CELORON - A boat built in 1947, which has never left Chautauqua Lake, has just been given at least another 30 years of life.
Those who can remember the film "On Golden Pond" would recognize a boat which James Cooper, boat restorer for Holiday Harbor Marina, just finished working on.
The boat, a 1947 Chris-Craft Sportsman Utility 22-footer, is the same make and model as the boat featured in the film. The boat's owner, Doug Cornelious, had it restored with a few weeks to spare before the 16th annual Chautauqua Lake Twin Tier Chapter Antique and Classic Boat Show on July 13.
Members of the Chautauqua Lake Twin Tier Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society are pictured standing next to ‘Driftwood.’ From left are James Cooper, Holiday Harbor Marina boat restorer; Andy Robinson, club treasurer; Doug Cornelious, owner of Driftwood and co-chair; and Bill Reynolds, president.
P-J photo by Remington Whitcomb
"The boat underwent 400 hours of restoration," said Cooper. "It had a whole new bottom put on it, we stripped and refinished the sides, and all the chrome was refurbished, as well."
Cooper has been restoring boats for 25 years, and Bill Reynolds, Chautauqua Lake Twin Tier Antique and Classic Boat Society president, called him, "the very best in the area."
According to Cooper, the U-22, which Cornelious named "Driftwood," is the 129th boat that he's restored, and boat 130 is currently in progress.
"I started back in 1985," said Cooper. "I was doing it full time for the first five years, and I got close to 100 boat restorations under my belt in that time."
"I plan on keeping this in the family, I'll never sell it," said Cornelious. "Someday it will end up belonging to my grandson, and that's why I wanted to fix it up. This chapter is a strong proponent of preserving boat history on the lake."
Although Cornelious, by his estimation, is at least the third owner of Driftwood, he can proudly say that the boat has never sailed a body of water other than Chautauqua Lake.
Subsequently, Cooper is confident that Driftwood still has many more years in her to sail Chautauqua, now that her bottom is completely restored. By his estimation, the restoration on Driftwood will likely keep her seaworthy for another two to three decades.
"The old bottom on Driftwood needed to be soaked before she could go anywhere," said Cooper. "The old bottom needed to swell before it could go, but the new bottom doesn't require that. That's why so many people with the older boats are going in this direction."
Driftwood, along with dozens of other boats, will be on display at the 16th Annual Antique and Classic Boat Show on July 13 at The Casino Docks and Village Park in Bemus Point.
For more information on the boat show, or on the Chautauqua Lake Twin Tier Chapter, visit www.cltt-acbs.org.