Woody Boaters To The Rescue – Can We Help Don Find A Sportsman For The Summer?

1954 Chris-Craft Fleet Brochure Courtesy of the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club

In case you haven’t been following the thread (Be prepared for a series of dumb questions / new to the hobby) on the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club “Boat Buzz” Forum over the last few days, there is a very popular story about Don, and his attempt to research and possibly purchase a classic 1956 17′ Chris-Craft Sportsman. You can click on the thread above to go directly to the Boat Buzz Forum and see all the comments.

Don is a self-professed newcomer to the antique & classic boat hobby (also known as “Lifestyle”) and Don has reached out to the folks at the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club for some help – and boy did he get help… and opinions… a truckload! I must say that I was concerned that it may have been “Information Overload” for a newcomer, but Don handled it very well.

Here’s Don’s opening comment on the thread…

“I have been admiring antique wooden Chris Crafts for probably 28 years now. I first saw one of these beauties while I was on vacation at Squam Lake NH and have been salivating ever since.”

Then, after carefully reviewing the comments and technical discussion / debate on the Boat Buzz Forum, last night Don decided to take the big step and finalize the purchase of his new (old) dream boat – Here’s what happened. Don commented…

“Well those of you who are following this post should love this. I called the current owner to accept his price of $7500 for the boat and arrange delivery. His response was that he has raised the price significantly and that it would take a lot more $$$ if I wanted it. So much for a gentlemans agreement.”

So we are sounding our classic Easy Blow Horn to call Woody Boaters from around the country to the rescue to help Don.

We thought it would be fun to reach out to the Woody Boater Community to see if we can help Don find another similar boat that he can use for the summer, so he too can experience the “Lifestyle” for a reasonable investment.

Here’s Don’s Criteria

– Approximate selling price 7,500.00 OBO.

– Must be lake ready and safe for immediate use.

– Year range (1950’s or earlier with good, usable bottom)

– Type Chris-Craft Utility 17′-22′ or similar wooden boat.

– Trailer included.

– Area (i.e. NE – USA) but not a deal breaker as transportation can be arranged.
Is this possible? Let’s find out… Woody Boaters to the rescue. Let’s band together, it’s good for the hobby… lifestyle.

If you know where we can find Don’s dream boat, you can let us know by commenting below or e-mail me at Texx@woodyboater.com and we will forward the information directly to Don.

21 replies
  1. Dave Pickard
    Dave Pickard says:

    I have a 53 SS 17.6 ft with a KBL 131 rebuilt by Van Ness in summer or 2009, been in the water 3 times! Original bottom, had it in November 2010 bottom is very good, but it’s not a 7500.00 boat, right around 20 + or -. Newly rewired, varnish and chrome excellent. New interior too, kept factory looking.

  2. Dave Pickard
    Dave Pickard says:

    We all know it but, “you get what you pay for” that is if your educated enough to know that your not getting screwed.

  3. RiverRat
    RiverRat says:

    Trust no one, Believe nothing. See in person before you buy. People who sell boats have selective memory. Good Luck.

  4. Alex
    Alex says:


    $7,500. $20,000.

    Potato patato, tom(eh)to, tom(at)o.

    Welcome to the world of classic boating, Don! Where numbers are more fluid than the water parted by the boats. Where carefully squirreled away college and retirement savings sink to the bottom like car keys. Where begging of wives becomes an art form. Where people say “it only cost” [then insert figures in the many $000’s], and mean it!

    Seriously, I really hope you find exactly what you are looking for at, or close to, your budget. Buy carefully (meaning have someone who really knows wooden boats look it over first) and I have no doubt you will. Deals are out there. Your best bet is to buy from someone who has taken the big hits of restoration and replacement, has a need for $, a desire for a different boat, or a desire to “thin the fleet.”

    This is an awesome community at this blog. Lean on them for advice. Newcomers will be flooded with goodwill (and empathy).

    C’mon fellow WoodyBoaters! Someone out there cut this deserving guy a deal and help him begin a lifetime of happy, safe wooden boating.

    But Don. Let me warn you. The guy you see in the photo with the horn pressed to his lips. Just look at those eyes. He’s trouble. Stay clear of him. (And that’s not a horn. It’s a carefully disguised fatty.)

