“Everyone thinks that owning a wooden boat is a nightmare,” Hart said. “But we run it all the time. When you find one of these boats sitting out in the woods it can be extremely expensive to bring it back to life, but if maintained and used, expenses are just like any other boat.”

Terry Hart always has a least a couple of projects in the works. As the owner of Hart Diving and Salvage, he’s either resurrecting a boat that has sunk or coming across a wooden boat in need of restoration.

More than 20 years ago, Hart took on his first restoration project, a boat he still owns today. The 1961 Chris-Craft named Chug was acquired from his uncle who bought it from the CEO of a beverage company. Other than some work to refinish it and fix a few places in the wood, the boat is in original condition. At one point, Hart said he listed it for sale but offers were too low, so he decided to keep it. The family has been enjoying it ever since.

The 17-foot mahogany ski boat was innovative for its time with a standard V8 engine, pylon and rear facing seat so riders could keep an eye on anyone being towed. A former competitive skier and owner of a ski school, Hart has taught his kids and grandkids how to ski. Today, they mainly use the boat for cruises and to eat at waterfront restaurants. 

“Everyone thinks that owning a wooden boat is a nightmare,” Hart said. “But we run it all the time. When you find one of these boats sitting out in the woods it can be extremely expensive to bring it back to life, but if maintained and used, expenses are just like any other boat.”

Hart has more than 10 wooden boats, some on-going projects in various states of restoration, and others for sale. 

Of particular interest is his 1926 Lake Union Dreamboat, which he says is the oldest boat on Lake of the Ozarks. You can find the yacht tied up near the 4-mile marker. It has a few leaks, however, so it doesn’t get taken out of the slip. A project for another day, perhaps?

The smaller, the better

When Sherman Langell moved to Lake of the Ozarks five years ago, he brought his wooden boats. In his lifetime, he has owned more than 20 wooden boats but is now down to two — both being 1969 Lymans.

At one time, Chris-Craft was the largest manufacturer of boats in the world and produced the most wooden boats on the market. “My grandfather and father worked for Chris-Craft from the 20's thru the 50's, so I got caught up with wooden boats. Since the 70's I have probably owned about 20 wooden boats.”

Of the boats that he’s owned, about six of them were completely restored, including a 1916 25-foot Hacker Craft that is now on display at a museum in Ida Grove, Iowa. Langell does all of the work himself.

Despite what you might think about wooden boats, Langell says they handle well on the water at Lake of the Ozarks, but you might want to avoid busy holiday weekends.

“I really enjoy the Lake. I’m probably on the Lake more than anyone,” he said. Last year alone Sherman logged more than 103 hours of drive time and 1,000 miles at the helm of his 26-foot Lyman named Ol’ Yeller. He is in the process of restoring a 23-foot Lyman that is identical in design but three feet smaller. He plans to name it Li’L Yeller, that is, after a fresh coat of paint.

“We are looking forward to cruising the Lake with these two Lymans running side-by-side,” he said.