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classic wooden yachts

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1947 24' Port Carling Seabird

Muskoka beauty....

1941 Chris-Craft Wooden Boat for Sale

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Classic boat restoration, work with absolute classics marine to restore your classic boat.

Are you looking for a classic boat restoration ? Absolute Classics is the leading wooden boat restoration shop for show-winning work in North America. With over 30+ years of classic boat restoration in North America, we work on classic brands, ranging from Chris-Craft to Century. With major shows under our belt, such as Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance, we are the authority when it comes to classic boat restorations. Our restoration service brings remarkability from the past back to your classic boat and makes your boat timeless so it can be enjoyed by generations to come.

waitematawoodys.com #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news – updated daily

Dedicated to the study & appreciation of wooden boats. waitematawoodys® was founded upon a desire to tell the stories & a need to archive the history of our classic wooden boats, the craftsman who built them & characters that owned & crewed on them. to share – email your photos, video's & stories to flora mckenzie at [email protected] – special thanks to marine author & historian harold kidd. click the follow button at the bottom right of the page to get email alerts on new & updated stories. ww gets a lot of emails every day – we like that, but sometimes we just can't answer them all, it's not that we're lazy or rude – just busy working on the next story :-) alan houghton – ww founder ©2024.

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UNKNOWN CLASSIC WOODEN LAUNCH ON THE MOVE

classic wooden yachts

UNKNOWN CLASSIC WOODEN LAUNCH ON THE MOVE

Woody owner Mark Russell (MV KARANGA) sent the photo above of the launch he spotted in Te Hana heading north yesterday. No visual name, two props so most likely twin engined and in my eyes its got Oliver and Gilpin, Tauranga, written all over her.

Can we put a name to the launch and learn where she is heading.

classic wooden yachts

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Woody on tour – venice.

classic wooden yachts

WOODY ON TOUR – VENICE

The owner of the 36′ classic launch IONA II currently midway thru a total refit at the Slipway Milford is currently mooching around in Venice and sent in the above photo gallery of the hard working Venetian woody water taxis. Nice to have window into the other side of the world and to see the sun 🙂

The scope of the work on IONA II is next level and includes conversion to electric powered – there will be no combustion engine or generator i.e. not a hybrid. Really looking forward to following the project. IONA II was designed by Bruce Askew , and built in 1994 from strip planked wood + some f/glass, all good on a 1994 craft. Link below from when the work first commenced. I’ll get down there later in the week for an update, or maybe Jason Prew could put the tools down for a minute and send in some iPhone photos 😉 https://waitematawoodys.com/2024/05/28/iona-ii-gets-a-birthday/

classic wooden yachts

MOANA – SOS

Yesterdays winner of the quiz to name the launch – TEINA , John Dawson returned the favour and sent me the above photos of the launch – MOANA.

John commented that it was on tme late last month with a $1 reserve. According to the listing she was built in 1930, is 33’ in length and powered by a Ford 40hp engine. Located in Rawene, Northland.

As we can see she is looking very sad and probably beyond restoring.

Keen to hear what became of her and any known history.

CLASSIC WOODEN LAUNCH – TEINA

classic wooden yachts

CLASSIC WOODEN LAUNCH – TEINA

Yesterday we ran a ‘mystery’ photo of TEINA at Kawau Island, the winner of the name the boat quiz was – John Dawson.

As promised today we get a photo bomb of images of TEINA, all from her original owners – the McLeod family via the Heritage collection at the Auckland Library. Thanks to Nathan Herbert for the heads up re the photos.

TEINA was designed by Glad Bailey and built by Ted & Ray (maybe Roy) McLeod at Bayswater, Auckland and launched in Feb1922.

She was kauri planked and when launched powered by a 90hp Detroit 351diesel engine.

For a woody classic launch that was photographed as often as TEINA was its amazing that she has only popped up on WW once before. She was one of the boats photographed by John Bullivant on a tour of the Tamaki River back in Feb 2019. Photo below.

Would be nice to learn more about the period between 1960 and now + an update on her present location and condition.

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MYSTERY CLASSIC WOODEN LAUNCH QUIZ + Win A WW Burgee 

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Todays photo is very cool, cool enough to be my screen saver on the laptop.

I know the boats name and the location is probably Kawau Island. The photo is a bit of a tease to Mondays story that will be a photo bomb of images of the launch. She would have to be a contender to knock MY GIRL of its perch as the most photographed classic launch on WW 🙂 All disclose the source of the photo etc in Mondays story.

