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1962, 36 ft. Sedan Cruiser
SEAERO (pronounced "see-arrow") is a 36-foot Richardson Sedan Cruiser built by the Richardson Boat Company of Tonawanda, New York, in 1962. The superstructure (manufactured from teak) and the fly bridge (manufactured of heavy duty Fibreglass) were built in Tonawanda. However, the hull was manufactured in Malton, Ontario, Canada, by Avro Aircraft Limited, a division of A. V. Roe Aeronautical Group, an affiliate of the Hawker Siddley Conglomerate, the company of Canadian Avro Arrow aircraft fame. The hull is planked aluminium, nut and bolt construction, built like an airplane.
In 1960, working in tandem with Kaiser Aluminium and Chemical Corporation, Avro announced a new concept in cruiser construction, the planked aluminium hull, and an agreement was reached whereby Avro would produce the hulls for what was, by that time, the Richardson division of United Marine.
Although aluminium had been in wide use for many years, electrolysis and the cost of welding meant most boats were constructed by riveting, which was not a practical use for larger cruisers. In advertising flyers produced for the 1960 market, the new aluminium-hulled boats were classed as "Cruisers of Tomorrow" made for Richardson's Phantom series. The hulls, permanently sealed for the life of the vessel, were advertised as not requiring recaulking. Thus the aluminium hull was impervious to rot, warping and water soakage. Maintenance costs would be minimal.
The frames, stringers and floor members of the hull were produced from one-piece formed aluminium plate, while the bulkheads were made from structural aluminium. The carvel-planked hull included batten seam construction using 13-inch battens of 3-inch, corrosion-resistant aluminium plate. The keel and garboard plans were produced from one piece of corrosion-resistant aluminium plate, 3/16 inches thick. The planking was 7-inch, corrosion-resistant aluminium plate. All joints were sealed with Thicol. Stainless steel bolts and nuts were used as fastenings at the frames, and stainless steel self-tapping fasteners adjoined the planks to the battens. The stern was one piece of cast aluminium. The finished hull was painted "yacht white." After extensive testing and sea trials, Avro President, Harvey Smith said these new vessels would be "the most advanced pleasure cruiser available on the market."
Richardson and Avro produced a 28-foot and a 32-foot Express model, a 36-foot Express and Sedan model, a 40-foot Double Cabin Fly Bridge, a 43-foot model and a 46-foot model. The Fibreglass fly bridge could be purchased as an "extra" for the sedan models. About 150 hulls were produced in the early 1960s. Today there are approximately 60 Richardson Phantom Series boats left in the United States and Canada, including, rumour has it, a few pristine hulls locked away in a garage, place unknown.
SEAERO was cared for and repaired over the years to maintain it as a comfortable, useable cruiser. The inside has the warmth of wood complete with Parquet flooring. The current owners, Catherine McLeod and Bill Barthorpe, have added full canvas to create a wonderful sun porch on the large rear deck, sandblasted the hull at the waterline to remove electrolysis, replaced aging Grey Marine engines with 350 Chevy blocks and many other repairs. The first four owners kept the boat in Southwestern Ontario. Catherine and Bill found it by accident in a shed created from apple boxes and covered with a huge tarp on an apple farm in Port Dover. Its home is now the portion of the Trent Severn Waterway just north of Peterborough. When it came to naming the boat, the owners took a page from history. Since "airplane" was originally spelled "aeroplane", the owners decided, with the boat's history, an appropriate name would be "SEAERO".