Boating

My 1967 Starcraft Fishin’ Boat: The Fish Fry

Fri, 05 October 2007

I dedicate this post to my new old boat. This ’67 Starcraft was my Dad’s first boat that I think he got sometime around 1985. At the time he and my mom called the boat “Dreamweaver”. Pretty ambitious for a small aluminum, but a proper forerunner of bigger boats in our family’s future.

Dick Rzepkowski with the ‘Dreamweaver’ 1986
Dick Rzepkowski with the “Dreamweaver”, 1986.

The boat was old then, but was a major upgrade to the four of us who fished the ESLO derbies in it on Lake Ontario. My dad, uncle John, my cousin Jason and me were used to fishing in an aluminum MirroCraft workboat with a temperamental 25hp Merc and bench seats. So, sliding into the brown ‘deluxe’ padded seats and hiding underneath its dilapidated canvas during inclement weather was luxury fishing baby. Dad built a custom rod holder array and downrigger mounts on the transom out of pressure treated wood and PVC to make it the perfect Lake Ontario rig.

Jason, Kris, Uncle John with the ‘Dreamweaver’, 1986 Fall ESLO Derby
Jason, Kris, Uncle John with the ‘Dreamweaver’, 1986 Fall ESLO Derby

The boat could take 5 ft. waves over the bow and still keep the lines in the water. The local tackle shops liked to tell stories of the ‘idiots out there in a little white and green 16 footer’. Plus, the 40hp Evinrude was a HUGE speed upgrade topping out at 20mph. So, when we weren’t fishing I learned to waterski, tube and kneeboard off the back.

After a few years we grew out of the boat. We wanted an open bow for family rides plus many more horsepower to push our skiing skills. Dad kept this old boat in the family by selling it to my uncle and grandpa for use in Dunkirk, NY on the walleye grounds of Lake Erie. As soon as my grandpa got his hands on the boat, it underwent an amazing transformation. He painted over the awful green bottom paint to make the boat completely white. He tore off the rotting canvas and had a perfectly fit replacement canvas installed. The trailer got a paint job, a VHF radio was installed, and grandpa even mounted his mid-1950s Evinrude trolling motor.

Grandpa Rz, Kris and Dad with the boat
Grandpa Rz, Kris and Dad with the boat in 1990

Grandpa and uncle Neal got a ton more use out of the boat. I remember going to Dunkirk a few times and fishing on Lake Erie. As long as the ‘walleye chop’ wasn’t too much, grandpa liked to get out his chugging irons and sheisters to have a go at the tasty fish off the Niagara Mohawk power plant. My grandma loved the boat too. They would go out on the lake to ‘see if the sunset was still the same’.

Around 5 years ago, grandpa became more interested in parking within his one car garage than having the boat take up space, so he stored it at uncle Neal’s house in the snowy hills of Cassadaga. It was there that the boat took the brunt of a wicked snowstorm. 3 feet of heavy snow cracked the windshield and broke the canvas. Uncle Neal mothballed the boat from then on in a relative’s garage where it sat for the better part of 2 years.

Fast forward to September 2006. After moving back to Rochester and getting the fishing bug from my first excurison to Canada, I convinced my wife to let me rescue the unused boat from my uncle. For some reason she said yes.

Kris Rzepkowski’s First Boat September, 2006
Kris’s First Boat, September 2006

She (the boat, not my wife) was a little battered and bruised. The windshield was cracked, the canvas frame was bent, the lower unit on the motor was cracked and leaking, the tires on the trailer were dryrotted, but overall it was much as I had remembered it. It’s a boat, and it’s mine that’s all that matters. I quickly came up with a name for her – the Fish Fry. While Mason didn’t think it was a tough enough name, like the Predator or Salmon Slammer, I think it is absolutely fitting. The boat is a small fry will certainly put fish in the pan.

The Fish Fry has become both a tinkering hobby of mine (a place to pour my time and money), and a great place to spend a sunrise with family or friends. This page will link to the good times had and the projects completed.

Fishing Fun

Boating Fun

Happy Boating!

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Old Boat

Thu, 01 April 2004

My parents are getting rid of our old boat. It’s not really ours anymore, seeing as I’ve been out of the house for many years now. But, it is the boat I learned to water ski on, the boat that went to many fishing derbies, the boat that caused my parents to buy a cottage on the lake. It holds SO many memories. I just hope their new one brings as much fun.

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