I was just 7 years old in 1960 when my father surprised us with a 16-foot wooden Stamas runabout with a pull-start 30-hp Mercury outboard – our first family boat. We named her Lucky and she was beautiful – red and white with a glistening coat of varnish. Neither Lucky nor her little Merc was new, and the engine proved quite temperamental. Nonetheless, she took us on adventures throughout Tampa Bay and into the Gulf. We rendezvoused with boating friends and family for picnics, swimming, and fishing. One special outing included an overnight camping trip on the beach at Caladesi Island. I was hooked on boating!
As happens with wooden boats, Lucky fell victim to dry rot after only a few years. A new 16-foot fiberglass boat with an electric start 40-hp Evinrude replaced her, followed by a Glastron with a 60-hp Evinrude. We waterskied nearly every day behind those boats. I couldn’t wait for school to let out each afternoon.
That little Stamas set the stage for a lifelong boating addiction. I’m still hooked (and hoping the grandkids will soon be, too). More than 34 boats (yes, that’s correct!) have since come and gone in my life – mostly power, a couple sailboats, and even a few race boats were included in the mix. My wife’s favorite was a diesel flybridge she named Miss Lucky, having no knowledge of the original Lucky.
Each of these boats, big and small, provided a boatload of great adventures and memories. I now have a beautiful new Everglades center-console that’s everything that little wooden Stamas wanted to be. Yet, somehow, in some ways, that little Stamas with her stubborn pull-start Mercury remains my favorite.