A Cry For Help. Will Someone Please Talk Me Out Of This Cruiser!

1959 original 42 Chris Craft Connie on eBay

WHAT IN THE HELL AM I THINKING? WHAT? Please hit me in the head with a hammer. Really. I have this weakness for these mid to late 50’s cruisers. This specific one in a 1959 42 footer. Looks very original. And is a three owner fresh water boat. Here is the link to more pics.. Dang.. And its original owners were from Michigan! Still has its WB’s on board. The dreamer in me see’s how it’s all perfect. How its fun to redo these. A little sanding, and varnish here and there. All part of the fun…right…But I know, I know the work involved, and the buckets of money it takes to keep running. Not to mention that every penny you spend is meaningless. You might as well go out and hand your cash to a stranger. At least someone would get some sort of help from it. But dang look at it. How cool is that? I spoke with the owner, yes it’s gotten that far, he is a great guy.. Dam…So what is it? I have the same weakness for old Mercedes and Porsches by the way. But gladly all I see now when I look at an old speedster is $6,000 door handles and leaky gas tanks, And don’t even get me started on longetudanles. But for some reason the old cruiser bug is still in my veins. I can justify it easy.. Putting a $100,000 into this 42 footer might seem foolish. But consider a $1.5 million dollar Plastic boat. Trust me, you can drop that kind of money on a 42 ft cruiser easy. And what are they worth in a year.. $800K.. So no matter what you do, you are loosing money. So the real deal is to start low, at the bottom. So you can decide what you want and don’t want. Plus, a nice 50’s cruiser that’s all spiffed up is a million times cooler than a new plastic cruiser. $1.5 million to be accurate. See, I am doing it again. Talking my self into this dang thing. Thank god its across the country. Maybe a nice Commander is the better idea, those are very cool. Maybe I will look at those. Please god, I hope there are none close by. Someone, speak reason to me. Stop me. I need help. .. Picking it up! No, stop, not funny. I really need help,

66 replies
  1. Mike Green
    Mike Green says:

    Wish I could help but I love the fifties cruisers as well. Do it…wait a minute don’t do…wait…ah crap do it!

  2. Rick
    Rick says:

    I daydream of these ALL the time, especially those bullnose ones. BTW those bullnoses rot like crazy and freshwater just makes it worse. Get a good survey, write down the estimated restoration cost, double or triple that and then rip it up and buy it anyway. Know that you can never complain to your wife what she buys EVER, and keep working forever. More style and much cheaper than plastic, better in a big sea with less pounding and the window are going to leak anyway. Go for it.

  3. Alex
    Alex says:

    Rudyard Kipling bought one of these things. Don’t believe it worked out for him. In fact, some scholars say it inspired him to write this stanza in IF.

    “…If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’…”

    It is believed Hemingway bought one too. And, well, you know what that led him to do…

    If it’s a new thrill you’re seeking, why not do something less risky, like breed racehorses.

  4. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    Well Matt, $100k you say? Must I be the one to urinate into your cereal flakes this morning? I have put more than that into boats half the size – unless this thing is uncommonly well preserved or has had extensive work done I doubt a $100k would get close to doing it. I have long since come to the realization that “project boats” have little or no inherent value, the costs ALWAYS exceed the final value by a very comfortable margin. So, why pay anything for them? A sad reality but most often true. With the costs of moving it, storage and other things this boat is overpriced.

    A survey would be needed to determine the state of the frames, bottom and keel, not to mention hidden stuff above the water line on this old dame. And the engines? Your argument about losing money on new boats with a much higher capital cost is also valid – but owning large boats always costs. I would be terrified of taking something like this on, not only because of the costs but also subsequent maintenance. Tough pill to swallow for classic boat and especially cruiser owners, but it seems to be the reality at the moment.

    How about a steel hulled Roamer instead, if you must make such a romantically inspired purchase of an old cruiser? Cool styling on the ’50’s models and they don’t rot. They need care of course but not like the wooden boats.

    • cobourg Kid
      cobourg Kid says:

      Yep the Roamers are also cool but they suffer from bottom corosion issues. If you buy one you should make sure that someone in the family is a certified welder.

