I was in this big fancy research planning meeting the other day with people way smarter than me.. OK, for the record, any meeting I am in is full of people way smarter than me.. Heck.. If I eat lunch by myself, the Bolonga has more brains than me.. Anyway, the conversation led to Woody Boater.. They always do in my strange world.. I was explaining the concept of Antique & Classic Boating and trying to make it relevant to new folks. That it was an interesting time in this hobbies life. That many of the folks in it now are in it to preserve a way of life and the memories that they hold dear. But that eventually that emotional connection would fade away. A 20 year old today does not have font memories of going out on a cool wood speed boat. He does though have memories of Knight Rider and Ninja Turtles and horsing around in an I Roc Z. Dear god we are doomed. Or are we.. We talked about the word “Classic” as it is refereed to in cars and boats. Is a 1941 boat a classic to a 20 or 30 year old.. Or is it a cool old boat. Made classic by iconography? It depends.. A 41 barrel back is, and 41 cruiser may be fire wood.. The word classic is a trigger word to evoke a memory, and if you don’t have that memory, then it eventually dies away and represents a time period that eventually just withers away. Anyone under 30 see your pals running around in a model A lately? I asked that question and I got a surprising answer.. I told you I was the dumb one in the room.. The answer was YES.. Ya see, there is a lifestyle out there of 20-40 year olds that love model A’s, flat heads and so on.. Hot Rodder’s.. Garage Magazine, Jessie James.. The list goes on.. They are not classic car guys, they live a life sytle .. a culture…that is an art movement, fashion and the fun that is surrounded by cool cars fixed up in an individual way. There are guys and gals learning to pinstripe, bend and roll metal.. All that cool stuff. So how does this pertain to boats? We have young guys like Mike Mayer, Mike Green…. doing all the cool stuff .. Bending wood, playing with varnish.. Experimenting with epoxies, cool motors in triples… Alex Watson and Paul and Karen Harrison who collect these beautiful boats and then use them to no end. Alex claims it aint perfect til its got a scratch.. The scratch or ding is part of the experience. These are no small boats I am talking about either.. 24 Sportsman’s, amazing one of a kind Gar Woods. All stuff to connect the past with the future..
This past week on Lake Dora we had a revaluation.. We were not going to stand on the docks anymore. We were going to go out and have fun. We wanted to go boating. Inviting friends to pile in and go out and just enjoy all that our boats had with other folks that felt the same. Full throttle turns and taking on wakes like it was 1950.. Nothing exemplified this more than watching Thayer IV and Mariah out on the water. These two boats could have been sealed up and stuck away in a museum. No one would have argued.. But instead they have been beautifully preserved, restored so they can be used and give people rides. To connect them with these cool boats. And that’s just what they did. The second they went back into the water they brought joy to everyone there.. Seth Katz of Katz’s Marina told me folks were coming up to the booth and asking how much rides were.. WHAT? They’re free, that’s why they were in the water.. Seth gets it.. its about having fun on the water and using our boats to have a more full boating experience. Herb Hall from Sierra Boats out there with Alan Weinstein the Riva Guru giving rides in an amazing Riva.. To feel the boats, there history, and to enjoy the boats even when it’s not in the water. Carla and Chris from Hagerty Marine Insurance were out there with us on Miss America IX.
That’s whats different about Woody Boating and classic boating. Note, I am not saying that if you go out you don’t care about accuracy and history.. Or having a 100 pt boat.. It’s about using the heck out of that 100pt boat. In fact in the Woody Boater world, it aint a 100 pt boat unless you go out on it and abuse it the way Chris, Gar, Carlo and the others intended it to be used. That’s Woody Boating.. It’s out there on Lake Michigan in a stunning Sport Fisherman, or running out of gas in your Tahoe Winning Scripps powered Sedan on Lake Tahoe, those things suck gas like a mother.. Would never had known that sitting on the dock….It’s doing full throttle turns in your million dollar Riva. And yes, its praying that the 2K runabout you just got floats.. Spending 3 years restoring a boat only to go out and play in it. Letting a ding in the varnish be a good thing.. Because its all part of Woody Boating. Its about having fun in a cool boat that gives back to our spirits. That’s what is relevant to any age. And that is the future of Woody Boating.