A Jersey Speed Skiff
Owner/Driver - Gerri Prusko
Riding Mechanic - Bill John
In all started with an innocent boat ride at the 2004 Clayton
Vintage Race Boat Regatta, with local Skiff-Head Len Finithy.
The photos below were taken at Clayton on that fateful Sunday
morning. That was it, in the Fall of 2004 Gerri commissioned
the Vintage Race Boat Shop to build her a Jersey Speed Skiff
After much deliberations and negotiations, it was decided that
Gerri's new Speed Skiff would be a joint project with a skiff
builder who would build the
actual boat, with a glass hull and wooden deck, install the
motor and the running gear, and then the boat would be
transported to Wolfeboro for the final varnish work on the deck,
rigging and upholstery. This reproduction would be done "in
the spirit of APBA vintage" with the wood deck/transom and bench
seats, and will look like a Jersey Speed Skiff of the
1950's/60's. It will be a legal APBA vintage boat and will be run
on the APBA Vintage Race Boat
The photos below were taken as the
fiberglass hull was popped from the mold - on 2/10/2005 at 10PM.
After the hull was complete, work began on the inside wood
stringers, bulkheads, and deck support members. This boat is
being built very strong, as you can see in the photos below.
The motors in the original Jersey Speed Skiffs, and the current
APBA racing skiffs are restricted to 283 or 305 cubic inches and
have no transmissions. But since this is a replica Skiff, and
will be used primarily for boat rides, the motor chosen was a
current technology, reverse rotation Chevrolet 350 cubic inch marine motor built
by Marine Power that comes with a full factory warrantee. The
transmission is also a current technology, Borg Warner direct
drive. The right hand rotation drive shaft will be initially
setup with a 3-blade 12x15 prop as a baseline. We also plan to
do a lot of GPS testing of props for this boat - including
newer, small 4-blade designs.
Click here for the link
to the Marine Power Website.
Finally, on 8/1/2005 we drove to New Jersey to pickup the
boat and haul it back to the Vintage Race Boat Shop - for
complete rigging, upholstery and lots of varnish. The first
photos show us picking up the boat, and the second row of
photos show "Fred" the cat inspecting the baot upon arrival
at Gerri's home in Gilmanton. The bright yellow fiberglass hull, wood
deck, and motor installation all passed fred's inspection.
The wood deck and transom were stained with
Pettit dark mahogany filler stain and then sealed with 2
coats of Pettit sealer prior to transport. This was just enough to protect the
wood for the trek to New Hampshire.
On 8/2/2005 we moved "My Precious" into the shop and setup for
work. The next day we removed the deck hardware, rub rails and
transom/cavitation hardware, getting ready for the first coat of
varnish. On 8/4/2005 we sanded the wood deck and transom with
Scotchbrite pads, prepped and then applied the first coat of
Epifanes varnish. We used our "rolling & wicking" technique and
put down a nice thick coat. This varnish has a beautiful amber
tint, that darkens and ages the wood finish with each coat, and
we planning to squeeze in 6 coats before our planned launching
ceremonies on Labor Day weekend.
we applied 3 thick build coats of Epifanes varnish, we started
to design and build the fore and aft bench seats. For starters,
and to get some ideas, we first placed the thick seat from
Obsession in the skiff. The height
of the seat was perfect - with the 6 inches of dense foam, and
we also liked the look of the rolled and tucked marine
Then it was then time to paint the new seats and the
plywood/glass bulkheads in the skiff. We used our favorite Ben
Moore paint and chose the Colonial Red color.
Jerome Holden from JC Signs applied the lettering on the hull sides and
The front seat was then designed and constructed.
And for all you motor heads - some motor shots.
And in keeping with our 60's vintage look - a shaker hood ???!!!
And the varnish coats continue to build.
The dash bezel and the gauges were then installed. We
choose new technology, AutoMeter electric gauges, that
had the right look and fit the custom bezel perfectly.
Then the 3 1/2 inch transom exhaust holes were bored, and the
Glenwood exhaust fittings were installed. These beautiful,
polished stainless steel fittings also include well
designed exhaust flappers, to prevent water from entering the
Next, the exhaust elbows were dry fitted, marked,
drilled, cleaned-up and finally installed. The motor now has
the look of a 60's era small block - perfect !!!
Next, we installed the raw water strainer and connected the 1 1/4
inch intake hoses. Then the cavitation plate assembly was assembled
and installed. The flip top fuel fill fitting was also installed,
and the 3 chrome plated transom drain plug fittings add a nice
touch. The seats are still at the upholstery shop, and the lettering
continues. Yup, this is gonna be a pretty hot skiff !
Here is another batch of project photos taken in early
October. My Precious is just about done, the foot throttle
is the only item left on our punch list, then the cockpit
half round and finish upholstery.
Once the foot throttle was installed, we just had to trailer
fire the motor and test all the systems - electrical, fuel,
cooling, exhaust, and transmission. So on October 21st, we
loaded up, filled the fuel tank and trailer fired the motor.