All correct entries go into the draw – cut off is 6pm Sunday 7th July.

ENTRY VIA EMAIL ONLY to [email protected]

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CIRCLE THE CALENDAR – UPCOMING CLASSIC BOATING EVENTS

MARLIN – Can We Learn More About This Wooden Boat

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MARLIN – Can We Learn More About This Wooden Boat

The photos above of the 17’ MARLIN were sent in by new owner Brian Thomas. MARORO is built with two skin, possibly in the South Island (top end). Currently powered by a Yanmar 2QM engine.

Brian plans to ’tidy up’ (his words) to use as his river boat on the Waihou River. I meet Brian and his family back in April 2022 when a group of woodys under the command of Jason Prew (MY GIRL) ventured up the Waihou River to the Paeroa Maritime Museum. The Thomas family launch – MARORO made the trip and I got to have a tour – link below – so when Brian says ’tidy up’ I suspect thats an understatement https://waitematawoodys.com/2022/04/25/maroro-a-peek-down-below/

Brian is keen to learn more about MARLIN – can anyone help out.

(photos below of MARORO at Paeroa)

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UPCOMING CLASSIC BOATING EVENTS

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SAD END TO A WOODEN BOAT

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SAD END TO A WOODEN BOAT

South Island (Waimate) woody – Russell Wallace reported in earlier in the week of a sad sequence of events at Oamaru Harbour. Russell tells the story below –  “Oamaru harbour has been the refuge of a number of old small double ended fishing boats which have over the years succumbed to both their age and the elements.

The above photos show the latest sad victim which I took from the Oamaru Today Facebook page (credit to Oamaru Live and Oamaru Today for details and photos) Maybe some of your fans may know of this particular boat” edited

The story ex the fb posts goes like this – she broke her mid-harbour mooring and drifted to the inside of the breakwater and sank. From there she was towed to the Stanford’s berth.

From the photos a decision must have been made to hoist her out – the question is – was the breaking up intentional or was there an oops with the lift ?. Either way it is a very sad end to what looked to be a pretty woody double-ender needing restoring.

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JUDITH AIMEE – Classic Wooden Launch

classic wooden yachts

JUDITH AIMEE – Classic Wooden Launch

Woody Geoff Fiebig sent in the above photo that he took while doing the Coastal Walk at Ti Point (Omaha / Leigh area, Rodney). The launch was moored in the entrance to the Whangateau Harbour. An interesting blend of styles and a rather large poop deck on her stern.

Can anyone tell us more about the vessel.

INPUT ex SHANE ANDERSON – Shane pointed me in the direction of the Percy Vos book – Launching Dreams – where we learnt she was built in 1966 to drawing by Ken McCormick. 42′ and when launched powered by a 75hp Gardner 6LW

INPUT & PHOTOS ex DONNA LEWIS M father – Don McMillan and his father Neil McMillan went out on the JUDITH AIMEE when she was in Whitianga. My Grandfather retired to Whitianga from the Bay of Islands.

My best guess on the photos is between 1958 & no later than 1962 ( I was 4 years old then and did go boating with my Dad) but never on the JUDITH AIMEE.

I don’t know who owned her but have a feeling it may have been Malcolm Cruikshank who lived next door to My Grandfather on the esplanade.Pictured on the bottom photo is my grandad Neil – we called him Grandad Dick- sitting on top of the cabin with beret facing forward..I wish I new who the others are/ were. I will go on a fact finding mission

classic wooden yachts

And on the subject of additions – we have a new leader in the craft that most resembles a block of flats. I wonder what they grow up there 😉 The woody that sent in the photo below should probably remain anonymous. The location looks like Kawau Island.

classic wooden yachts

NEW CLASSIC YACHT OFFERED 4SALE – $13k

classic wooden yachts

NEW CLASSIC YACHT OFFERED 4SALE – $13k

Todays woody isn’t really a project because all the hard work had been done, a buyer just need to decide on the finishing touches and they would be sailing this spring.The yacht was designed by Denis Brown and according to the plans is tagged a ’10.6m Ocean Cruiser Cutter’ and is a sister ship to – TAMARA that has been on WW, link here –   https://waitematawoodys.com/2017/06/04/tamara-sailing-sunday/ (photo also below of TAMARA) FYI – TAMARA was built by Denis in the Bay of Islands and launched in 1990. He then sailed her to the States and returned a couple of years later.Her cruising pedigree is undeniable and there is a very interesting article in Wooden Boat November/December 1994 regarding Tamara’s trip, “The Evolution of an Ocean Cruiser”. Denis now lives just outside Hikurangi and is still sharp as a tack aged 90 years, what a life of experiences he has lived.

