Today Captain Grumpy Is “Captain Happy!”

Grumpy's Boat - 2 Today we interrupt our regularly scheduled programming – Countdown to the 2013 Sunnyland Wooden Boat Festival series with Braking News about Captain Grumpy and his latest discovery. Today Captain Grumpy is “Captain Happy!” – At least for a Day!

Fellow Woody Boater Captain Grumpy has the unique ability to sniff out and save classic wooden boats up in the north east (New Hampshire / New England / Massachusetts). Captain Grumpy loves all wooden boats, but has a special love for anything lapstrake and also reasonably priced plywood classics from the 1950’s & 1960’s. Captain Grumpy is like a “wooden boat bloodhound” and can follow the scent of old varnish through snow, rain, wind, heavy bush, you name it… and the other thing he is really good at is that he remembers where they are for years after he first sniffs them out, and then monitors them until he can shake them loose from their owners.

And recently, he found this gem which was located at Riverside Marina, near Squam Lake, New Hampshire. – From what he can find out it’s a (circa 1956) Sears, Roebuck and Company 22-foot Cabin Cruiser Kit Boat (Kit No. 6833). Here’s what Captain Grumpy said in his e-mail…

Texx: I have been trying to buy this thing for 2 months. The marina advertised it as a 1962 Sears Kit Boat. Kind of odd. But we went over to look at it… And here’s what we found. It was tucked away at the marina behind a bunch of other boats…

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And the closer we got, the better it looked….

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The interior of the boat was a little rough and had some debris inside it from sitting in the marina, but nothing major…

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Well its got a mid 80’s Mercruiser I/O which threw us off the scent for a few minutes… So I thought it may have been butchered. Well I did some checking with the marina for background. And they produced some original paperwork, manuals and even a set of original kit plans labeled August 1956 – 22’ Express Cruiser, some original I/O templates and manuals.

It was built in New Hampshire and the marina was selling it for the original elderly owner. So I bought it and then had to figure out a way to move it in the middle of winter from the marina and get it home.

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So I located a reasonably priced trailer, which is a challenge in itself in the middle of the winter up here…

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And we loader her up for the trip to her new home and to get her ready for next summer.

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I plan on just cleaning the boat up and hope to have her ready to use this summer. I spoke to the 75 year old son of the original builder yesterday. He confirmed it was built in 1956 from the Sears, Roebuck Kit made by Chris-Craft. He also said the boat started out with a single outboard and they then changed it to an I/O in 1962 and repowered it in 1995.

Captain Grumpy

Well normally our first thought would be “Where have we heard that before?” – But hey, this is Captain Grumpy talkin’ here, and if he says she will be ready for next summer, there’s a good chance it will be, as he knows his stuff when it comes to these old classics. – Texx

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When Captain Grumpy took delivery of the old plywood cruiser, it also came with some cool original documentation (below) which included the original Sears, Roebuck & Co Kit Boat plans.

Now I don’t know much about these old kit boats, but imagine what it was like back in the mid 1950’s to walk in to your local Sears, Roebuck store and actually order a kit boat, and then take delivery of a crate full of wood and fasteners, etc delivered to your back yard or garage, and then take on the challenge of putting one of these things together with a set of blueprints and paper diagrams? Here are a few photographs Captain Grumpy sent us – Like buying a boat from Ikea…

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And after a winter of working in your garage with the stove going and a few dim lightbulbs, your new boat is ready to hit the water for the first time with the wife and kids, and Uncle Harry and his wife for a summer of fun cruising…

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So the burning question we have to ask is “If you could walk in to Sears (or your local hardware store like Lowes or Home Depot, or even Ikea) and order a kit boat like this today, and then build it yourself in your garage or workshop from a set of paper blueprints and diagrams – would you be up for the challenge?

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Congratulations to Captain Grumpy for saving another old wooden classic and thanks again for sharing this story with us here at Woody Boater. We look forward to seeing her back in the water this summer.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming and the countdown to the 2013 Sunnyland Wooden Boat Festival in Tavares, Florida.

Woo Hoooooo!


71 replies
  1. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    There are still all sorts of kit boats and plans being sold today. I am not sure they are any more challenging than a DIY restoration, and in many ways they are probably easier.

    • Randy Rush Captain Grumpy
      Randy Rush Captain Grumpy says:

      The last boat that I had made from plans scaled out very close to the plans. This boat is right on the money and for me who doesnt build or take boats apart for a living, well its just simply look at the plan to figure out how it went togather.

