something about the name!
I was born and raised in Fort
Myers Florida and started boating as just a little boy on the
Caloosahatchee. Most people refer to that great river as the
“Caloosahatchee River”. In reality Caloosahatchee is a name
given to the river by the Calusa Indians, literally translated
“River of the Calusa” and interpreted by some to mean “Beautiful
River”. I always smile a little as modern use of the name
Caloosahatchee River literally translated would be “River of the
Calusa River” or “Beautiful River River”. Well enough about the
Beautiful River except to say that growing up there was
wonderful and had everything to do with my love for boats of all
kinds, but especially for high performance boats.
Growing up, my brother and
assorted friends and I were always figuring how to make the
little outboards go faster or pull better. I learned to water
ski behind a 13’ Boston Whaler with a 40 horsepower Evinrude and
trust me it was a struggle to slalom behind but we did.
As we got older putting small V8s
into fairly light plywood boats was the thing to do and was a
lot of fun too. We built a GlenL Cracker Box in the late 1960s,
the plans called for a straight 6 cylinder Chevy but of course a
327 Chevy V8 was chosen.
My first encounter with a real
performance boat was in a 19’ Howard flat bottom SK with a 427
Chevy. It was an honest 115 to 120 mph boat, I experienced
somewhere between those numbers and was hooked. The crackerbox
was immediately reconfigured to the smallest rear engine V-drive
flatty SK I’ve ever seen. We cut the freeboard down by 5”, moved
the engine to the rear and re-decked it similar in appearance to
a very small (15’6”) Rayson Craft. Much fun and other boats
including “squirt boats” along the way!
Fast forward to 1996, Bill John
and I met at work and started a friendship that of course had to
do with boats and in particular his boat
Obsession. In 1997 we
went to Valleyfield Quebec with a group of people that Bill knew
but that I would be meeting for the first time. In that group
were Geoff and Barbara Magnuson and their step bottom race boat
Arab IV. Once again friendships were made because of the boats.
I should add that there were many wonderful friendships made on
that trip that endure to this day for which I am grateful.
Through the years we’ve all visited and shared ideas about
projects and the like, and I’ve always been impressed with
Geoff’s projects, and I’ve learned a lot from him.
One of his projects just happened
to have been a Flat bottom SK boat named Flash Back started in
1983 almost by accident. Geoff had gone to a local boat yard to
pick up an engine that was still in the 1957 17’ Correct Craft.
The yard owner told Geoff that he’d have the engine out pretty
quick that he was going to cut it out with a chainsaw. Geoff
said that if that was the case he would just take the whole
thing.............another wooden boat saved from the burn pile.
Geoff used that hull to build a
California style SK boat fulfilling a dream to build and drive
a California SK boat. There are subtle similarities here to my
experience with the crackerbox and it’s re configuration to a
California style SK.
The Correct Craft, 17’
modest standard inboard set up changed to the slightly
more “wild” rear engine V-drive set up with a big HEMI.
The Cracker Box, 15’6”
very modest standard inboard set up changed to a “wild”
rear engine V-drive set up with a Chevy V8.
Acquiring Geoff’s boat is
a “Flash Back” to the late 1960s for me, how
appropriate, I’m truly honored that this boat came my
Reflections of a Riding Mechanic - 2002