The Legend of the Grumman Boat

February 2, 2009 by  

Our Outdoors
Nick Simonson

There is a lot of history to Grumman boats and Grumman canoes - NIck is making his own.

There is a lot of history to Grumman boats and Grumman canoes - NIck is making his own.

The fisherman’s dictionary defines the word “boat” as a hole in the water into which money is thrown.

Similar to a hunting dog, the price paid for a boat is rarely reflected in the purchase. There’s winterizing, summerizing, trailer repairs, motor tune ups, depth finders, rod racks, lure holders and much more that are added into the final tally of how much a boat really costs. But, like that favorite hunting dog, a good boat is worth every penny.

For my college graduation in 2001 I received the amorphous gift from my parents of finding and selecting a moderately-priced used boat. For a month I examined the classified ads in the newspaper and on the Internet looking for an inexpensive craft that would move me up and down the river with a passenger or two and not break the bank. Finally, I was alerted by my buddy that just such a boat was for sale.

It was listed as a 15-foot Grumman Boat – a Sportsman with a 35 horsepower Johnson motor in good condition with console steering, livewell, depth finder and trailer located in Rugby, ND. A massive cold-front had moved in and stalled out over the area, making a road trip the perfect way to kill some foul-weather fishing days.

In the rain and wind, my buddy and I headed up Highway 281 to examine the boat. Upon our arrival, we looked it over and listened to the war stories of the previous owner as he pointed out the new gas cans, rod racks and trailer tires. “I don’t recommend doing it, but I’ve had her out in four-foot rollers on Devils Lake. It took an hour, but I made it back to the launch. She’s small, but sturdy,” he puffed.

After inspection I paid the man and hitched the boat to the family truck for the first time. My buddy and I peeled back down the highways of eastern North Dakota, stopping only in Minnewauken to throw a few casts off the bridges for springtime pike. We returned to Valley City and waited for the massive weather system – which was in day two of its five day visit – to end.

On the next sunny day the Grumman boat hit the water under our command. After that, it was a blur of smallmouth on jigs, white bass on light tackle and wee-hour walleyes coming over the side of the boat to be flashed in front of the camera and released or stringered up as a well-deserved dividend to the investment. In between all the pictures and faded memories are those instances where the Grumman was the core of my frustration and excitement.

The situation that stands out most in my mind occurred one summer later. Gradually, a screeching-scraping-grinding sound, as if someone was dragging a steel I-beam down I-94, became louder and louder over a period of thirty seconds. Mind you, I was in the basement, an area of the house surrounded by yards of decibel-dampening dirt.

I ran upstairs and burst out the front door to have a look, expecting Armageddon. Coming down the street, I saw the sight that at the time scared me worse than judgment day. From the driver’s side of the trailer, sparks were shooting out of what used to be a wheel, now just a smoking piece of metal. I started waving my hands and screaming expletives at the top of my lungs to get my brother to park the truck. I pulled my brother out of the vehicle by the collar of his shirt and held him a few feet from the smoldering hub. “DIDN’T YOU HEAR IT!?!” I hollered in disbelief.

“I thought it was just the safety chains dragging,” he stammered.

Promising I’d never let him use it again, I unhooked the boat, got in the truck and followed the white line that the hub had scraped into the city street. It ended six blocks away. I can’t remember what happened next. I may have chased my brother with a landing net or passed out from post-traumatic stress, but I woke up the next day sitting on a cinderblock in the driveway yanking the hub off the horribly-bent trailer axle and watching a tow truck pick the trailer up for repairs.

From that story stems the legacy of the Grumman boat. For a week, as the trailer was being fixed, the boat sat in the river taking on the camouflage-brown hue it carries to this day. I’ve often said that the Grumman isn’t a thing of beauty, but whether it is walleye, crappie, white bass or largemouth, the boat puts me on fish. If you so desire, she sits most nights on the road in front of the house in all her river-stained glory for your viewing pleasure – and that of our neighbors.

Between periodic motor repairs, electrical problems, and a third trolling motor, the Grumman hasn’t been cheap, but compared to all of the other holes in life that I throw money into, it has been the most worthwhile. Despite her troubles, her looks only a father could love, and her effect on property values in the neighborhood, I wouldn’t trade the Grumman for anything‚Ķin our outdoors.

Editors Note: The history of Grumman boats and Grumman canoes stems back to 1944. Before then, they only made aircrafts.


Comments

3 Comments on "The Legend of the Grumman Boat"

  1. Cecil Tune on Mon, 21st Mar 2011 2:04 pm 

    What is the person and horsepower capacity of a 1984 14 feet fishman

  2. Terry White on Mon, 6th Jun 2011 5:58 pm 

    I recently purchased a Grumman Canoe with this number:
    19761-G-5-17 Where can I buy parts? Can anyone tell me what the numbers mean? Thanks.

  3. Arthur F Morrison Jr on Thu, 6th Oct 2011 11:33 am 

    I don’t know if you can help or not. If not maybe send me to where I can get help. This summer I purchased a used Grumman 16′ boat. The year is I believe 1986. Not bad shape. I was wondering if you could send me a drawing of the live well system. From back,water in water out pump and the lines how they run thru the boat. I think the pump is under the tank,but not sure. Thanks Art

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