Free Floater: 1973 Penn Yan Cruiser

Finding a free vehicle can at least take the initial sting out of a big restoration project. This is one of those cases. This 1973 Penn Yan Cruiser is a 26-foot boat of your dreams, if you’ve been dreaming of taking a 3-hour cruise, a 3-hour cruise… It’s posted here on craigslist with an asking price of $0.00. Is that cheap enough? Of course, there will be a not-inexpensive moving cost involved, but hey, the boat is free! It’s located in Jackson, New Jersey, a mere 25 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Thanks to Pat Lamb for submitting this floating find!

There are no engine photos but Penn Yan‘s famous Tunnel Drive system was just what it sounds like, it partially-encapsulated the prop, or props, in this case. It protected them from damage with a 5-foot long tunnel with “no gear below the keel line. Genius.

I recently sold my 1930s inboard Mullins Sea Eagle so whenever I see a boat like this it brings back memories of owning a project boat. Although, my Sea Eagle didn’t weigh almost 8,000 pounds so moving this one will be a chore, especially if you’re not on the east coast. I believe this boat is a Vindicator Cuddy Flybridge model.

This is a cabin cruiser, but it may not be big enough for the Howells, Ginger, Mary Ann, and the Professor to all fit in there during any time that the weather starts to get rough, tossing this tiny ship. Luckily, the courage of the fearless crew will get you through, and you’ll learn how to live on coconuts and have several wardrobe changes even though it was originally just a three-hour cruise. This boat will obviously need a total restoration and like most restoration projects, this one will be a labor of love because a finished boat of this spec/year/model could most likely be purchased for much less than doing a full restoration on this free example. But, we’re not in this business to make money, we’re in it because we love to save old vehicles! Who’s with me!?

I guess when you’re giving away a free boat you’re not super worried about the photos being the best quality. If a person had experience with nautical restorations this one is probably easy-peasy.  It has two V8 engines, but no word on the size or horsepower rating, or condition. I’m assuming that they’ll need restoration, too. Is there anyone out there who has restored a boat? How about one of this size?

Fast Finds


  1. Dairymen

    You know what “boat” stands for:


    • john taggart Member

      better have a few thousands to bust to fix this one up but they were made just 25 miles from where I live great boats

  2. Jeffro

    2 best days of a boat owners life? The day he buys it and the day he sells it!

    Like 1
    • racer99

      Been there done that.

  3. Unfairadvantage

    BOAT: noun; a hole in the water you throw money into.

  4. Coventrycat

    What you throw money at if you don’t own a British car.

  5. Francisco

    It would make a nice planter in your back yard. Refer to picture 5. The wife will love you for this.

  6. bcavileer

    These ooze character. We restored a 1978 Trojan 30 and. Then a 1979 C &C Landfall 38.. Not for the faint of heart , but oh the great style and atmosphere. Go for it. Memories are forever, and hard work never killed anyone.
    We laugh about the ludicrous amout of effort and money spent ,but would not have changed a thing about those years. And I restore british cars too… should i have been committed?

  7. newport pagnell

    Now that the boat jokes are out of the way,one of my neighbors had a 30ft (12ft beam) Penn Yan and it was a great running(stable) and well built hull. 2 ft draft makes for easy dockage in skinny water.

  8. Dave Wright

    I like Penn Yans of this vintage a lot……..and made most of my fortune in the marine trade. I hate outdrives and have no fondness for outboards, these are a tunnel hull design with a simple trouble free Borg Warner gear on an automotive type engine (most commonly) to me that eliminates 50% of the frustration in small boat ownership. We don’t see many of them in the west but I really like there design. There are other manufacturers with the same idea, Shamrock, the Mastercraft ski boats, some Chriscraft runabouts. These guys tried to incorporate it into an easily trailerable cruiser. Penn Yan is an old classic boat manufacturer that cut there teeth on magnificent classic wooden boats and canoes.

    Like 2
  9. Tony Goodner II

    So question your kid wants to move out of the house but he has nothing. This would be a great starter apartment that could be parked in the back yard..

    • Jeffro

      Tony…you win the Internet today for that comment.