    • Tim
      Tim says:

      74′ Roamer in R.I. for sale cheap, put 1/2 mil into it and you will have a great boat…… Hit yourself with the hammer first!

  5. Alex
    Alex says:

    But if you do buy one of these black holes, might as well give it the same name Warren Buffet gave his corporate jet: “The Indefensible.”

    Come to think of it, “Black Hole” also works.

  6. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    Forget it Matt, I am still looking for a railway to pull my cruiser this year, add that annual detail in there too.
    Go get yourself a neat 190SL Mercedes with rotted out unibody underneath…now THAT is a money pit!

    John in Va.

  7. Tom Frye
    Tom Frye says:

    ………it’s called “Cruiserwantitis”, this is a disease and there is no cure. The only thing I can offer you is a prescription to make you more comfortable …….”Cruiserall” just approved by the ACBS. I’ll have to warn you there are side seffects. Call your doctor if you experience…….leaky wallet, loss of savings, storage problems, original bottom, leaky cabin or windows, twin engine failure. May become dependent on marina’s. May become irrational, make bad decisions. Call your doctor immediately if you start looking at MORE cruisers, as this may be a sign of something more serious. Matt I have been suffering with this disease for the last 6 years, I also have some good friends who have recently come down with “Cruiserwantitis” Some of the side effects I’ve been able to eliminate like, “original bottom” but this took some major surgery. I’ve also kicked the dependency on marinas as my cruiser is TRAILERABLE. Keep us posted on your progress. You can live with this……

  8. cobourg Kid
    cobourg Kid says:

    If attribution of Hemingway’s untimely end to a cruiser does not dissuade you it’s hardly likely that “a small repair” by Peter Jardine as posted on CC Boat Buzz will either , however, you should at least read it before plowing thousands of “sawbucks” into the bullnose

  9. Carl Garmhaus
    Carl Garmhaus says:

    Now you have come to your senses! I agree with Rick, get the survey, triple the cost, tear it up, buy it anyway. You will never put a million five in it, fuel economy doesn’t matter, and it is the coolest boat in the marina. My wife tolerates the 38″ Sea Skiff Sea Hawk we have been working on for the last 10 years because the launch could be in sight. Only 12 more feet of bottom to finish and one transom board to replace and I think we will be ready. If you want the best of both worlds, look for a 25′ twin engine Sportsman, you can trailer that.

  10. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Buying a cruiser is on par with playing Russian rulette with 6 rounds loaded. Spin the cylinder and no matter where it lands you lose.

  11. redbeard
    redbeard says:

    Yea Yea Yea, but that sure is a sweet boat… and something else A man does not find a boat. The boat will find the man…..

  12. Scott Robinson
    Scott Robinson says:

    Matt, I have owned a1940 Elco 44′ Cruisette. DON”T Go There. It will eat you out of house and home !!! The Boatress will leave you for a younger man !!! Don’t do it !! Be happy with a smaller easier boat to use. Scooter

  13. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:


    Buying this boat will allow you to rationalize buying your waterfront place along the St. Clair River. That Connie would sure look good docked along the wall at the Algonac show!

  14. Ronald
    Ronald says:

    I must be kin to you, I lust over them all the time, after looking at them for many years on the web and a few in person, I go to an older marina about an hour from home sometimes to see 5 or 6 wood cruisers docked there, kind of a rarity in southern KY/northern Tenn. area we live in, they all have mostly the same things in common which is cans of paint,brushes,tools, extension cords etc. laying around along with beer cans which tells me what they do on the weekends when they come to the lake. not my idea of fun in my spare time. I finally come to the realization that if I could not afford to buy one already done and pay to keep ahead of repairs I did not need one. So I just keep lusting after them. So for my vote I say go ahead. I have great respect for those who own wood cruisers.

  15. oldbaldguy
    oldbaldguy says:

    New WoodyBoater shirt.

    I bought a woody cruiser.
    Now I’m broke, divorced and homeless.
    Still need to replace some planks.

  16. Phillip Jones
    Phillip Jones says:

    Matttt oh Matttt I already looked at it day’s ago, your’e getting slooooow. AND I purchased an oversize trailer for the OTHER GIRL YOU DUMPED.

