Guest Writer – by Kyles Cordes

From Lake Michigan To The Delta

Have you seen the SUDAN cruising around the Delta? She’s a 1963 Chris Craft Cavalier Fiesta currently owned by Susan and Kyle Cordes of Stockton. 
Susan was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, number three of four kids. Her dad worked at US Steel in Gary and her mom was a homemaker. The family’s recreational focus was boating on nearby Lake Michigan.

In 1969, her dad bought the 1963 Chris Craft. It was his pride and joy. He named it SUDAN, for his three kids, Susan, David and Ann. Younger brother Jim wouldn’t come along for four more years. The family spent many weekends on the boat in the summer and stored it in the family pole barn in the winter. Her dad had made a trailer for the boat by mounting the original shipping cradle onto a mobile home trailer. 

Susan at the helm as a pre-teen in 1979 on Lake Michigan.

Life happened and the kids grew up and left home. The boat was last on Lake Michigan in 2002. Younger brother Jim was the only one to stay in the area. He inherited the boat when their dad passed away in 2015. By then Susan and I were living in Northern California and would soon discover the Delta, thanks to good friends Terry and Bridget Sholin. 

SUDAN cleaned and ready to leave Indiana August 15, 2019.

Being from Indiana, Susan and I like to make an annual trip back and attend the Indianapolis 500. In May of 2019 we invited Terry and Bridget to come along. We decided to make a side trip to visit brother Jim as Terry wanted to see the old boat. Terry had already planted the seed that we should bring it back to the Delta. Also, Terry loves all things motorized including motorcycles, cars and boats. He had heard Susan talk about the pole barn with the beloved boat and some classic cars including her dad’s 1953 Oldsmobile convertible and her grandmother’s 1964 Chevelle among other random cars. So we had to show Terry the barn. Tucked away in the back corner was the SUDAN, which hadn’t seen water for 17 years. Jim had annually turned over the 283 V8 to keep it from seizing but otherwise the only visitors had been mice, lots of mice. 

SUDAN arriving at Ox Bow Marina on August 18, 2019.

Terry was able to look beyond all the droppings and see that the boat had been well cared for mechanically, even if ignored for all these years. And he continued to fertilize the seed he had planted – that this could be a Delta boat. 

Terry and Susan plotted while Kyle and Bridget tried to offer voices of reason. When there is passion involved, does reason ever win? Susan always loved that boat. And Terry is always up for an adventure. 

Welcoming home party at Ox Bow Marina.

Jim was agreeable to give Susan and I the boat, as moving it would free up some space in his otherwise full pole barn.

Over the next couple of months, I investigated options for transporting the boat from Indiana to California. In the end, circumstances led us to just move it on the old trailer their dad built. Jim repacked the bearings and put on new tires. The electric brakes still worked fine. Jim vacuumed droppings out of the boat and stuffed the cabin with any spare boat parts that were still around. He moved cars around to be able to get the boat out of the barn. 

In August 2019, Terry had some time so he took 2 and a half days and drove our truck 2,000+ miles to Indiana and picked up Jim and the boat. Terry and Jim immediately headed to California, taking turns at the wheel, arriving at Ox Bow Marina on August 18.

An adult Susan now at the helm of SUDAN in the Delta.

The next week we took SUDAN, still on the trailer, to Delta Boat Works to launch it. There was the usual panic while inserting fresh packing in the prop shaft gland, but the plywood hull didn’t otherwise take on too much water. It made an uneventful trip to its slip at Ox Bow Marina. 
Subsequently, she’s gotten new interior upholstery, a bimini top from West Coast Canvas, and bottom paint from Pacific Boat Works. Ernie Wilkinson re-aligned the prop shaft after the bottom paint. Thank goodness for expertise in the Delta!

Preparing SUDAN for one of many Ox Bow Marina holiday parades.

Now you’ll see the SUDAN cruising around the Delta or participating in any of the Marina West Yacht Club boat parades around Ox Bow.

Co-Publisher’s Note:
It was a pleasure meeting both Kyle and Susan Cordes at the Pacific Sail & Power Boat Show in May. Their conversations with Jackie Philpott and myself were very enjoyable and it was nice to hear the pride when speaking of their Chris Craft. Thanks to both for taking the time to share a little of SUDAN’S travel to our beloved Delta. I hope to one day cross paths again… on the water hopefully.