A History of My (Too Many) Boats

Finally – a list of all my boats on one page! I’ve meant to get this project done for entirely too long, and now here it is. Enjoy!

~ Midlife Cruises I ~

I had three smaller boats that I haven’t listed here, but will begin with my first serious boat:

1988 circa Houseboat new-to-meHere I stand, young and proud and single, aboard the new-to-me houseboat about 1988, not long after I purchased her. I loved this boat dearly and spend many, many nights aboard her on the Delta. I recall cruises with as many as two dozen friends along for the day. I wish I had been more of a camera bug back then because I have relatively few photos of those days – and of course, back then all photos were hard copies. 

Before I married my dear Lavonne back in 1990, I owned this very comfortable Carlcraft houseboat. I kept her at a rented slip at the waterfront docks in Stockton, California. I christened her Midlife Cruises.

1991-9 MidLife CruisesHere she is in her covered berth at the Downtown Stockton Waterfront Marina. The colors are more visible here. She was all brown and white but I changed canvas and paint to the burgundy seen here. I added those swim steps, all the canvas, and so much more.

She was 37′ long and I cruised the Delta with her for several years. She was a complete home on the water and I spent many a night aboard.


At anchor near Stockton’s Rough and Ready Island after the many upgrades and improvements I had made, Midlife Cruises appears in all her glory. Unfortunately, this very old photo doesn’t show her burgundy color. Her hull was burgundy, as was all that canvas that I had installed. Her interior was all reupholstered in beautiful colors, too, but I have yet to find a photo of her new interior.

The name, Midlife Cruises, won the “Name Your Boat Contest” held by Boating Magazine. It was 1995 when I entered the contest, and by that time I had sold the houseboat and owned the Bayliner (below). Midlife Cruises II and I were featured in a color photo in the December 1995 issue of Boating magazine.

Sometime later, The Wall Street Journal picked up the story and a reporter called me for details. The story of the name (pretty obvious) and a bit of history about my boating, etc. were then published in that national newspaper. That was my 15 minutes of fame!

~ Midlife Cruises II ~

My  Bayliner Ciera 25′ Sportfisher

I bought this Bayliner, a very comfortable Delta cruiser, about 1999, some time after selling my houseboat. I had become quite the fishing enthusiast, having caught the bug from my new brother-in-law, Lonnie, after marrying Lavonne. I wanted a comfortable, safe, well equipped boat for Delta fishing with the capacity to overnight comfortably. This Bayliner did it all!

BaylinerBerth-Lift - Copy.jpg
She was berthed on a boat lift at my brother-in-law’s dock on Smith Canal in Stockton. I paid him monthly rent for the privilege, but reminded him often that he should have been paying me for making his dock look so good!

BaylinerFlyingBridge - Copy.jpg
The flybridge was a wonderful place to enjoy Midlife Cruises, but only in fair weather!

The lower station was comfortable and warm during the cold winter days I spent fishing sturgeon on the Delta. And I am reminded that I once had black hair!

1999 -approx-winter Bayliner.jpg
I spent many a pleasant hour fishing from the cockpit of Midlife Cruises – even during the cold winter nights when sturgeon were moving up the Delta.

~ FishWisher I ~

During the time I had the very comfy Bayliner, I began looking into lake fishing. We have many lakes in Northern Kalifornistan, and the idea of fishing for kokanee and trout was very enticing. I began looking for a towable boat. 

FishWisher I was a very cozy retreat on the water, a great Delta fishing machine and, now years later and no longer fishing or boating, I can honestly say she was my best boat ever.

My first (of two) C-Dorys, a 1987 Angler 22 was, by far, the best boat I ever had. I thought, at age 63, that I was getting too old for the efforts required for maintaining a boat and overnight fishing. Some time after I stupidly sold the boat I realized I missed boating and fishing. I bought, modified, and used on an almost weekly basis, three more boats over the next six years. Selling her was one of the stupidest things I have ever done – and I have a long list of stupid things I’ve done!

When I bought her, she was to be my “lake” boat, and I fished the Delta with the big Bayliner. But I soon realized the C-Dory was plenty of boat for both Delta and lake fishing and boating. Not long after that realization, I sold Midlife Cruises II and was happy to be back down to just one boat!

When I bought the C-Dory, she had a two stroke Merc and was a very basic boat with few conveniences and no electronics. I bought her a new 70 HP 4 stroke Suzuki and changed virtually everything on her – including even the wiring. Then I added thousands of dollars of equipment. When I foolishly sold her, she was the best equipped boat I ever owned. The following is the story I wrote online to the fishing community I took part in, after I sold her. I just cringe when I read it:

September 25, 2007

This is a sad announcement, but due to my aching bones and advancing age… FishWisher the boat has been SOLD!

