JS-47  My Precious

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 reproduction.


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 Circuit.

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 row of 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.




After 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 upholstery.





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 transom.




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 exhaust pipes.


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 Prusko !!!


The following Photos were take at Clayton, NY where after the drivers clinic, Gerri was ready to rock & roll on the course.





Click 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 Skiff-Head !!!

By Gerri Prusko


Would you believe that it all started with a boat ride in Bill Johnís beloved Obsession? Yes, thatís how my love affair with vintage race boats first began.


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 to go.


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, The Irishman. 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 rides.


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 be the first driver on the lake this year, so that I can be prepared for the APBA Vintage Race Boat Circuit. Look for me there!



My Precious Part 2 - a new sapelee mahogany deck !!!

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