This restoration is a true head turner. We have a Chris Craft which we look after at HSC and which we sold some years ago to a very happy owner. Keuka is a smaller model with no less charm. I viewed her out of the water on her trailer recently and note that she has been shortlisted for the Classic Boat Award for the best motor boat restoration. Although how you judge a 17 footer against a 60 footer certainly beats me!
Back to Keuka and her raison d'etre. Chris Craft were built in Algonac on Lake Michigan from the nineteen twenties through to the nineteen fifties in wood. Yes the name still exists but the boats are no longer the classics of that era. During the WWII years when the war effort in Europe put paid to any recreational boat building the US builders continued to produce their usual ranges alongside building landing craft which helped to boost their profits. The 17ft deluxe runabout built in 1941 is a fine compromise between a sports cruiser and a utility with the aft seating open to the engine casing which offers either a table or more seating when at anchor. In my opinion this is a far superior model to the more easily found double cockpit sports boat where there is a lot less room to move around. At the time of building it was also more expensive and I believe less of this model were built. Fortunately the original build number is still in evidence and easily legible authenticating the boat without any doubt.
Keuka was imported into the UK by the present owner who inherited the boat from his father who was a member of the motorboat fraternity on Lake Keuka in Upstate New York where he spent his weekends pottering about on the boat after buying it in 1981. When not in use she was stored in a dry boathouse. In 1988 he won the Wine Country Best Dock Master's Award for Showmanship and we have in the files some charming photos of the winner and proud owner. There is extensive documentation including the original build docket available for a new owner. Incidentally the Wine Country Classic Boat event still takes place and you can follow this group of enthusiasts on Instagram.
The engine had been left too long when the boat was brought into Landamores for restoration so the decision was taken to source a period replacement which is now sitting comfortably under the engine box cover and growling away. The restoration took place over 3 years with suitable premium mahogany being sourced, all upholstery being replaced and all fittings being rechromed.
Frankly the boat is like new with a recent survey and a new trailer. In addition there is a large box of original papers which came with the boat when purchased in the early eighties and the second owner continued to add to it. This historic craft would be ideal for anyone wishing to enjoy the classic boat rallying scene in the UK and Europe as she is easy to trail and to store. For river use a smaller propellor could be fitted with a larger rudder.
Who will take Keuka on her next adventure?