Sunday, September 20, 2015

The G9 Glen-L Boatbuilders Gathering

Glen-L Utility and Glen-L True Grit
Perseverance docked behind Ray's boat.
Friday morning, after years of anticipation of this day, I drove toward the annual boatbuilders gathering... with my own boat in tow.

Talk about nervous! I don't think I've been that nervous on the road since I drove my infant children home from the hospital for the first time.

But, the boat rode on the trailer just fine, and we arrived safe and sound, just as some of the other boaters were having breakfast on the dock.

Greetings, handshakes... and my attention was quickly brought to the beautifully-restored 1964 Chris Craft Super Sport bobbing up and down at the dock.

I listened as the boat's owner, Brad, was telling a boater named Dave the story of how he'd acquired and restored the boat. Quickly, my anxiousness got the better of me, and I was off to my own boat... eager to get her in the water.

1964 Chris Craft Super Sport
1964 Chris Craft Super Sport Ski Model.

Bob, another boatbuilder I'd met at last year's gathering, happened to be standing at my boat & checking it out when I walked up. He kindly agreed to ride down the road to the boat ramp with me, to help launch Perseverance for the first time.

With the plywood seats just clamped on with c-clamps, and the forward dock line crudely tied to the exposed deck framing, I climbed in. The Nissan 8hp motor cranked right up. I pushed the lever into reverse, and Perseverance was afloat & underway. Bob drove my vehicle back over to the parking lot, and I navigated out into the river.... very slowly.

Next thing you know, I was riding over wave after wave of a massive wake. It passed, though... and I lightly gave the Nissan a little more throttle, piloting on out into the river.

It took a while to get to the dock, because I was going so slow. My eyes darted all around the bottom of the boat, looking for any signs of leakage. There were none. She was bone dry.

When I got back to the dock, I learned that the massive wake I'd ridden over had come from someone blasting through the NO WAKE zone in a big cruiser. Worse... that big wake had rolled Brad's '64 Chris Craft downward, rendering the fenders ineffective, and slammed the boat into the side of the dock. The force of the impact shattered the mahogany gunwale on the starboard side.

Glen-L Utility Boat
Perseverance at the dock.

Glen-L Utility Boat
Perseverance at the dock.

Deck of Brad's 1964 Chris Craft.
1964 Chris Craft Super Sport
1964 Chris Craft Super Sport Ski Model.

1964 Chris Craft Super Sport
Brad's 1964 Chris Craft Super Sport.

Damage to the mahogany gunwale from being slammed into the dock.

The First Full-Throttle Run:

After putting more gas into my 3-gallon tank, I put it up forward, on top of the front seat to shift some weight forward. I was hoping that the added weight up front would help the boat to plane. With some help from Ray, I got the flooded motor cranked & running, and I headed out of the marina & into the river channel.

I opened up the throttle gradually at first, then all the way. The bow came right down, and just like that, my little boat was on plane & going just as fast as she could. She handled beautifully, and showed no signs whatsoever of porpoising.

I was grinning from ear to ear.

After running up and down the river for a while, I cut the throttle & put her in neutral in the middle of the river, stopping a couple of times to take photos.

Ray's reflection, in the cowling of my Nissan motor.
As the afternoon wore on, I gave my first ride to Ray, who is a great guy. He's also a great source of inspiration, and I'm honored that he was the first passenger aboard Perseverance. Brad, owner of the '64 Chris Craft, was my 2nd passenger. I had a great time chatting with him while we were on the river. Before I knew it, it was time to load the boat back on the trailer and drive home.

The next afternoon, I was back.


I got to spend a little more time talking with Ray, Wayne, Brad, and several other boatbuilders. Then I got to ride in Wayne's splendid 18' tug boat as he brought her around from the dock & into a slip at the marina.

Glen-L Tug Along
Wayne's splendid 18' tug boat, "Turtle Sundaze"

Wayne's boat is powered by a 15hp Suzuki outboard, mounted in a well.

Glen-L Tug Along

Shortly after my ride on the tug boat, I got to ride on Butch's gorgeous Tahoe, "Innocence." That boat is simply amazing, powered by a big block 496 engine. 

Glen-L Tahoe
Butch's stunning Tahoe.

I enjoy photographing wooden boat transoms, with their names and flags. Innocence, with her beautiful swim platform, is simply captivating.

Out on the river in Butch's Tahoe.

Within minutes of getting back to the dock, I was out on the river again. This time, in Brad's beautifully restored '64 Chris Craft. While we were riding, I learned that the Ski model of the 1964 Super Sport has vinyl material on the deck, on either side of the mahogany center, to provide a safe surface to walk on.

1964 Chris Craft Super Sport

As we pulled back into the marina, we passed Bill's beautiful Tahoe, "A Girl Named Lola," which was docked at the corner.
Glen-L Tahoe
Bill's Tahoe, "A Girl Named Lola," is a staple sight at the Glen-L Gatherings.

There were several other old wooden Chris Craft boats at the marina. It's a pity to see them in such derelict condition. I hope someone will restore these.

Hull detail on a decaying old Chris Craft cruiser.

Roberta's Torpedo:

Last, but certainly not least, there was Roberta's famous and award-winning Torpedo. Roberta is well-known among the Glen-L group as "Queen of the Boatbuilders," and for good reason. Her craftsmanship is second to none. 

The Torpedo is Glen L. Witt's most recent design, in a career spanning 6 decades of contribution to the world of boat building. The Torpedo has a unique shape at the transom, reminiscent of the Chris Craft Cobra or the Ventnor boats. Roberta named her Torpedo "The Glen-L."

Glen-L Torpedo
Roberta's beautiful Torpedo.

Glen-L Torpedo

Glen-L Torpedo
Roberta's Glen-L Torpedo.

There were several other boats at the G9 gathering... including a Tubby Tug, Squirt, Zip, Malahini, Sea Knight, Gentry, and Ray's True Grit. Unfortunately, I didn't get good individual photos of all these boats. There's always next year.

But this year, in more ways than one... I made it. Thank you, God.

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