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The modern day Chris Craft cruises out of Sarasota, Florida, where their current line features the Speedster, the Launch, the Corsair and the Roamer... ranging in size from 20 feet to 40 feet in length. Chris-Craft boats have won many awards throughout the years, citing their quality and appeal. Today, these virtues are even more evident a line that has successfully re-captured the essence of the golden era of boating. A blend of classic design, along with years of boat building experience and cutting-edge technology has shaped the Chris-Craft line into retro roadster's for the waterways... and their demand has never been higher. But there is so much more to this story. The Chris Craft story began on May 20, 1861, when Christopher Columbus Smith entered the world near the St. Clair marshes close to Algonac. As a child he spent endless hours whittling wooden boats on the steps of his father's shop. In 1881, he began building rowboats and duck boats for neighbor hunters. Soon, everyone wanted a Smith boat. He started making skiffs, and the first boat powered by an internal combustion engine. His superior design attracted promoter-financier John J. Ryan, who backed Smith in building Baby-Reliance single-step hydroplanes that broke nearly every speed record in the early 1900s. Ryan left in 1913, and Smith's four sons and a daughter joined him in his boat-building company. By the 1920s they started a mass-production system that allowed them to make 1,000 boats a year. Soon he had built the world's largest manufacturer of pleasure boats, Chris Craft Corporation, distributing worldwide to 250 dealers. In 1960, his descendants sold the firm for $40 million. Switching to a related story... the Roamer Boat Company was founded in Holland, Michigan, by Robert R. Linn, just after World War II. Linn came to Holland from Grand Rapids as a young man, and apprenticed with Ken Campbell of the Campbell Boat Company for two years. Linn built his first Roamer cruiser, a steel-hulled 32-foot express cruiser in 1946. Roamer built many additional yacht designs including express cruisers, deckhouse cruisers, and double cabin cruisers ranging from 33 to 48 feet in length. In addition to pleasure craft, the Roamer Boat Company built commercial craft as well. Consequently, the fleet size expanded to include: Sportsman Roamers for offshore fishing and cruising (25 & 28 ft); Express versions made in 25, 28, 31 and 35-foot models; 35 and 42-foot Regals,; a new 42-ft Royal; and the all new 52-foot Motor Yacht. 1961 was another banner year for Roamer Boats, with an unprecedented 23 models being offered in sizes from 31 to 56 feet. 16 separate models of the 35ft Roamer alone were welded and varied by power and appointments known as: Express Cruiser, Express Cruiser Hardtop, Express Cruiser Deluxe 6S (Six sleeper), Riviera, (Hardtop 6S and Deluxe 6S), Regal, and Sport Fisherman 4S. For around 90 grand you could also buy a 56-foot Motor Yacht with a pair of 336 hp GM diesels. By 1962-3, Roamer was producing its first production boats out of aluminum, which eventually became their entire focus as they moved up market into the realm of large, and super-yachts. First, however, came the new 27-foot aluminum cruisers known as the Silver and Custom Comets. Also new were the stylish 32 and 36-foot series called the Express Cruiser, Express Cruiser Deluxe, and Riviera Deluxe models. Top of the line were the 44-ft Riviera, and 56-foot Motor Yacht. After the "sale" of Chris Craft in the early sixties, product lines were streamlined. Not surprisingly then, the Roamer Boat Company offered only seven models by 1965. Nevertheless, sales increased as new fiberglass superstructures and impressed cathodic protection systems for the hull effectively lowered maintenance costs and highlighted safety. Major styling changes implemented by Dick Avery also increased the appeal of the new Roamer yachts. In steel, you could buy a 30-ft Dispatcher for 15 grand, or a 37 ft Riviera 6S for 24K. The 38ft Offshore came in steel only, whereas the 57 foot Motor Yacht came in both steel and aluminum (AL cost an extra 15% for a total price of $110K). In 1967, Holland was welding together five different models in steel and aluminum, ranging from 33-to-57 feet. The 33 was available in steel only, while the 37 could be had in either metal, as could the 48. In 1968, Roamer dropped the 33 and 48-foot Riviera's, and added four versions of the 46 foot Riviera in either steel or aluminum. A year later, the 37 foot series got stretched to 38 feet, primarily so a Regal sedan version could be offered. That, and a 41-ft Regal, 46-foot Riviera, and 58 foot Riviera completed the line-up. Roamer opened the new decade by introducing a new 66-foot aluminum Motor Yacht in 1971. Five models were then available by 1972, complete with turbine power! For $210K a 60-footer w/a pair of 480-hp GM V-12 could be had; 55, 68, and 73foot Motor Yachts rounded out the fleet. In 1975, the 73-footer was offered in a Yacht Fisherman model , complemented by a new aluminum 55 ft Tournament version in 1976. All in all, by the end of the sixties, Chris Craft had reached the summit of their manufacturing abilities. Whether they choose mahogany, plywood, steel, aluminum, or fiberglass, Chris Craft’s constant research and innovation made them the world leading yacht builders. Consequently, Chris Craft's signature was still the premier trademark of excellence for boating around the world.
Talk about a step into history, Chris Craft, as one of the greatest sagas in boating, rambled back with one of its all-time greats in this Roamer 40'. Sure, there are names in boating that come about and fade more than once. This one, however – this legend – has retained the extraordinary flavor of its past while embracing the latest in express cruiser design. It’s the Prince Valiant, or Odin, of power boating. So that if you know the past, or even if you don’t, you’ll quickly realize why the Chris Craft Roamer 40 offers the best of both worlds.