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Old 11-18-2022, 04:22 PM   #1
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Chris Craft Constellation

I am new to the forum and looking for a voice of reason. I have wanted a Chris Craft since I was a teenager, and have managed this obsession all my life. I suddenly find myself obsessed with the desire to own a mid-80s Constellation, and despite all the research I have done suggesting that this is not the best idea, at 62 years of age, I don't care. I have previous boating experience, but nothing in the realm of a big boat. I live in south Texas, and Corpus Christi would probably be my Port of choice. I am hoping that some of you sane, experienced gentlemen will regal me with tales of ownership horror, to save me from myself.

Thank you for your help, Mike.
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Old 11-18-2022, 04:27 PM   #2
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Welcome aboard. How big of a Connie are you looking at. We looked at a 50’ one a couple of years ago. It was impeccably maintained but the boat owner also owned the marina and yard. He said he kept his crews busy during the winter working on his Connie. The amount of systems was staggering and I decided it wasn’t for me. I also loved a 47’ Connie but I was too big for the small engine room and the fuel capacity was small. But I did love the lines on them. Heck, I have bought 2 41’ boats since I was 62, ah the younger days…
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Old 11-18-2022, 04:48 PM   #3
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We are looking at a 50' 1985/86 model. I feel like it is reasonably modern in terms of technology, but beautifully classic in execution. Clearly, at this very moment, my heart has my brain in a head lock.
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Old 11-18-2022, 04:48 PM   #4
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The mid-80s Constellations are fiberglass, not wood, so much lower maintenance. Presumably it's a 460 / 500 / 501. All are well built from what I know and have Pacemaker and Uniflite heritage. Pacemaker designed it as a 46, then Uniflite ended up with it when they went under. Chris Craft ended up with it after that. Somewhere in there it got stretched to 50 feet and then the 501 was an updated version.
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Old 11-18-2022, 04:59 PM   #5
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That is my understanding as well, after untold hours of research. The 500 has my attention, the layout seems to appeal to us, but we have yet to see one in person.
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Old 11-18-2022, 05:48 PM   #6
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It is a big boat. Very nice boat. For a while Ed Mcmahon, of the Johnny Carson Show, was part owner of Murray Chris Craft and had either a 500 or a 501.
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Old 11-18-2022, 05:56 PM   #7
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I took a serious look at a 501 back in 2010. It had 4 staterooms and two big DD692's. The wife wanted fewer staterooms and a bigger saloon. That was the only reason we passed. I thought the boat was well built on initial inspection.
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Old 11-18-2022, 06:23 PM   #8
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We have spent a tremendous amount of time researching countless makes and models, originally starting in the 40-foot range. After multiple spreadsheets, and various scoring systems applied to the various boats in said spreadsheets, the winner is always the 500. 3 staterooms, 3 heads, 2 giant Detroit Diesel 6V92 engines and all. Unfortunately, my wife is all in, and loves the boat too. See my dilemma? I truly am here for a voice of reason.
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Old 11-18-2022, 06:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 72tpiK5 View Post
We have spent a tremendous amount of time researching countless makes and models, originally starting in the 40-foot range. After multiple spreadsheets, and various scoring systems applied to the various boats in said spreadsheets, the winner is always the 500. 3 staterooms, 3 heads, 2 giant Detroit Diesel 6V92 engines and all. Unfortunately, my wife is all in, and loves the boat too. See my dilemma? I truly am here for a voice of reason.
Ok, then you have to start seriously looking for a nice one. There is no way out since your wife is all inÖ
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Old 11-18-2022, 07:10 PM   #10
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Might also look at the Hatteras 53 Motoryacht, late 70's vintage. That was my teen dream. Some amazingly well maintained ones occasionally come on the market. Beautiful woodwork.
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Old 11-18-2022, 08:00 PM   #11
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Hi Mike,
YachtWorld has three 500's listed now, an '85, '86 and '87... might be time for a road trip to take a peek at one of them.
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Old 11-18-2022, 08:36 PM   #12
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I like that one of them is in Boyne City, Michigan, freshwater boat.
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Old 11-18-2022, 09:40 PM   #13
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Ah, the Chris Connie, great memories of the 32 woodie from the 50's. Still one of the boats that get a long look.
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Old 11-19-2022, 09:59 AM   #14
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We've owned a 1986 460 for almost 10 years and 22k miles so I'm not the one to talk you out of looking for one of these beautiful boats! Two of those years were full time and the interior space is perfect for a couple with occasional guests.

Murray Chris Craft only built 29 of the 460's and 99 of the 500's so you are much more likely to find a 500 for sale. For us the 460 is perfect, didn't need the third head (with "tub") or bigger engines etc. We have the Covington Marine DD 6-71ti's and love them. Just over 700 hours when we bought is now in the 3000's and running well. Everything needed for service is mirrored between the engines so filters, oil fill, coolant and impellors are very easy to access. There are also no belts on these engines to service, everything is gear driven including the alternator. The only need to pull the large floor panels is to change the zinc in the cooler which is outboard.

The one poor design flaw was placing the fresh water tank in the bilge running from the office back under the fuel tanks in the master stateroom. Most of these corroded and leaked with no easy access to replace. On ours some PO installed a poly tank under the couch in the office which works but is only about 90 gallons.

One great design and I'm not sure all Connie's have it is the folding radar arch which allows us to get down to 17' when needed. This was perfect for our Great Loop trip and allowed us to go through downtown Chicago.

We've been looking for a smaller/faster boat for the past several years due to only spending about 6 months on board annually but we're spoiled by the amount of space we have and doubt we can ever downsize at this point.

We'll be starting our second Loop in the spring and taking a few years to complete this one with the Downeast Loop in our 2024 plans.

Bottom line (and yes, I'm biased) you can't go wrong if you find a well taken care of Connie. They have the classic lines you don't find in newer boats and not too much teak to care for! Good luck in your search and feel free to reach out with further question.
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Old 11-19-2022, 10:09 AM   #15
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Greetings,
Welcome aboard. Can't add anything to what has already been offered and I agree that if your wife is on board, you're getting a CC.
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Old 11-19-2022, 10:14 AM   #16
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We have a huge old Chris Craft in the far back corner of our marina storage yard. We've been at our marina 11 years now and it's never moved. It's been gradually deteriorating each year "Hotel California." Sad to see, they sure were grand old boats.
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Old 11-19-2022, 11:11 AM   #17
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Simply put, you can't beat a Chris Craft "Connie". The older ones are wood which for obvious reasons you should go into with eyes wide open. Later ones are fiberglass and said to be bulletproof.

Another consideration would be the Chris Craft "Commander" also fiberglass. But of the typical Chris Craft design.

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Old 11-19-2022, 11:38 AM   #18
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I'm not sure why I thought I would find a voice of reason here, you guys clearly have this boat obsession worse than I do. I have read that due to the age of the engines, it is getting hard to find mechanics that are familiar with them. I guess the 6V92 outlives the mechanics. On the other hand, I have read that they are the simplest form of a marine diesel engine, and will run forever with clean fuel, fresh oil, and adequate cooling. My takeaway at this point is to find a boat that you like enough to make you take the risk of the unknown.
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Old 11-19-2022, 11:39 AM   #19
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I like the one in Michigan also, too bad I live in south Texas.
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Old 11-19-2022, 11:54 AM   #20
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We have looked at the Hatteras 53, and it is a beautiful boat as well, but the Chris Craft seems to appeal to us more.
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