    Are you free this weekend, I have a craving for midwest chile :):):)
    Your’e getting sleepy sleepy.
    And then reallity, It only took a GOOD FRIEND and I 71 days at 8 hr’s a day to strip/ repair/ sand/ stain/ seal/ and put on 4 coats of varnish on YOU KNOW WHO last summer. But I will have to say not only does she look good in your banner today from a distance, she also looks good close up.

    Ment to email you last wk cause Chad has been picking on me on another website.

  17. brian t
    brian t says:

    Look at it this way perhaps….

    Assuming you love women (wooden boats), you can either spend time with them, or you can become a monk and just write about them.

    You ain’t no monk. So, you now have two choices…

    You can either find a nice girl that your Mommy would love, get married, buy her thousands of dollars worth of stuff over the blissful years that you will spend together, and when you kick the 5 gal. Ace bucket, you will leave behind a beautiful woman that you shared millions of memories with. Granted, her bow might sag a bit and her transom may get a little questionable and even her keel might be a bit tired after lugging around all of those little sailers, but she’d still be a feast for your eyes and heart.


    You could go down to the brothels (marinas) and spend a little slice of time with your favourite girl of the moment. You will not spend $100k on stuff but you will spend that amount over time with your many temporary friends and a few trips to the family practitioner. At the pearly gates, you will have a long bucket list of tarted up little gals (boats), but none that leave you with an eternity of smiles on your mugshot. Yeah, yeah, one might leave you with a little grin, but you get my drift.

    In other words, buy this boat, write the checks, and die with a huge, happy heart.

  18. Grant Stanfield
    Grant Stanfield says:

    I feel for you guys and know exactly what bullnose-cruiser looks like: I talked my dad into loaning me the $ to buy this abandoned ’57 35′ Connie when I was 25 way back in 1993. I kept it 16 years in covered storage, ran it one short season and never got around to doing anything close to restoring it (I got married and had great kids instead- no regrets!).

    I sold the boat so someone, who sold the boat to someone, who abandoned it a second time, so now the boat yard where she’s been for about 18 years is trying to sell her themselves: http://www.yachtworld.com/core/listing/photoGallery.jsp?slim=quick&currency=USD&units=Feet&seo=0&checked_boats=2355994&boat_id=2355994&back=/core/boats/1957/Chris-Craft-35-Constellation-2355994/Milwaukee/WI/United-States&boat_id=2355994

    NON DIMENTICAR is a stunning boat with lots of potential and a pair of great-running MCLR’s (and stem rot) but the clock is ticking and I’m really worried about her. If you have the love, the time, the space and most importantly, the $$$$$, please consider keeping a wooden cruiser like this one around for posterity. They are infinitely cooler than new plastic McYachts, so I completely GET where you’re coming from…

    Incidentally, I also have an all-original, low-mileage 1961 220SEb “Fintail” fuelie sedan with a four-on-the-tree, leather, and original paint (the color of a swimming pool) so I really, really have the same disease!

    …seperated @ birth?

    • Grant Stanfield
      Grant Stanfield says:

      I forgot to mention NON DIMENTICAR (NONDI for short) has always been a freshwater boat, too. Her hull card from the Mariners Museum (she is X-35-543 by the way) noted that she was built in the Holland, MI CC plant and went to a dealer in Adrian, MI…so if that Michigan tie-in is enough to push you over the edge, hitch up a 5th-wheel and get to Milwaukee. NONDI is waiting to begin her next chapter, but I’d hate to learn she was cut up and scrapped for her engines and chrome trim. REMEMBER: when these big ones are all gone, nobody will make new ones!

  19. Bruce
    Bruce says:

    I too want one sooo bad, and despite what all the naysayers advise, someday I WILL OWN ONE. I do however plan on digging a shallow hole and planting the boat in dirt for the coolest, cheapest, and by far the most stylish office/playhouse/guest room ever.