  2. RiverRat
    RiverRat says:

    Parts is parts. I guess insturctions help if you take the time to read them. Congradulations even though it is not a lapstrake.

  3. Rick
    Rick says:

    Gotta luv northerners, here he is towing a boat with his plow hooked up just in case. Good luck. I wonder if you can still order NOS replacement parts from Sears?

    • Randy Rush Captain Grumpy
      Randy Rush Captain Grumpy says:

      I was kinda hoping I could just scratch “Craftsman” on anything and they would just give me a replacement.

  4. Dave Clyne
    Dave Clyne says:

    Congratulations !
    Now here’s the kind of boat story I love. Best wishes with the restoration. Post photos of the “during” as well as the “after”. I’m sure as a kid I lusted after that kit. No money, no garage,and no time. Got them all now in retirement. Go for it, Grumpy !

  5. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    Great find Randy, I have been following this for a bit and hoped you would get it and that it would turn out to be salvageable. It looks in decect shape to me. I don’t think there are too terribly many of these kit baots around, as I don’t think they lasted very long.

    The gauge panel is the same as or very similar to the one in my Glastron, which is a ’65 with a 120HP Mercruiser. That gauge panel is currently enroute to Dale Kocian for repair and restoration.

    I also noted and loved the shot with the plow on the tow vehicle! Now that is a contrast. Great save and I look forward to pictures of you enjoying the water in the boat this summer. This is a neat boat and very well worth saving.

    • Randy Rush Captain Grumpy
      Randy Rush Captain Grumpy says:

      Im on the fence for a name . I really want to name it “300 Bucks”Thats what I paid for it.

      Problem with that is resale.

  6. WoodenRookie
    WoodenRookie says:

    Well I’ve looked that garage door over every which way and I hate to say I don’t think it’s going to fit!!:)

    • Randy Rush Captain Grumpy
      Randy Rush Captain Grumpy says:

      Yup: No way in Hell. Its 22′ on the trailer 27′ and about 81/2 high. Thats my biggest problem, cant work on it inside.

  7. Bryan
    Bryan says:

    My grandfather worked his whole life at a small Sears store in Niles, Michigan. His HOUSE was built from a Sears kit, but I never knew they sold BOAT kits. Now I am disappointed that he didn’t take advantage of employee pricing, and build himself a boat. As one of two grandchildren, I’d have stood a good chance of inheriting a classic!

  8. Tommyholm
    Tommyholm says:

    That,s a Chris Craft for sure, they built more kit boats than anything. Hope all the parts are still there, good find.

  9. brian t
    brian t says:

    Cap’n Grumpy – “300 Bucks” is a great name. Just tell any prospective buyer that the boat kit sold for $300 from Sears when new way back in 1956.

  10. Bob Menzel
    Bob Menzel says:

    Back around 1954 my Dad had a 15 ft Chris Craft kit boat built by a fella in Pittsburgh PA by the name of Press Reel.

    He had a 15 HP Johnson on it and I did learn how to ski behind it.

    Here are some pictures of that boat. Sure wish I knew where it was today…

    Best wishes on restoring the cruiser. lookiong forward to seeing the progress photos!


      Nice family pictures, I dont come from a boat family so I just fake it till I make it, ala matt smith school of boating.

  11. RiverRat
    RiverRat says:

    The plywood on that boat is better than whatr you can get today. Maybe you could paint the laps on.

  12. Denis D
    Denis D says:

    Hey Cap’n Grumpy, That shot with the truck and trailer looks like Rt 11 with Alton Bay in the background. How about another shot this summer from the same spot with “300 Bucks” cruising up the bay!!

  13. Alex
    Alex says:

    I just read this. “Thats my biggest problem, cant work on it inside.”

    Say what?

    You’re a real estate agent Randy. So move. Build. Renovate. Do all three.

    Anyone who spends $300 for a boat surely has money left over!

  14. Andreas Jordahl Rhude
    Andreas Jordahl Rhude says:

    I have a Boat flyer from Montgomery Ward for their “Sea King” boats. The front page is for the “New! Sea King Outboard Cruisers made by Chris-Craft Especially for Wards”.

    Cool looking outboard cabin cruisers in 16, 19, and 22 foot lengths. Sheet plywood construction with fiberglassed bottom and fiberglass cabin tops.

