Note: Picture and Story by C.R. Rae
For boat owners, Bud and Ginger Long, it all began in a bar in Alpena, Michigan, the local bar where “everyone knew your name”.
The Long’s classic boat, a 1959 Chris Craft, is named “First Date” and the name fits perfectly for the couple that has now been married for 51 years.
At the time of their meeting, Bud was in the Air Force. He told the story of when their eyes first met. “I went into the bar and saw this girl. She looked at me and I looked back at her. I went over and asked her to dance.”
He got her phone number that night and called a couple of days later asking if she would go out with him. “She said, “Do you want to go for a boat ride” and he said, “Is it free?”” He didn’t have any money. Ginger replied that it was her grandpa’s boat, so it was free.
She gave him directions to their summer cottage on, believe it or not, “Long Lake”. He said he remembers there was a main house and three efficiencies on the property. “We went for a boat ride and the next thing I knew, I woke up in Ohio with a mortgage, two kids and a little house in Cuyahoga Falls.”
“First Date” is the first ever ski boat developed by Chris Craft. Bud said Chris Craft did have other boats folks skied behind but, this was specifically for water skiing. “It has a wider beam. They developed it, so they could use the newest engine called the “V-8,” he said.
This newer Crist Craft model was introduced in 1959 in Cypress Gardens towing a pyramid of six girls in white bathing suits on water skis.
The boat has a 185-horse powered Chevy V-8 engine which has the Chris Craft name on the motor. Bud said, “it will still do more than 40 miles an hour as old as it is.”
The boat was Ginger’s grandfathers. Bud said it is pretty much a one owner boat, which is rare for the older boats, as most have been bought and sold many times.
In addition to many awards over the years, the couple won a second-place Youth Judge’s Award at the 2018 Portage Lakes Antique and Classic Boat Show.