A Magnificent Transformation

A Magnificent Transformation

Human hands turn a pile of wood into a masterpiece.

By Eileen Mansfield

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• Part 1: Hacker Craft
• Part 2: Hacker Craft
• Part 3: Hacker Craft
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• Hacker Craft Photo Gallery

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Have you ever felt that a boat was haunting you? That, for some reason, it kept popping into your life. Or, in my case, that it somehow kept eluding you.

I’d heard of this gorgeous wooden boat that cruised past my family’s camp on Saranac Lake in New York’s Adirondack Mountains. All of our neighbors would talk about how spectacular she was and how she always paused just in front of our dock. Few people knew anything about her, just that she belonged to The Point, a Relais & Châteaux resort that was once the Rockefeller’s great camp, located not far from our home.

It seemed each time this boat would cruise past, I happened to be in town, up at the mailbox or some other place that was just out of site of the lake. I was beginning to think everyone was pulling my leg about this boat until one day my mother heard the familiar rumbling (I’d been told you’d hear her before you’d see her) and called out to me. I made it down to the dock just in time to see a 33-foot mahogany Hacker Craft come into view. (At this point I knew little about the Hacker Boat Company aside from the fact that it had stopped building wooden boats in the late 1950’s.) With the setting sun and breathtaking mountains as a backdrop, I felt like I had just stepped into On Golden Pond.

But she was far more impressive than the little wooden runabout featured in that movie. Her gleaming wooden hull and deck, impeccable green-leather interior, and sparkling stainless steel hardware made me wonder who in the world could have performed a restoration like this.

After a few phone calls, I found Tim Thuell, general manager of The Point, who would eventually take me on my first Hacker ride. He explained that the resort had an original Hacker that was built in 1929, and they’d “get up in the morning to find it sitting on the bottom of the boat house.” Rather than continuing to repair the boat they decided to go out and purchase “not so much a replica as the same boat,” according to David Garrett, the resort’s owner and president of Relais & Châteaux North America. That’s when they were pointed in the direction of Bill Morgan.

Morgan has been haunted by Hacker Crafts for as long as he can remember. As a young boy growing up in Cleveland, he recalls his father buying an old wooden Chris-Craft. He took it home and had it for one day before Morgan says he declared, “`This is junk.’ And went and bought a Hacker.”

Next page > Part 2: When it comes down to it, they are created by human hands, from start to finish. > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

This article originally appeared in the August 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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