of the Pacific
Antique and Classic Boat Society
World Wide Web Edition/ Jan. 25, 2009 Issue
Little Gem II: A Poulsbo Boat
by Denny Johnson
The project started about 30 years ago with the acquisition of a badly worn 1916, 4HP Dolman engine. I had always felt that it should be in a Poulsbo boat and, five years later, I purchased a 15 foot Poulsbo inboard Launch. The boat had spent its first 20 years as a rental boat in Puget Sound and another 50 years being neglected. It was going to require considerable restoration.
I started the restoration project by replacing the transom, garboard planks, horn timber, stringers and decks. Approximately 5 years later, the engine was installed and a new life was begun! This year, after some upgrades, the boat was entered in the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Show and the Antique & Classic Boat Show in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. It took First Place in Restored Launch Class at Coeur d’Alene.
I felt that Little Gem II needed one more adventure before returning to its winter storage. In October I towed it to Newport Beach, California to fulfill a “bucket list” wish. I spent the days cruising around Balboa Bay. Now, 3000 miles later, it is safe and sound at home.
Other restored boats in the collection consist of a 1946 Reinell 15 foot runabout powered by a 1957 Fageul 35 HP outboard; a 12 foot Reinell lap strake launch powered by a 1924, 4HP Evinrude inboard engine; a 16 foot 1940 Canadian built lap strake outboard runabout powered by a 1940, 22 HP Johnson; and a 100 plus year old lap strake skiff built in Glasgow, Scotland.
Other restored inboard engines include a 1908, 2HP Gile; a 1910, 3HP Mullings; a 1912, 8 HP Gray Flier; and a 1940, 4 HP Stewart Turner. Restored outboard engines include a full range of the early 4 cylinder Evinrudes, the early Mercury Hurricanes and Thunderbolts, and many early Johnsons. Collection favorites are a 1930 Canadian built duel carbureted Johnson, a 4 cylinder racing engine, and a 1930 Johnson 4 cylinder electric start engine.
Editor's Note: I visited Denny's "museum" about two weeks ago. It is housed in the remodeled basement of his house located on Dogfish Bay which connects to Liberty Bay adjacent to Poulsbo. Just off of the museum room is a machine shop. A Journeyman Machinest and Tin Bender by trade, Denny brings each motor back to perfection by hand and they ALL run! His large collection of outboards include a few one-of-a-kinds and most of the rest are rare. They are jewels to look at. The boats are restored to the same level with a few "Denny Mods" to doll them up and add his personal touch. The name: "Little Gem II" begs the question: where is "Little Gem I"? That's a story for another time. Bob Wheeler.