Welcome To Sunnyland
We Love Old Boats!!
Thanks for visiting our site. The Sunnyland Antique and Classic Boat Society is located in Sunny Florida. We have so much water for boating and such fantastic year round weather, it's no surprise that Sunnyland is one of the largest chapters of ACBS. Our annual Boat Festival, held in March, is eagerly anticipated by boat enthusiasts from all over the country – and our volunteers are the heart and soul of the show. Whether it's an antique wood sedan, classic runabout or classic glass, skiff or canoe - Sunnyland members love to cruise, sand, varnish, admire and talk to others about our boats. Please enjoy our site, and if you are not an ACBS member - consider joining to help us preserve and pass on these beautiful timepieces so they can be enjoyed by all for many years to come.
Sunnyland Member Boat Story - Bob and Doris Huff
Every Boat has a Story……What’s YOURS?
What's in a Name?
This month's member spotlight - "Every Boat Has a Story" - comes from Sunnyland Members Bob and Doris Huff. Bob and his wife are members both of the Sunnyland and Smith Mountain Lakes Chapters of ACBS, as well as the Antique Outboard Motor Club. Bob's tells the story of how they purchased, then named their cute as a button Chris Craft....Small Wonder...... and his story highlights how being a member in Sunnyland fosters Friendship, Education in Boating, and the interest of keeping these vintage vessels afloat....
YES.. IT IS A SMALL WONDER... A BOATING ODYSSEY by Bob Huff
Sheerline readers may remember a 2013 article “Sunnyland is a Village” about my pursuit of a small inboard and all of the help I got from Sunnyland members in the search. My interest in a small boat was based on the desire to keep it in my garage… 19’4” maximum length including the trailer. I had found a nice runabout on the internet at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale and Riley Wardrip and Don Koenke gave it an once-over for me since they were at the auction and I was not. I spent my time here in Mt. Dora trying to find a shipper. I was ready to bid by phone.
That part of the small boat story did not end happily… Riley and Don did not give it high marks AND it sold for twice what I was willing to pay for it anyway! So, no small boat.
We returned to Virginia for the summer and I continued to putter with old outboards, motorcycles and hot rods. When we came back to Florida in the fall of 2013, I met Steve Rutigliano at an antique outboard (AOMCI) meet in Clermont - although we are both members of Sunnyland we had not met before. Chatting during lunch Steve mentioned he and wife Diane were working on the restoration of a small Chris Craft; I later found out he had been working on this boat for several years. He was now ready to sell.
I have observed that working on projects for long periods of time and selling quickly is a common practice in this and other hobbies. It seems strange, but a lot of folks would agree with Steve that working on boats (or old cars and lots of other old stuff) is more fun than boating itself.
We bought Steve and Diane’s boat. I had to do some modifications to the trailer - but I now have something that is just under 19’4”. A new issue arises: it fits length-wise but not width-wise! I have so much other stuff in my garage; a motorcycle, two outboard boats, two kayaks, two bicycles, etc., that the Chris Craft had to go into storage. At least it only takes a 20’ unit vs. a more costly 25’ unit!
The most fun about buying Steve’s boat was coming up with a name and having Yvonne Wolfe do her usual terrific job lettering the transom. Our first candidate was “Raindrops” since it rained every time we took it out, including most of the way to Virginia, and at the boat show at Smith Mountain Lake. The original name of the boat was “Pearl” and I have always heard that you should use the original name or you might have bad luck! Doris and I were ready to go in that direction until it occurred to us that since the boat was built in 1941 and some mighty bad things happened that year in “Pearl”, and since I wanted to have that date on the transom… this might not be a good idea.
Then it hit us… since this IS a very small boat… at 15 ½’, one of Chris Craft’s smallest. And, since it IS a wonderful boat which both Doris and I love, And since we did live in Delaware, where the state motto is “Delaware… a small wonder”… we named the boat “Small Wonder”.
You all know the attention these old boats get at gas stations. I’d like to have a dollar for each time I’ve been asked, “Hey mister, how old is that boat?" Even with 1941 on the transom… maybe they think that is a zip code?? I always reply, “Same age as its owner, we were both born in 1941”. What a nice coincidence that was.
After having looked high and low for a small inboard for a long time, the great irony of Small Wonder is that Steve and Diane had been working on its restoration for about as long as we have lived in Mt. Dora and we never knew it… they live 3 miles away!
"Small Wonder in a small world"
Bob and Doris Huff's "Small Wonder" - at the Smith Mountain Lake's Boat Show