Well known as he is in the performance-boating community for his approachable good nature, Jim Lee is even better known for Freedom, the 46-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran he owned for years and ran in poker runs and other events around the country. Like the man who owned the boat until last summer, Freedom is a classic.
Once its quarter canopies are gone and a wraparound windshield is in their place, the Freedom Skater catamaran will have a more modern look but the same recognizable graphics when it debuts at this summer’s Boyne Thunder Poker Run.
Not wanting to mess with the overall look and legacy of the one-of-a-kind 46-footer, current owner Tom Borisch, who bought the boat from Lee, decided early on to leave the boat’s graphics intact. But the catamaran’s existing F-16-style quarter canopies had to go—as did much of its interior—and to that end he turned to Chris Mills at Boat Customs Paint and Design in Caledonia, Mich.
“Chris has been hard at work bringing Freedom into the modern age,” said Borisch, who previously owned the turbine engine-powered Low Altitude 50-foot Mystic catamaran. “It’s going to have a brand-new wraparound windshield and a lot more.
“Chris completely gutted it—I think he took about 2,000 pounds of junk out of it,” he continued. “He basically tore the cockpit out of it. He had to cut off a lot of the deck and replaced the racing hatches with modern hatches. The top deck is being repainted with the existing Freedom color scheme. We didn’t have to touch the hull sides or bottom.”
But the hull sides and bottom were about the only parts of the catamaran left untouched by Mills and his crew.
“We basically cut out the flat part of deck from the windshield back,” said Mills. “We also redid the engine hatch with new scoops. We updated one of the bulkheads, literally cut out the stairwell that went to the storage and couch area and stripped out all of that. We made it one flat floor like you’d have in a new 46-footer Skater. The new windshield is from Lee Aerospace so I know Jim is excited to see it.
“We pulled out every wire, every hose, every fitting and piece of hardware,” he continued. “It’s getting new transmissions, new exhaust, a new GPS. We even got a new trailer for it. Right now, we’re just finishing putting on the new windshield.”
Boat Customs gutted the Freedom Skater—just check out the slideshow above.
Even though he hasn’t run the boat since he bought it last summer, Borisch also knew that he wanted to replace its existing Boyd Racing Engines powerplants. So he sent a pair of 1,550-hp Sterling Performance engines he owned and had in storage back to Mike D’Anniballe and his crew in Milford, Mich., where they were torn down, inspected and refreshed. Mystic Powerboats of DeLand, Fla., will handle installing and rigging the engines, which will be paired with new Mercury Racing No. 6 dry sump drives.
“The engines look new,” said Borisch. “But they’re actually pretty old.”
The boat is scheduled to arrive at Mystic during the first week in May. The general public will get its first look at the renovated Freedom catamaran during the Boyne Thunder Poker Run July 7-8 in Boyne City, Mich.
“We’re going to have it there,” said Borisch. “And it’s going to be in the poker run.”