Apr 30, 201301:00 PM
Odduck: Adventures in Boat Restoration
Sometimes a Great Notion is a Bad Idea
(page 1 of 3)
It's hard to figure out where to begin this tale of adventure, or what is probably more accurately described as a misadventure. There's the project itself, and there's the background of how I came to it.
In a nutshell, I recently bought a 1987, 24-foot, aluminum Crestliner Sabre day cruiser in horrible condition for the purpose of re-building it into a usable trailerable, cruising boat.
It has a stand-up cabin, separate head, deep cockpit, 8-foot beam, 4.3L MerCruiser I/O and weighs less than 4,000 pounds. The light weight is important to me. The trailer it sits on brought it 500 miles from Michigan but is in sad shape.
Although the boat is basically a wreck, it has features that led me to believe in its potential. Most noticeable is a weird looking front cabin that rises off the front deck. There is a large center hatch flanked by two large fixed windows and good sized sliding windows on each side.
The windows are important, because my wife and I have long been big-cabin-window, flybridge people. Even when we have to sit inside, we like to be able to see the river. It is also very important that there's a separate head rather than a Porta Potti under a seat cushion in the V-berth. There's also a minimalist sink/stove/ice box combo in the cabin, but most of that will get tossed along with most everything else on the boat.
Buying a boat to throw practically everything away needs some explanation. Very few people would be nuts enough to do what I am proposing, and for good reason. But one of my many character traits, or flaws if you will, is seeing things for what they could be rather than for what they are. I also have to admit that I have a history of trying to turn something into what it isn't. But part of that is my well-established ability to easily spend two weeks and $200 to do what a pro would have done in a snap for $50.
Part of this saga is also connected to the fact I've been lucky enough to write articles for boating magazines since the mid-'90s, so I've had the opportunity to write about boats and boat people on a wide variety of waterways. Even though we're longtime Mississippi River boaters, I've wanted to venture on other waterways in our own boat. That now includes the Florida Keys.
But boating, for us, means anchoring out overnight, so something more than a cuddy cabin was on our list.