  10. Francisco

    This is a fiberglass hulled boat, but I always liked the way Penn Yans were designed to look like they had wooden planks for hulls. You will need a big-assed tandem trailer, and pretty powerful pickup to haul this vessel. Launching will not be for the faint hearted. This is the kind of boat you want to cruise and live in. You can summer in the Chesapeake Bay, and head south on the Intercoastal Waterway for a winter in Miami. Maybe even hop over to Bimini on a calm sea.I did all this 45 years ago so I know it can be done.

    Like 1
    • Tom Member

      The kind of boat you want to cruise and live in…….I guess my bigger concern is what’s living in it now!!

      “Needs SOME work”…..?? I think I am going to need a new definition for the word SOME..

  11. johnj

    I always liked the Penn Yan design. The tunnel drive is a great setup if you run in shallow water but they are however very inefficient, an I/O , outboard or even straight inboard is a much better bet if you don’t need the shallow draft. And they don’t steer very well while backing. The later Penn Yans had an improved tunnel /rudder design, the one listed here is the older style. I gave away my ’78 26 foot Penn Yan Sport Fisherman with its pair of 255 hp chevy 350’s, got to expensive for me to run.

    • Dave Wright

      You need to study mechanical engineering. Every time you change the direction of power it costs by loosing energy. An outboard changes power once from the engine driveshaft, an IO does it twice, a straight drive looses a small amount because of the angle the prop sits in the water but nothing like the 90% curves in either of the other designs. In the case of the IO (changes power direction twice) the outdrive is always in the process of eating itself, in the outboard the lower is wearing seals and gears. While reducing fuel economy and power delivered to the water.

      • Dave Wright

        Also the reason a similarly equipped Mini will outrun a Sprite…….same engine……..more power to the ground.

    • Francisco

      To steer when backing up, you make use of the speed and opposing directions of your two props.

  12. Drew V

    If it Flies, Floats or Fornicates, it’s cheaper to rent…

  13. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Not sure how this fits in with the Barn Find concept. I do like your unusual motor vehicles though. And I do like watercraft’s, but I am a canoe guy, owning six. I like most of your posts Scotty but I notice you use a lot of the cropped photos. Not a fan. Thankfully only one today. Like my buddy Jimmy sang, Son of a Son of a sailor. Take care, Mike. Keep the unusual motor vehicle stuff coming.

    • Scotty Staff

      Thanks, Mike. The odd photo thing is because when there’s a vertical photo we have to make it into a horizontal format to match the others by combining two of the same image. I do seem to do that a lot, I must pick the weird listings that have more vertical photos than the other folks’ listings maybe. They do look strange but there’s really no other way to get them all in the same format that I know of.

  14. john C

    Ahhhh,… variety is the spice in life. Fantastic job from ‘all’ the BarnFinds folks !!! I have enjoyed and learned and benefited from the contributors comments as well .

  15. Howard A Member

    This is a cool boat. Boats, especially like this, have all but faded from the scene, at least in these here parts. ( and the Edmund Fitzgerald is STILL on my mind, so you wouldn’t catch me out on the big lake they call “Gitche Gumee” in this) Been around boats all my life, not this fancy, runabouts mostly. Used to be, a family could buy a cheap boat, shlep it to a lake with the station wagon, and have a nice afternoon. This requires a diesel truck, a launching crew, and a no-limit credit card to fuel the afternoon.( these use a lot of fuel) I heard that too, but could be applied to many hobbies, it’s fun to buy, it’s great to sell. Can’t even give it away, that tells you something. That concrete block setup looks like something my old man used to do. It does kind of look like the S.S. Minnow.

  16. Mike

    Unfortunately, even boat enthusiasts won’t take a “free” boat like this…there are literally thousands of free boats out there. You cannot give them away (I believe this is how this phrase began, lol).

  17. Bob S

    That looks like a nice boat to me. Wonder how the engines are? never owned a boat. They don’t have brakes, suspension or rust out. How is this harder to fix up than a car?

  18. Rock On

    Since it is free, I would salvage the two engines and scrap the boat. Would probably make a good artificial reef.

  19. Howard A Member

    Can’t find much on these, but one video shows it as having twin Chrysler 318’s. Not sure why one is red and the other blue.

