Boat ownership is a state that some are born to, some achieve and some have thrust upon them. Bob Crouch, who bought his 1970 Chris-Craft Commander in 2006 and keeps it on Lake Lewisville just north of Dallas, is surely all three.
The son of a home-builder who was an avid outdoorsman and boat owner, Bob Crouch remembers taking to the water at an early age and being deeply involved with all the boats his father owned. The Chris-Craft marque was a family favorite. “I’ve been around powerboating starting around the age of 12, after my dad bought a 14-foot Yellow Jacket wood boat with a 40-hp Johnson outboard for fishing on the lakes in North Texas,” Crouch says. “He owned lots of boats after that, including a 27 Owens with a flybridge, several runabouts, a 26 Chris-Craft Deluxe Cruiser, a 29 Triumph Express Cruiser, a 35 Chris-Craft Constellation and his largest cruiser, a 41 Chris-Craft Sedan.”
Crouch used them all through the years, and in the late 1970s bought a boat of his own, a 1947 46-foot Chris Craft Cruiser. He at first kept it on Lake Texoma, on the not-too-distant border with Oklahoma, and then moved it to Lake Lewisville. He used the boat to entertain friends and family, and it came in handy as a water sports platform, too.
As often happens, the need for more stowage and entertaining space led Crouch to search for a larger boat. He looked for two to three years, and his search led him as far away as Michigan and Washington state. But as luck would have it, he found his 1970 47 Commander very close to home, on Lake Lewisville. The previous owner had advertised it in a Dallas newspaper, at a price Bob found unattractive. Over time, the price came down, and his offer was accepted.
“This 47 was sold originally by the world’s largest inland Chris-Craft dealer, which happened to be right on Lake Lewisville, to a retired U.S. Navy admiral,” Crouch says. “After boating there for a few years, the admiral moved it to Lake Texoma, one of the largest reservoirs in the U.S. The 47 changed hands, and the new owner kept it on Texoma, but eventually he moved it back to Lake Lewisville.”
Crouch praises the first two owners for their diligence in maintenance. “It’s powered by twin 300-hp Chris-Craft gas engines,” Crouch says. “Other than a couple of carburetor rebuilds over the years, they’ve performed well.”
This 47 Commander doesn’t have radar, which Crouch doesn’t feel it needs on an inland lake of 46 square miles. The boat also has a Garmin chartplotter that he doesn’t use much. “I’ve been boating on this lake my whole life, and I’ve already touched every sandbar on the charts. It’s hard to forget them.” Two items he wouldn’t do without are a VHF radio and a large searchlight to assist with nighttime navigation.
“When I bought the 47, it had a flybridge waiting to be mounted,” Crouch says, “but I came to realize that I enjoyed being among the guests on the bridgedeck, not sitting up above them. I value the connection with my friends and family.”
Crouch eventually sold the flybridge to the owner of another 47 Commander, and admires the hardtop look of his boat overall.
The Chris-Craft 47 Commander is a modified-V, semi-displacement cruiser with three staterooms, a nearly full-beam salon with a U-shaped galley, and a bridgedeck flush with the aft, side and fore decks. It was offered in two versions: a fishing cockpit model with a single stateroom aft, and a double-aft-stateroom model with no cockpit.
In the latter layout, the owner’s stateroom is far aft with twin berths separated by a closet across the transom, and lockers forward. The second stateroom is forward and to port with over-under berths at right angles, a closet and a dresser. Across the companionway to starboard, the head has an enclosed shower, a private entrance to the owner’s stateroom and a companionway door for day-head use.
Four steps up along the centerline, the 16-foot-long salon has large windows and plenty of natural light, plus a built-in lounge, a loose chair to port, and a built-in dinette to starboard. The lounge and dinette are convertible, meaning the boat can sleep up to 10 people. The galley has room for a full-size refrigerator, a double stainless sink and an electric range with an oven. The 47 Commander was offered with a pair of gasoline or diesel inboard engines.
DIspl.: 35,480 lbs.
Fuel: 350 gals.
Water: 80 gals.
Power: (2) 300-hp inboards
Christopher Columbus Smith, at the budding age of 13, built his first powerboat in Algonac, Michigan. He could hardly have imagined then that he would go on to create a company known globally for its wooden hulls (from runabouts to a 57-foot Constellation in mahogany) and then fiberglass designs (the first one in 1955). Today, Chris-Craft builds boats in Sarasota, Florida.
This article was originally published in the September 2021 issue.