A blast from the past has made its way home. An old hydroplane found at a foreclosed home upstate, wound up coincidentally making its way back to the place it came from—Broad Channel.
About two years ago, Broad Channel resident Dan Pearce says his son, Dennis, who was working as a contractor at the time, driving an asphalt truck for a friend dealing with foreclosed homes near Albany, made the coincidental discovery.
The friend dealing with the foreclosure discovered a couple of boat motors in the garage. Knowing Dennis was a boat guy, he asked him if he’d be interested in buying them. Dennis said he’d take a look. In the garage, he found the motors, but under a tarp was an even bigger discovery—a hydroplane. Dennis decided to take the fast motorboat off his friend’s hands as well. Then he drove it to where the water was—back to his parents’ house in Broad Channel.
Inside the boat, the Pearces made an interesting discovery. Inside were two photos from around the ‘60s or ‘70s—one, of the boat on Horseshoe Beach near Broad Channel, and another of a young woman in the boat on the water with the train bridge in the background. This boat was local.
That information was later confirmed. The Pearces remembered back in the ‘60s and ‘70s when boat races used to be a big deal in Broad Channel and hydroplanes were among the vessels used. Dan Pearce decided to call up another local who knows boats well, Tucker Monday, to see if he recognized the hydroplane. He did. “That’s Richie G’s boat,” he said. Pearce realized that not only was this boat from Broad Channel— he knew the original owner. Unfortunately, the owner of the boat had passed away.
“After about 60 years, to see this thing come back home, it’s pretty amazing. It’s funny that we knew Richie,” Pearce said. “After so many years, he had saved this boat. He must’ve really liked it. If you leave these things outside, usually they’re done. Any wooden boat can’t withstand the weather. But this one had the original motor, the controls, steering, everything in the boat was 100% intact.”
It just needed a little tender loving care. The outside paint and markings on the boat had been sanded down at some point, so Pearce decided to give it a little makeover and restore the hydroplane to its original glory. “I restored it. I had to replace some of the hardware. I had Rockaway Graphics do the name on the side of the boat, ‘Close Encounters,’ and we put the numbers back on. It’s all new,” Pearce said.
However, the restored hydroplane hasn’t seen much use. After all, Pearce says it’s a little too small for him. “You gotta be a little guy riding them boats,” he said. “We have no use for it. It’s been sitting in my man cave and my wife wants it gone.” But Pearce figures someone else might enjoy it. He’s considering putting it up for sale. “There’s a market for these things,” he said. If interested, Dan Pearce can be reached at 718-945-4548.
Pearce is also curious if anyone knows the young woman seen in the photo. If anyone knows, feel free to reach out to him or to The Rockaway Times (718-634-3030).
By Katie McFadden
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