    • Mike M
      Mike M says:

      Alex, for your information, the guy in the photo is “tooting” that horn AND it’s not his own……

      Don, good luck in your search. A ‘good’ boat for that price is not likely to present itself, you will have to find it. BUT, you’ve got the entire WB network on your side. I’m not sure if that’s good or not, but we’re all here for you!

    • Long Island, NY
      Long Island, NY says:

      Is there water in Nebraska? Are boats really able to float in water without the added buoyancy of salt?

  5. Texx
    Texx says:

    Matt – I think Don is from the Massachusetts area, but he indicated to me that if he could locate the right boat as per the criteria, that location was not a major concern.

    I guess it’s just the logistics of getting it surveyed, etc but if necessary that’s possible with the right connections, etc.

    • Don
      Don says:

      Hold off on the search gang. I have reentered negotiations with the owner of the boat I started with. We may be coming to an agreement with just a minor adjustment in price rather than a major one from me.

      • Paul H.
        Paul H. says:

        Good luck with that, but I would be very cautious. He tried to pull a fast one on you, and what does that mean for his overall credibility? Whatever it means, it is far from a positive character endorsement, in my opinion.

        Personally, I would step back and see what else pops up and make this guy sweat it out for awhile. There is ALWAYS another boat out there.

  6. Texx
    Texx says:

    Thanks to everyone for your assistance today, it’s great to see.

    We will keep you posted on this story and how new fellow Woody Boater Don makes out in terms of securing his new (old) wooden boat.

  7. Larry Forget
    Larry Forget says:

    CHATTANOOGA, TENN call GARY 423 – 310 – 4567 last week he offered me a WOODIE “IN WATER” family leaving town .. About $6,000-6,500.Thought 17 ft range.(?)…………… also had a 30 ft dual engine IN WATER same price range.. marina off rt #153 near DAM.

  8. Chris Finks
    Chris Finks says:


    My apologies for the fellow not making good on your offer. Consider yourself lucky not to deal with someone that has an interesting interpretation of integrity. That said, he is an exception in the antique boating community as you will find most are exceptional people willing to help, offer advice, provide a tow…or blow a horn.

    I owned a 1947 Chris Craft U-18 Sportsman for 5 years, loved every minute of it along with my family. Also, spent lots of elbow grease and yes money making her look and be beautiful. The guy blowing his horny was a big part of that and what a great process it was! A couple things to consider: it had a newer bottom installed before I bought the boat and my purchase price from 6+ years ago was far higher than $7500 and my selling price was north of $20,000 when I sold the boat in January to “assist” with my latest project which is a 1960 36 ft Chris Craft Constellation (that’s another story).

    Here’s my advice and as my grandmother used to say, put it in your memory bank and use as necessary: there usually is no such thing as a cheap boat and you should seriously think about increasing your “purchase budget.” Perhaps even consider buying a boat with a newer bottom and opening your consideration to other Chris Craft utility style boats to accommodate that idea. Remember, the bottom alone for a 17-18 foot boat would likely cost $12-18,000.

    Also, what type of waters will you use the boat and how man people (kids?) will go on the boat usually? Those factors are important for the size of boat you will consider in that smaller boats of 16-17 feet have a harder time in “big water” (lots of chop) and with several people on board. Also, the engine matters and any “4-bangers” are woefully underpowered. While not original, my 1947 Sportsman has a 283 V8 in her and I love that power.

    I’ll keep on the look-out for you on boats and don’t be shy to make an aggressive (but not insulting) offer on a boat you like.

    Have fun!


    • Don
      Don says:

      For anyone keeping track of this little project, I am heading up to Portsmouth NH to take delivery of my first wooden Chris Craft today! I had to increase my offer by $1500 for him to bite but he did come down from his “second” price. I am still ok with buying the boat at this price obviously since eveyone I have talked to (the owner previous to the current owner, a marine surveyor and the owner of Sunrise River Boatworks who worked on restoring the boat a couple years ago) have all said that $14,000 in restoration have gone into the boat during the time they had it. I got the owner to agree just before it was going to a broker who had a couple interested parties. (yes I talked to him too). So I hope this will turn out well!

  9. Chris Finks
    Chris Finks says:


    Congrats…I think. Seriously, sounds like a good price and the boat sounds as if it’s fairly solid. Keep everyone in-the-loop. Welcome to the hobby and enjoy.

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