Freedom Boat Service  - The Team

There are many places to buy a wood boat and even more options for maintenance and repair.  Most of these businesses are focused on completing the transaction at hand.  

We take a longer view at Freedom Boat Service (FBS).  We've opted to build our business around one simple idea: making the antique and classic boat ownership experience as pleasant and enjoyable as possible.

Whether that's helping a customer find the right boat at the right price,  making sure their boat is dependable or helping them when something goes wrong - FBS  is focused on delighting customers.  Every transaction is executed with an eye toward a continuing relationship with that customer.  Not surprisingly, return customers and referrals from happy customers are our primary marketing tactics.






Dave Bortner - Founder

Dave Bortner, grew up taking things apart, and (mostly) putting them back together, under his fathers’ watchful eye. Together, they restored furniture and autos. When his parents bought a summer home in Wisconsin, the family found themselves spending their free time together at the lake, not using the classic cars.

One day, Dave’s dad suggested they buy a wood boat, restore it, and have it to use at the cabin. They found one, restored it, found another, restored that one. Then Dave’s dad suggested this boat “thing” might be a good way to finance Dave’s college education.  Off they went, buying and selling, restoring and fixing, mostly Century and Chris-Craft boats. Dave ran the business while earning a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. After graduating, the pull of a career in magazine publishing was irresistible. 

Ten years later, Dave was back in the boat business, building one of the most respected service and restoration teams in the business.  Over seven years as President of Mahogany Bay, Dave was responsible for developing customer-centered innovations like 24/7 in-season service for Lake Minnetonka customers, annual boat inspections and evaluations to avoid maintenance surprises, regularly scheduled in-season cleaning service, special event captain service, and captaining lessons for new boaters.  

In order to provide boat buyers the most information possible, he instituted a service protocol where every incoming boat was evaluated structurally and mechanically prior to being offered for sale. He’s carried all these innovations forward to Freedom Boat Service.

Freedom Boat Service fulfills Dave's vision of providing the best watercraft, exceptional restorations, and peerless service to people who love great boats.

Dave serves as President of the Bob Speltz Land O'Lakes Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society, Board Member and Secretary of the Legacy of the Lakes Museum in Alexandria, MN, and as a member of the International Advisory Council of the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, NY. 

Mark Sauer - Master Shipwright

Mark Sauer runs the restoration operation.  Mark’s love for wood boats dates back to his youth, and family boating experiences on the Mississippi, as well as on the lakes of northern Wisconsin. His love of boat work led to attending the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building in Port Townsend, WA. Mark and his crew bring a unique perspective to the restoration process, with an appreciation for, and understanding of, the original construction methods and techniques. There’s no better restoration crew than bona fide boat builders!