Clayton New York Antique Boat Show 2013: Chapter Three, River Boat Fantasy! (Part 1)

Image-16-PP Figurehead

People’s Choice award winner at Clayton, John and Rebecca Allen’s “Princess Page” which was restored by Muller Boat Works of Sunapee New Hampshire. Note the Barnes’ signature figurehead, designed and carved by him. More info on this stunning 1926 beauty, below in today’s story.

As you probably know by now, there was a lot of good stuff for Cobourg Kid to cover during his recent visit to the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, NY. We covered the remarkable Doebler Collections Storage Facility on Wednesday (Click here to see that) and then on Thursday we covered the beautiful River Cruise to the Rock Island Light House with the Champlain ACBS Chapter folks on Thursday (Click here to see that).

Today in Part 1 of Cobourg Kids final Chapter 3 “River Boat Fantasy”, we get to visit some of the boat show docks and the always popular Antique Boat America Auction. A great story that we hope you enjoy. - Texx
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Clayton New York Antique Boat Show 2013:
Chapter Three, River Boat Fantasy! (Part 1)
Story & Photos by Cobourg Kid

I thought it might be a cool way to start off this article by briefly transporting you back to 1987 and my first trip to the Antique Boat Museums’ (ABM) annual show and auction. At that time the museum possessed a significantly smaller, but still marvellous, collection of antique watercraft, housed in repurposed, somewhat dilapidated buildings with docks that by today’s standards would have been declared a public hazard.

According to Fritz Hager, ABM’s current Director, the museum was at that time “supported by a nominal endowment, a part time manager, a single, full time, do-it-all staffer and a few dozen volunteers and trustee meetings often featured pass the Hat sessions to raise funds for repairing docks and keeping the lights on”.

I can testify that volunteers were scarce back then. As a first time visitor, I was quickly enlisted and put to work cooking hamburgers allowing some of the actual volunteers to look after an event!

Image-1-1987

Circa 1987 photo. Rickety docks greeted visitors to the show in 1987. The armour stone in the background is long gone, replaced with modern docks and a ramp to accommodate the skiff and sailboat program. Although the warehouse to the right still stands, a beautiful new yacht house occupies most of the area where “AKS” (possibly an early teens L.E. Fry Company launch) is docked.

 
Image-2-1987-2

Circa 1987 – Narrow wobbly docks, an inherited iron framework boat lift system and an ancient open display shed were (thankfully) replaced in the 1990s.


With good management, the ongoing generosity of the Thousand Island Community and the infusion of corporate, state and federal funds the ABM has, over the past 25 years, grown its nautical and archival collections, introduced new programs, nurtured its restricted endowment (currently just above the $5.0 million mark) and completely reshaped its infrastructure.

As Fritz Hager points out “We now have a signature campus with 10 modern buildings providing over 60,00 square feet of river front programming and administration space… 20 full time, year round staff members, and over 150 volunteers… and more than 300 friends of the museum that that contribute over $750,000 annually to support our operations.”

As for the show itself not a whole lot has changed, it’s still a friendly laid back event where participants catch up with friends, visitors explore the lush campus and gobble-up the regional specially, Syracuse salt potatoes, in the food tent.

Image-3-Food-Tent

Exhibitors and visitors stroll the docks in front of the food tent. In the left foreground a 26 foot launch named “The Ark”. Built in 1916 by the L.E. Fry Company of Clayton, “The Ark” has been in the care of the Holden clan of Grenell Island since 1925. According to Jim Holden he learned to waterski behind it! To the right is “Easier Times”, a 1958 22’ Century Raven powered by its original 130 hp Chrysler Crown.


Standing on the pier, I can literally see the potatoes steaming and in the background hear the bark of the auctioneer as the time-honoured antique boat auction revs-up in the ABM parking lot; probably a good time to check out the action over there.
Image-4- Auction-Mellon

I arrive to find a large flock of bidders already well settled in around Antique Boat America’s Peter Mellon and auctioneer Kip Blanchard, whom are ardently working to stir-up bids.

 
Image-5 Auction Century

A 1965 Century Coronado with 330 hp Chrysler 440 wedge block V8 in need of bottom and cosmetic work including a new interior was gaveled down for $5,500.00

 
Image-6-Carver

A 19 foot 1968 Carver day-cruiser “needs work mind you” with 175 hp Mercury motor, and 2005 trailer goes out the door for $2,200.00.

