CHRIS CRAFT COMMANDER FORUM ® .......A photo-intensive technical reference file and ongoing newsletter regarding the original fiberglass Chris-Craft Commander series. This is an independent not-for-profit and non-commercial web site, not affiliated with the Chris Craft Commander Club ~~ or ~~ Chris-Craft Corporation. Our mission here is to "have fun and share information" about the Commander series (and those associated fiberglass boats on the Chris-Craft family tree) for your individual personal use, and by doing so help promote the good name of Chris-Craft, and help preserve, restore, and appreciate Chris-Craft boats. The main reference feature is the ever expanding MASTER INDEX File which contains what we believe to be the world's largest collection of documentation photos and technical information on the Chris-Craft Commander line of boats, (like these original brochure scans, featuring the iconic first 38 Commander styled by Fred Hudson, and many of the great Dick Avery renditions that followed) , (a huge collection of Chris-Craft 427 tuning and specification information), and a few words about how to use the forum.

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Getting bitten by the bug...again?

June 30 2012 at 8:54 AM
Roger  (Login Acadianlion)

Years ago I started my life over, and one of the first fill-in jobs I had was refinishing the topsides of a Thompson 19' lapstrake outboard boat.
My life restarting went pretty well, and about a dozen yeas later I decided I really wanted to be on the water the next summer. I answered an ad in a local sell and swap paper for a Thompson boat that was in a barn way about a hundred miles away. The ad said it had a 100HP Mercury with a bad leg. Lo and behold, it was the same boat I had worked on a dozen years before. In good condition, I put it on a used trailer I found a for cheap a hundred miles in the opposite direction, and brought the Thompson home. A rebuilt 115 Merc and a bunch of hours later with new finish on the deck and hull, she went in the water and I had a great time cruising around Mt. Desert Island and the area for two years.

Then I found the Slickcraft sitting on dunnage in Thomaston for cheap and I had to have it. The Thompson eventually was donated to a boat restoration 501C3 that bitched and moan mightily when they found out they needed to drive 150 miles and back to get the boat...I won't do that again.

The Slickcraft needed a new fuel tank, and a tuneup for the 305 Chevy, and a lot of messing with the OMC sterndrive. I won't do sterndrives again either. But a couple of good years with that boat, which was very ruggedly build and a pretty boat in the water. The final death of the sterndrive prompted the end of that one, and it went to the Owls Head Transportation Museum as a donation. I think someone got a nice boat that with real patience and some money could have been made to roam the bays again.

Then there was an 18' Grady White we had for a year which I sold. Nice boat, but just not quite big enough for where I usually like to go.

We sold off the waterfront a year ago. The time when I was going to put a mooring out in the bay and row a pram out to the boat was gone, and it no longer seemed worth the tax consequences of living on the ocean, so we moved off to this antique farmhouse which we are restoring.

But we are not that far from Penobscot Bay and I am feeling the itch again. I found this forum while investigating the Thompson/Chris Craft connection, after reading that Chris Craft produced some Sea Skiffs in the right size and length, and powered by outboard motors. So, here I am looking for more information. I have much to learn now about which boat if any should be the next one. This seems a good place to do so.

I think the next boat like all those in the past will be on trailers and not spend much time on a mooring anywhere. There are a lot of reasons for this, one of which is the ten miles that I am to the nearest harbor (Belfast). So, as a practical matter the boat will need to be in the 20-23 foot range, most likely, and not be a cabin boat for ease of launching and recovery.

While I am a wood boat type, and have a preference for the ease and simplicity of outboard motors, I have had a tad of experience with inboards. My observation which may be wrong, is that most of the Chris Craft boats with inboards in this size have relatively small fuel capacity. Thirty or forty gallons with a 350 cu in or larger engine isn't much, considering that along the coast of downeast Maine there aren't a lot of fueling points close together. My question is what sort of fuel burn do folks experience with the Sea Skiff and similar boats with inboard engines?

Realistically, I doubt that a new (to me) boat will appear for a year or so, as this house needs to be finished before I can play on the water again. But once the immediate projects are finished, I might get fired out to pour a slab in the back field and start the boat shed project, and the clock will start to run.

Any comments about outboard powered Sea Skiffs would be appreciated.Any encouragement will be appreciated too! So far I am enjoying reading the wealth of information on this site.

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(no login)

Don't limit your search...

June 30 2012, 10:51 AM 

Paul, Roger and All:
Well, it sounds like you have the boatitus disease just like the rest of us! I would just throw in to consider Lancers as well. My two 23' Lancers both have 60 gallon tanks which seems to be plenty, plus they have a cuddy cabin in case of foul weather or the occasional nap. Craig Judge lives up your way and is restoring a 23 Lancer and you might make contact with him, especially in light of the recent posts regarding the two corsairs that he has information on. He may be able to set you up to compare the two types.

Others can jump in here with specific experience with fuel usage rate. Lots of factors go into it as you know.

Good luck with the search. I think a boat in your future is already a done deal!

