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Aluminum Boat Restoration – The Decision
I have lived and worked in the Great Lakes my entire adult life. I have never done an aluminum boat restoration, or any other type of boat restoration. But I’ve admired all kinds of small pleasure craft from the deck of the Great Lakes Bulk Freighters I’ve worked on since I was fresh out of high school.
Although I am a United States Coast Guard licensed Great Lakes pilot of motorboats of any gross tonnage, or simply put; “A boat pilot”… I’ve never even been behind the wheel of a small pleasure boat. But I have always admired the lines of powerboats, or motor yachts as they are sometimes called.
I have wondered, as we have maneuvered our great merchant ships through the ports of the Great Lakes; how much work and dedication it would take to restore an old yacht.
Although in my boat restoration dreams, I have always thought it would be amazing to restore an old wooden boat built around the 1950’s, I have never made the decision to do it.
The old Cris Craft type wooden yachts I had seen on the Great Lakes had such nostalgic lines and looked like such sturdy, well-designed vessels after being restored by a dedicated and talented craftsman.
These old wooden boats are certainly beautiful when restored, and the idea of owning and restoring one seemed like a very noble thing to me…
But here is how I decided to do an aluminum boat restoration.
As I said before, I have worked on boats my entire adult life and have a very intimate understanding of watercraft. But I have very limited knowledge of woodworking and wood finishing etc.
However, I do have quite a bit of knowledge about steel and the other metal alloys that go into ships.
It was just a stroke of luck or coincidence that made me see that I could have an old yacht, fully restored and like new, without knowing much about woodworking.
As I said; we were unloading grain at the General Mills dock in Buffalo, NY;
I saw a boat that looked a lot like one of those old Chris Craft “type” wooden boats, docked in a marina across from the General Mills dock.
Although I admired that ship for several hours while on watch that afternoon, it never occurred to me that it was built of anything other than wood.
I decided at that moment, as I looked at the fine lines of that 32 foot cruiser, (which I thought was made of wood), that I was going to do a boat restoration myself.
So later, after I finished unloading and was on Lake Erie en route to Detroit, I was able to talk to my Wheelsman about the boat I saw at the Buffalo Marina and my idea of doing a boat restoration . He had also seen the ship.
My coxswain had grown up on Michigan’s Harsens Island and worked at a marina while in high school. He pointed out to me that the boat we had both seen was made of aluminum.
I was really amazed. To begin with; I didn’t realize that large cabin cruisers were built so early with aluminum. And I certainly never would have thought that an aluminum boat could have such fine lines.
So I started researching aluminum yachts, and specifically Marinette aluminum yachts, which my helm said was the manufacturer of the yacht we had both been admiring.
Well, one thing led to another and I began to realize that an aluminum boat restoration would be the only thing that would make sense for me.
- Aluminum boats are strong and Marinette boats are, according to their owners; “built like a tank”…
- Aluminum Marinette boats are easy to come by and have a greater value compared to even a similarly sized fiberglass boat.
- Aluminum maintains its strength longer than wood or fiberglass, and aluminum does not corrode or rot.
- The hull of an aluminum boat, regardless of age, will almost always be in pretty good shape, with little need for repair to the hull itself.
- Aluminum motorboats and cabin cruisers typically get better fuel economy than a wood or fiberglass boat of the same size.
And the list of good reasons to consider a more hands-on aluminum boat restoration goes on and on.
So that was the day I decided to take up aluminum boat restoration. My decision was made within 24 hours.
At the time of this writing it has been less than a week since I decided to own an old aluminum built restorable yacht.
But the more research, the more determined I am… I’m going to take an old, once beautiful aluminum boat and make it new again.
And I’m sure I’ll be rewarded with a boat that will provide fun and excitement for me and the family for many years to come. All for a much lower price than it would be for a comparable new boat.
Also, the restoration of the boat itself will provide many hours of pleasure and bonding for my wife, son and I.
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