 
Image-7-Glen-L

A 16 foot Glen-L Stiletto, homebuilt in 1986, complete with an operable 1976 Mercury 115 hp outboard and ski tow rig, sells for an amazing $2,700 bucks!

 
Image-8-HiLiner

A recently restored 1957 15 foot Hi-Liner Star outboard runabout, with fresh paint, varnish, chrome, upholstery and a vintage Johnson outboard sells for a reasonable $4,500.00.

 
Image-9-Hackercraft

This giant 35 foot Hacker-Craft Triple with enlarged second cockpit and twin 454 V8 engines was hammered down for $55,000, despite the possible need for some bottom work.


Having plenty of show to cover and little time to do it, I left the auction long before it was complete, however, I was later able to determine that of the 42 boats up for auction, 12 had no reserve and 35 ultimately sold.

Walking back to the docks, I came across a number of St. Lawrence skiffs stationed next to a booth staffed by two summer students. So I asked “can these skiffs be rented?” No, they said “but you can go out in one right now”. Turns out during the months of July and August the Skiff Livery will help you go rowing on the protected waters of French Creek Bay, it’s included with your Museum admission. What a great program!

Image-10-Skiff-Staff

The livery staff pose with their skiffs…

 
Image-11-Skiff Ramp

A nice waterside skiff ramp replaces the old 1980s armor stone break wall.


Would I like to do some rowing on a nice day, absolutely, but unfortunately the life of a Woody Boater correspondent is not all beer and boat rides, (that’s a fact – Texx) so with regret I thanked the skiff staff for the info and headed off to the yacht house. And this is what I found:
Image-12-Blythe-Spirit

“Blythe Spirit” is a recently restored 1938 Gar Wood Streamliner owned by Michael Jackubowski of Rochester NY. The boat, named after his daughter, has been a 13 year restoration project that began in 2000 the year the year of her birth. Jackubowski was proud to be the recipient of the Best of Show, Preserved Power Award.

 
Image-13-Blythe-Spirit-2

A close–up of “Blythe Spirit’s” instrument panel.

 
Image-14-Princess-Paige 1

Winner of this year’s People’s Choice award at Clayton, John and Rebecca Allen’s “Princess Page” was restored by Muller Boat Works of Sunapee New Hampshire. Built in 1926 she is a wonderful example of Canadian craftsman Earle Barnes’ masterful work. A low volume Muskoka builder, Barnes learned the trade working for H.C Minett. In early 1926 he left Minett’s shop and opened his own business next door. “Princess Paige” was Barnes’ first independent creation custom built for Frank, Welsman, a concert pianist and founder of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

 
Image-15-PP Engine

A close up look at Princess Paige’s original 4-cylinder Scripps engine, perfectly restored by Drake Engines, Rochester, NY.

 
Image-18-Night Rider

The 28 foot “Night Rider” is an original Leyare “Number Boat” a special one design racing boat concocted by Charles D Mower NA at the request of the members of the Thousand Islands Yacht Club in 1909. All 20 boats were built in Leyare’s Ogdensburg, New York boat shop between 1910 and 1911 and all used the same Jencick engine.
“Night Rider” was one of the last Number Boats built. Assigned number 18 she was originally acquired by Lee M. Rumsey of Alexandria Bay, NY. Currently powered by midcentury Chrysler ace engine. “Night Rider” and has been lovingly maintained in recent years by the McNally family of Wellesley Island.

 
Image-19- River Runner

Custom built in 1926 for Governor Frank Lowden and his wife Florence Pullman, of Castle Rest Island, in the Thousand Islands “River Runner” is the only 25’ sedan ever built by the Hutchinson Brothers of Alexandria Bay, NY. Relegated to work boat status for many years, Bill Northrup and his wife Jane discovered “River Runner” prior to her planned disposition to the local dump, and engaged Ron Waterson of Fisher’s Landing to undertake an extensive restoration, which was completed in 1995. Currently powered by a 125 hp 1951 Chrysler Crown, “River Runner” is the pride-and–joy of current owners Pat and John Peach of Alexandria Bay, NY.

 
Image-20-Recovery

“Recovery” is a 25’ 1934 Chris-Craft Custom Runabout. Powered by 1976 Chevrolet 454 High output 8 cylinder engine, putting out about 370 hp, this Chris-Craft can really scamper across the waves. Current owners Roger & Maria Johnson enjoy “Recovery” regularly on lovely Lake George, NY.

