Enjoy The Journey Of Restoring A Classic Boat. It May Just Change Your Life.

Sylvia preping

A fun moment in Sylvia’s Restoration

For many, the idea of restoring a classic boat is a kin to going to the dentist every day for two years. OK, unless you are a Dentist, then its like going to a .. I don’t know? No, I really don’t know. Is there something worse?  Anyway, today we are going to talk about the journey and why so many folks don’t really care about the money part. Ya ya , sure we all care about money, but it’s not the driving force of restoring a boat. Passion, history and romance are. All the three counter arguments to savings, security and normalcy by the way.

miss lisa

Matt Byrne’s restoration of Miss Lisa is amazing and Matt enjoys the journey 100%.. maybe 90%

We restore our boats because the journey is fun. Sure it can be painful, and in the wrong hands, not be healthy for ones heart, OK, it’s hell. But done right, with a reputable restorer, can be incredibly rewarding and life changing. And cost no different than a membership at a fancy golf course, or fancy fun classic car… It’s just another thing, but it’s your thing, our thing. Your restoration is proof that you can save something, you do have the power to repeat history, you have vision, you can save the world, one classic boat at a time.

Lily_Launch 007

Lily the week she was finished and little Lily on board. We have watched her grow up. Amazing


Lily last summer. The boat has stayed the same. And together here we have all in a way become a family. A very strange family, but aren’t they all

In our case, one simple restoration changed our lives. Sure we got screwed doing it, big time screwed. But without that anger and frustration, that slow agonizing reaming, Woody Boater would never have existed, friends would never have been made, and countless hours, day sand weeks of pure joy, never experienced. And that’s just the emotional side. never mind the hours of fun, picking and searching for parts, documents and families histories to complete a perfect timeless mahogany moment. That stuff is priceless, Sure, it may have a price, but the greatest moments have been the times when folks just gather and do things together, restore together, build friendships together, and best of all, go woody boating together.


27 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    I can relate, after taking the journey twice over the last 20 years. Your header could not have been more fitting for me since Marine Services Unlimited did the work on both of my boats. It was long and challenging at times, but I have no regrets. Dave and Scott were great to work with, and their craftsmanship and attention to detail is next to none. The enjoyment that my family gets from our boats is the great reward for the journey. Every time I fire up and hit the throttle I am in that wonderful world of WoodyBoating. Life is good!

  2. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    You have touched so many with this blog and given us all a place to gather and share both our triumphs and our heart breaks, for that we (at least I) am very grateful.
    We may rib you about e-bay posts and zippers, but know that it is all done in great admiration and Love.
    Thanks For All You Do!

    PS: it must be donation time again.

  3. Rick
    Rick says:

    I agree with all Troy said and would gladly put you through Hell again to keep the blog going. If you need future inspiration we can all help to get you screwed-over again.

  4. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    A guy could take a chunk of wood, whittle it into a duck decoy and turn that into a successful American business that produced some of the finest boats in the world and employed thousands of American craftsmen. That is the American Dream. I feel humbled and privileged to to own and care for such an important and iconic connection to our past.

  5. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    Hi LILY. How’s it going, kid. I know, I know, you don’t know me from the Man In The Moon, but thanks to Woody Boater I know you! In fact, here at Woody Boater we all know you. Thanks, Woody Boater!

  6. Tom F.
    Tom F. says:

    Definitely life changing…mostly good, but there was some bad. My latest “life changer” took 10 years from purchase to splash. Self restored from bottom to top. Was it worth it?…you bet. Were there moments I said to myself “what was I thinking”…O yeah. Learned a lot about perseverance and patience. Also new found respect for the professionals who do this on a daily basis and at such a high level. You have to enjoy the journey!

  7. Tuobanur
    Tuobanur says:

    Wow the memories, the highs the lows, the I’m just going to throw it in the burn pile, to, I can’t believe I pulled this off.
    Mind started in 2000 and didn’t finish until 2015 but there were a lot of gaps, I will have to say that the majority of the work was completed in the last 5 years which is right after my separation of a 36 year marriage. It was my therapy, my other place, and Miss Dot pulled me through some rough times.
    I can tell you this, don’t look at the big picture it will scare the hell out of you and you will never, ever, complete it.

    This shot is the day I brought it home and man was I excited, had all sorts of big ideas.

  8. Matthew O'Donnell
    Matthew O'Donnell says:

    Great and timely story. My family set out last fall to restore my childhood boat that my family sold close to 25 years ago. We got a call that it was going to be sent to salvage and could not let that happen. My dad , son, and I spent all winter working on our restoration. Just this Wednesday we took our first ride on-board our new old boat!

  9. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    good lord Terry, I had no idea you started from the bundle of sticks! What a great job you did!!

    John in Va.

  10. Wes Yandt
    Wes Yandt says:

    “It’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey.”

    These words could not be more descriptive of my dad and I’s restoration of the Uncle Bob and now the Skippy Jr. You are right Matt. It’s not about the money…..well it is……but the important part is the trek that we are taking. As you say it is changing our lives.

  11. Tim L.
    Tim L. says:

    Matt, great post today!! Most of the restorations we do at Marine Services Unlimited are not because people want a classic boat, but because the memories they had with a classic boat. We have a kit boat in the shop now for “restoration”. Its not a great boat, but it was a boat built by the customer’s grandfather.

    So, the time spend with Gandapa, Dad or just the family, in general, have been the true motivator to have and restore these classic boats and classic memories.

  12. Ken
    Ken says:

    I recently complimented a friend for his patience in completing a new build. He replied that it wasn’t patience, it was that he was stubborn!

  13. Rob
    Rob says:

    I’m having fun…..I’m having fun…….I’m having fun….please, tell me I’m having fun! See Boat Buzz… Honey, have you finished fixing Elude yet?. And yes…. I am having fun…

  14. Brian Robinson
    Brian Robinson says:

    Many of the first timers I hear from have good intentions, find a gray boat etc. but get cold feet on actually starting the project from being overwhelmed or whatever. There are thinkers and do-ers. Just do it. If you make a mistake it can always be fixed. Don’t keep track of your hours. Complete one task each day and move on to the next.

    • Rick
      Rick says:

      Good idea.
      Day 1- new bottom
      Day 2- Topsides
      Day 3- Varnish
      Day 4- Splash boat and enjoy.

      Too aggressive? I’m off all next week so I can probably stretch each one an additional 1/2 day. Not sure why I haven’t done a restoration yet.

  15. Jim Godlewski
    Jim Godlewski says:

    Since it takes such a long time to restore one of these boats there has to be some life changes, has to be…. I too went through a divorce while the 11 year process was underway. I’m fortunate my brother and I did get to see the finish line and some great rides and some great shows….
    Thank you John and thank you boat.

  16. DougP in thePNW
    DougP in thePNW says:

    With all this expertise…we all still ask
    “Maybe just one more coat of varnish?”

  17. Texx
    Texx says:

    Yes – I can confirm, without hesitation, that my first (8 year) wooden boat restoration project was a life changing experience.

  18. Clay
    Clay says:

    What a great read tonight! I love the passion as much as the fabulous boats.
    And if any of you Woodyboater folks have a dentist and team who are passionate about helping people enjoy their natural teeth (whether preserved or restored) for a hundred years or more, give em a a link to this website cuz ya’ll have some things in common.

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