FishWisher I: I sold my baby...
The new owners of FishWisher, father and son Mark and Austin Edwards – who are as likable and active in the outdoors as a family can be – wave as they prepare to tow their new boat home.

It is a bittersweet time for FishWisher the guy, but times change as we get older and I know this is what is best for me at this time.

I miss my baby, there’s no doubt of that. But  I don’t regret selling her as it was the right thing to do at this time of my life. I’ll always remember the great adventures I experienced aboard my beloved FishWisher I !”

What a gorgeous boat! What beautiful lines! What comfort! What great fishing and navigational equipment! What a fool I was to sell her!

FishWisher at Korth’s Pirate’s Lair on the San Joaquin River, June 2001.

C-Dorys are wonderful little boats built with economy in mind. The dory, by definition, is a boat with a narrow, flat bottom, high bow, and flaring sides. The flat bottom is the opposite of a deep V boat. There is little substance to push through the water, so it is an economical boat to power.

It has been likened to a “water Jeep” by some owners. They are rugged, built for hard use and very economical.

C-Dorys are built in Washington State. The very first one was delivered to Alaska – via water! They are quite common in Alaska due to their cabins and ability to handle pretty rough water.

Here’s more about my baby, FishWisher I:

Stern view at Vieira’s dock on the Old Sacramento River.


A 1987 22′ C-Dory Angler
All components are Year 2000 or newer: 2000 Suzuki 70 HP 4 stroke, 4 cyl EFI engine
Honda 8 HP Kicker w/TrollMaster
JRC 1500 radar
Autohelm Sportpilot Autopilot by Raytheon
Bottomline 6500 Sonar, Sidefinder, GPS, Chartplotter
2nd Sonar sidefinder w/aiming transducer (Portable)
Horizon AM/FM/Tape Radio
Horizon VHF Marine Radio
Horizon Loudhailer/Monitor
XM Satellite Radio
Toyotomi closed combustion heater
Bimini for cockpit
Simpson Delta anchor system, 100 ft. chain
Horizon 600 remote windlass
Scotty electric downriggers (2)
Troll Master trolling motor control
2003 Pacific galvanized tandem trailer.

Cabin Photos:

The Helm
Screens  are (left) Bottomline 6500 FF/GPS/Chartplotter and (right) JRC 1500 Radar Screen. Below are gauges, control panels, Sportpilot autopilot mounted on steering shaft, handsfree cell phone & speaker, windlass controls, etc.

Overhead Electronics Shelf
From left, smoke/CO detectors, Horizon AM/FM/Tape radio, Horizon loudhailer, Horizon VHF, fuse panel. Spotlight on far right (upper), XM radio above. 

FishWisher and our first motorhome. She really turned heads – especially behind the motorhome!

Some of the many projects I completed aboard FishWisher:

January  2002 and she was reupholstered.

The V-berth pad, galley benches and entry to the V-berth are now all re-upholstered in Sunbrella blue. I suspect that the old fabric was not original, though it was getting worn and in need of a change. Having had her little innards pulled out and made new, FishWisher the boat was quite happy with her new looks.

August  2001 drawers were built into the cabin.

This was a dramatic improvement, both in appearance and function. Thanks to my friend Chuck for the fine cabinetry work. Such craftsmen are hard to find these days!

The tackle tray, fuel tanks and batteries projects completed.
I installed the factory’s new custom molded 20 gallon tanks. The new tanks replaced the old 12 gallon metal tanks that were standard when my boat was built in 1987. The tanks are behind the white bulkheads on either side of this photo. The batteries now sit between the tanks, held in place against the tanks and the transom by composite blocks. Thanks to my friend Rich for fabricating that great looking stainless steel tackle tray.

A C-Dory has no deck built above the hull – the hull is the cockpit sole.

A dory, by definition, is a small, flat bottomed boat. The photos above show how flat the bottom of a C-Dory actually is.

~ FishWisher II ~

stbd qtr view
FishWisher II, a 2005 Klamath ADW 15′ aluminum boat.

Having foolishly sold the C-Dory in December of 2007, by early 2008 I had recognized my mistake and was looking for another boat. I bought this cute little 15′ Klamath in February of 2008. Yes, it was quite a step down from the C-Dory that was so well equipped and seaworthy, but it was an Ok lake boat. I used her in a limited way on the delta, and caught my share of sturgeon with her, but she was too small to take downriver to my favorite fishing area, Suisun Bay. I sold her in December of 2008 after buying the much more seaworthy North River; I wanted to fish Suisun Bay!

