“HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO?” (to save a derelict, mahogany Treasure?) by Ron Goette  

by Ron Goette

(Reprinted with a few modifications from the Summer 2000 issue of the Thoroughbred, newsletter of the Century Boat Club and permission of the author)

When we acquired our first Century in 1994, we had pretty well thought out what kind of boat and which specific features we wanted. I’ve never had a practical bone in my body, so always loved the looks of runabouts best. But getting older and wiser(?), I decided that being able to move about in the boat on long rides was high priority, along with having space enough for two or three other couples to join us for the day. A boat large enough for that many people fit in nicely with another priority — being large enough to compete with the big cruiser waves on the river. (We live close to the St. Croix). Also, we can’t take direct sun all day anymore either, so a top was necessity. Of course, all this needed to be packaged in a great looking boat that was fast, performed well, and was easily trailerable to various boating locations and shows. Simple choice; an early Century Coronado. A nice, original, low-hour ‘58 to be exact, that didn’t disappoint.
So where does “derelict” come in? Well, in May, 2000, I dragged home Century number 6, (really derelict) all the way from South Carolina via Pennsylvania for some advice from the Century gurus there. They didn’t laugh at it, so I took that as either a good sign of approval, or they were taught at some point to always be polite. After I returned from the 3,000+ mile trip, I started thinking about how we acquired numbers 2,3,4, and 5 (all Century’s), and not one of those involved the detailed thought process that #1 did. Why is that? Some might say I’m a tad impulsive, but I’m sure none of you other Century owners can relate to this. Some of you might remember my selfish concealment of the phone number for the ‘63 Resorter that was for sale at the 1999 Century seminar – yup, #5. In fact, #3 is a derelict ‘59 Resorter that had a lot of bad repairs done to it. I really didn’t want it after driving all the way to Michigan. However, I took it only because the price was so reasonable for the description provided, but that’s another article someday, maybe. It’s still in derelict condition, but makes a nice display at boat shows on what to look for and how not to do things. It has also provided some great entertainment for the local Red Squirrels, as they have eaten three holes in it, two in the Mahogany and one in the Avodire. Sorry, I’m wandering aimlessly again. Back to how far would you go?

How far in distance to pick up the boat? How far in money to purchase/restore the boat? (Of course, all those new power tools are part of the deal, but can be used later to build that high quality furniture you promised mama in order to get the boat home.) How far in time invested in the project for research, acquiring materials, networking, and actual work on the boat? How far in stretching the parameters of your marriage? You know, when #6 turned up as a passing comment in a web boat discussion group, and I got involved inquiring about it, it was amazing how all those years of experience at rationalizing came into play!

South Carolina – gee, that’s only 1400 miles (one way), and look at this – it takes me right through Lexington, KY where I have friends I really owe a visit to. And, hey, the boat is only 200 miles from Atlanta where a good friend of mine lives that has been having some health challenges – AND, my wife’s sister and brother in law live halfway between the boat and Atlanta! Then the pictures came.

Hmmm!! Rougher than I thought. Maybe I oughta see how much out of the way it would be to return through Pennsylvania so I can solicit some helpful input from those Century guru’s of the east, the Miklos boys. Only 600 extra miles and I always wanted to see their boats anyway – perfect! The price of the boat was so reasonable for such a rare boat, no need to pay attention to the fact that all the original bottom planks and frames are gone, and that the stem and gripe are out of the boat, or that all forward side planks aren’t there, or that there is only one original stick left of the original transom frame, or that one chine is just a piece of pine holding the side frames together.

Hey, the keel is straight, and the stringers look OK, and all the original hardware is there — well, OK, almost all. I’ve already got the tools and I need to justify having them some more. The more projects you have, the less $$$ tool investment per project, right guys?? You are getting smarter already. AND, this is a rare boat!!

OK, lets make a deal. Only one more hurdle – my sweetie. Seems our son is getting married in October and the reception is going to be in our front yard. I suppose there is some rationale for spending this time and $$$ at putting the siding back on the house and reinstalling the landscaping I tore out in front of the house.

BUT, this is such a good deal — you just can’t go out anytime and find such a rare boat. I’ll only be gone 11 days, and remember, this is what I wanted to do in retirement — mess with old cars/boats. (Sounds like I’m begging, but I’m not – it’s just good explaining). What’s that? When am I going to sell something?? Well, just as soon as I finish the house projects and get a little time to work on the boats!

Aahhh! Convinced this one last time. Well, maybe not convinced, but at least stopped resisting. Or, maybe she just stopped talking to me altogether. The deal is struck, I’m off to see the wizard. Oh yeah, the boat. What boat is worth all this? A ‘56 Blue Century Arabian.
Next; part II – The Trip)