  20. MikeM
    MikeM says:

    With so many like minded folks out here why don’t you spend your time figuring out how we do a fractional ownership on one (or six) of these. We can cover the globe with shared boats and we can all get our “fix” but not bear the full burden. Cocktails at six? Check. Sanding Saturday morning? Check. Sunday afternoon cruise, checker reck check.

    • Grant Stanfield
      Grant Stanfield says:

      I agree with the fractional-varnishing/ timeshare/ co-op/ syndicate ownership scenario, as long as everybody is in agreement over how the boat is to be restored and used. Show boat or floating cottage? Sleek and minimalist, factory-correct showpiece or bristling with modern electronics and boxy canvas enclosures?

      Two of my current favorite cruisers that keep me up at nights: the 1954 Chris-Craft 36′ Corvette (like a Commander with a compact aft cabin…there’s a blue-hulled one going begging in Marine City, MI as of last summer) and the 1948 Chris-Craft 40′ Challenger (a nifty ‘doghouse’ aft owner’s stateroom AND the incredible “rumble-seat” in the bow over living space below AND one of the best-styled and proportioned cruisers ever made by Chris-Craft.

      Don’t even get me started on the Huckins Offshore 48 and the 42′ Matthews ‘Martinique’…or any early 36’ Rybovich day boat…oh the longing…

      • matt
        matt says:

        We have a Matthews martique right next to us in Reedville. Its amazing. I love it, and I know that they are built a ton better. But these dam Chris Crafts are art. They scream the era, and are more like owning a very cool home that has style and bad drainage. The drainage feels like nothing at the start and eventualy kills you.. Dumb pretty girls get very ugly! Were as smart ugly girls get pretty!

  21. Phillip Jones
    Phillip Jones says:

    Hey I like that idea(Timeshare) Now I need five of you to send me 10,000.00 🙂 I’s your’e turn:):)

  22. Alex
    Alex says:

    Ever heard of the book “Times Of Terror – Disasters At Sea?” Buy this boat, or any like it, and you’ll automatically qualify for your own chapter.

    Oh, and Mikey, “fractional ownership?” Have you been looking into doomsday shelters again?

  23. Philip Andrew
    Philip Andrew says:

    It looks like it will clean up with a quick wipe with a damp rag.I think you should buy it.

  24. Grant Stanfield
    Grant Stanfield says:

    Just for fun- here’s a rare boat restored to an owner’s taste but it appears to be very carefully done and posh as anything: http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/1957-2012-sea-skiff-/160890840239?pt=Power_Motorboats&hash=item2575d764af#v4-47

    This boat’s already done for you. If someone were to crunch the numbers and find the same luxury and craftsmanship in a NEW boat, what would that cost, and are we talking stock boat (Sea Ray) or are we going to a custom yard (Hinckley)?

    I can’t swing the entry fee on a boat like this, but I can see there is some sort of value here…and you won’t be tying up next to some schmuck with the same boat you have- that’s priceless!

  25. Phillip Jones
    Phillip Jones says:

    Hey Matt maybe you should copy that add to the
    One more debate like last night and I HOPE Oboma will be lookin for new digs.
    This could be it. I would even pay the shipping fee’s to Afganistan for him. There is water there somewhere isn’t it?????????????????

    • cobourg Kid
      cobourg Kid says:

      And here I was thinking all along that Woody Boater was a blog about “boats” only to find out that it is actually a blog about “votes”? Yes Matt sometimes makes a few spelling errors but I am pretty sure that woody “voter” was not one of them .

  26. Phillip Jones
    Phillip Jones says:

    It should be, I’ll take a crusier, and a VOTER T-Shirt when they go on sale at the store. If not the EPA will soon have us paddling our baby’s around, and I know I’ll need help with Betys then.

  27. rabbit
    rabbit says:

    Keep your politics off Woody Boater, please. This country is divided enough. I don’t come here to read that crap!

    • Rick
      Rick says:

      We could do a write in vote campain ” Matt for president.” Only need to change the i to an a on existing posters so our only expense is a couple of magic markers. He could be the new Pat Paulson. Platform is tax breaks for restorations!

  28. Carroll
    Carroll says:

    If you find that 1948 40′ Challenger, I am definitely in to going halvers (Canadian word) on that one. Or condo style ownership works!
    One of the coolest cruisers, in my opinion.

