Salty’s Sticky Situation – Thank Goodness For Cooking Spray!

A day in the life of fellow Woody Boater and Northern Michigan Reporter Alex Watson, as they say “You can’t make this stuff up!” Take it away Alex…

Last evening, we went for a ride in our 19′ Chris-Craft Commander Super Sport.

As you can see from these images, we had an incident. It started with me surrendering the wheel to my wife, something I struggle with doing, to anyone. Then our 3 year old son Salter (nicknamed Salty) sat in her lap to drive. Then Salty stuck his fingers in the holes on the steering wheel. You guessed it. One came out, the other did not.

I had to retake the controls and dock the boat very carefully, because I could not really steer it for fear of breaking his finger or swelling it up worse.

I probably already need a new steering wheel for “Lush Life” (our U-22 Chris-Craft) as the bearings are shot behind the original one and taking it off to repair those very well could break the wheel as it has been on since 1946. So I was damned if I would have to break the wheel on the Commander too! I could just picture the fire department there, sawing into it (the wheel, not the finger).

In the end, we used an ice pack and some cooking spray to work it free. This series of images shows what happened.

1. Salty takes wheel.

2. Salty inserts fingers in the smallest holes. Why? Because they go in.

3. Salty notices fingers aren’t coming out.

4. Wife still oblivious, keeps turning the wheel. Salty apparently enjoying the novelty of it all. (Docking pic not provided as Daddy could not do so and dock at the same time. Thank God is wasn’t windy!)

5. Situation analysis, back at the dock.

6. Salty schools Daddy how the holes are not all the same size.

7. “See how easily my finger goes in and out of this one?”

8. Salty’s not happy as Daddy explains the “might have to saw” possibility, while gritting my teeth.
(Graphic pic of the removal procedure deleted.)

9. Our two heroes. The proven Mr. 5-Gallon Bucket and the new kid on the block, Mr. Cooking Spray. (Note that we used organic. Only the best for my surgeries!)

Alex Watson – Reporting from Northern Michigan

Thanks Alex – Great story and were glad to see that Salty came out unscathed, with all 10 fingers…

Alex suggested (and we agree) that if any of our regular viewers have a story about the next generation of classic boaters, and their experience in the boat, send them in… We would love to see them!

The Twins - 1969 19' Chris-Craft Commander Super Sport & 1970 Chris-Craft XK-19

Along with his impressive collection of classic wooden boats, Alex has a pair of very cool non-wooden Chris-Crafts. We are hoping to get up to visit Alex and Salty in Hessel some time this summer to do a “Full Throttle” story on these two classic speedboats.


14 replies
  1. DonD
    DonD says:

    How many years did Chris-Craft use that wheel?

    You know…, this is why we cannot have access to the “material specifications” files, from any year?

  2. WoodyGal
    WoodyGal says:

    Hey Alex, I like your XK’s! The ’71 color looks a bit like ARRRGH! Those little fingers do fit in the darndest places. I don’t usually think about childproofing my boat! Thanks for the ‘heads up’. Great story and pictures.

    Larry’s Cousin

  3. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    Alex, glad everything turned out good with little Salty. Thanks to a 5 gal bucket and a can of cooking spray (organic only) for saving the day. Enjoyed the action shots.

  4. ARRRGH!
    ARRRGH! says:

    Yikes! Great story! Now I have a new item to add to my boating kit when my grandkids are on board my XKs. Both XKs have that same steering wheel. And, both grandkids (3 and 6 years old) love to drive them . Larry

  5. Mike M
    Mike M says:

    If that happened on a modern boat the wheel would be immediately recalled and class action lawsuits would ensue!

    I like how you were there to photograph the whole thing but didn’t stop it from happening. Oh, and how do you hold your scotch and take such good pictures at the same time?

  6. Alex
    Alex says:

    Hi Don. I have no idea how many years they made that wheel. As Arrrgh says, they used it on the XK-18s too (I have a pair of those boats too). I believe the XK-22 used a different wheel — pics I’ve seen of that dash show a wooden rimmed wheel (also cool). Anyhow, the wheel on the 18 and 19 not only looks good, it is small-ish in diameter and meaty in hand. A nice choice by C-C for sports boats.

  7. Alex
    Alex says:

    WoodyGal. Childproofing a boat? That got me thinking… Would ACBS dock me 0.25 of a point if I had brigs, er, “safety shelters,” built in my boats? Perhaps. But upon seeing my kids in action on boat rides, I’ll bet they’d give it right back!

  8. Alex
    Alex says:

    Rick. That duct tape idea is a good one too. Perfect for noise reduction in the ‘shelter! Re “covering holes,” that gave me another excellent idea, since Salty is still in potty training. Man this blog is a great resource!

  9. Alex
    Alex says:

    Texx. Giving you credit for something here… We occasionally refer to our eldest son, Sandy, as “Fast Idle.” He’s 9 and all-boy. Salty, however, seems to be stuck in the “terrible twos,” which became the “terrible threes,” and just entered the “terrible fours.” He has my wife’s stubbornness and my temperament when he gets mad. Ok, temper. Thanks to your comments, we have now dubbed him: “Full Throttle.”

  10. Faye
    Faye says:

    Loved the Salty story. Glad to know that good ol’ resourcefulness and boater know how saved the day. Love your boats.

Comments are closed.