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1957, 43 ft.
The following is the text portion of an article which was printed in the Winter 1995 issue of the Cruisabout. Unfortunately the photos which accompanied the article could not be reproduced clearly enough to include them. SAVE THE WOODIES!
By Don Pakkala
“Wooden boats are coming back!” I don’t know how many times I’ve heard or read that statement over the past few years, but it has been often enough that I’m beginning to believe it. The fact is that many of them never left in the first place. Not entirely anyway. Today quite a few folks are seeking out the bones of old wooden boats and making sizeable investments in their restoration. What follows here is a story of such a project.
I first met Joe Venuti at a Richardson Boat Owners gathering near Syracuse, NY at least 15 (probably more) years ago. He owned a 1957 43 foot Richardson and had done some extensive cruising with it including a trip to Florida via the Intracoastal Waterway. But as happens in so many instances, priorities change, and for whatever reason Joe’s boat (to put it lightly) fell into disrepair. Somewhere in the late 1980's Joe regained an interest in the boat and set about arranging to have it restored. After a couple of false starts, the Richardson ended up in the hands of Dennis Montgomery of Cayuga Wooden Boatworks next to Beacon Bay Marina at the north end of Cayuga Lake in upstate New York. Here the boat was inspected and found to be in pretty bad shape. According to Dennis “You couldn’t put any good part on the boat because it was connected to more bad stuff”. So what amounted to an almost total restoration began.
As is the case with many old Richardsons the cabins and deck had deteriorated while the hull had survived quite well. The transom had been removed by another party before the boat had arrived in Cayuga. “The boat had rotted from the top down” according to Dennis. The decks and covering boards were removed by the handful without the aid of tools. Many parts were so far gone that it was difficult to lift patterns from them. Fortunately the folks at Cayuga Wooden Boatworks had prior experience with a similar boat so they knew what was supposed to be where.
Over several years and approximately 2600 hours of work later, the Richardson once again looked like the fine lady she once was. "Our work is better than original” said Dennis as he pointed out some subtle improvements in the sliding cabin window arrangement that will allow rainwater to drain properly. The original design of the mortise and tenon joints in the cabin joiner work was also modified to eliminate potential rot incubators. The cabin side planking was replaced exactly as the original. WEST epoxy was used throughout the project. With new cabin sides, decks, transom, some planking and frames, glassed cabin tops and more, she only lacks some bottom preparation and interior work to the owners specifications before she is ready to go. The original Chrysler Hemi Marine engines were reportedly in good condition when she was hauled.
The last time I saw Joe was in the summer of 1993 at Beacon Bay Marina. At that time his health was failing but he still held onto the dream of completing one more trip to Florida. Unfortunately his time on earth ended before his dream materialized. The Richardson is now part of his estate and is for sale.
If there is a moral to this story I don’t know what it is. Perhaps by looking at the photos of the restoration process new hope will spring forth in the hearts of owners of boats that have “fallen into disrepair”. Or perhaps someone will compare the cost of restoring a fine old wooden boat with the cost of a modern fiberglass one of similar (or smaller) size, and then go shopping in the back rows of the local marinas. At any rate, another fine old woodie has been saved, and a Richardson at that!
The SANDBAR ended up in the capable hands of Steve and Linda Venuti who completed the restoration and now keep her docked on the Cayuga-Seneca Canal in upstate New York. Steve, Linda and the SANDBAR were awarded the “Peoples Choice” award at the 2005 Richardson Rendezvous in Geneva, NY. The boat was listed for sale in the Fall 2005 issue of the Cruisabout. For further information contact John Dubickas at Duby Marine, 254 Sweeney Street, No.Tonawanda, NY, 14120. Phone 716-694-0922.