Todays yacht was built in a barn just outside Kaikohe over a period of 40 years by engineer Bruce Edge. Built from treated 28mm kahikatea, strip planked, concave-convex epoxy edge glued. Her deck is laminated timber. Unfortunately Bruce Edge passed away without seeing his yacht touch the ocean. She is beautifully finished and there really is only cosmetic work, external paint, some internal paint, as well as a mast and rigging needed to complete her.Included is; 

  • main mast extrusion for the gaff rig
  • a steel keel and three ton of available lead for pouring before the keel is bolted to the Keelson
  • a Yanmar motor (condition unknown)
  • four brand new sails made by Willis sails –
  • lots of miscellaneous hardware 
  • two Murray winches for the inner headsail already fitted to the boat
  • a set of plans which Denis has kindly supplied. 

Her current owner (an experienced boat builder) acquired the yacht just over a year ago with the intention of completing her but life circumstances changed and how she is for sale.Her owner had two experienced boat builders check her over and they both commented she is very well built 

The location of the boat is just outside KeriKeri and has good access for transportation. In terms of price, the owner is only seeking to recover costs to date and mentioned that $13,000 will see her change ownership. That woodys is a very fair price, so do not bother looking if you think a low ball offer will get the boat. Initial enquires to Hamish at   [email protected]

classic wooden yachts

SPIRIT OF TRADITION CLASSIC DOUBLE-ENDER WOODEN LAUNCH – BONITA

classic wooden yachts

SPIRIT OF TRADITION CLASSIC DOUBLE-ENDER WOODEN LAUNCH – BONITA

Over the weekend I was mooching around the upper harbour and came across the very smart looking double-ender above.

She is moored just off the old Salthouse yard / wharf and looks very new.

At a guess I would say approx. 28>30’ , would love to see the wheel house sans the covers.

Can anyone provide more intel on the vessel.

Ken Ricketts pointed out the she made a cameo appearance back in Feb 2023, photo below, nice to see the wheelhouse, James Hutchinson also commented that the boats named BONITA, built by Lanes. Details here for a peek inside the cabin. Amazing the difference a paint job makes. https://waitematawoodys.com/2022/07/07/borato/

INPUT ex CHRIS SALTHOUSE – The Vessels name is Bonita not Bonito and yes Eric Lanes of Picton built her in 1923, I bought her 2 years ago, steamed her across the Cook straight then trucked her to Auckland were we are slowly getting her in shape as time permits. Thanks for the interest.

classic wooden yachts

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Classic Wooden Boats for Sale | Vintage Chris Craft | Antique Boats

We have bought and sold over 1,000 classic boats over the last 40 years. Many fine vintage boats are available through private client relationships. No one in the industry has unveiled more unique antique watercraft than Mahogany Bay.

You can click on a particular decade and browse through our selection of classic boats or you can search for a vintage boat using the form below. If your dream classic boat is not listed, please click here to let us know what you are looking for and we will get back to you with possible opportunities from our previously sold inventory.

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As of September 2023, Classic Yacht Brokerage is owned by Wooden Ships Yacht Brokers of Dartmouth.  Combining these two separate businesses creates a market-leading brokerage for all classic and traditional yachts and vessels throughout the UK and Europe.

Established in 1992, Classic Yacht Brokerage is one of the leading traditional yacht brokers, specialising in selling classic wooden motor yachts and classic sailing yachts throughout the UK, Europe and Internationally.

Classic Yacht Brokerage and Wooden Ships have an excellent combined knowledge of this specialist market and can offer the best advice on pricing points, recommended pre-sale works and place your boat in front of the right people. With a website advertising hundreds of classic yachts , a successful YouTube channel and a database of interested potential buyers, you can be sure your boat is exposed to the right people.

