Ron Heisler grew up as a freshwater boater in South Carolina. Bass fishing was the thing, and he fished competitively for a time. “I bought a bass boat in 1995 and fished competitively for 10 or 12 years, and for fun after that,” says Heisler, a Rock Hill, South Carolina, small business owner.
Bob Saunders’ boat is what you might call a “real museum piece.” In the early 2000s, The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia, in keeping with its focus on the history and culture of Chesapeake Bay, took part in a boatbuilding program. Well-known artisans were brought in to build a deadrise design that became known as the Mariner. A dozen of them were produced.
Boats. Bill Williamson has owned them — sail and power — in a boating life that’s taken him from Wisconsin’s lakes to the waters of Florida’s east coast. “I started as a kid in a flat-bottomed, home-built boat my dad bought,” says Williamson, 73, of Vero Beach, Florida. “My granddad got me a 2-1/2-hp Johnson outboard, and I went all over the place in that. Didn’t care what the weather was. That was on Lake Geneva in Wisconsin. Later I had a Lyman runabout.”
Jack Stevens had kept an eye on the boat for years; it was a little Chris-Craft day boat that belonged to the general manager of the golf course where he once worked. In fact, he’d offered his advice and skills in restoring the classic wooden boat. “I had the pleasure of using the vessel while he owned it,” says Stevens, 47, a sales manager from Old Saybrook, Connecticut. He also had the chance to buy it once or twice, but the timing was never quite right — until a few years ago.
Bob Potter kicks around the same waters he did when he was a youngster, but, of course, the boats have changed. “I grew up with boats,” says the 59-year-old artisan from Chester, Connecticut. “My father built a boat in the basement. My grandfather had a powerboat, and we would go cruising or fishing, either on the [Connecticut] River or out on [Long Island] Sound. I was always interested in boats.”
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