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by Rob

A “vintage ” wooden boater tells his Gar Wood story.

January 15, 2020 in Uncategorized

Garfield Wood in action!

Many thanks to Neil T. Kuopas, for submitting his recollections of Gar Wood of boat racing and building fame. Unfortunately, Neil lost his home and personal artifacts in the Nov. 8, 2018 Camp 🔥 Fire, lived in Butte Creek Canyon one mile north of Paradise, California. However, now in his eighties, Neil still has very vivid recall.
“My young dreams were centered around boats and engines. Had many boats and engines until college. After college I came across a 1931, 28-ft Garwood double-plank mahogany runabout Garwood ( Ed. reportedly) lent to his mistress to watch the Detroit Garwood Gold Cup Trophy Unlimited hydroplane races in the infield of the river course. The Black River Marina owner, in Marysville, MI, had stripped down the finish and painted the boat black with gold waterline so Garwood’s wife would not recognizing it. It was ‘old man’ Baker’s first job as an 18-year old apprentice and he taught me the same methods at 85-years old to me in 1973. The Chris Craft straight-six (in the Garwood) had been replaced by a Packard straight-8, 356 cu.in., crowned pistons, separate sea and fresh water cooling systems, etc.
No one else knows what I am talking about! However, at the North Shore of Lake Tahoe there is a classic wooden boat shop which sponsors an annual gathering and parade of the classics. They don’t believe my story! Canadians get it and thought you might enjoy this. (A Garwood similar to mine is seen near the beginning of the video)

My own Garwood
I bought my Gar Wood 28-ft. runabout after it was taken out of storage and the transom was weathered to Bare Wood.
Also, the previous owner had docked it on two slings and the Chine-board and adjacent structure was dry-rotted!! If Old Man Baker hadn’t offered to show me how to fix it I would never have bought the boat.
Needless to say, three-months of hard and sometimes meticulous labor was required to make the repairs and start the process of staining and varnishing, and Baker still had enough of the original stain and varnish!!! What are those odds?
One more tidbit…the boat had a false deck below the inside deck  – just the right amount of space for fifths of liquor, as the boat was used as a “RUM-RUNNER” during the Prohibition Era!!

I have many more stories and should write an article to preserve the history.
Garwood was quite the character. He raced Dick Bertram of the deep-V hull-concept from Long Beach California to Catalina Island and back for a large amount of money in the mid-60’s with his Garwood Express Cruiser vs. Bertram’s deep-V race boat. The bet and time/day were finalized.
Garwood modified his Cruiser with hydrofoils and twin-Supercharged 440 V-8 engines, as I was told. Needless to say he won the race going away. Ha!! These are the stories you don’t read about. There are more to share with anyone who appreciates the classics.
I wrote to you last week hoping to contact Alan Empringham or his sons before I pass away, love Canada and many fine people across the Dominion.”
Respectfully,
Neal T. Kuopus

In one of Garfield Wood’s races, he broke the World speed record at 102 m.p.h

 

by Rob

A brief history of SeaBird Boats (Part II)

January 6, 2020 in Uncategorized

The War Years

Soon after war was declared in 1939, a call went out from the Canadian government for ships – large and small – for use by the armed forces.
Port Carling Boats Works (manufacturer of SeaBirD boats)  was one of the first companies to respond.  To supply the necessary number of watercraft, staffing had to be increased to several hundred employees. The owners promised the Government that they would turn out  boats of eighteen to twenty-eight feet at the rate of one per day. Port Carling Boat Works was soon awarded the contract for building smaller boats. To build the much larger Fairmiles, (coastal patrol boats)  the contract was initially shared with  Minett-Shields. The first Fairmile (Q 057) was prefabricated  at the Minett factory in Bracebridge, Ontario then shipped to the Port Carling Boat Works at it’s Honey Harbour factory on Georgian Bay. A total of thirteen Fairmiles were constructed.

The P. C. Boat Works also produced 20 foot utilities, first snapped up by the Air Force. These were followed up by crash boats, whalers, mine sweepers and Destroyer tenders, as well as hundreds of assault boats for the D Day invasion.
Government financial manipulation had the sad result of leaving the Port Carling Boats Works starved for cash at the end of the war in 1945.

Note: Photos in this posted were taken by the official Canadian Navy photographer, J.E. Russell.
Text for this post is condensed  from the book “SeaBirD“, by Douglas Garfield McCulley.

by Rob

Our newest listing: a Ditchburn launch, 27 ft. 1927

January 2, 2020 in Uncategorized

“Wasan”  an iconic Ditchburn launch; 27 ft., 1927

Wasan is truly a Muskoka treasure. This rare launch has been featured in Grace and Speed, as well as The Boat Builders of Muskoka. She is truly a collector’s item.
Wasan
was totally refurbished by Duke Marine in 2016/2017. and comes with a new 1944 Chrysler Crown engine.
This beautiful vintage launch, one of a kind, is in like new, “show” condition.
Please contact the owner for further details and pricing.