But her limitations didn’t stop me from loading her up with electronics:

Click to enlarge and read captions:

I towed FishWisher II with my little Chevy HHR or with the motorhome. Boat, motor and trailer weighed only 1200 pounds:Driveway22008-9-25-coach-klamath

~ FishWisher III~

2009-2-3-rig-2FishWisher III was an impulse buy and the only brand new fishing boat I ever owned.

It was back in 2008, during the late fall or winter if I recall correctly, that I visited the North River dealership in Sacramento with my fishing buddy, John. This beauty was on the showroom floor and I climbed aboard to look her over just for fun. The awesome construction and finish really impressed me. I was frustrated with the limitations of the little Klamath, and decided to buy the new North River!

Click on either photo to enlarge and read the captions:

I spent many happy hours fishing aboard the beautiful North River. She was a very seaworthy vessel that easily handled anything Suisun Bay could offer.

Last sturgeon trip of 2009
The North River came with a full canvas that made cold weather fishing tolerable. 

I installed all the usual electronics on the North River, of course. She had AM/FM/CD, VHF, and even XM radios, a Humminbird fishfinder/GPS/Chart plotter, windlass, electric downriggers, etc.

I installed an electric windlass with a 100′ chain rode. I had been spoiled by the windlasses on Midlife Cruises II and FishWisher I and had grown too old to be wrestling an anchor by hand!

A detailed project page for all the above upgrade projects is here.

~ FishWisher IV ~

FishWisher IV was a head-turner and a very comfortable and efficient fishing machine.

I purchased this beautiful 2009 C-Dory Angler 22′ in November of 2010 – and spent a small fortune setting her up as I wanted. The photo above shows her as she was after all the work. The posts detailing the many improvement projects are here.

Here she sits at the launch ramp at Brannan Island State Park near Rio Vista.

I purchased this very comfortable boat because I really missed being able to spend nights on the water – the North River just wasn’t built for such use and I wanted a bed to sleep in! This C-Dory had a comfy V-berth and I spent many nights aboard her on the delta.

Here she is towed by our second motorhome. This photo was taken at the Delta Marina in Rio Vista, which offered a ramp, overnight boat docking, and an RV park.  These motorhome and boat rigs made for real comfortable fishing trips of several days. I’d spend days fishing on the delta, then comfortable nights in the motorhome. Except, of course, for the nights I spent aboard the C-Dorys, which were single night trips for which I towed the boats with the pickup. What great memories!

I enjoyed this boat immensely for three years as she was very comfortable after all the upgrades. After sitting for three months during the summer of 2013, I realized the time had come to give up boating and fishing. I had to admit it just wasn’t much fun anymore because, at nearly 70, I was getting too old to enjoy the work involved.

The burgundy interior that replaced the awful dark original interior.

When I sold her, a fellow from San Diego bought her for ocean fishing and I heard that she did very well fishing tuna off the coast.

4 Responses to A History of My (Too Many) Boats

  1. Charlie Jonsson says:

    I just purchased FishWisher 1 from Mark yesterday and will be picking it up this Wednesday. She is still in good shape and I plan on re powering her with a 90 Yamaha in a few weeks! I have two boys 16 and 12 that will be enjoying the boat fishing with me and wanted to let you know she is in good hands. I enjoyed your article about the upgrades you did and your photos still hang in the cabin with the sturgeon.
    Hope all is well and feel free to contact me if you would like,

  2. FishWisher says:

    Hi Charlie –

    Congrats on your new boat – I really was proud of her and I trust that she still looks good and is a fine boat. If you would, please email a photo of her to me at fishwishr at yahoo dot com Note the missing e in fishwishr.

    Does she still have the autopilot I put on her? I tried to put the same on the next C-Dory and they were no longer available. The one I got for the second C-Dory would not work at slow, trolling speeds and I could not find one that would.

    My second C-Dory had a 90 HP Honda and I’m sure you’ll appreciate the added power. That Yamaha will look good on her.

    She sure was a comfy, year ’round boat for me and I hope you find her to be all you expect her to be.

    Thanks for the note.


  3. BoatingList says:

    Angler boat was my first boat, too. They’re very nice, and I’m grateful that my first boat experience was so good.

    • FishWisher says:

      Thanks for the visit and the note. Yes, those Angler models from C-Dory were fine boats. I’m surprised there are relatively few of them compared to the Cruiser model.

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