One of my favorite childhood memories was watching my grandfather, Buck, flip "griddle cakes" for my brothers and cousins at our family cottage in the 1950s. After gourging ourselves, we would run down to the docks and "mess about in boats" for the rest of the day. This introduction to wooden boats sparked in me an appreciation for their designers and builders, and planted the seed that I might one day own one myself.
Some 50 years later I began the search for a vintage wooden boat in need of some TLC. I was living in Seattle, a haven for wooden boats, since the cool climate discourages dry rot and the mild winters permit leaving your boat in the water year 'round. Seattle also offers fresh water moorage with access to Puget Sound through the Hiram Chittenden locks, so many boats of the 1920s and later have survived and even thrived with the proper stewardship.
It wasn't long before I came across a 42' cabin cruiser moored on Lake Union. Recent history had brought her to Alaska, only to be subjected to the harsh Ketchikan winters in open moorage. Years later, she was sold to a Seattle business owner to serve as the company party boat. Neglect, followed by a lack of proper repair, had taken its toll. Dry rot had found its way into every seam around the cabin, while her original canvas covered decks needed replacement.
Two Relics Resurrected
Despite my fear of taking on a project boat, she had me at "Hello". Her signature mid-1950s lines and incomparable craftsmanship were more than a match for any semblance of common sense. As if that weren't enough, having been on the market for over a year, her chances of finding a new owner were fading, and I sensed a desperation known only to an aging dog at the pound.
Since that day, I became pretty much of a hermit, spending many a winter evening and weekend in my basement shop refinishing anything that was removeable. Months turned into years as my vision of bringing GRETA back never faltered. Then, on a warm August day, while applying the final coat of bilge coat grey to the chain locker, it struck me... Could I have actually run out of things to do?
After picking myself up off the floor, it now made sense to get a few decent shots of the finished product. Included are pages showing the different stages of the restoration process. Most of these "before" images were taken with a point-and-shoot camera, so I appologize in advance for their quality.
Many people helped with the more difficult stages of restoration and this forum offers an opportunity to recognize them for their singular skills and dedication to detail. I would especially like to thank Seattle boatwright, Roy Dunbar, who offered me full use of his shop and the opportunity to work alongside his crew. More recently, Peter and Steve at Jensen Motor Boat have taken GRETA under their capable wing. Many thanks to Dan, Tom and the entire crew at Jensen. Also, thanks to my wife, Julie, who made no complaints about the sawdust covered stranger living in her basement.
If I have gained anything along the way, it would be the revelation that I have derrived at least as much enjoyment from the journey, as I thought I would from the end result. John Lennon said it best: "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans". I also learned that you can make just about anything look good, if you put enough varnish on it.
If GRETA is the first relic enjoying a rebirth, you might ask, "What is the second?" The answer is "me". Since becoming a grandfather, I look forward to carrying on the "griddle cake" tradition started by my grandfather over 60 years ago.
The "griddle cake eaters" assemble around Buck.