Want a thrilling yet sure-footed ride on the Chesapeake Bay? Try to get a shot at a ride in a 1992 classic 19-foot single cockpit Canadian-built Kavalk.

chesapeake bay speedboat
Heart of My Heart speedboat is one of maybe 40 or 50 that Kavalk produced over the years.

I did, at the 33rd Antique and Classic Boat Festival in St Michaels, MD. It was a thrill ride that never lost its grip on the water, no matter how tight the turns were or how big the cruisers’ wakes presented themselves.

Owner Gary Van Tassel and I took off from the floating piers of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM). It was just the two of us, so the ride was a true demonstration of what the sporty boat could do. Quick to plane, breaking through cruiser wakes and tight turns without a loss of grip on the water was what starred in the ride.

Gary’s Heart of My Heart speedboat is one of maybe 40 or 50 that Kavalk produced over the years. That’s it. A few of the Kavalk boats were built to seat five in two rows, but that configuration doesn’t offer the superior ride enjoyed in Gary’s boat. That’s because his longer foredeck and single-three-across bench further aft results in superb balance. The cockpit set-up I was enjoying on this ride is the same as the one Chris-Craft used in its Cobra.

She is not stern-heavy getting on plane with her 19-foot deep-vee hull. A small block Chevy Mercruiser engine package of 270-hp delivers great speed performance without the weight of a big block engine. Responsive to the throttle and powerful with its gear ratio, it’s a perfect match to the boat.

Her high-tech composite fiberglass hull with a real wood deck makes for a quality classic. All of the boat’s hull, deck, and assembly were made in the Ontario province of Canada.

These refined 19-foot single engine runabouts embody the Kazulin family distinction of timeless design, superb craftsmanship, and perhaps the best practices of today’s quality construction.
From the initial concept to the final testing, all design, development, and construction were done by the Kavalk experts and artisans. They combined the practicality and durability of modern technology with the classic elegance and craftsmanship in a unique and original style. From the bow fairlead to the stern vents, Kavalk runabouts are adorned with in-house designed hardware. 

Each 19-foot boat was semi-custom with respect to color, seating, propulsion, deck, and just about any feature other than the hull’s design. Each owner chose their boat’s hull color, upholstery, cockpit layout, and power packages, so each and every boat was designed exclusively for that buyer. 

Kavalks are not just beautiful. Their beauty is matched by their refined performance and comfort. While on plane across the Chesapeake Bay or the Miles River at more than 50 miles per hour, the driver feels the security and maneuverability these boats offer with their well-developed, ocean-tested hulls.

The Kazulin family’s long history of commercial and pleasure boat design and boatbuilding reaches back seven generations. They’ve worked in Europe, the United States, and Canada. Simon Kazulin and his son Mike built motor driven boats in Washington State into the 1960s, while son Velko built both wooden and fiberglass runabouts in Croatia. In the 70s, Tony and Velko moved the operation to Canada; first to Vancouver, then to Ontario since the boats were so popular around Lake Muskoka.  

The company does all the lay-ups itself. Kazulin writes: “After gelcoat and skincoat, the subsequent layers are hand-laid and vacuumed, using biaxial cloth and vinylester resin for a solid-skin laminate with no sandwich core. The structural grid is glassed in place using Airex PC or Penske panel sheathing, but the decks are African mahogany and composite in vacuum-bonded laminate that is post-cured, thus providing a very stable platform for the 20-plus coats of final finish on the wood deck.”

When one sees a Kavalk, one thinks of Riva and the iconic brands that have contributed to the history of classic boats. Modern hull material, finishes, and machinery add to the luxury of classic boating.

I appreciated the opportunity that the Chesapeake Bay Chapter’s Classic Boat Festival offered to experience different boats, showcasing the multi-generational history of boating during its three-day event. The thrill of this ride was truly memorable.

By Chris "Seabuddy" Brown