I’ve been on hand for deliveries of new boats such as J.P. O’Donoghue’s Lickity Split, the over-the-top DCB Performance Boats M35 Widebody catamaran powered by Mercury Racing 1350 engines, and Wired Up, the stellar 48-foot MTI cat with the same power owned by Oklahoma performance boater Jake Nossaman. I’ve also interviewed countless of owners after they took delivery of their dream boats — whether that was a new Cigarette, Hustler or Nor-Tech, or a pre-owned boat from the likes of Eliminator, Fountain or Sunsation that they hoped to make their own.
Despite all that, I think I might have interviewed the happiest — or at least most deserving — new owner ever this week. Steve Freeman lives in Georgia with his lovely wife, Cyndi, who, by the way, loves going fast on the water just as much as he does, and his new boat is the well-known classic-deck 36-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran built in 2004 Color Me Bad.
Freeman, who is president of Performance Landscaping Inc., in Atlanta, has had a tough go of it lately. He started taking responsibility for the care of his elderly parents two years ago, and unfortunately on February 11 of this year he lost his father and hero — Richard Freeman, III, an accomplished civil litigation attorney and Naval Academy graduate (Class of 1958) who served in both the Korean and Vietnam wars.
And just two months later, according to Freeman, his dear mother, Anne, has taken a turn for the worse so the new boat couldn’t have come at a better time to take his mind off of things.
“I’ve owned a boat for the last 30 years of my life, but I put everything on the back burner to focus on caring for my parents and work, of course,” said Freeman, who also lost Skater, his cat of 18 years that was named after his favorite boat brand, a year ago. “When the opportunity to purchase Color Me Bad came together on Monday, my wife told me ‘You need this boat — you deserve to be happy again.’ So I decided to buy it. And you know what? She’s right. It’s definitely helping take some of the pain away. I miss my dad, there was no one like him, but at least I know he’d be very happy for us.”
Freeman has owned a variety of powerboats between his latest — a 28-foot outboard-powered Skater cat that he owned for 13 years — and the ones before that — a 28-foot Pantera raceboat, a 10-meter Fountain and a 22-foot Scarab. But there’s no doubt the Skater 36 Classic, which he called his dream boat, is likely to be his favorite.
“My 28 Skater, which was originally the Mercury Racing boat that set the unbroken Ketchikan to Seattle record in 1999 with Kurt Willows and Paul Whittier in the boat, was a fast, fun boat — it ran 115 mph all day and it could run faster than 120 mph in the right conditions,” Freeman said. “I sold it in January 2016 to a guy from Bermuda who is racing it over there. I loved that boat because you really had to drive it, but inevitably we needed something bigger. We were getting beat up a little in the bigger water, which isn’t likely to happen in the 36. I’m expecting it to be like a big Cadillac in the same water.”
Long story short, Freeman and the boater from Illinois who owned Color Me Bad went round and round over the last year and a half. The boat finally ended up in Freeman’s hands earlier this week when the owner called him up, ready to sell.
“I’m fortunate everything ended up the way it did,” said Freeman, who plans to use local engine builder Herb Stotler of Stotler Racing Engine to inspect and service the 1,000-hp LAB Engine Specialists supercharged engines and No. 6 drives next week, and likely refresh them in the winter. “I love this boat and have had my eye on it for some time. It’s a fast well-built Skater — heck they all are really — and it is set up right with heavy-duty gimbals and the swept-back sixes. In my opinion it’s one of the coolest 36s around.
“We’re looking forward to a fun summer with the boat and hope to have it on the water by Memorial Day,” he added. “The engines were freshened up not too long ago so we’re going to inspect everything a little further and enjoy it as is this summer. Before the 2018 season, we’ll probably do some work on the interior and the dash, which is loaded with a ton of unnecessary gauges. I’m also going to change the name since I name all of my boats War Child.”
Freeman, who already owns a sweet red 2013 F650 SuperTruck that he had his friend Chris Walker of SuperTruck in Augusta, Ga., build for his future Skater, said he plans to do the local Pirates of Lanier Poker Run in July with the boat as well as the Emerald Coast Poker Run in Destin, Fla. He added that he and Cyndi will “stretch their legs” a little in 2018 and do some more events at different places around the country.
For now though, it’s family first and boating second. Because that’s how Freeman was raised.
Former Powerboat editor Jason Johnson was an integral part of the magazine staff from 2005 through 2011, utilizing journalistic integrity and experience in and around performance boats to report on all aspects of the go-fast lifestyle. The award-winning writer resides in Southern California and is the executive editor and co-publisher of speedonthewater.com.