History hops aboard when Jim Hayek takes family and friends out on the water for some boating fun.
The Davenport man is the proud owner of a legendary power boat built in an era when wood, not fiberglass, dominated pleasure boat construction. It is a 1959 Century Resorter, which he discovered rotting away at a local marina and brought back to life after a $20,000 professional restoration.
The project had its share of challenges, but Hayek is delighted to be showing his classic utility boat, named “Fifty Nine,” at the That Was Then, This Is Now Muscatine Boat Show and Racing Boat Exhibitions May 15-17 on the Mississippi River in Muscatine, Iowa.
“It was a passion, something you truly have to enjoy,” Hayek said of the restoration. “It was my passion for history and this era of boating.”
Hayek, 55, a former Davenport alderman and former member of the Davenport School Board, developed his love of boating and the Mississippi River while growing up in Davenport. He once owned a 16-foot fiberglass boat but had always dreamed of owning a mahogany classic.
After retiring as an electrician, he decided to pursue his dream. He spent two years searching the Internet for wood boats listed for sale, but hit pay dirt close to home. At Island Marina on Campbell’s Island, he spotted a 19-foot Century Resorter that had been in storage for seven years. Although it was corroded and caked with dirt, he thought it had possibilities and bought it for $5,000.
He contacted several boat restorers before selecting Fox River Valley Boat Co., McHenry, Ill., to restore the boat and rebuild its original Graymarine V8-225 engine.
There was much to do during the 17-month restoration. Pulling out the engine and dismantling the hull yielded considerable rot and deterioration. In fact, the entire bottom of the boat was replaced with new wood as were many of the ribs. Hayek estimates that 50 percent of the boat’s wood had to be replaced.
“You hope for the best and expect the worst,” he said.
The boat retains its original leather upholstery, instruments and exterior ornamentation such as the “Century” and “Resorter” metal name scripts.
A supplier of original factory Century parts furnished “new-old stock” step pads with “Century” script. Hayek’s penchant for detail is evidenced by his search for the correct bow pole and his time spent re-wiring the stern mast light. Even the boat’s license number is properly positioned under the windshield as it would have been in 1959.
Original colors, such as Century red stain, were used to refinish the boat. The work included repainting the white trim, pinstriping and adding 12 coats of varnish for a mirror-like sheen.
The restored boat made its Quad-City debut in August when Hayek launched it in the Mississippi River at Leach Park in Bettendorf. He keeps it in his garage and trailers it to nearby lakes such as Coralville Reservoir and Lake MacBride near Iowa City in addition to the Mississippi.
Wherever he goes, the boat attracts admirers, and Hayek enjoys answering their questions. He even lets children touch it.
“This boat is a step back into history,” he said. “It’s not something you keep to yourself. It’s about sharing.”