Steve Vogelzang has a thing for wooden boats, an affliction he shares with many fellow members of The Antique and Classic Boat Society. The 57-year-old Holland, Mich., importer grew up with them, bought his first one more than 30 years ago and has owned a fleet of “fine wooden boats,” as he calls them, from such builders as Chris-Craft and Hacker.“I have probably owned over 35 wooden boats,” Vogelzang says, most of them in the 21- to 30-foot range. “I like the recreational aspect of boating as well as being exposed to other wooden boats of various makes and models.”
His list includes a 30-foot Belle Isle Super Bearcat, a 29-foot Hacker-Craft Dolphin, a 25-foot Chris-Craft Sportsman, a Skiff Craft 24 and a Grand-Craft 23. His latest is a sporty runabout built in 1968 — on the cusp of the wood-to-fiberglass changeover — by the Century Boat Co., once one of America’s most prolific builders. (Yamaha bought the builder in 1995 and discontinued production in December 2009.)
Vogelzang and his wife, Janice, decided to add to their six-boat collection, and when they came across the 1968 Century Coronado 21 online last year, they couldn’t resist. First, there was the comfort level of buying a familiar model. They’ve owned more than a dozen Coronados through the years.
It was also in “pretty good shape,” says Vogelzang, who paid around $15,000 for the boat. “No plank replacement [was needed]. It still has the original engine and hardware that came with the boat. The interior did need replacing and, like many vintage wooden boats, it needed a couple coats of varnish.”
There also is a story attached to this boat. Although Century built hundreds of wooden Coronados through the years, it is the last of its kind. “Century stopped making wooden boats in 1968, and this particular boat was the last wooden Coronado built,” says Vogelzang, who used the boat’s serial number to make the determination. “After this very boat, there were no more.”
Historic, perhaps, but the Coronado is also just plain fun, which is what it was supposed to be in the first place. “It’s a very versatile watercraft,” Vogelzang says. “As a family we always liked to day-cruise, picnic and spin around Lake Michigan. [It’s] beautiful to look at … fast and comfortable. This boat has a swim ladder as well, so it’s not uncommon to jump off the side of the boat and climb back in.”
The boat now floats at the dock of his waterfront home. The burgundy interior and beige deck vinyl was replaced, new varnish was applied, the engine was tuned and the bottom was painted. “It sports lots of sexy-looking shiny chrome and, best of all, it’s always a thrill to drive,” Vogelzang says.
Power comes from a 330-hp Ford 427FE engine that “gives it plenty of oomph,” as Vogelzang puts it. “I like to go fast in calm water and this boat will do an easy 40 mph.”
As a classic, the Coronado has been to its share of shows, Vogelzang says, but always in a casual way. “Boat shows are where you will make new friends in the hobby and meet other folks with a common interest in wooden boats,” he says. “It’s a terrific hobby-interest that has given my family and me many wonderful hours of relaxation and joy.”
Although Vogelzang’s Century Coronado 21 dates from the flamboyant 1960s, the styling is clean and conservative, showing a distinctive hull trim piece and moderate use of stainless-steel deck hardware. The hard-chine planing hull has a moderate bow with a spray strake, a straight sheer and a slight outward flare at the transom. The boat is powered by a single inboard, and the performance (40 mph top) lends itself to water skiing, wakeboarding and tubing.
The cockpit is well-designed for family outings and social gatherings, with versatile seating throughout the boat and room for storing water toys and other gear under the foredeck. The helm station, with its bucket seat, is positioned to starboard behind a large windshield, with a companion bucket seat to port. Moving aft, the padded midships engine box forms a bench seat for as many as four people and serves as a sun deck or cockpit table. A padded transom bench seat completes the seating. With its 8-foot beam and approximate weight of 3,400 pounds, the Coronado 21 is also easily trailered.
The Century Boat Co. dates from the early 1930s, when it brought out an outboard-powered mahogany runabout. The firm’s early focus was on performance boats, but after World War II it turned its attention to pleasure craft and made a successful transition to fiberglass in the late 1960s. Century then became known for its fishing and water-sports boats. It later added a family cruiser line, eventually offering boats to 36 feet in the 1990s. Century went through a series of owners before production was discontinued in 2009. Enthusiasts value Century’s vintage models. Prices for 1960s Coronados range from about $20,000 to as much as $50,000 for well-preserved show winners.
LOA: 21 feet
BEAM: 8 feet
DRAFT: 2 feet, 1 inch
WEIGHT: 3,400 pounds
POWER: single 330-hp gas inboard
FUEL: 53 gallons
This article originally appeared in the December 2011 issue.
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