I got to reminiscing about our first boat when I was a kid.
My dad worked for Scott Paper all the time I was growing up. His first office was in the Export Sales Department’s little brick building in the parking lot of the Chester plant. He was working there the day he bought a little 21′ cabin cruiser which has about as much cabin space as a walk-in closet and the ambiance of a gym locker. Campers and boats were so much simpler then.
I think of that boat as pretty old but she wasn’t all that old when we got her in about 1956.
Much, much later, we discovered it was a Chris Craft kit boat. The pictured 21′ 1953 Day Cruiser is pretty similar in layout but much nicer in finish. My almost-60-year-old memory is that our boat was all plywood, not planked, and all painted, no brightwork, and I remember her having either a Willys or a Gray Marine 60HP 4-cylinder inboard.
Looking in the cabin door in photo #3, you can see a half-wall bulkhead on the starboard side and most of the port v-berth. What you can’t see is the alcohol fueled stove and the 5-gallon water jug abaft the port bunk nor the red, steel-sided Coleman cooler my mom sat on while cooking.
I still have and use that wonderful cooler.
No standing headroom for us and you had to get up to go, since the head was actually a waxed paper bag in a porcelain bucket that lived under the port bunk. That was a fire drill since my folks slept on the bunks and I slept on an air mattress on the deck between them.
Chris Craft claimed that between 1950 and 1958 they shipped 93,000 boat kits (!), in 13 different models from 8-31 feet long.
Ours was the first “MARCHA,” a contraction of my folks’ names, Mary and Chan. Some years later, in the second MARCHA, we met a couple living aboard a boat named “CHAMAR.” That was a contraction of their names, Chan and Mary. Still, she has always been the “little boat” in the family.
This story is less about the boat and more about how little info and how few photos Google was able to find about those wonderful Chris Craft kit boats. If any loyal reader has photos of a 21-foot plywood Chris from about 1953, send them along!
The little boat lived in the Delaware River at a boatyard in Essington because it was close to his office. He could run down there and putter on his lunch break. That was before I had glasses, so I didn’t see much of our travels but I do remember running out of gas in the shipping lane one summer evening. My dad flagged down the Chester-Bridgeport Ferry and they actually towed us in!
She was a good first boat. We kept her for a couple of years until my mom got tired of sitting on the cooler or standing in the companionway to cook. Truth, I figured she was tired of rousting everyone so she could pee in a paper bag.
I hope that little boat fared even better than this project I found on the Interwebs: