This is a story about Scott Randall, known as "Raystown" by his friends. At the age of 58, he still lives in his hometown of Portage, Pa. His father Cliff is no longer alive, but his mother Ruthie was able to share her memories of raising Scott and tracing back his love of the water.
Cliff owned a Chrysler dealership in Portage and in 1953 he won a 20-foot boat through a sales contest with Chrysler. Cliff and Ruthie named the boat LUCKY BREAK for obvious reasons and they decided to use it on Raystown Lake, known to the locals as the old dam. It was docked at Jim's Anchorage, which is where Seven Points Marina is located today. This was the family’s first boat and Scott instantly loved it.
“Scott learned to walk, talk, and tie his shoes on a boat as we boated as much as possible,” recalls Ruthie.
All sounds normal, right? From here the family moved up to a 26-foot Chris Craft cruiser. They used it on the Allegheny River, near Pittsburgh, Pa., and one day they went out for an overnighter and when going past another marina they saw a houseboat for sale. They decided to stop and look at it. The family checked it out, went for a ride and ended up trading their cruiser and some money for the houseboat on the spot. When they returned to their marina, people quickly asked, "What happened to the cruiser?" Cliff’s response was that it had grown!
The Randalls named that boat JUST RIGHT because it was just the right size for their family of five. This began Scott's love of the houseboating lifestyle.
“Scott started driving boats on his dad’s knee at age three and wasn't happy unless he was able to do so,” says Ruthie. “By age 12 he was driving the boat himself, even in and out of the slip. When he turned 16 he took a bunch of his buddies to the houseboat for the weekend and they took it out overnight by themselves.”
All sounds normal, right?
As his parents got older, Scott insisted that they leave the boat before he did, so he could stay and clean the boat so they wouldn't have to. This made it so much more enjoyable for the older couple and it allowed them to continue to enjoy houseboating. Cliff and Ruthie would eventually move on to their second houseboat AMY J, which was named after their first two grandchildren, Amy and Jason.
Scott's First Houseboat
Scott wasn't really looking to buy a boat, but he was on eBay one day just poking around and found a 1974, 44-foot Kingscraft for sale. It had been partially submerged, or in other words, the complete drive line and interior were ruined. But knowing that Kingscrafts are all-aluminum—the hull, roof, stringers and sidewalls—he figured everything should still be sound. He continued to place bids until he finally had the highest bid and he was able to buy the boat. But the problem was that his new houseboat was in New Jersey, roughly 200 miles away.
Scott was able to find a transporter and got the houseboat heading his way. A friend of his, Greg Jones, saw it on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and called Scott to tell him. Scott asked if he thought it was his boat; his friend was quick to point out that there are not too many houseboats on the PA Turnpike on any given day.
After the boat reached the dealership warehouse, Scott began jacking it up so the trailer could get out. They were almost done when the boat fell, but luckily there was no damage and the second attempt was more successful.
The first step was to start stripping the boat down to the bare hull as all drive line and interior needed redone. Scott's two sons, Kevin and Matt, were there for most every step of the process, as well as their friends; at times it seemed like half the town. Together, they returned the boat into working condition. It got a complete new and redesigned interior, new outside carpet everywhere including the roof, decks and catwalk. They reconditioned the drive line and reinstalled it. They also added a generator to the boat as it didn't have one. The old houseboat did have one roof A/C unit, but his friends joke that Scott likes to see his breath inside, so he added another one to it.
New white paint trimmed in Mopar blue made it complete and it was renamed MISS MOPAR because of the dealership and his love of Chryslers. All of this seems like a normal guy transaction, right?
Ready For Launch
With the boat all done and ready for launch, it was time to transport the boat 45 miles to Lake Raystown Resort. Before launching, the group opened the engine hatches and found 75 gallons of fuel sloshing around. Now what? They had to do something with the fuel so everyone's car got a full tank. The fuel tank which they thought was okay was everywhere except for the underside, which they couldn't see. They had to remove it and have the bottom cut off and a new bottom welded on for both tanks.
Now finally ready to launch, the group ran into another problem when the lowboy trailer bottomed out on the ramp. It wouldn't move in or out so they had to jack up the rear axles and make a ramp out of wood to get it off the ramp with the boat still on the trailer. By now it was dark and the driver said he was done for the day. They found a place to park for the night and decided to try again the next day.
They ended up using a different ramp, which got it in the water a lot easier and over to the slip without any other issues. That was six seasons ago and the boat gets used every weekend that boaters are allowed on the water, which is 26 weeks a year. Scott also uses it for his two weeks of vacation time each year as well.
“When I say it gets used, I mean it leaves the dock every day when he is there and if he doesn't stay out overnight he goes out again for a breakfast or a dinner cruise and always on full moon weekends, returning well after dark,” says dock neighbor Kirk Forshey.
When Scott is unable to be there, his sons Kevin (and wife Jen) and/or Matt take the boat out with his blessing. Normally when a boat goes out, there are people there to catch them when they return, but according to his dock neighbors, Scott is the exception.
“When they see him they just stay put and say, ‘Oh it's just Scott.’ He brings it in like it’s on rails,” says Kirk.
Scott added a few unique things to his boat like an extendable arm off the side to tow both his jet ski and ski boat, which go everywhere he goes. Scott once saw people jumping off the roof and decided he needed a diving board off the boat so he started asking around if anyone knew of where he could find one.
“Scott doesn't like it if it is not unique and has a story behind it,” says his friend Bobby Koban. “I told him the Portage pool just replaced theirs and thought he might be able to get it and $50 later Scott had a diving board off the back of his boat from his hometown swimming pool.”
“We recently spent a week with him and his family and two other families,” says Bev Forshey. “We all took our boats from the resort to the dam, which is 21 miles each way. On the way down on MISS MOPAR there was just Scott and his girlfriend, Alyson. They towed his ski boat and jet ski as well as two other jet skis. So, if my math is good, it equals two people and five watercraft.”
Normal, right? On the return trip, Scott thought it would be neat if he towed one cruiser on each side of his boat as well as his ski boat with four jet skis.
“He wanted to take turns driving the houseboat, while others were tubing or skiing from the ski boat,” says Kirk. “He wanted to tie our houseboat along the side also, but I didn't like the idea. Other boats would pass them and turn around just to see if they saw it right the first time and a few even took pictures.”
Just before returning to the resort, you have to go under a bridge which all the boats did while all still tied together.
“Upon coming out from under the bridge, Sea Tow saw them and asked if they could help and Scott quickly replied, ‘With what?’” recalls Kirk. “I guess they don't know how Raystown Randall rolls!” Normal, right?
Scott has helped many other boat owners learn to drive, dock, as well as handle their boats in wind and traffic, according to his friends.
“He has made people not afraid to use and enjoy their boats away from the safety of the dock. I can personally attest to that,” says Kirk. “If it hadn't been for Scott making me take my boat out, I never would have. Now it goes out almost every weekend the weather allows.”
Adds Bev, “If your engine hatch is open, if he sees you carry a part or tools down the dock, or he hears you’re having trouble with something, he is the first one to jump in and help repair the problem. He usually takes over the project even if you’re not sure you want him to.”
As with most docks, someone has the tool or part you need and most of the time it's Scott that does. MISS MOPAR has had her problems like the starboard engine going out in the middle of the season. So what did Scott do? He pulled the engine apart into pieces so it wasn’t too heavy so he could carry it up to his van. His sons and their friends came with a bar and a chain to lift the remaining engine block, carried it up the dock to his van and he took it home to rebuild it. Then he brought it back and reinstalled it. Normal, right?
Scott has an 1988 Ski Nautique ski boat that he bought new with a Mopar engine in it. It has a high pole on it for wakeboarding and is also good to teach beginners to ski.
“It has been estimated that he has taught well over 200 people how to ski off of this boat and his first ski boat combined,” says his son Kevin. “I know of 11 people just last year off of our dock that were first-timers on Scott's ski boat.” Just a normal 58-year-old guy, right?
Scott has had a wedding on his boat, had 18 people stay over night in tents on the roof, and hosted numerous dock parties. Here’s to Scott “Raystown” Randall for being the type of normal guy every dock could use, right?