The 36th Annual Portage Lakes Antique and Classic Boat Show held this past weekend near Akron, Ohio, was a gem.
Ohio’s Portage Lakes – ten interconnected lakes that sit on the fulcrum of the division between the northern Lake Erie watershed and the Ohio River watershed to the south – have long been a boater’s haven.
We had 48 boats – easily the most in the history of this show – and what a great gathering it was. There were our long-time contenders, but there were also new boats a-plenty – including two very nice pre-war barrel-backs
and an incredible home-built runabout whose construction spanned nearly 70 years. “Dad’s Legacy” was, for many, the most interesting boat in our show.
Plus there was something special from the fiberglass era that really caught the judges’ attention…but more on that later.
I can hardly express what a charge I got out of my first boat show ever, of any kind – I had never even owned a boat until just before this show, so it was a real maiden voyage. My wife and I bought Woody Boater Matt Smith’s “Sylvia” this spring, and have had her in the water, oh, maybe five hours total.
We considered no sunfish, no outboards, no nothing – we went all out, buying the 1941 Chris-Craft barrel-back which Matt had consigned to the Antique Boat Center in Cincinnati. Dennis and Lou took such good care of us, including a memorable “cruise” on the Ohio River the weekend we picked Sylvia up. It was the first time we’d heard the MBL 158-hp motor fire up – a moment I’ll never forget. Thanks, guys…what a generous introduction to boating you provided us.
When you walk in on the 36th Annual Anything, you’re missing a lot of perspective. Many of these members have been involved for decades, and our personal small arrival in 2011 was very much a non-event. So we tried to just meld in, tried to figure out what the routine was…and then we found out that the guys who have been here forever were doing everything they could to make you feel welcome, like you’ve been here all along, even though you don’t have any idea whatsoever what’s actually going on.
So let’s see…what did the visiting public see this past weekend in north-central Ohio?
They saw the most boats ever at this show…48 altogether…ranging from the early ‘20’s to the ‘80s.
They saw a boat which was home-built, started in the early 1940’s but not completed until just a couple of years ago by the next generation. “Dad’s Legacy,” finished in 2009 by Larry and Jinny Ottermat after decades of sitting in storage, is an 18-foot runabout with entirely classic lines. The judges and voters all approved – “Dad’s Legacy” won its Contemporary Powered Craft class and placed 4th as the People’s Choice.
Jason Hammond entered his 1922 18-foot Thomson Bros. “Hiawatha” canoe (geez, it’s only a foot shorter than my barrel-back!) and handily won in the “Non-Powered” class.
And there was Eric and Julie West’s awesome triple-cockpit 1928 Hacker Craft Dolphin Triple that won both its antique runabout class and the People’s Choice…but then it almost always does.
Just finished this spring after nearly ten years of patient restoration since being salvaged — as gray as they come — from a farmer’s field in north-central Ohio, Larry and June Prebis’s 17-foot 1942 Century Seamaid barrel-back won easily as best antique runabout under 20 feet.
From the fiberglass era, there was Carl Lange’s perfectly restored chocolate-bronze 1972 Chris-Craft XK18 Ski Jet 400-hp monster, which won for Best Portage Lakes Boat.
Many other boats won deserving honors, making this year’s event one of the best in a decades-long tradition of displaying northeast Ohio’s most interesting boats to an appreciative and ever-larger crowd.