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Highfield Boats - Power - LEADERBOARD

Restored 1929 Chris-Craft Commuter Cruiser – Willow

by Coeur Customs 5 Oct 07:48 PDT
1929 Chris-Craft Commuter Cruiser – Willow © Coeur Customs

There are boats, and then there are legends. Every so often, along comes a wood yacht of such rare pedigree and beauty that we fall in love all over again. This is such a craft, a masterpiece that redefines beauty, grace and craftsmanship.

First launched in 1929 for her owner, businessman William F. Ladd of New York City, she was the finest thing on the water. The top of the line in the Chris-Craft fleet, she earned the nickname Queen of the Fleet. Today, more than ever, that honor holds true. She has won the highest awards in five major Pacific Northwest wood boat shows.

This is a legacy boat, an opportunity to own an incredible piece of history. She was Chris-Craft's first-ever Commuter Cruiser model, and Mr. Ladd used her to commute from his summer home in Long Island to his office in Manhattan. She is 38 feet long, with seating for twelve passengers in the forward cockpit, bridge deck and aft cockpit. Most of her vintage features are restored intact. Today, that makes her an incredible boat for entertaining in the spirit and style of the Roaring 20s. Your guests have never seen anything like her.

This yacht is in the finest condition of her life since she was brand new. She has been recently repowered, and has been restored to the highest of standards by Coeur Custom Wood Boats with no expense spared. Her teak decks are brand new. The cabin is mahogany and the hull is mahogany on oak. She has a full galley, electric-flush head with Pullman-style sink, four berths (the very first Chris-Craft to have this feature) and upholstery redone in the dark green original style.

"This is the true definition of a wood boat," says Jim Brown, master craftsman at Coeur Custom, in charge of her latest refit. "Each boat that we build, that we work on, that we restore, has its own personality. They have a character to them; they speak to you. She is a living, breathing, beautiful lady. If you take care of her, she'll take great care of you."

The boat is for sale by Jerry Gilbreath, nine-time world offshore champion and holder of more than 25 speed records. Jerry is a consultant to Coeur Custom as part of the design team. This yacht captured his eye and his heart, and he spent considerable money to have her brought up to perfection. Today, Jerry is moving onto other projects and is quite reluctantly ready to pass the legacy along to the next proud owner. Where will her story lead?


  • Year: 1929
  • Designer: Chris Smith
  • Builder: Chris-Craft
  • Length: 38 ft. 0 in.
  • Beam: 9 ft. 9 in.
  • Draft: 2 ft. 7 in.
  • Displacement: 12,000 lbs.
  • Bowthruster: 12 volt
  • Construction: Mahogany on oak hull, new teak deck, mahogany cabin

Engine and drivetrain:

Mercury 383 mag stroker, fuel injected gasoline V8, fresh water cooled. The engine drives a 20/17 Nibral 3-blade propeller via a 2.04:1 reduction gear transmission and a 1-3/8 inch stainless shaft. Full engine controls and instrumentation at helm.


Two 65-gallon fuel tanks, 18-gallon drinking water tank, 36-gallon wastewater tank.


One GRP 27, 12-volt starting battery, two GRP 27 12-volt house batteries, and one GRP 27 bowthruster battery. She has a Pro Marine 4-stage, 20-amp, 120-volt battery charger for charging with a shorepower cord, a 50-amp engine alternator charges all the batteries when the engine runs. She is protected with 12-volt and 120-volt circuit breaker panels. Electrical outlets in the cabin and the battery charger are 120 volt. All else is 12 volt.

Accommodations and layout:

Storage in forepeak. Next aft is the forward cockpit with bench seating. Forward cockpit has snap-on canvas cover. Next aft through the door, to port is the galley. The galley has a porcelain sink with hand pump, an ice box, cabinets and drawers. Across from the galley, to starboard, is the head compartment with electric-flush head and folding porcelain Pullman-style sink.

Next aft to port is a cabinet with leaded-glass door. On the starboard side there's a closet. Next aft is the main salon, with two settee berths across from each other, the backrests swing up to horizontal to form two additional berths making for a total of four. The table between settees swings and fastens aside, which makes for easy passage through the cabin. She has all dark-green upholstery and accents, per the original in 1929.

Aft of the cabin and up steps is the open bridge-deck with the helm on the port side and seats port and starboard along the back, as well as ample room for other deck chairs on the bridge-deck. It also has a canvas bimini top which folds down, and canvas weather panels on both port and starboard sides. Aft, down the steps there is an aft cockpit with a full bench seat to the aft to seat several and extra room for deck chairs.


Lighted compass in binnacle. Uniden QT206 depth sounder with alarm. VHF radio.

Deck equipment:

Danforth anchor with 20 feet of chain and 200 feet of nylon rode line is marked in 50 foot increments. Dock lines, bumpers, boat hook.

Safety equipment:

Running lights and anchor light per US Coast Guard regulations. Helm, cabin, deck, and cockpit lighting. Search light mounted at helm. Three automatic bilge pumps. Engine room blower and automatic fire extinguisher. Portable fire extinguisher in the closet. Life jackets and throw rings, horn, flares.


She is in immaculate condition after her rebuild in 2006 and her recent restoration in 2020. All instruments and systems were new in 2006, the engine new in 2016. She is boathouse-kept and professionally maintained. In 2008, her owners spent $35,000 on the boat. In 2020, the owner invested another $300,000 to bring her to the very highest standards.

Selling price: $425,000

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