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Heard 28 Gaff Cutter

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35ft. BUCHANAN BERMUDIAN SLOOP, 1960, LLOYDS 100A1, TEAK: LYING: CHICHESTER HARBOUR

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New Guide Price: 33ft. CLASSIC TWIN SCREW MOTOR YACHT, McBryde Design, 1939 – Full Commission – Lying: East Coast

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New Guide Price: 42ft FRERS BERMUDIAN CRUISER/RACER – 1969 – Work Required to the Deck and Hull – Further details available – Lying: France – ANY REASONABLE OFFER CONSIDERED

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34ft STOREBRO ROYAL MOTOR CRUISER – 1973 – Excellent Example – Professional Re-fit – Lying West Sussex

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37ft. MAICA CLASS OCEAN RACER, Illingworth & Primrose design, built 1965 – Lying: Mallorca

The Classic Yacht Brokerage website receives a substantial number of daily visitors, resulting in positive interest in the vessels listed and subsequent sales.  If you are advertising your boat privately through another broker or are considering selling, please contact us.

Competitive commission rates on a ‘no sale, no fee or costs’ basis. Call us for more details – 01803833899 or 07886081657 Over the years, Classic Yacht Brokerage has built up a comprehensive network of contacts through marinas, yacht clubs, boatyards, marine surveyors, designers, shipwrights, boat-builders and yachting associations, thereby maximising the opportunities in this niche sector of the classic boat market.

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Traditional and classic boat sales.

Welcome to Wooden Ships. We are a renowned specialist classic yacht brokerage established for nearly 50 years and based in Dartmouth, Devon. We manage the sale and purchase of traditional and classic boats from clinker dinghies to large sailing ships and motor yachts. 

With expertise and experience gained from owning and sailing many different traditional boats, large and small, we are here to assist you in purchasing your yacht and giving guidance on caring for her. We have an interesting and varied range of classic yachts for sale .

With an in-depth knowledge of the industry, the people, and the boats, this family-run traditional yacht brokerage is the first place to come when purchasing or selling a classic vessel .

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Established at the heart of the boating community in Dartmouth, we assist buyers and sellers worldwide and provide the highest level of care and attention throughout every step of the process. We are a small but focused brokerage team with years of professional yachting experience complemented by strong sales and business skills. 

We always strive to offer the best impartial advice and manage a smooth sales process for buyers and sellers. If you would like to talk about classic boat sales, please come and speak to us . We would love to hear from you and discuss how we can help you find your perfect boat or find your boat’s next custodian. 

We have an unrivalled expert understanding of the very specialist classic boat market and offer the best advice on pricing points and any recommended pre and post-sale works, and we can place your boat in front of the right people.

We understand that owning a classic boat is a passion and a lifestyle choice, so whether you are buying or selling, we will always be here to assist you in any way we can.

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How to Sell a Yacht

September 5th 2022

How to sell a classic yacht – 10 things to expect from your broker.   Selling a classic yacht can be daunting, but working with a broker can simp…

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Classic Yachts For Sale

While new, radically designed superyachts are always guaranteed to catch the public's attention, there are many owners dedicated to the preservation, restoration and maintenance of fine old pleasure crafts. Although the term classic yacht is a relatively elastic one, here are a selection of timeless classic yachts for sale currently with BOAT International. 

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New and Used Antique and Classic Boats for Sale

The term classic boat can be seen as subjective but allows us to enjoy and explore a rich and historic look back at some of the most beautiful craft ever built over hundreds of years. Some classic power boats and classic sailing yachts of which have great racing records whilst others represent de... learn more about Classic Boats

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684 New and Used Classic Boats

Benetti 120 Classic

Aventura, Florida (United States of America)

OFFERED BY:

The Benetti Classic 120 is an evolution of the Classic series by the design team of François Zuretti (interior) and Stefano Righini (exterior) aimed at creating a luxury superyacht with incre...

Grand Banks 42 Classic

Moore Haven, Florida (United States of America)

Sunshine Cruising Yachts

The 42 Grand Banks needs no introduction. The Indigo Falcon is a distinguished iconic timeless vessel reflected by her reputation. She is known as one of the most successful tr...

Dufour 38 CLASSIC

Brunswick, Georgia (United States of America)

S/V Smac is a stunning example of this era of Dufour yachts. She has been lovingly cared for throughout the years and spent her first 15+ years sailing freshwater lakes up nort...

Navigator Classic Pilothouse

Orange Beach, Alabama (United States of America)

United Yacht Sales

PRICE REDUCED $10K!! ThisNavigator Raised Pilothouse Motor Yacht is a wonderful example of a Cruising yacht that can easily maneuver in many sea conditions to and from places like the Bahamas ...

