If it were up to Mitch LaPointe, he would take back his 1953 Chris-Craft Commander Cruiser after the two years he spent restoring it for George Cochran, a Chicago resident.
"I guess I'm still in seller's remorse," he said, chuckling over how well the 35-foot classic wooden boat turned out.
Now back on the water after more than 20 years in a dilapidated barn, the boat has been restored more completely than LaPointe ever could have afforded himself.
LaPointe's Classic Boat & Motor in Spring Park on Lake Minnetonka seems like an unassuming business. It doesn't even have a sign out front, which Kathy LaPointe said would only keep their phone ringing nonstop. Its advertising is pretty much limited to a website and word of mouth.
When the business has a walk-in client, the LaPointes invite the visitor right into a converted living room with two large desks covered with papers and plans for classic wooden boats.
Still, the operators of the 27-year-old business are constantly busy. "We're busy in the winter, and in the summer we go crazy," Kathy said.
LaPointe's Classic Boat & Motor specializes in dealing, restoring and repairing classic wooden boats, primarily Chris-Craft, Garwood and StanCraft. With its home office on Lake Minnetonka near Lord Fletcher's restaurant, plus a 10,000-square-foot shop in Glencoe, the business imports boats from around the country and even once brought in the only black Chris-Craft Racing Runabout from Guatemala.
However, the 1953 Chris-Craft Cruiser has a special story.
Mitch LaPointe found an advertisement for the boat in a magazine. The owner had left it in a barn in Milwaukee, and it had fallen into disrepair.
When Mitch went to buy it, he found it sunken into the mud aboard a trailer that had at least 10 blown-out tires.
He figured the owner didn't know how to get the boat out of the barn, and it proved a problem for him as well.
He needed a front-end loader to pull the boat out, so he knocked on doors in the pouring rain until he found someone with the necessary equipment. After a day's wrestling, the boat found rest on a new trailer and went home with the dealer to his Glencoe shop.
Cochran saw the boat when he was picking up a runabout for his collection. He decided to buy the cruiser for his wife for their anniversary. "Just what she always wanted as a gift," he joked.
Mitch LaPointe didn't anticipate the five-page, detailed listing of what Cochran wanted to invest in the boat. But after nearly two years of work by as many as four shipwrights at a time, the restored boat has been returned to its original glory and then some.
While the mechanics are the same, with a fully restored motor, Cochran added modern technologies including satellite television, XM radio and GPS. The boat also was upgraded with an $8,000 head, recessed lighting and granite countertops.
Now fully restored, the once forgotten and neglected 35-foot masterpiece is being rediscovered on the water. Though larger boats often seem to have problems returning to the water, Kathy said eight hours in a sling in Shorewood brought it back to life.
Soon it will be on Rainy Lake near International Falls with Cochran, where he has a home. He hopes to bring back an awareness of classic boats among his neighbors there.
"One of my ambitions is to get others to make the investment of time and money into restoring these boats. They're part of our American heritage," he said.
Joy Petersen is a Minneapolis freelance writer.