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(Login Acadianlion)

I like the Lancer 23

June 30 2012, 3:27 PM 

I have been reading about the various models on the Commander hull this morning. This is the first time I have really looked at the Lancer. I don't mean to blaspheme here, but the overall shape reminds me an awful lot of my '74 Slickcraft 21-3, other than it being longer. That boat had an OMC sterndrive with a 307 Chevy. The 307 was tired, and old probably from sitting for several years, and in year two, I had the 307 replaced with a new 350 which was much better. Unhappily the stern drive was not going to be on board for the long haul and worse still my favorite mechanic left the business and area. In the end the cost of restoration/renovation of this, otherwise sound hull was simply not worth it to me at that time. There were also other issues, and one was with the walk-through windshield and push forward hatch on the bow, the area beneath the bow was simply too small for other than storing stuff. The Lancer 23 seems to solve that problem, so I will continue to read and learn about this boat. I think the choice will likely come down to either an straight inboard, or more than likely, an outboard in the same general size range.

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Excellent choice either in inboard or transdrive

June 30 2012, 4:36 PM 

Hello, and "WELCOME ABOARD". One of the reasons the 23 Lancer may remind you of a 1974 Slickcraft is the fact that the Lancer was first sold in 1966 and many companies copied the hull, the shape, and the layout. Few were ever able to put it all together like Chris Craft did, however.

The entire Corsair Sport Boat Division, including all the Lancer and Corsair models, is essentially a sleeping giant within the classic boating world. These boats are ALL viable for restoration, they are all pretty darn good products for what they are and what they cost, and I think we'll be seeing more of them at boat shows and the prices will continue to climb.

They are a solid foundation upon which to build a restoration, that is for sure. There isn't much, if anything, on these boats that can not be fixed, as they don't have any really inherent weaknesses. By comparison, I sold a 22 Pachanga several years ago for my boss, and that boat literally had a thousand small blisters. The buyer called an expert and the guy told him "they all have that" so he bought it.




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(Login CliffsCorsair)

Big water

June 30 2012, 11:11 PM 

Roger-- I envy your dilemma. You're looking for a smallish boat that is safe on big water (within the confines of prudence and decent weather).

The reason I envy you on this point is that I am the proud and happy owner of a 1968 Chris Craft Corsair 20' Sea V, purchased last year, but I am pretty well "land-locked" on the Upper Mississippi River, where the only rough water challenges are a sometimes rapid current. Granted, there is the nearby beautiful and vast Lake Pepin -- 22 miles long and up to about 3 miles wide -- where a surprise summer squall can challenge the various john boats, Bayliners (sorry guys) and other low-freeboard, flat-bottomed boats. I concede I am not an expert, but I have about 55 years of boating experience, including on Long Island Sound and Chesapeake Bay, and the Thompson Boat Co. Chris Craft 20' Corsair and Sea Skiff hull seems to me to have wonderful sea-keeping capabilities: lots of deadrise, huge flair in the bow, ample freeboard, semi-vee bottom with keel and steadying strakes, and a very strong, relatively thick fiberglass hull. Basically, it's a lapstrake, sea-kindly hull made of tough fiberglass. It's a "stiff" runner and delivers a dry ride in a moderate chop. I have no personal experience with Lancers, but they, too, are apparently tough and seaworthy, based on glowing reports in this forum. Frankly, I'd like to take the Corsair on some bigger water where pontoon party boats and flat-bottomed houseboats dare not tread. But I'm not complaining about the generally calm waters in which I now dwell.

I believe your concerns about fuel capacity are well-founded because you are being prudent and cautious. My Corsair with 283 ci V-8 (185 hp)inboard and 36-gallon fuel tank seems to go pretty far on one filling while operating about 2,800 rpm (wild guess is a speed of about 18-20 mph at that rpm). That 2,800 rpm is just above planing speed in most conditions. I concede that the term "pretty far" is about as unscientific as you can get, but let's say -- based on REALLY wild guessing and seat-of-the-pants reconning-- that I can go about 90 statute miles on 30 gallons of fuel -- leaving a little 6-gallon cushion -- running at that 2,800 rpm or roughly 20 mph (not knots). Of course, that number would change up and down based on load, sea conditions, wind direction, etc. It only seems to start gobbling fuel when you either run it just below planing speed or throttle it into the upper 3,000-rpm range.

Coincidentally, this 36-gallon-fuel-capacity boat was advertised to achieve a top speed of 36 mph. Based on my passing nearby main-line freight trains, I am convinced the boat is truly capable of that speed.

Have fun in your search and stay tuned to this wonderful forum. I've only been on here for about a year and have learned more about Chris Crafts than my previous 54 years of boating.



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20-foot 16-degree deadrise versus 23-foot 24-degree deadrise

June 30 2012, 11:26 PM 

Hi guys,

Just sharing what I have heard about the 20' Sea-V and Sea Skiff hulls.