Bayliner 195 Classic

Hernando Beach, Florida (United States of America)

Bayliner 195 Classic with a Mercruiser inboard/outboard Looking for a top-of-the-line Bayliner watercraft that will provide you with an unforgettable experience on the water? L...

Duffy 21 Classic

Miami, Florida (United States of America)

DUFFY 21 CLASSIC ELECTRIC RUNABOUT PASSENGER The 2005 Duffy Classic Electric is the perfect boat to relax with friends. Suitable for calm waters, lakes, and inland waterways. Y...

Bayliner 289 Classic

Palm Coast, Florida (United States of America)

***SALE PENDING*** 289 Classic, very cold A/C and will also heat on the cooler days. Has a very spacious cockpit! The Bayliner 289 Classic from 2004 is the perfect boat to take...

Grand Banks 46 Classic

Stuart, Florida (United States of America)

1990 Grand Banks 46 Classic This highly desirable 46 Grand Banks Classic with galley down showcases the combination of warm Teak interiors with premium fabrics for maximum nautical appeal. Th...

Donzi Boats 22 Classic

Boca Raton, Florida (United States of America)

Beautiful and fast boat that runs great! Always stored covered! The Donzi 22 Classic is a great high-performance platform. The 22 Classis has been so popular, that Donzi still ...

Grand Banks 36 Classic

Seattle, Washington (United States of America)

Charming Grand Banks 36 Trawler. Refurbishment and New Paint in 2019. Impressive electronics array. New fuel tanks. This classic lady will be a charmer with new paint and varni...

Tarpon Springs, Florida (United States of America)

Tampa Yacht Sales, INC

Introducing "Tampanero" this magnificent 1985 Grand Banks 42 Classic - a timeless vessel that captures the essence of a bygone era while providing all the modern amenities of a luxury yacht. Wi...

Bayliner Classic 222

Stuyvesant, New York (United States of America)

Bayliner 222 with trailer. Ready to sell! This 2005 Bayliner 222 Classic is the perfect boat for overnight family trips! With a spacious cabin and cockpit the family can enjoy ...

Sarasota , Florida (United States of America)

SYS Yacht Sales

PRICE REDUCED! This 1990 Grand Banks 46 Classic _ GOOD ENOUGH is a wonderful example of one of Grand Banks' most popular cruising boats ever produced. The 46 Classic is exactly that, a classic...

Nonsuch 30 Classic

Branford, Connecticut (United States of America)

Brewer Yacht Sales

Xanadu is a nice example of the popular Nonsuch 30, well known to be an easy to sail design.A ”big” boat for it’s size the Nonsuch 30 has a surprisingly roomy interior with accommodations...

Stockton, CA (United States of America)

Delta Marine

1981 42' Grand Banks Classic $99,000 Beautiful 1981 42′ Grand Banks 42 Classic with twin Lehman diesels, and Onan 7.5KW generator. 120 HP Lehman diesels with 1308 hrs Velvet Drive m...

Grand Banks Classic Wide Body

Merritt Island, Florida (United States of America)

After you is a well proven Grand Banks Classic Wide Body that has the much-needed extra room in the aft cabin by being wider than the standard Classic which allows for an Island Queen in the ma...

American International Marine Seawitch Ketch

Dana Point, California (United States of America)

Kam Yacht Sales

We can help with obtaining insurance and a slip in So Cal. Sea Forth was designed by Naval architect Hugh Angelman, and intended for world cruising. Built by American Marine in ...

Benetti Classic Supreme 132

$16,950,000

Dania Beach, (United States of America)

Northrop and Johnson

OTHER MACHINERY (2) A-Sea shore power converters 54/kva Idromar reverse osmosis Watermaker System, 150 USG/600L per hour (3,600 GPD) raw water feed prefilter Idromar potable water syst...

Morgan Out Island Classic

Wilmington, North Carolina (United States of America)

Integrity Yacht Sales

A classic for cruising the coast or enjoying the Bahamas, this 1987 Morgan Out Island 41 Classic is a proven long or short distance sailor.De Blairs is perfect for famili...

Bayliner 210 Classic Cuddy

Staten Island, New York (United States of America)

Bayliner Classic Cuddy with lots of fun for friends! Great Bayliner for sale in New York- 2005 Bayliner 210 Classic Cuddy Cabin powered by a reliable Mercruiser 220 HP engine. ...

