Written by Lynn E. McElfresh
posted on July 13, 2016 12:55
In 2014 we upgraded from “Say What”, our 36 ft. Chris Craft Cavalier, to “Miss MacDac”, a 41 ft. President, to accommodate our growing family. Day trips and overnights were getting very crowded, as we had added a daughter-in-law and two granddaughters, since we purchased “Say What” in 2004. We knew that selling a 36-ft wooden boat would be a challenge and that it may take several years. We were right.
The good news is: we’ve had two offers on the boat so far this year. Very promising!
The bad news is: both the offers fell through.
The last deal was particularly disappointing as we had met the potential buyers and loved them, a new loving family that would find hours of joy on “Say What”. We were confident they would care for “Say What” and enjoy her as much as we had. We both felt like deflated balloons when the deal fell through.
Boats, whether wooden or fiberglass, require upkeep, but wooden boats require a lot more loving care and attention. Even though we weren’t using her, we still have to continue to care for her. How long would it be before we found another buyer? This season? Next season? Was selling “Say What” the best option? Were there other options? We spent the evening on the Internet checking out possibilities.
If you want to get rid of a small boat that you can tow with a trailer---that’s pretty easy. There are auctions, boat selling co-ops and salvage yards. But a six-ton wooden boat? Your options are limited. Moving the boat takes special equipment, expertise and permits…none of which comes cheaply. Marine salvage for large boats? Plenty in the New York City area, but none in the Thousand Islands area.
Driving around Jefferson County you can see plenty of large, wooden boats wasting away “on the hard.”
Friends and family jokingly suggested taking her out and sinking her somewhere. What! No! The idea of sinking “Say What” or chopping her up for salvage is horrifying! Gary installed beautiful Brazilian cherry on the helm and lovingly cared for her parquet floors in the salon. She’s too pretty to chop up and too functional. Her twin 327-cubic inch V8 engines still have that classic throaty purr. Besides, the EPA has hefty fines for a sunken boat, whether accidental or intentional.
I only had to look across the water to Wintergreen Island for inspiration. Decades ago an old tour boat had been converted into an apartment. Perhaps we could bring “Say What” on the island, create a cradle for her where she could be repurposed into a playhouse for our granddaughters or perhaps as a writer’s retreat for me. That way, we wouldn’t have to get rid of her at all. We could keep her and cherish her forever.
I went to the Internet and found interesting repurposing ideas for old wooden boats. I found a bevy of boats that had been turned into permanent residences. I also found a great blog by a devoted father who bought a 36-ft Chris Craft Constellation, towed it to his backyard and turned it into a pirate ship playhouse for his daughter. http://pirateshipplayhouseproject.blogspot.com
Initially, the idea of repurposing “Say What” was exhilarating. But the more I thought about it, the more uneasy I felt. While less horrifying than sinking her or chopping her up for salvage, the thought of “Say What” permanently “on the hard” was equally sad. Sort of like having a beloved pet stuffed so you can always have it with you. Not quite the same as when it was alive and running around. “Say What” needs to be on the water with a happy group of people sunning on her deck, enjoying her spacious salon or swimming from her swim platform.
Out of the box can wait. “Say What” is not ready to die… We’ll continue to maintain and care for her, patient and confident that that right buyer—that right family—is just around the bend in the River ready to take the helm.
By Lynn E. McElfresh