    • racer99

      Opposite rotation?

      • Howard A Member

        Hi racer, so if one motor quits, you have to “corkscrew” your way home? :)

    • Loco Mikado

      So you can tell which engine is the port one and which is the starboard one.

    • moosie Craig

      Port/Starboard maybe ?
      ‘scuse me Loco Mikado.

  20. John M

    Dumb question here..
    It is laid up on blocks. How would you get this onto a trailer to get it out of there?? Do you need to rent a crane?

  21. Dave G.

    The port side 318 spins normal rotation. The Starboard side spins opposite rotation. They should both be marine blue…but, guess they can paint it whatever they want. Maybe it came out of a car…(Looks like the red one is on the port side.)
    No need for a crane. Several boat jacks will lift it up enough to get a
    trailer underneath. (There are youtube videos showing how this is done.)
    I recently loaded my 66 Luhrs Alura (29′) from blocks/jacks on to a trailer. Took LOTS of patience and making sure the boat (3 tons) was always level!

  22. Jack Couch

    Awesome Yard Art! :o)

  23. johnj

    Its common practice to repower a straight inboard or I/o boat with an outboard, often on an extension bracket. They seem to pick up both economy and speed when converted. Outboards and I/O setups also give you the ability to trim the drive to the best angle for the speed and conditions. The Penn Yan design with the props up in a “pocket” don’t get the clean water like a outboard or I/o lower unit so they loose efficiency.

    • Alan Robbins

      If the transom is up to the load, sure, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with the straight inboard except for the exposed prop in a dual engine setup. An I/O is exactly the same as an outboard… That’s what the “O” stands for.

      If props in a pocket are a bad idea then millions of Sea Ray owners must be wrong.

  24. Randall

    send me a check for 1,800. I’ll remove it and you get a tax write off 386 409 1381

    • Howard A Member

      Hmm, a “reverse barn find”,,,,interesting concept. Probably the best option yet, you pay me!

  25. Stu

    A young wife, her boorish husband and a young good-looking captain were shipwrecked on an island. One morning, the captain climbed a tall coconut tree and yelled, “Stop making love down there!” “What’s the matter with you?” the husband said when the captain climbed down. ‘”We weren’t making love.” “Sorry,” said the captain, “From up there it looked like you were.” Every morning thereafter, the captain scaled the same tree and yelled the same thing. Finally the husband decided to climb the tree and see for himself. With great difficulty, he made his way to the top. The husband says to himself, “By golly he’s right! It DOES look like they’re making love down there!”

    Like 1
    • Tom Member

      Totally unrelated but …….well that’s funny right there!

  26. John Hess Member

    Did a restore on a 26′ Orlando Clipper back when, fibreglass boat but floor inside is plywood, used marine plywood covered in fiberglass but got soft in 4-5 years. Heavy boats, could have a couple Chevy 6’s, rather have 350’s. And yup, lots of $$$$, when it sez marine parts. Also in salt water need to change all the steel gaskets, plugs W/brass. Yup will need at tandem trailer but can be loaded easiy if know what your doing

  27. johnj

    Many different companies do marine conversions to auto engines. Omc, Mercruizer, PCM, Pleasure Craft and many more. I would guess one engine was replaced and was marinized by a different company. Maybe a complete used engine from another boat? Most of the earlier Penn Yans I have seen have Chrysler power, later ones GM like the one I had. Using forward/reverse thrust to back and turn is how its done, but is still hindered by the tunnel compared to straight inboards, I/O’s or Outboard’s.

  28. Loco Mikado

    Using twin engines alone you can turn your boat in a little over it’s own length.

  29. Bob

    I had a 73 Pen Yan Day Cruiser 22′, single engine, it was a Chrysler 340 and it was blue, it ran like a scalded dog, the best running boat I ever had, I got it for free and put about 2200.00 into the shaft, bushings and trim tabs, I also had the prop reconditioned. This boat doesn’t look like it needs too much work on the outside, but I know it probably needs about 5000.000 worth of engine, shaft, prop and bushing work done to it. They are great boats when they are working properly and they are very smooth on the water. If I wouldn’t have to pay about 5 grand to get it to my house I would take it !

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