DItchburn Boats
(Editor’s note): Ditchburn boats are considered be the creme de la creme of the classic boating world. The Ditchburn company produced a wide variety of watercraft from the early 1870s until 1938, in their facilities in Gravenhurst and Orillia, Ontario. Their boats ranged in size from ten to one hundred and twenty feet. Henry Ditchburn built the first gasoline powered launch in Gravenhurst in 1893. Purchasers of Ditchburn boats included the Eaton family of department store fame..

By the time “Wasan was constructed in 1927, the Ditchburn company employed some 130 men in their 1.5 acre manufacturing facility..
It is safe to say that Ditchburn built boats are of “Concours D’Elegance” quality.

For further details and contact information, please click on the link. Ad number pb890

by Rob

Three recently sold classic boats.

December 27, 2019 in Uncategorized

Congratulations to the sellers and buyers of the three classics listed below. We hope that the new owners will have many years of trouble-free boating ahead.
1941 Mac Craft: 18 ft. (above)
This handsome utility had been in the same Lake Muskoka family since new. The current owner had kept the boat very well maintained and had undertaken some major restoration work over the years.  Originally priced at $35,000, the asking price was reduced to $25,000 CDN  at the time of the sale. The Mac Craft company produced a small number of boats, but they were well constructed and durable.


1964 Shepherd: 22.3 ft. (above)
This beamy Shepherd was also owned by the same family for many years… thirty-five… According to the owner, it required new varnish and upholstery, but “runs well”. This Shepherd seemed very reasonably priced at .$12,000 CDN


1951 Chris-Craft Riviera, 18 ft. ((above)
The owner of this Chris-Craft had recently invested $80,000 into its restoration! She is essentially “a new boat”, powered by a 90 hp engine.in mint condition. Complete with trailer. The asking price at the time of sale was $65,000

 

by Rob

SeaBirD boats; a brief history.

December 23, 2019 in Uncategorized

Pictured is an 18 foot SeaBird, 1941. |(Ad number pb881). Price: $15,000.

Part One
The Port Carling Boat Works, a company which operated from 1925 to 1959, apparently produced more wooden runabouts and launches than any other company in Muskoka, and possibly Canada.
The boats squeezed out of the factory were known generally as SeaBirDs, a moniker created when a Muskoka visitor noticed a test model emerging from a fog, sleek and graceful. “Why, it’s just like a seabird sailing gracefully out of the fog,” he commented. The name stuck thereafter.
Port Carling Boat Works was founded in 1925, following the collapse of the Disappearing Propeller Boat Company in Port Carling. The founders included Billie Johnson Jr., who also later produced watercraft under his own name.

Powered by a four cylinder restored Buchanan engine, this SeaBIrd will plane at 20 knots.

Unlike other builders who produced mainly custom boats, Port Carling Boats built stock models, using a small production line. Purchasers could pick up a SeaBirD at the factory, at a showroom, or through dealers across the Country.
There are three fairly distinct periods in the life of the Port Carling Boat Works:
1925-1939…the expansion of the company
1939-1945…the war years
1945-1959…the C.J. McCulley years

The first production-line SeaBirDs sold for a reasonable $400. They were good quality boats with an inboard engine and reverse gear. From the beginning, SeaBirds were powered with engines from Fred Buchanan, who ran a machine shop in Orillia, Ontario

The first production line could not keep up with the demand. Letters of appreciation from new owners, (including McLaughlin of General Motors) gave encouragement to the owners and employees.

Unfortunately, the factory was completely destroyed by a fire in October, 1931. A larger and greatly improved building was constructed soon afterwards. Production increased to the point where the firm’s accountant noted that the Company had sold more inboard motor launches than any other company in Canada.

By 1935 Port Carling Boat Works had opened a branch at Honey Harbour in Georgian Bay. This offered access to the Great Lakes.

In 1938 the Ditchburn Boat Company folded. Port Cartling Boat Works bought all the hulls that had been partially finished as well as their stock of lumber and supplies. These boats were finished in Port Carling.  One of them, a twin engine, twenty-six foot model, was sold to Ewart McLaughlin of General Motors fame. Unfortunately, this boat burned in a fire in 1960.

By 1939 Port Carling Boat Works had “the finest outlet in the world for boats, with service and parts in sixty-odd countries”, according to the Company’s accountant.
Stay tuned for Part II: The War Years

Note: Information for this article is credited to Douglas Garfield McCulley, author of “SeaBird…Muskoka’s SeaBirds:’

Port Carling Boats – Antique & Classic Wooden Boats for Sale