My wife’s grandfather recently gifted us with a small shallow boat that he has owned for a few years. Note that we were not actually looking for a fishing boat. We live in Colorado, not exactly a bass fishing mecca, and we really don’t have the “slush bottom” money that owning a boat like this requires.
Let me take you on a tour of our 1968 Seasprite. Let’s start with the trailer. It’s a 1964 Elgin, bought from Sears and Roebuck. Apparently it was sold as a maintenance free unit as it has the original bunks, rollers and paint (the bunk carpet was replaced with an orange fluff around ’74). The lights are carefully mounted on top of the guides. A careful eye will notice that a “master builder” machined the mounting brackets for the lights and license plate (formed from an aluminum frame plate!). Loading the boat is a breeze … as long as I align the boat correctly I don’t leave a 3 foot long scratch on the paint.
God forbid it scratches the paint; it would take hours to match the brush and roller strokes that are there now. But I digress. The trailer has those nice 8 “x 4” tires. These have many advantages over the 14-15 “tires that modern trailers have. For example, buying 3 new tires is only $ 27.54. I saved more money by mounting them myself. Ok … so I had to mount them myself because nobody The town still has machines to mount 8 “wheels. Another benefit these tires offer is the ability to cook with them when I arrive at my destination. They get hot enough to fry an egg … although bearing and grease life is a bit shorter than I would like. The refill fits comfortably almost anywhere I want.
Now, let’s go to the boat. It’s a 1968 SeaSprite with a Mercury 500 (50hp). This boat has been kept in a covered facility since it was new (covered in nothing but an oak tree … on the front lawn). This had the effect of allowing most of the components to rot at a uniform rate. The “rocking chair” effect is not a standard feature … it’s actually the seat backs that pop off the bottom of the seats and the pillars that stick out of the dry, rotten floor (watch your step). It makes setting the hook that much more exciting. The hatch hinges are no longer attached to the ground, which makes loading them much easier. Shoes are a must on the SeaSprite, unless you want carpet, plywood, staples, acorns, red wire scraps, and toe finish nails. Did I mention the paint … it has different shades of green over what I think was white at the time. It was applied with a roller and brush, with some spray touch-ups. Be careful when leaning against it or you will look like you’ve lost weight!
Probably the most admired feature of our boat is the wiring. The guy who reconnected it must have had about 250 feet of red wire. That’s right … ALL the wires on that boat are red … switches (some work), lights (don’t work), ignition, horn (doesn’t work either) trolling motor … everything. Reduces the time it takes me to find a replacement cable to do a repair. One spool is all you need! However, that time is more than offset by the amount of time to trace the faulty cable, or even “fix” the wrong cable.
Meters would be a nice luxury. For now, I use the following to monitor the state of affairs:
Speed: My hat flies off my head in the forward position at 18 mph,
Bow spray to chest at 22 mph Bow spray to face at 24 mph. I haven’t gone faster than that, since I can’t see at the time. Speeds are approximate.
Ammeter – When the big motor won’t start, the battery doesn’t have enough amps.
Fuel Gauge – Open the liftgate and see if there is fuel in the tank. There is a reserve on the 15 foot fuel line.
As for my trolling motor, the shaft is short enough that any wave action produces a very nice cooling jet. It’s a nice feature in the heat. It ran backwards when I got it so I just swapped the red wires and it works great! In one of the storage compartments I found a little bilge pump that connects to the battery with alligator clips, and you guessed it, red wires. Our first trip I found out why it was there, and that it should be permanently mounted and MUCH bigger.
While it may seem like I’m complaining about our ship, nothing could be further from the truth. It is a pleasure to go to the lake with my wife and the dog, whether we fish or not. I can’t help but smile when I realize how much fun your grandfather must have had on this ship. I’m honored that the SeaSprite passed us by and can’t wait to create our own memories on it. Now has anyone seen my duct tape ???