Skip to m’Lou II
1957 17′ Chris-Craft Runabout
Owners – Skip and Marylou Frey
August 27, 2020
Skip to m’Lou II is a 17’ 1957 Chris Craft Runabout, Hull number D-17-2052, delivered in October 1956 to Lawson Marine Sales and Service in Cedar Lake, Indiana where she appears to have spent much of her early life on Cedar Lake and Lake Wawasee. Although her original owner is unknown, it appears he lived in Syracuse, Indiana, where at some point he hit a log, breaking her keel behind the stuffing box. After a quick but inefficient repair, she immediately sank in her boat house until rescued by a local woodworker who shortly passed away, leaving the runabout on foam blocks, where she sat for about 20 years, when she was purchased for $150 by Kent Volmerding, a businessman in Indianapolis, whose hobby is restoration of and building wooden boats. At this point, her original KFL 131 engine displayed a broken crankshaft and other major issues; in addition to the broken keel and engine problems, she needed a new inner bottom. Interestingly, no ribs were broken, and the original bottom planks were stripped, cleaned and installed over a new plywood bottom, finished with numerous coats of WEST. After turning over, the interior bottom, engine room and bilge were coated with three coats of WEST. All side planks are original, cleaned and reinstalled. Due to some rot and earlier poor maintenance, all covering boards, transom and decks were replaced, and a rebuilt original-type KFL 131 was installed. The original hatch was replaced completely. All surfaces received multiple coats of varnish, and a new blue vinyl interior was installed.
Although Kent intended to keep the boat for himself, his desire to continue with restorations caused him to sell her (as Miz Behavin’) to a restorer in New Hampshire, where Marylou and I first saw her on a visit to a friends; home.
Skip to m’Lou I had been a modern fiberglass twin I/O that we needed to store about an hour from home, and impractical for inland lakes. We decided to return to our Maryland and Chesapeake Bay roots and acquire a familiar wooden boat. Consequently, Miz Behavin’ was purchased by us 50 years and two days after her departure from the Chris Craft Cadillac works, on October 6, 2006.
She was relocated to Florida, where she was introduced to the Butler and Harris Chains and the Sunnyland Chapter and renamed Skip to m’Lou II. She has participated in numerous Sunnyland boat shows, and in 2015, her moment of fame occurred when she starred in a television commercial for the investment firm Baird. In recent years, she has received electronic ignition, an upgraded fuel system, a couple of refinishings and lots of maintenance. She is a great, fast and fun user boat, and we continue to use her frequently—but mostly, she is a reminder of growing up on Maryland waters during the glory days of our wooden boats.