SPEEDO-Designed for the kids
By Sean Michael
Our bachelor Uncle Johnny learned cabinet making and boat building from his immigrant Swedish uncle -skills he was pleased to pass on to his niece and nephews. Uncle Johnny became accomplished in the design, repair and building of wooden boats. Living in Minnesota he did his building when the water became too hard to float boats. He initially built traditionally planked fishing, runabout, and cruisers, later moving into plywood over frame, even in his later years allowing for fiberglass to cover his wood.
Johnny designed Speedo in 1958. With our assistance, he built a total of twelve, 3 of which we kept for the family. The last Speedo was built in 1972 -the one I keep for our kids. Speedo is 8 feet long, built with ¼” ply over sitka spruce framing. Speedos have a pram bow with classic hard chine lines. She carries up to 20 hp motors. The first Speedo was powered by an old green 54 Johnson. As a lark, we fitted a Speedo with removeable side boards, a rudder and sail. She actually sailed well. Back when I was 14 and 50 pounds lighter we fitted a Speedo with a 1952 KG-7Q Mercury and saw 37-38 mph. We know this to be an accurate speed as the local Washington County Sherriff’s boat would chase us at its top speed of 35 mph and we walked away from the deputy every time (all done in fun).
Uncle Johnny was the consummate teacher, showing patience and tolerance while passing on the skills of boating safety, handling, repair, and renovation. We practically grew up at Johnny’s cabin in Forest Lake, MN where he taught us to ski behind a converted fishing boat that he built up to become a great little ski-boat, powered by an old reliable 57 maroon and white Johnson. Over the years we brought home project boats including cedar planked c-scows, x-boats and built from scratch a b-class catamaran and snipe. No matter how large the fleet became, the little Speedo was the favorite for pure fun. Over the years we have had far more boats than money. Brother Brian had a successful yacht brokerage on the St.Croix River in Stillwater Minnesota. He personally owned several classic cruisers, trawlers, and even a teak 38 ft junk. I’ve owned several sail and power boats, topped off by a 1960 30 ft Chris Craft Cavelier, a 42 ft Tayana for blue water sailing, a Mainship 390 in which we completed the great loop. We have never parted with the fond memories and love for Uncle Johnny and our fun little Speedo.