Crest Classic LX 220 SLRC

Sanford, Florida (United States of America)

LOADED 2022 CREST CLASSIC LX 220 SLRC TRITOON WITH 150 HP SUZUKI OUTBOARD, POWER POLE, UPGRADED STEREO, POWER BIMINI AND CHILLED CUP HOLDER! ********************** CERTIFIED SI...

Pacific Boats Classic Cabin 36

Brinnon, Washington (United States of America)

Universal Trawler 36 foot ~ Range, Comfort and Style! Adventure awaits! This vessel is capable and proven. According to the seller, this one is rated 19 miles offshore and has ...

Albemarle Boats Carolina Classic 28

Rio Linda, California (United States of America)

Great boat. Great fisher. She's ready for all the anglers in the family! Outer Banks boat builders have for years built some of the most seaworthy and functional sportfishing b...

Hinckley Picnic Boat Classic

Portsmouth , Rhode Island (United States of America)

Worth Avenue Yachts

Introduction URBAN (name reserved) is a Hinckley Picnic Boat Classic that just received a total refit/ repower and is in exceptional care. This boat is maintained by Hinckle...

Custom Gösta Kyntzell Yawl

Annapolis, Maryland (United States of America)

Seattle Yachts

SPECIFICATIONS Price: $140,000 Boat Name: MILAN Make: Custom Model: Gösta Kyntzell Yawl Year: 1951 Condition: Used Category: Antique and Classics Construction: Wood Length: 50 ...

Wirth Munroe Cutter

Indiantown, Florida (United States of America)

Pirouette’s History: This vintage beauty, Pirouette, has been lovingly refitted. She is a true classic and she’s ready to set sail! Pirouette is looking for new owners to enjo...

VENTO V40 Retro Classic Open

Fort Lauderdale, Florida (United States of America)

Rick Obey Yacht Sales

An exciting opportunity awaits! Be the first to own this 2023 Vento V40. The Retro Classic Open is a 40' sporty day cruiser that is both elegant and spacious, with a completely...

Concordia 41 Yawl

St. Augustine, Florida (United States of America)

This sweet 41' Concordia Yawl is looking for her next adventure. Sarah is a classic wooden racer and a true work of art, taking us back to the mid-20th century era of wooden sa...

* Price displayed is based on today's currency conversion rate of the listed sales price.

ABOUT CLASSIC BOATS

The term classic boat can be seen as subjective but allows us to enjoy and explore a rich and historic look back at some of the most beautiful craft ever built over hundreds of years. Some classic power boats and classic sailing yachts of which have great racing records whilst others represent design milestones in the development of sailing yachts, traditional river boats , commercial vessels or contemporary classics such as the historic Dunkirk Little Ship .

Usually, the build date is before 1970, however, now many modern boats are crafted in a classic build theme following traditional build criteria and the term modern classic is now commonplace when looking at this type of boat.

As the classic boat area is a very niche marketplace we recommend you talk to a specialist in this field when deciding on your purchase, they will advise you on the best boat to suit your needs, offer advice for ongoing maintenance and storage and explore your options with your best interest at heart.

These search results are based on a keyword and category search, so if you are looking for a real classic, a boat pre-1970, please filter your search by using the 'other' filter and applying a year for the best results.

Happy searching! You may find antique boats, wooden ships, classic river boats, classic sailing yachts, and wooden boats for sale. Iconic brands such as Riva's classic power boats may also be seen here.

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1958 Riva Tritone

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1967 Riva Ariston

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2024 Grand Craft Burnham

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1937 Chris Craft Racing Runabout

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2023 Grand Craft 26' Burnham

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Trials of Owning a Wooden Boat: Sinking with Dave Selby

Dave Selby's Wooden Boat

Dave Selby, newly out of the closet as a wooden boat owner, is learning all about sinking and how to avoid it. 

Sinking in plastic vs wood.

For sheer entertainment there is very little more enjoyable than watching a wooden boat sink. I know that sounds heartless, and that’s exactly what it is, because plastic boat owners like me are a soulless and heathenistic bunch. Now that I’m also a wooden boat owner, with soul, character, discernment, taste and a lot less money, I find it less amusing, particularly if the boat doing the sinking is mine and I’m on it at the time. And for the edification of you Tupperware louts – a hopeless task, I know – I would also point out that the correct nautical term for what you illiterates call “sinking” is in fact “launching.” 