I have heard this hull is able to handle Lake Erie swells if you throttle back to 1900 rpm and just let the hull do its job. This means it is stable and able to keep passengers safe and dry, it does not necessarily mean it is able to blast through swells with abandon (which I would not advise). Old Hickory Lake here in Tennessee is a large body of water with a longer shoreline than Lake Erie, and we have some sections of water that an blow up a pretty fair chop. Our Skiff does very well but it will pound if you push it irresponsibly, and this may have been what happened when "someone" broke my engine stringer, which I had to fix during my restoration with a through bolted aluminum flitch beam.

The 23' Lancer, on the other hand, is a much more capable hull for handling big water at speed. It was hatched directly from offshore racing and the 24 degree deadrise is very effective. Both boats are fabulous in their own right, and we love our 20' Skiff, and rarely encounter water where we have to back down, but we have encountered this now and then. I don't imagine we'll fine any occasion in Tennessee that will really challenge a 23 Lancer hull.



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Re: Big water

July 1 2012, 9:12 AM 

Thanks for the comments. I have learned more about Chris Craft in the two days I have been reading this forum than in all my previous years, and I haven't scratched the surface.

If and when the boat fantasy becomes a reality, I will be very sure about it from as many standpoints as possible. My earliest experience with Chris Craft was when I was very small. We spent our summers in a little family cottage on Union River Bay, just across the causeway to Mt. Desert Island. Dad was a school administrator and earned extra cash by free lance writing. After a couple of years he had accumulated enough money to buy an Old Town outboard skiff...12 feet, and a six horsepower Elgin outboard motor (without reverse!). We launched that little boat off the beach, I was ten, and remember it seemed very heavy to roll down the rocky beach on the tree truck rollers that Dad had hewn. We fished for mackeral, flounder and sculpin tied to the navigation moorings or just motoring slowly, and went across four plus miles of bay as well as up the river. We never went out toward the mouth of the bay because twelve feet with four of us family aboard was more thn my mother wanted to experience. The Old Town was rugged, reliable and lasted for more than twenty years. Dad sold it to someone for a few bucks and he shortened it a bit because the stern planks were soft. As far as I know that 1954 Old Town is still fishing for mackeral in the bay.

Our next door neighbor owned a publishing business in New Jersey, and he had a 27 foot Chris Craft cabin boat which he moored off the beach, rowing out to it in an 8 foot rowboat. We got several nice trips in that boat, out into Blue Hill Bay, which was very rough on more than a few occasions.

Later that neighbor traded the boat for a 36-foot Commander. That was the last of his big Chris Crafts that I rode in, although a 42 footer came along, but he had sold his cottage and moved to Northeast Harbor where the boat could be moored in the confines of the harbor. Union River Bay apt top be far too rough in the afternoon to handle a 42 footer close to shore.

My wife and I lived in that same location, but after I gave away the Slickcraft I thought I was done with boating. That was as big a boat as I wanted to try to handle in the bay alone, as late in the afternoon the wind would often freshen from the southwest and the chop was difficult to handle getting the boat up to the moring and tied off, then climbing into an 8'foot pram for the row to shore. I didn't think mooring up the river was viable either, so when my wife and I bought the Grady White, we contented ourselves with rolling it off the trailer for use. That would be ideal for us now, too.

I am very impressed with what I am reading about Chris Craft, particularly the early fibreglass boats, and I am especially impressed with the 23 foot Lancer. I think that would be ideal, provided I could carry enough fuel and the fuel burn wasn't so high that every outing was punishing. Sixty gallons I think is about right, assuming a single engine.

I wonder if anyone else was watching the eBay auction last night that I am sure was for a Lancer that had been partially restored? That boat had twin four cylinder Mercruiser engines (3 litre, I guess), and was a pure inboard. Twenty five feet, and it didnt' look terrible, although there was a lot of work left to do. It failed to pass auction with one bid of $1000. That's not much money for that boat, all things considered, of course.

The 23 or 25 foot Lancer would be as much boat as would be reasonable to trailer launch, and then, I would want to be very careful about the launching point as we have at least a nine foot tide everywhere in this area, and way down east, it is higher than that. But that size boat would be large enough for us to go almost anywhere we wanted or could want to go.

There do not seem to be an awful lot of Chris Crafts in Maine at all. I suspect that is because in the day, the Maine economy was far too small to support more than a few that were locally owned, and most therefore came here for the summer, but actually lived somewhere else. The neighbors Chris Crafts were all registered in New Jersey, at least as I remember from early memory.

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Craig Judge
(Login craigjudge)

There is a boat in your area

July 1 2012, 9:39 AM 

I cannot remember the poster but I thought of a boat that i believe is in new Hampshire and may just be the ticket. It was the rare 23' Lancer Express that I think was in New Hampshire. If memory serves it needed a redo but was complete. That would be an extremely worthy restoration as well. Maybe Paul can re-post the info. I also recently found a 25 lancer on Craigslist that Is ultra rare.
[linked image]
I know your dilemma. I also have a cottage down east and have considered boating there but you are correct, services are few and far between.

This message has been edited by craigjudge on Jul 2, 2012 7:35 AM

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