 
Image-21-Whirlwind

The 26’ “Whirlwind” is a triple cockpit “Dolphin” model designed and built by the Hacker Boat Company in 1930 at it’s Mt. Clemens, Michigan production facility. With a Mercruiser V8 big block (rated at 500 hp) hidden in the belly of this beast, Whirlwind can often be seen flashing across New Hampshire’s beautiful Lake Winnipesaukee.

 
Image-22-Ankle-Deep

“Ankle Deep” is a 1937 24’ Custom Utility that has been restored by Gar Wood Custom Boats of Brant Lake, NY.

 
Image-23-Runabouts

Line up of remarkable runabouts line the west pier of the yacht house.

 
Image-24-JoJo Minnehaha

Meanwhile on the east side of the yacht house, ”Jo-Jo” a fantail launch built sometime between 1900 & 1905 by the Gas Engine and Power co of New York (later Consolidated Shipbuilding Co.) and “Minnehaha” a 24 foot skiff Putt built in Clayton in 1923 by B. L Wiswell drift on boat wakes. “Minnehaha” was used for many years by Stanley Woodman, a Canadian fishing guide from Wolfe Island.

 
Image-25-JoJo-2

Jo-Jo’s owner Louie Cares of Grand Rapids, Michigan took this year’s award for Restored Historic Launch. Jo-Jo’s remarkable vintage Defiance Iron Works Engine probably sealed the deal.

 
Image-26-Cox-Memorial

Just outside the Yacht house, I stumbled on a unique memorial to Robert O Cox, a founder, friend and longtime benefactor of the ABM, who sadly passed away in June of this year.

 
Image-27-Cox Seat

Bob’s Chair.

 
Image-28-White-Knuckles

“White Knuckles” drew plenty of attention. She is a 22’ Gar Wood Speedster replica built in 2006.

 
Image-29-Running-Wild

“Running Wild” is a 32 foot triple cockpit with vintage engine built in 1923 by Cape Vincent’s Roy Stanley in accordance with a design penned by John Hacker. Owner Don Textor was no doubt proud to receive this years’ John Clark Memorial Inboard Engine of the Year award.

 
Image-30-Mahogany Line

View of the mahogany marvels draped along the west side of yacht house basin. In line, “Steamer”, “Running Wild”, “White Knuckles”, “Pippin” and “21”, a reproduction Leyare number boat.


There were so many interesting and unique antique & classic boats at the show in Clayton this year, that in order to fit them all in we decided to break this final story up into two individual parts. Tomorrow we will cover the boats over at the dry land display, an interesting glimpse into the judging process of the Skiff class, and last but certainly not least, a look at the impressive boats tied up at West Harbor Basin – so stay tuned on Sunday morning for that final story.

Cobourg Kid
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6 Responses to “Clayton New York Antique Boat Show 2013: Chapter Three, River Boat Fantasy! (Part 1)”

  1. Dreed says:

    What? No mention of the shopping cart races in the early days?

  2. floyd r turbo says:

    WOw, so much to keep up with this weekend, but can’t speed read the pictures, they are great along with the narrative, thanks CK.

  3. floyd r turbo says:

    My son and I have had the opportunity to row in one of the skiffs from the Fred Thomas Skiff House generously donated by Martin Zonnenberg, a close friend of Fred Thomas (also a friend of ours), a surgeon from Gainesville, Ga. who died suddenly while jogging. Fred did reconstructive surgery on a well known race driver, Brian Redman from his horrific accident in his Lola F5000 car at the Mont-Tremblant circuit near St. Jovite.

    Fred was significant factor in introducing wooden boats to the Gainesville area. He was a big Lyman collector and took Brian Redman with him on the St John’s River Cruise where we had an opportunity to chat about his racing days with Porsche and Lola.

    • Texx says:

      Brian Redman is a legend, and one of my favorites. After competing in the grueling (and very dangerous) 24 Hours of Spa driving the devilish but fast Porsche 917-10 in 1970, after the race he commented “When the race is over and you are still alive, the grass is greener & the sky is bluer…”

      • floyd r turbo says:

        With Road Atlanta race track just outside Gainesville, Ga Redman was a frequent visitor especially since he lives in Florida. Saw him drive F-5000’s back in the day, they were beasts and you had to have huge kahunas to drive them as hard as they did.

  4. floyd r turbo says:

    …and thanks for remembering Bob Cox who was a fixture at ABM shows since day 1. Nice tribute and it should be a permanent monument.

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