Baycraft boats from California

by Jason
(Olympia WA)

I'm looking for anyone who happens to know the history of Baycraft boats from the Oakland area of California.

I just picked up a 16' runabout with a Gray Marine 4 cylinder inboard, and the title says it's a 1948 Baycraft.

It is an old California registration, and I am just looking for more information about Baycraft, as I'd like to restore her back to whatever original spec may have been.

I have dug through the internet and found that it seems Baycraft was known for making outboard racing boats, but did make some inboards, as one was recovered from the bottom of Lake Tahoe some years ago and was restored.

Any other details about the history of Baycraft would be greatly, greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Jason




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Aug 18, 2014
Baycraft History
by: Roland Dechert

Baycraft boats were built by Ted Davies who lived within a block or two of downtown Lake Meritt in Oakland, California.

He built mostly hydros, but also a few runabouts for outboard racing.

Prior to racing boats he built sailboats for use in San Francisco Bay and ocean sailing near the coast.

I was told that he had studied marine architecture.

Although he lived in California, Ted spent the entire summers from 1957 on visiting a friend (Rocky Bailes) who moved from Fremont, California to the Chicago suburbs.

They raced in Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan, Ted driving hydros and Rocky driving runabouts.

I first met Ted in 1957 when he was 72 and I was 20.

Ted was in excellent physical shape -- other than boat racing his favorite activities were wrestling (he beat many younger racers in wrestling matches in the pits) and hunting wild boar with a spear (but this latter one is hearsay and may not be accurate).

Ted built many outboard hydros, but to the best of my knowledge, Ted only built five racing outboard runabouts, all five of which were used in the Midwest.

There were two class D and one class C boat for rough water marathons, and he later built two runabouts for closed course (circle) racing.

The major difference between two types, in addition to a very different appearance, was that the marathon boats could go through extremely rough water and the closed course boats could turn sharply and at speed.

The oldest of these five runabouts was built for Rocky Bailes while he was still in California.

The later four runabouts were originally owned by Mid-westerners.

My second race boat was the class C marathon runabout which I bought used from a racer named Fred Dalman.

A few years later, after college and Army, I added a the last-built Baycraft closed course runabout which I campaigned it in both classes C and D.

I later bought Rocky Bailes' class D marathon boat and then had three of the five runabouts that I know of, all of which were competitive for their designed applications.

Ted had a strenuous marriage and, if I remember correctly, he ended up divorced (his only complaint was the settlement).

In the mid-60s he injured his arm while building a boat and lost both his athletic ability and could no longer build boats.

He committed suicide not too long after this.

I do not recall if this was before or after his divorce was finalized.

He was about 80 years old.

I got to know Ted very well as we went to the same Midwest races for several years.

In addition, my racing mentor was Ted's best friend, Rocky Bailes.

While in the Army and stationed at Fort Ord, California I spent most weekends as a guest at Ted's house in Oakland.

Ted was one of the most interesting persons I have ever known.

If you want to contact me, my email is
roland-d@comcast.net I now live near Portland, Oregon





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