“I purchased the boat in approximately 1999 from Randy Sweers. Greg Gluck was my contact. I’ll never forget the day myself, when a close friend and master engine builder Karl Patske and I called Greg to set up an ocean test. The ocean was where you could really test the horsepower.
Once we had contact with Greg, we set a time and place to meet for a sea trial. It was about 10:00 on a Friday at no other than Fort Apache Marina. Once we met up with both Greg and Randy, we were still entirely doubtful that I would and could purchase this boat. Of course, when we tried to go, the boat’s batteries were dead—a delay. Now how do we kill time while they change out the batteries? Apache Bar and Grill, of course.
After about an hour or two, the boat was sorted and it was go time. We headed out in search of only one thing, and that one thing was rough water or a huge wake. Guess what? We found both. As Randy was driving, I was to his right. Karl was to his left, and Greg was behind Karl. As we got moving, Greg tapped Karl and signaled him to trim the boat. Karl did not feel comfortable doing so, so he didn’t. Instead, Greg reached around him and started playing with keys like Liberace. After we jumped a few mountains, the boat made it clear that it could handle these huge waves like they didn’t exist. “We turned back into the Marina. Greg piped up and said ‘Any questions?’ I looked at Karl and both of us were in awe—no questions. We tied the boat up and got onto the dock. Then it was time to ask a question: ‘How much?’ He answered, and I knew at that moment that it was mine.
And so the journey started. I had the boat shipped to the northeast corner of Massachusetts on the New Hampshire line. After just a few days, the boat arrived and we couldn’t wait to run it. Now, bringing a boat like this to a city that has only ever seen it on TV or in a magazine was an endeavor in itself.
We took it to the town dock to splash it. Our first mistake was the fact that the dock master was a very old, cranky-ass guy that hated what he was doing. It was a weekend, very busy seeing as how it was all families out on their boats.
The dockmaster told us to put the boat in. We did, then he signaled us to start the thing. Holy shit, we’re fucked. First of all, we were one of three boats on the dock. The back of Warpath was just about two feet from this little 20-foot open boat carrying a family. We had just fueled up with CAM2, and the exhaust pipe would be dumping its fumes right into that 20-footer. Now the dockmaster is screaming at us to start the thing and go. Karl tried to tell everyone that it would be loud, and the dockmaster told us one more time to start it or take it out. Oh well, I guess we’ll start it.
Between the oxygen-deprived dockmaster, the pissed-off family and everyone within 100 feet covering their ears and running for cover, the boat didn’t make the best first impression. We never went back to that dock. To add insult to injury, the harbormaster and the Coast Guard were called before we even made it out to open water. We were too far out by the time they responded, but you can bet that they were waiting for us when we came back in. And of course they boarded us.
It ended up that they liked the boat just as much as we did. They said that when we were heading out to open water, their phone lines lit up like a Christmas tree with over 100 calls. The crazy thing was that we didn’t even break any laws—it just looked like we were breaking laws.
That was a great day for a ride. The water was 4- to 5-foot seas. When we first looked, we figured it was going to be a bad ride, almost not even worth trying. But we did. Once we his everything in the mouth of the Merrimack River at 80 mph, we started hitting bigger shit and running through it like it didn’t exist. At that minute, we knew Warpath was the real deal.
Needless to say, the 950 C&Gs that we purchased the boat with didn’t last even two rides. Surprise. Now we have a boat that we can’t even use. Karl has always built my motors, both in my cars and in my boats. So here we go. We pulled the motors. At that time we were both working seven days a week, so I decided to call the master, Keith Eickert. We ordered two motors, both with 1000 horsepower. That was an eye-opener. The quote wasn’t as bad as the final bill was, taking into account all of the dress-up goodies that he added. Once we received the engines a little over a month later, we installed them, took the boat for a ride, made it outside open water, ran for ten miles and then the nightmares started. One motor started dropping RPMs, so I shut it down. The intercooler let go and brand-new parts were now junk.
We called Keith and ended up sending both motors back. The rebuild would take at least another month, and in New England, we only have two months of summer. We got the motors back, we took the boat out, and what do you know, a motor died again. The new pre-lube pump started sending metal shavings through the motor and nicked up the rods, etc. Time for the motors to come out again. Six motors later (including the C&Gs originally delivered with the boat), we were in the clear.
In those first three months of owning Warpath, I spent what I had paid for the boat three times over. Not to mention operating costs. Dyno sheets showed 975 horsepower at 5600 RPM. They used 110-octane fuel, and the boat held 360 gallons per motor. Each motor used 150 gallons an hour at wide-open throttle. With two motors, and fuel at $8 per gallon, we were looking at $2,400 an hour. Fill the boat for an afternoon out...you do the math.
Taking it out was also a production. We spent anywhere between 10 and 30 hours before we could take it anywhere. We would check all equipment—motors, drives, oil, transmissions. We checked for leaks or wear. We also checked all electrical equipment, and we checked the hull for any signs of cracking or stress.
After a day out, the boat would be washed inside and out and wiped dry. The motor would be checked and fogged, the cover would be put on the boat and put away in the garage. This was the process since the day it was delivered.
Karl Patske was the mechanic who took care of the boat. He was extremely detailed and meticulous, and because of that, the boat never went out without Karl being on it. Ever.
Once we got used to running the boat, Warpath ruled the waters here for over ten years.
After having it for a few years, I decided to start fixing and replacing equipment. When I purchased it, one of the rear fuel tanks was so bad that I had to send the entire boat to Bobby Saccenti at Apache. Bobby replaced the four saddle tanks, had the #6 Speedmasters rebuilt, detailed the engine compartment and replaced all the rigging. The boat came back flawless. From there, it went to a friend to fix the graphics with new paint. It came out as nice as, if not better than it was done originally. Now the boat waas new, inside and out.
We took it to the Worlds in Key West, which was one of the best things we ever did. After the Worlds, I put it at Sunny Isles for the winter, which meant a trip to Florida every weekend. It was the best year we had with the boat. I had the motors freshened up one more time, and once the ports stopped failing, I ran Warpath flawlessly. Those 600 cubic-inch Keith Eickert engines, undisputedly the best, had 1071 blowers, two Holly 950s and hit 975 horsepower. They never missed a beat. It was one of my best choices when it came to motors, especially in keeping with what Warpath was back in the day.
Karl purchased a new factory 36’ from Bobby several years before I sold Warpath. Karl entered it in Key West Worlds. He couldn't make it to the race on Wednesday, so he asked me if I would drive the boat in his place. I did, which ended up being a big mistake. It was my first time ever racing. Bobby was on the sticks, and it was an extremely rough race. On the last lap, we were running in first place. We launched the boat some 35 feet in the air, and when the boat landed, I was thrown onto my side. I bounced and was propelled overboard while the boat was hitting speeds over 90 mph. Bobby saw this all coming and took cover. I surfaced and managed to swim back to the boat. We started the race again but had to shut the boat down once we saw that the port motor was in the red. I got beat up in a big way. I just had a new daughter, so I figured it was time for Warpath to go.
I owned the boat for over ten years and it was the best ten years of my life. I have been on a ton of boats, and still to this day, nothing ran like Warpath. We called it ‘The Bully.’”
Read all about Fort Apache and Ben Kramer in VÉHICULE.