Saving Snipe of Maldon

Snipe of Maldon , my 3½-ton Blackwater Sloop , had been out of the water, being varnished and painted in the very boat shed where she was built back in 1953. How romantic is that! The whole process took me about five months: that was six weeks choosing the right varnish; another six choosing the paint; and two weeks to do the work. I know that doesn’t add up to five months, but choosing the right brushes is trickier than you’d think… particularly if you’ve read that so-called ‘instructive’ Classic Boat how-to article titled “Choosing The Right Brush For The Job;” in which case I’d allow at least nine months for the job, as it’s devilish hard these days to get hold of top-grade unicorn hair. But, boy, was it worth it, because at the end of it all Snipe looked a picture – and almost as good as the results achieved by Photoshop in the pages of Classic Boat – with her subtle cream topsides over red antifouling, as she swayed above me in the air swinging perilously in the strops from the ancient Ruston-Bucyrus crane with a slipping clutch. 

As Snipe was lowered jerkily over the quayside, boatyard boss and shipwright Aidy told me to hop aboard, and as my pride and joy returned to her element I felt quite emotional, and even more so a moment later when I screamed to Aidy “she’s sinking,” while all the plastic boat rubberneckers fell about laughing. Next thing, Aidy cast me adrift – with no engine, no electricity to run the electric bilge pump and not even an oar. His son Sam, however, was on the other end of two long warps, and as Snipe settled lower and her floorboards started to float, he hauled her into her mud berth. It’s the most terrifying voyage I’ve ever undertaken, and it was only 100 yards. We made it… just.

Three Tides Time

The thing was, Snipe had been out of the water too long (for which I blame Classic Boat for giving me the false impression that I was capable of DIY) and was about as watertight as a venetian blind. This is all “normal,” apparently, so much so that Aidy, casual as you like, sauntered along the pontoon, stopping to give boat owners the odd estimate and quote and advice on varnishing and caulking, before passing down a generator-powered shore pump. Then he said: “You’ll have a long night, but she’ll be tight in three tides.” 

As the pump gurgled and chugged, it just about kept pace with the inrush spurting through the seams, and with the ebb, as Snipe took to the mud, the water inside was eventually drained, but not as drained as I was. I went home for a few hours respite and returned with a thermos, thermals and sleeping bag and noted with horror that the shore pump was gone. I plugged Snipe ’s rudimentary electrics into the shore power and sat there with nothing more than a bucket, head-torch, hand pump and hope. 

It was a chill April night with a big, mocking moon that illuminated the menacing water creeping over the glistening mud to envelop me in my wooden sieve. As I huddled down below, the mahogany-slatted cabin sides that had so seduced me took on all the cosiness of a coffin. Then the gurgling began again as the two electric bilge pumps kicked in and weakly whirred. Every few minutes I worked the hand pump too. And Snipe shivered as she lifted sluggishly. It was a time beyond time. Whether it was seconds or minutes, I don’t know, but I sensed that the intervals between the electric slurps of the bilge pump were longer, my turns at the hand pump fewer and farther between, giving me time to read a bit of Classic Boat …

… Then I awoke – I didn’t even know I’d been asleep – but what roused me was new but distant sounds, the rhythmic occasional whirrings and sploshes of the pumps on nearby wooden boats… but not mine. I panicked. Had my pumps packed up? But no, just then a brief but urgent burst came from my bilge.

As Snipe settled back on her soft and welcoming pillow of mud on the falling tide I couldn’t bring myself to leave her. We rested together after our endeavours, my snoring more regular than the occasional snort from her bilge pumps. Then a knock on the cabin roof awoke me. “You there, Dave?” said Aidy. I poked my head out, saw to my amazement that we were afloat, and went below to flick the manual bilge switch, which gave only the shortest gargle then sucked air. Snipe was alive!

“I told you she’d take up in three tides,” said Adi, the wood whisperer. I pity plastic boat owners who will never know how magical, mystical and spiritual it is to return a living thing back to its element and nurse it back to life. You heathens!

Show Me More:

  • Classic Yachts for Sale: Two Remarkable Boats on the Market
  • ‘True’ Vs Technology: Adrian Morgan on Sailing Gadgets
  • Dave Selby’s Confession: Secret Blackwater Sloop

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COMMENTS

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