Tonawanda News — A rotting wooden boat that had been built in 1965 was about to be stripped for firewood last summer after sitting in the Placid Marina for almost nine years. But the marina’s manager, Wayne Howard Jr., took a chance on the old motor yacht, and on Friday, just a year later, the boat re-entered the water.
“Wayne refused to let the classic boat meet its destruction,” Janet Buchwald, Howard’s fiance, said.
So Howard purchased the 48-foot-long boat last summer for a few hundred dollars. In January, he began gutting the boat, starting from scratch.
“He worked with propane heaters all throughout the winter,” Buchwald said. “The water lines and electric were replaced and we installed a new cabin top and insulation.”
When spring hit, Howard and Buchwald started work on the exterior, removing the rotting planks and replacing them with new mahogany as well replacing rails, windows — and virtually everything else on the outside of the boat.
“We put about $8,000 into it,” Howard said.
That $8,000 includes an estimated $1,500 in mahogany wood, 14 gallons of paint, more than 2,200 stainless steel screws and some 30 tubes of marine caulk.
Howard and Buchwald said many people thought they were crazy for even trying to renovate the boat — which, according to the naysayers, was too far beyond repair to ever sail smoothly again.
But now, everyone wants to see the beautiful remodeled yacht, now named Reflections.
“We have had people come from all over to see the boat,” Buchwald said. “We’ve had people from four hours away ... people I don’t know just heard about it and come for a tour. It’s amazing.”
The boat was originally built in Florida in 1965 and made its way up to New York City before being moved to the Placid Marina — where it sat, dry-docked, for most of the last decade before Howard purchased it.
Much of Howard’s inspiration for the project came from his late father, who was an Erie County sheriff on the water.
“We had wooden boats growing up,” Howard said. “I learned from the best, and my father taught me everything.”
Howard’s father must have also instilled a value of perseverance, too — Howard was originally scheduled to have a knee replacement in December, but delayed the operation in order to do the work.
“Some days after working on the boat all day, I just couldn’t walk,” he said. “And it was a lot of work — it really took us six months to complete a two-year job.”
So, after months of painting, nailing and repairing — Howard said it feels pretty good to be done with the job, although he still has a bit of work to do on the engine.
“Now, we plan to take the boat to Beaver Island and use it for some cruising in a few weeks,” Howard said. “It’s time to relax a little bit.”Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150.