“Dustin would’ve fell out if he saw the boat now,” said his younger brother, Dalton Toole, when asked about his late brother’s Alumacraft 16, which he and his father, Jeff, restored.
Dustin Toole had purchased a used 1987 Alumacraft 16 when he was 18 years old. Living in Titusville, where grass flats are vast and shallow water abundant, a boat that performed in the skinny was a necessity, the Alumacraft was just that. Over the four years of owning the boat, Dustin had begun to make modifications. In a tragic car accident, Dustin lost his life before completing the boat.
Jeff and Dalton decided to completely restore the boat in Dustin’s memory. “When he passed, we decided to build the boat to the best it could possibly be,” said Dalton. Embarking on this project, they knew it wouldn’t be an over night job, taking 10 months to complete.
Making the boat a true skinny-water machine, both the front and rear deck were extended for ample space when fishing. Gunnels were added to the boat, not only adding storage, but making for an easy transition from bow to stern when fighting a fish. The 15-inch transom was cut out and replaced with a new, 20-inch transom to hold the new Yamaha 50 that would replace the old motor.
The boat was sandblasted down to raw aluminum and repainted, sticking with the classic color combo that the boat originally had. Other modifications such as a new helm, gas tank and trolling motor really brought the boat together. “There were certain things we did to the boat to incorporate Dustin into the boat,” said Jeff. Dustin’s name was added to the Seadek and upholstery, as well as a fish drawing that Dustin had drawn and had tattooed on his arm. The Tooles had not only put together a beautiful boat, but one that Dustin would sure be proud of.
“Every time I’m on it I think of him,” said Dalton.