Newsletter of the Finger Lakes Chapter, ACBS

Volume 17, Issue 1.................................................................. March 2007

UPDATED: March 13, 2007

















Spotlight on a Member

My name is Tom Strongman. My wife, Betty, and I live in Cape Vincent, NY where Lake Ontario flows into the St. Lawrence River. We are avid lifetime boaters and are active members of the Antique Boat Museum. We are also members of the Thousand Islands and Finger Lakes Chapters of ACBS. I am a retired New York State law enforcement officer and have been a judge for the Thousand Islands Boat Show for the past three years.

For the last 49 years, my family has owned a marina on the Hudson River just south of West Point Military Academy. My wife was born on the Hudson at Nyack, NY and spent many years boating and fishing with her father who fished for shad for a living.

We own a 1961 27-ft. Chris-Craft open utility Sea Skiff which we use constantly. Because of its size and interior layout, it has become the official shuttle launch for the TI Chapter's many rendezvous usually held on one of the islands in the Thousand Islands region of the river.

Tomahawk was built in Algonac, MI and was sold new by Mercer's Marina in Clayton, NY to John Howe, Sr. of Rochester, NY and Clayton. The boat spent its first 20 years cruising and fishing the St. Lawrence and the eastern end of Lake Ontario. In the early '80s, it was sold by Mr. Howe to a river fishing-guide from the Alexandria Bay area where it stayed for the next six years. By this time, the boat was 26 years old and had fallen into a state of disrepair.

John Howe, Jr., who was twelve years old when his father first bought the boat, somehow managed to buy it back from the fishing guide, and moved it to Cornell's Marina in Henderson Harbor, NY. John, Jr. was an avid fisherman and over the next few years, he did a lot of work on the boat to get it back to normal condition, including installation of a 285HP Crusader V8 engine.

In June 2000, a family illness forced John, Jr. to put the boat up for sale. Interested in selling to it to someone who would really appreciate it, he didn't advertise its availability. In July, while Betty and I were looking at an old Lyman at Cornell's, we noticed the boat for sale. I called John, Jr. that evening and made plans for a water test later that week. After a cruise to North Pond, we agreed on a price and I had the boat moved to Stony Point Marina in Cape Vincent.

Over the next few years, I completely refinished the hull and replaced all the deck hardware and fittings with stainless steel. The boat is 99% original wood and is equipped for fishing and cruising. Drawing on my Native American heritage, Tomahawk was chosen for its new name.


We entered the boat in the TI Chapter's Boat Show in Alex. Bay in July 2002, and came away with the award for Best Utility. The following year, the boat won the award for Best Chris-Craft at the same show. In 2005, instead of putting the boat in another show, I re-varnished the interior and installed new upholstery. That effort yielded another Best Utility Award at the 2006 TI Boat Show.

Tomahawk is a classic and also a work in progress. It gets a lot of use and tons of tender loving care, and is well known on the river for its beauty and performance. We hope to enjoy the boat for many years to come.

Betty and Tom Strongman