  29. RiverRat
    RiverRat says:

    Seek professional help. The opportunity cost may be too high. You may end up with too many boating options with all the shows attended during the year not to mention Suzy who you have only had for a short time. It is not like you can’t get out on the water. Maybe you could just rent one or bum a ride here and there.

  30. John Stolte
    John Stolte says:

    Buy it Matt.

    It doesn’t have to be a show boat to be cool.
    I love my 67 36′ Crusader. She’ll never win a show, but she won my heart.

    I’ll even volunteer to crew with you bringing her around to Reedville.. (From Oklahoma???) Whew. What a ride.

  31. Ronald
    Ronald says:

    Grant that 40′ Sea Skiff was at Clayton this year, It is stunnig, by far the most unique and nicest cruiser I have ever seen. I purchased a lottery ticket maybe just maybe it could be mine. ha

  32. William Hammond
    William Hammond says:

    I did this three years ago. Bought a 1960 Connie, 36′ off of eBay, sight unseen. Did have a survey done. Debated for the entire 10 days of the auction and finally started bidding in the last 14 minutes. Got it with 3 seconds left on the clock. Final price…$1,500! Cost to get it home….$5,900! What I’ve put in it so far?…..about $15,000. It’s still not in the water and has no rot or wood anywhere to replace. I’m real hopeful that I can get it done and in the water this next year. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat!! You see I’ve got it real bad….very, Very bad…the sickness I’m talkin’ about. Wanted one ever since I can remember. I don’t care what it costs! It’s worth every penny to me! I can’t describe what peace of mind it gives me. When I had her all stripped down to bare wood I shuddered at the thought of having to cover up that beautiful mahogany! Left as much of it as Brightwork as I could. She’s a gleamer!! Ok, I’ve definitely gone over the edge here. You all know what I mean. You’ve been there too!

  33. David G
    David G says:

    A friend of mine and I bought a 1956 Chris Craft Connie, with keel number 004 which made it the 4th 42′ connie ever made. We bought it from an old Chrysler exec in Algonac Michigan, home of Chris Craft. The owner had painted the entire boat white to make it look “more modern”. We paid 12 grand and another two to move it. We stored it in a covered barn where we dutifully worked on it each weekend. 2 years later and a total of less than $40k for everything, we were done. We restored it to almost new condition. 7 coats of brightwork everywhere. All the hours and cash was meaningless when I was at the helm on the river. What minor flaws we knew were there because we restored it were never seen by any of our friends. They just came on board awestruck thinking we had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars. We never told them otherwise. Sleeping on the boat, waking up in the morning…what a treat. And despite what you have heard, if you do it right the first time, maintenance is not nearly as bad or costly as you imagine. You just stay on top of it, 1 workday a month during season, and the rest of the time was spent feeling like a millionaire…which we were not. We called all fiberglass boats “bathtubs” and ridiculed them under our breath as they drove form across the river to see our magnificent Chris. When we fueled up, the fuel dock would always have a dozen people standing around in admiration by the time we were done. Listening to the sound the twin 440 chryslers made (repowered by the Chrysler exec we bought it from) was amazing…It sounding like an old vette with 500 HP…At 1/2 mile per gallon, we would usually just find a spot on the side of the river, toss the anchor and play music, cook food, drink, then sleep in the comfortable aft cabin…Or go to a restaurant on the river, pull up to the dick in full view of all the diners inside. When docking and getting off to come inside, ALL eyes were on us, for a few minutes the diners forgot about their dinner. After dinner, if the mood was right, we would allow a few hand selected new “friends” to come on board for a tour. This was my 3rd wooden CC, and I would not hesitate to own another. Jump in friend…you will never regret it…woodies are like nothing else.

    • High Seas
      High Seas says:

      Agree with David,

      Our best times on our 65′ Connie has been in late September in Andrews Bay with 3 or 4 other cruisers hanging out for the weekend. We would take turns preparing meals between boats and dinghy over. Living aboard a cruiser is manageable if you can keep them undercover and keep up with the leaks.

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