Everything checked out ok except the Borg Warner transmission.
We had no forward or reverse, and since the transmission was
brand new, we suspected the transmission was installed
improperly. What a pain, back at the shop we removed the
transmission and sure enough, the internal pump in the
transmission was set improperly - for left hand rotation. Simple
fix, just removed 4 bolts and rotated the face plate to the
right hand rotation position. We then painted the transmission
and reinstalled it back in the boat. A lot of work, but it also
gave us the chance to prep, paint and detail the transmission,
to add to the appearance of the engine compartment.
Finally - christening/launching ceremonies,
sea trials - November 5th !!!
Yup, it was a very good day, a bit of thrashing in the morning,
then sunny and flat water in the afternoon for christening/launching
ceremonies and sea trials. On our first lap it was obvious that
the cavitation plate needed way more down force to be effective.
So back on the trailer to make the small adjustment on the
cavitation plate and check all the running gear.
After the first shakedown run and a few adjustments, we were
ready to run the boat at speed and break-in the new motor. So off we went,
the sun was shining, the water was flat, and just look at
our faces in the photos below - yup, we got the fever and we can't
wait to hit APBA Vintage Race Boat Circuit !!!
A 2006 update - "My Precious" took a second place at
our local ACBS Meredith Boat Show - congratulations to Gerri
following Photos were take at Clayton, NY where after the
drivers clinic, Gerri was ready to rock & roll on the
here for a history of Jersey Speed Skiffs
These photos were taken by The Man - Phil Kunz !!!
Click here for My Precious Part 2 - a new sapelee mahogany deck !!!
How I Became a
By Gerri Prusko
Would you believe that it all started with a boat ride in
Bill Johnís beloved
Yes, thatís how my love affair with vintage race boats first
Back on Columbus Day weekend, 2003, Bill invited me for a
sunset cruise on Lake Winnipesaukee. That was quite a treat.
The only problem I had, besides hanging on for dear life,
was that I couldnít hear a word Bill said. Those wonderful
Obsession sidepipes! Occasionally, Bill slowed down
enough for me to ask a question about the boat or the lake.
That fall and winter, all Bill could talk about was the APBA
Vintage Race Boat Circuit. He especially mentioned the 100th
Anniversary of the Detroit Gold Cup and the unique Antique
and Classic Boat Museum at Clayton, NY. When I accompanied
Bill to the Clayton event, I got my first ride on an APBA
vintage race course.
One of our local Lake Winnipesaukee skiff heads, Len Finithy,
needed a rider for his event on Sunday morning. I had never
been on a race course before and had some trepidation about
taking off. Bill encouraged me to take the ride and even
offered me his safety helmet and racing jacket. While the
jacket was a bit too large (it does have zipper extenders),
the helmet fit fine. That was a sign to me that I was good
Len and I got on the race course on a beautiful sunny day.
After the first turn, I was hooked!! Len is a very
conscientious driver and was well aware of the other boats
on the course. Even so, we hit some fast speeds and made
some waves. What fun! All you have to do is see the smile on
my face to recognize that I was having a great time.
After that ride, I was convinced that I wanted to drive my
own boat. At the next event, in Buffalo, NY, Judy Fisk and I
walked around and looked at all the vintage boats. Bill and
Judy Fisk own the Grand Prix hydroplane,
During that walk, I began to conceive of the idea of owning
my own vintage race boat. Judy asked me a lot of questions
about the type of boat I wanted. That conversation really
helped me form the image of driving a boat on the APBA
Vintage Race Boat Circuit.
During the fall of 2004, Bill John and I continued the
conversation that I had started with Judy Fisk. We
considered a hydroplane, but hydroplanes are usually single
seaters, and I really wanted to share the fun and give boat
While having a vintage wooden boat was very attractive to
me, it did seem like an awful lot of work for a boat I just
wanted to have fun with. Besides, I kept coming back to the
ride I had in Clayton in a Jersey Speed Skiff. When Bill
told me that he knew someone who was building
skiffs, I got the bug.
Arrangements were made and on February 10, 2005 my Jersey
Speed Skiff, My Precious
was born. The name was chosen from the J.R.R. Tolkien
trilogy The Lord of the Rings.
My Precious is the name that several of the
characters give to the magic ring. Anyone who possessed the
ring became obsessed with it, cannot think of anything
else, and find it difficult to part with it. I think this
boat may be like that for me.
My next step will be to get experience and "seat time" driving the boat.
So, I am looking forward to Spring and ice out. I may well
first driver on the lake this year, so that I can be
prepared for the APBA Vintage Race Boat Circuit. Look for me
My Precious Part 2 -
a new sapelee mahogany deck !!!
For locals, please join our:
Saturday Morning Gatherings
Monthly Fun Run &
Florida Vintage Race Boat Circuit
Some related vintage race
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