It’s been a busy week for us here at Woody Boater… It started off by covering one of the top boat shows of the year – the big ACBS International in Wisconsin, then an antique & classic boat auction, to New Jersey for an update on a movie boat restoration, to exploding toilets in DC, a report on a vintage camper trailer from Michigan, the Hagerty Marine Insurance Hall of Fame Inductees, to Wolverine Boats, and then a mystery boat game show… And now we are headed down to Washington State for a Vintage Hydroplane weekend.

Historic Lake Chelan, Washington is the venue for this weekend’s 2nd Annual Mahogany & Merlot event hosted by the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum. They describe it as “Great food, great wine and great boats! A running exhibition of vintage unlimiteds and limited inboards along with beautiful classic runabouts in the heart of the Washington’s wine country at the height of the wine crush.” This year the museum is taking 6 vintage Unlimited Hydroplanes and expecting 13 vintage Limited Hydroplanes to be on hand for exhibition runs on Saturday & Sunday. In conjunction with the hydroplanes, approximately 25 to 30 antique & classic wooden boats will be on display.

Having the opportunity to witness these beautifully restored vintage hydroplanes running at speed on the Lake Chelan just like they did in the late 1950’s is spectacular…

The Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum’s website has a remarkable archive of information and stories covering the history of hydroplane racing in North America… If you can’t find it there, it probably didn’t happen. Bob Senior wrote a great story documenting the history of hydroplane racing on Lake Chelan titled “The Apple Cup Revisited” – in the story he says…

Unlimited Hydroplanes raced on Lake Chelan in the heart of Washington’s famous apple orchard region between 1957 and 1960. The Chelan races were a natural extension of “hydromania” which swept the Pacific Northwest as a result of Stanley S. Sayres’ Slo-Mo-Shun IV bringing the sport west in 1950.

Lake Chelan is a 60-mile long body of water nestled along the eastern slope of the Cascade Mountains. Chelan, Washington, small-town U.S.A., with a 1957 population of 250, and about 40 miles from a city of any size, decided to go “big-league”. To see the entire story you can click here to go directly to the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum’s website.

Below is another shot of “Miss Thriftway” from Lake Chelan 2010, heading out to do some laps.

Over 50 years ago “Miss Thiftway” made her maiden voyage on historic Lake Chelan in March 1955.

Fortunately for us, the nice folks and volunteers from Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum still make it possible to get these vintage hydroplanes out for generations of people to see and appreciate, and within the Pacific Northwest region there’s a huge following of dedicated folks who come out to join in on the fun.

Chuck Hickling and Miss Pay ‘n Save took home the Apple Cup in 1959 in some unusual circumstances.

To prepare this pre-event story today, David Williams the President of the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum gave Woody Boater access to their huge archive of historical photos, and we thought it would be fun to share a few of those photos with our viewers. Not only the incredible race boats from back in the day, but also the determined faces of drivers that piloted these monsters in the 1950’s.

So if your in the Pacific Northwest this weekend, and you have a vintage hydroplane, phone your buddies and put together a crew, load up old truck & raceboat, and come join us in Lake Chelan… And even if you don’t have a boat, come and join us anyway… I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

Thanks to David Williams, Dale Fugier and Jon Courtright from the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum for helping us with the photographs, and for inviting Woody Boater back to Lake Chelan again this year. Also thanks to Bob Senior for sharing his Lake Chelan story with us and to Sandy Ross for the vintage photos.

Also thanks to the Hydroplane History website at for providing a few images for our story today.  

Take a few minutes and check out the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum’s website by clicking here, there’s tons of interesting stories and information which makes for some great reading.  Also see how you can become a memeber of the museum, or volunteer if you live in the Seattle area. If you are planning to be in the Seattle area, stop in to the museum to see the restored boats and artifacts from back in the day.

Stay tuned to Woody Boater throughout the weekend for Live-ish updates from the event.


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13 Responses to “The 2nd Annual Mahogany & Merlot From Historic Lake Chelan – A Blast From The Past”
  1. m-fine

    When I think vintage unlimited hydroplanes, the word “Thrift” is not one of the top 5000 to come to mind.

    • Ben

      …nor “Safeway”, another major NW grocer back in the day. But “Fred Meyer” – now there’s a name for an unlimited hydro!

      • Randy Mueller

        The ‘Sport of Kings’ is not reserved for just polo or unlimited hydros, but also restoring large wood boat projects (especially cruisers)!

  2. Al Benton

    The unlimited hydroplanes are a scream to watch. Ya don’t need to know much about them to enjoy the heck out of seeing them perform. Fun!

  3. Dick Dow

    Texx, we’re looking forward to seeing you here! The weather is good and the lake flat today…

  4. Alex

    I’d have one of these except for the fact that the kids wouldn’t be able to sit on the bow when we go for ice cream. Well, they could, but not at 105 mph.

      • Randy Mueller

        Sorry, but I am going to have to dispel this ‘misconception’ — the kids CAN sit up front! For filming the movie “Madison” one of the hydros was modified with a driving cockpit up at the bow so they could film the actor in the ‘aft’ cockpit. You could simply add a dummy cockpit forward and widen it enough to accomodatethe kids.

        And WHAT a ride that would be!!!!!! (I’m surprised Texx didn’t catch this)

  5. Alex

    Ok, I just watched the video from the previous posting. I am green with envy of all who can attend this show. It’s cloudly, 42 degrees, blowing, and rainy in Hessel. GET ME OUT OF HERE!

  6. Tyson K.

    I am so bummed I missed this again this year. I think I may shed a tear when I hear hydros opened up on Lake Chelan. It would be a dream come true.

    I’m only 2 hours away. No excuse next year.

  7. Lashawnda Tillotson

    It’s interesting that so many comments seem to focus on me getting sued. I can’t really say I understand the attitude that completely reprogramming something bought at a profit, without EULA, without any contract etc.. should attract a lawsuit.