My wife's grandfather recently gave us a small bass boat that he has owned for a few years. Keep in mind that we were not really looking for a bass boat. We live in Colorado, not exactly a mecca for bass fishing, and don't really have the “slush fund" money that owning a boat like this requires.
Please let me take you on a tour of our 1968 Seasprite. Let's start with the trailer. It is a 1964 Elgin, purchased 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 some orange shag in about ‘74). The lights are thoughtfully mounted on the top of the guideposts. A keen eye will notice a “master fabricator” machined the mounting brackets for the lights and license plate (formed from an aluminum sash plate!). Loading the boat is a breeze…as long as I line the boat up just right I don't leave a scratch 3 feet long in the paint.
God forbid I scratch the paint; it would take hours to match the roller and brush strokes that are on there now. But I digress. The trailer has those cute little 8" x 4" tires on it. These have many advantages over the 14-15" tires modern trailers have. For instance, buying 3 new tires only cost $27.54. I saved more money by mounting them myself. Ok. . . so I had to mount them myself because nobody in town still has machines to mount 8" wheels. Another benefit those tires offer is the ability to cook on them when my destination is reached. They get hot enough to fry an egg. . . although bearing and grease life is a bit shorter than I would like it to be. The spare fits conveniently just about anywhere I want it to.
Now, on to the boat itself. It is a 1968 SeaSprite with a Mercury 500 (50hp). This boat has been kept in a covered facility since it was new (covered by nothing but an oak tree…on the front lawn). This did have the effect of allowing most of the components to rot at an even rate. The “rocking chair” effect is not a standard feature…it is actually the seat backs tearing out of the seat bottoms and the pillars pulling out of the dry rotted floor (careful where you step). It does make setting the hook that much more exciting. The hinges for the hatches are no longer attached to the floor, which makes it much easier to load them! Shoes are mandatory in the SeaSprite, unless you want carpet, plywood, staples, acorns, red wire remnants, and finishing nails in your feet. I mentioned the paint…it is varying shades of green over what I think was white at one time. It was applied with a roller and brush, with some spray can touchups. Careful leaning against it or you will look like you have been slimed!
Probably the most admired feature of our boat is the wiring. The fellow that re-wired it must have had about 250 feet of red wire. That’s right…EVERY wire in that boat is red…switches (some work), lights (not working), ignition, horn (not working either) trolling motor…all of it. It does reduce the time it takes me to find replacement wire to make a repair. One spool is all it takes! However, that time is more than offset by the amount of time to trace the bad wire, or even “fix” the wrong wire.
Gauges would be a nice luxury. For now I use the following to keep tabs on the status of things:
Speed: My hat flies off head in the forward position @ 18 mph, bow spray in chest @ 22 mph Bow spray in face @ 24 mph. I have not gone faster than that, as I cannot see at that point. Speeds are approximate.
Ammeter: When the big motor won’t crank the battery does not have enough amps.
Fuel gauge: Open the rear hatch and see if there is fuel in the tank. There is a reserve in the 15 feet of fuel line.
As for my trolling motor, the shaft is just short enough so any wave action produces a very nice cooling spray. It is a nice feature in the heat. It ran backwards when I got it, so I just switched the red wires and it works great! In one of the storage compartments I found a small bilge pump that attaches to the battery with alligator clips, and you guessed it, red wires. Our first trip out I found out why it was there, and that it should be permanently mounted, and MUCH larger.
While it may sound like I am complaining about our boat, nothing could be further from the truth. It is such a treat to get on the lake with my wife and the dog, whether we catch any fish or not. I can’t help but smile when I realize how much fun her grandpa must have had in this boat. I am honored that he passed the SeaSprite on to us, and cannot wait to make our own memories in it! Now, has anybody seen my electrical tape???