of years gone by. A disapointing thumbs down for the failure to post a picture of the “really cool” flathead V8 in ROWDY. Not something you get a chance to see very often, if at all. Well wishes to all the wood runners……… Tri Cities, Wa.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Greg – Here is a shot of Rowdy from Mason Lake with the hatch open, showing the vintage Ford Flathead power.

      • Greg
        Greg says:

        Thanks Texx! she’s a beaut, I must include seeing Rowdy in person to my bucket list. Love flat head power being used in such a grand way. Now to save the picture so to be able to smile at it later on.

  7. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Nice job setting up a great booth on short notice.

    Has my friend Doug P shown up yet?

    As far as Phoenix goes I will stick with the my “BOYS” from the ANE.

    (Photo from the Official Facebook Page of the New England Patriots Cheerleaders)

  8. Craig J
    Craig J says:

    No on the stripe. The stripe was on the 70 model when the Ski Boat was changed from a Cavalier to a Corsair. 69 had no stripe.

Comments are closed.