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  1. Steel King boats – what is this ? A sneak peak into the past

    June 1, 2012 by Mike

    Steel King boats

    You can tell by this site I am a fan of Steel King boats made famous by the Grafton Boat Company, or Grafton Boat Works (I’ve seen it referred to both ways).  No doubt there’s some history to this company, which I hope to present in the future.

    Steel King boats

    “Mystery” Steel King boat circa 1950’s

    Here, though, is a sneak peak to what I believe is a predecessor to my father’s 26 foot boat.  If you look carefully, you can see the Steel King logo in the white area above the starboard vent.  Do you know anyone who still has one of these?

  2. Thousand Islands Boating – Classic Wooden Boats

    May 18, 2012 by Mike

    Wooden boat - 1940's Richardson

    1940’s Richardson “White Cap” (photo used with permission)

    You know, of course, from this blog that I spent years as a kid with my family on a steel boat at Calumet Island marina in the 60’s.  That doesn’t mean, however, I didn’t appreciate the beauty of wooden boats.  I did, and still do.  Which is what leads me to an interesting crossing of paths recently.  Bored one day, I was searching online for pictures of wooden boats, especially cabin cruisers.  You know them – Chris Craft, Richardson, Penn Yan, Pacemaker, Owens and others of the era.  Beautiful boats, beautiful in design and painstakingly crafted.  The look endures today, even among scores of capable fiberglass and composite designs.  Some fine examples of these classic wooden boats can be seen each year at antique boat gatherings such as the New England Chapter of the Antique & Classic Boat Society’s Annual Antique and Classic Boat Show, and Clayton’s Antique Boat Museum Antique Boat Show & Auction.  So as I scrolled through pictures and sites, I came across a listing for a “1940 Richardson Used Classic Wooden Boat For Sale” and that’s where I stopped.  I gazed at the listing with photo, thinking “I remember boats like this in the 1000 Islands”.  I looked further down the page to discover her name – “White Cap”.  Something seemed very familiar.  I visited a page in this site I had written years ago and looked down the list of boat names I remembered as a kid.  There she was – the White Cap.  Some 40 to 50 years later, this beautiful piece of history crossed my path again.  I stared and drifted back – I can still picture Calumet Island marina as it was then, with so many families on so many boats on such a fine place at such a fine time.  I don’t have many pictures of the island from back then, but in my head I can see the boats, recall many of the names, and now thanks to the internet can again see a boat built in the 40’s, remembered from the 60’s, that’s still around in 2012.  My father’s boat, his steel boat, was surrounded by wooden boats at Calumet, like the White Cap, and it makes me happy to know that at least one of them is still around.

  3. Gray Marine engine and Steel King boats

    January 18, 2012 by Mike

    Gray Marine engine

    Steel King boats

    The Steel King boat my father had in the 60’s was cool – I loved it!  One of the things that always fascinated me was the Gray Marine engine; all 109 hp of it!  For some reason, the name seemed cool and the color paint on it was a sort of, well, gray and green (I figure a reflection of the name).  Do an image search on Google for “gray marine engine 109” and you may run across a picture of one.   Another thing I remember was the shape of the oil filler cap and the shaft that ran between what I believe was the water pump and the generator.

    Grafton Boat Works

    The Grafton Boat Works folks did a great job on this line of boats, which evolved over time to larger craft and different designs.  I would love to learn more about the Steel King line and its lineage.  I believe from some who’ve emailed me that successor boats were sometimes called Grafton Yachts (and I’ve seen them listed that way in online boat-for-sale sites).  Take a look at the product brochures from the late 50’s and early 60’s – isn’t that a neat looking design?  Looked good in the St Lawrence River and 1000 Islands, too!

  4. Gale outboard engines

    January 7, 2012 by Mike

    If you were ever at Calumet Island in the 60’s when it was a full fledged marina, you might recall the Gale outboard engines on the fiberglass workboat and taxi runabout.  I ran across a neat site that features toy models of these neat engines.  Take a look for a glimpse of outboard history.  You can find them at

    As I recall, the island’s taxi boat used a 60hp Gale and the workboat  a 25 hp.  I believe for a short period, the taxi boat had twin Gale’s!  If you recall these engines, feel free to comment!