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Boat Building Discoveries

April 28, 2021 in Uncategorized


In the world of boat building, there must be some boats that are like regular customers to a dentist. You see how the wear and tear and years of natural degeneration progresses through a boat. Certain designs and construction practices tend to result in predictable patterns of decay. When the boats were built new, more than 100 years ago for an increasing number, building to last the generations wasn’t as much the theme of the day.

Every so often, a boat will come along that offers boat builders something very different and less predictable. Paul Brackley in Gravenhurst and Rob Gerig in Port Carling are both facing very different, but novel challenges. Brackley’s challenge is a large foreign-built launch. The scale, condition and construction present a challenging approach to her restoration. Brackley has faced unusual challenges in the past, such as the restoration of the Rambler, which had to be performed in its boat house on Lake Joseph.

Gerig’s challenge is a 1926 Johnston Special called Monte Cristo. The Johnston Special is an interesting boat for its connection to the Dispro lineage and Monte Cristo specifically for the path it has taken to survive today. The Special was an attempt to give full bling to the Disappearing Propeller Boat concept with several significance differences. Built at a time that when the DP was well entrenched, the Special featured similar deck laminations of cedar and mahogany that give them such an attractive appearance. It also had a dash that was similar and seating configuration that could be mistaken for a Dispro.  Monte Cristo is a boat I first saw just a few years ago… in 1988!

 By Tim Du Vernet

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