By Mike Gridley
Since I jumped into the world of classic wooden boats, quite a few people have asked me, “Isn’t that a very expensive boating pastime?” The answer is, well, it can be. You can spend enormous amounts of money purchasing and restoring an antique or classic boat, but you don’t have to. There are a surprising number of wooden boats out there at affordable prices that make great family boats.
Sunflashes were produced in Gravenhurst, Ontario from 1960 to 1974 and there are many around in every condition and price, advertised from $5,000 to $30,000.
They were built as inboards, sterndrives and some as outboards. Original construction was mahogany plywood over oak frames for the hull with mahogany plank decking—simple, basic and reasonable to restore.
This particular boat began life in 1964. When she was salvaged for restoration in 2009, every frame and all of the plywood in the hull was rotten. A restoration became a complete rebuild.
Modern wood construction was employed so this classic is constructed of marine grade plywood frames rather than oak. The deck is mahogany plank epoxied to the marine ply base. Stained with eight coats of varnish, the look of the original boat has been retained except for the black hull, which would have been stained as well. The transom is mahogany again over marine plywood, with the addition of modern swim platforms.
The boat’s systems have been upgraded, but she still retains the original MerCruiser shifter and Quicksilver helm wheel. The big modernization is the power. A rebuilt MerCruiser 4.3LX with Alpha One Drive replaces the original MerCruiser 160 hp inline six sterndrive. Other original items are the deck hardware and raised deck air intake or “doghouse”.
To the untrained eye she looks like a boat from the 1960s, but as a resto-mod, or restored and modified boat, there are changes from bow to stern. First the stem has more rake and the taller curved windshield has been replaced with a custom lowered and sportier windshield. The interior and seating has been redesigned, and finished in teal and white with French seams and pleats. Mahogany has been utilized for the trim in the gunnels, seat back storage doors and dash (also not original).
To me, this boat, like others in her price range, is a fun way to spend time on the water at a reasonable price. Whether original, restored or a reproduction boat, you can find a “woody” that will fit your budget, say a Shepherd, Peterborough, Lakefield, Greavette and others.
TEST BOAT ENGINE
Single MerCruiser 4.3LX, 205 hp 4.3 L (262 ci) V-6, 4 bbl carbureted with Alpha One drive
TOP SPEED (mph/rpm)
CRUISING SPEED (mph/rpm)
Length: 18 ft / 5.48 m
Beam: 6 ft / 1.83 m
Weight: 2,000 lbs / 907.2 kg
Fuel Capacity: 15.85 gals/60 L
Price: $20,000 to $25,000