Fifties Sixties Boats          


WOOD BOATS OF THE 50S AND 60S


 

by Shirley A. Ramaley



In the 1950s and 60s the pleasure boats in the waters around Seattle, Puget Sound, Lake Union and Lake Washington, were made of wood. Fiberglass boats were not common like today.

My dad always had boats. He started with one that washed up on shore near his house on Puget Sound , when he was a boy. He rebuilt it and named it The Pup. From that time on, he was never without a boat.

When I was growing up in Seattle , Dads boats were thirty feet, or a little more, in length. They were lovely cabin cruisers that easily slept four people. The head or bathroom was in the bow. A small galley was located right next to it. Bunk beds were usually across from the galley. A hide-a-bed in the cabin or stern was used for seating during the day, and sleeping two more people at night.

I loved sleeping on that hide-a-bed in the stern, when I was a kid, along with a friend. Wed be lulled to sleep by the rocking of the boat. My family spent most weekends on our boat.

I learned how to throw one end of the rope to the tender at the Seattle locks, and then fasten my end correctly to the stern or bow. As the water height in the locks changed, I handled the rope, slowly letting it out or taking up the slack, depending on which direction we were going and if the water was going up or down. My mom or dad was usually on the bow, and I was in the stern.

Those boats required work. Every few years they had to be dry-docked. They were hauled out of the water to remove barnacles from the hull.

The mahogany on the boats needed care, as all wood does. We varnished, wiped and sweated taking care of those boats, but even as a kid, it was a labor of love.

Dad kept his boats in tip-top shape, from the engine to the cabin and the deck. Heaven help the person who didnt treat that wood correctly! One time a friend went to kick a hatch closed and my dad yelled, Dont you do that! On this boat everything easily fits where it belongs. Dad showed him how to gently lower the hatch, and it slipped quietly into place.

Dad, another man, his daughter, and I were in a sudden storm one year, in the early 50s. Our cabin cruiser was tossed around like a toy as waves higher than our boat churned around us. My dad rescued a fisherman on that trip, whose own boat had overturned. We hauled him aboard our cabin cruiser and managed to travel to calmer water on the leeward side of Point no Point in Washington State . Our wood boat came through the storm like a trooper, with no damage.

Today my brother owns a 42 foot wood, Chris Craft, built in 1964, a beautiful old boat, with Honduras Mahogany. If you look around in the water today youll find many older wood boats still in service. They last.

A well-kept wood boat is beautiful, more inviting, insulates well against heat and cold, and absorbs engine noise better. Of course, the fiberglass boat lovers have their reasons for loving their boats too.

But in the 50s and 60s, the boats were wood. Many still cruise the waters today, looking beautiful as always, and providing pleasure for their owners. Every time I see one I think of going through the locks, fishing in Puget Sound and the lakes, sleeping in the stern at night, and having fun with my friends, in the 1950s and 60s. Those were fun-filled memories, never to be forgotten.

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Dads boats were thirty feet, or a little more, in length. They were lovely cabin cruisers that easily slept four people. The head or bathroom was in the bow.

They were lovely cabin cruisers that easily slept four people. The head or bathroom was in the bow. A small galley was located right next to it. Bunk beds were usually across from the galley.


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