  15. Texx
    Texx says:

    Maybe that would be a good subject for a Woody Boater reality show… Give three people (amateur builders) a period Sears / Montgomery Ward – Chris-Craft Kit Boat and they all have to build it in a week and then run it across Lake Michigan with a period outboard… First guy who makes it from Michigan to Wisconsin wins a lifetime supply of plywood.

    What could we name the reality show so we can present it to the Discovery Channel?

    • Bryan
      Bryan says:

      Are they working on it together, or does each of them get their own boat to build? Life rafts included?

      Call it “The Water is Wide” and use the James Taylor tune of the same name as the theme music.

      • Texx
        Texx says:

        They each work on their own kit boats individually with only the tools that the kit boat instructions say you need to build it and a six pack of Schlitz…

        You are allowed to phone a friend – which is a direct line to Don Danenburg.

        No 3M 5200 allowed, only mid 1950’s technology and adhesives can be used.

      • Texx
        Texx says:

        I’ll phone around to some Sears / Montgomery Ward warehouses to see if they have any NOS Kit Boats tucked away in the rafters…

  16. brian t
    brian t says:

    Three amateurs building boat kits on a reality show who then “motor” across a body of water? Sure, what possibly could go wrong after drinking a six pack… or two… or three….

    I have an idea for the show’s theme music:

    Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fiztgerald”

  17. brian t
    brian t says:

    Hang on a sec. One week to build a boat? Half drunk? Something tells me that they would look like this guy’s craft. I cannot imagine this thing on Lake Michigan.

  18. Troy
    Troy says:

    Captain Grumpy if you want more projects I know where there is a Chris Craft Sea Skiff, twin engine, free to a good home here on the coast of Maine. I will get more details Monday if you would like.

  19. Walt
    Walt says:

    I’m the proud owner of 2 Sears kit boats. A 12′ C/D “racer” that my dad built in 1953 and a 14′ runabout he and my grandfather built in 1954. I reskinned the 12′ boat in 1979 and was in the process of rebuilding the 14′ boat with my dad before he passed away last spring.

    • J. L. Cedergreen
      J. L. Cedergreen says:

      Hi, Walt. Any idea the age of the Elgin trailer under your dad’s 12′ racer? Early 50’s? We have an Elgin (appears identical) under our Seaswirl car-topper, which I find impossible to date (no numbers). It may very well be one of the first manufactured here in Oregon, beginning in ’55.

    • brian t
      brian t says:

      Sadly, I think the shear number of people who would be willing to or even have the ability to build a kit boat are few.

      Everyone can do wonders with their iPad and iPhone and computer, but actual hands-on stuff – not much.

      Your boats are wonderful.

  20. Walt
    Walt says:

    Here’s another of my family heirloom Elgin collection. My 1959 17′ lapstrake. This was my grandfather’s boat. It’s still sporting the original 1959 Johnson Fat 50.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Walt – Thanks for sharing the photos of your great looking ELGIN collection with us. I love them all but the 59 – 17′ Lapstrake with the Fat 50 and the lawn chairs is fantastic.

      Man I would love to go for ride in that boat some day!

  21. Randy Rush Captain Grumpy
    Randy Rush Captain Grumpy says:

    Just an update. Patching a hole in the floor from the marina forklift, Cleaned out 5″ of mice crap from under the floors. Got the cabin painted and varnished. Hope to have it back togather for the July boat show!

  22. Rndy Rush Captain Grumpy
    Rndy Rush Captain Grumpy says:

    Update: Replaced the inner keel and made a new skaeg out of 8/4 white oak. Spending more time under the boat getting it ready for that. Cabin is done, inner hull to the waterline has new paint. Varnish is done, Now we need to do the mechanicals and electrics.

  23. Randy Rush Captain Grumpy
    Randy Rush Captain Grumpy says:

    Update: I hope to have it in the water by fall. I thought I was going to make the Meredith NH show in 2 weeks, but thats probably not going to happen. Very hard painting outside when it rains every other day.

  24. Randy Rush Captain Grumpy
    Randy Rush Captain Grumpy says:

    Curtins in the cabin. That makes it a real cruiser right? Sanding the hull , hope to paint it maybe next week. Got the electrical systems squared away and got the motor to fire off.

  25. Randy Rush Captain Grumpy
    Randy Rush Captain Grumpy says:

    Nice to go here and reflect how much work ive done on this boat with 3’of snow surrounding it.

      • Randy Rush Captain Grumpy
        Randy Rush Captain Grumpy says:

        Planning on using it for the summer. Just need to reinstall the gas tank , go thru the drive . Still thinking about a name for it

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