Chris Craft

16 11 2009

When I was little, we had a summer house on Gull Lake north of the Cities. It was a little green house with access to a small bay that was perfect for water skiing, jet-skiing, kayaking, swimming, fishing, etc. I saw all of that from the wooden dock of that cabin, where I would lay for hours, basking in the sun. I loved to lay on a towel with a good book, soaking in the sun, the boats, the gentle splash of the water against the boats my father so dearly loved.

My dad always loved boats, and we had quite a few when I was growing up. We had a fishing boat, a jet ski, a wooden boat, a green monstrosity he lovingly named “Nessie”, two pontoons and numerous kayaks, water tubes, skis, etc. As kids, we learned to swim early, and we spent a lot of time in the water…many of my favorite memories are putting around in my dad’s wooden boat, a Chris Craft, that he treasured above all of the other boats.

That boat was a classic, a beauty, a sportsman with a wooden engine cover that was beautifully varnished and perfect for a ten year old girl to drape across in the sun. My dad loved that wooden boat, with its classic lines, cherry red leather seats and white steering wheel. He would polish it with shammy towels for hours, making sure that it was tightly covered and tied down when inclement weather rolled in and bringing it high out of the water on the boat lift when the waves pummeled its sides before a storm. I can remember him tinkering in the engine and I adored the deep resounding thrum of its engine when reversed. I adored that boat…it made me think of Dean Martin, Katharine Hepburn and Frank Sinatra, all of whom owned Chris Craft boats when pleasure boating was famous. It makes me think of sun setting on the water, staining the waves a burnt orange. It makes me think of a man who poured his heart and soul into a piece of history in a way he couldn’t with anything else. It makes me think of one time when I saw my dad truly happy, polishing the sleek length of a wooden boat settled deep in the water on a sunny day. If I could give my dad one thing, I would bring back that Sportsman and hand him a shammy and a lifetime of sunny warm days for him to polish and pleasure boat to his heart’s content.

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