Today we are honored to have our friend Lee Wangstad here to report on the Fourth Annual Gull Lake Classic Boat Show in Minnesota. For those of you who don’t know Lee, he is a noted writer for publications like the ACBS Rudder & Classic Boating magazine, and is also a gifted speaker with his endless knowledge about the hobby and the history of classic boating.
Lee is also a proud “Minnesotan” and the Managing Editor of The Boathouse – The quarterly magazine from the Bob Speltz Land-O-Lakes Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society.
The 2012 Gull Lake Classic Boat Show
Story by Lee Wangstad
Photos by Dane Anderson
Photo Shoot Boat by Dave Bortner
It wasn’t the most hopeful of days for a boat show. The weatherman was predicting showers over most of Minnesota with a chance of clearing later in the day. And sure enough, the rain came, but so did the boats. The sound of multiple bilge pumps doing their job was like music to the ears of their owners.
After the showers began to calm, the spectators began to make their way to the docks and the Bar Harbor Supper Club, Gull Lake’s premier lakeside restaurant, home of the 4th Annual Gull Lake Classic Boat Show. Located north of Brainerd, Minnesota, the show has grown at a phenomenal rate over the last four years.
The extent of that growth is incredible. It’s not just growing in size, but the quality and variety of the boats has shown a marked increase. These boats were powered by everything from a single cylinder Neptune outboard to 3 boats with Liberty V-12’s. My Darling was at the dock with its 12 cylinder Allison.
The cylinder count here must be amazing (I wonder how that averages out per boat?). Every now and then you’d hear one of them fire up with their deafening roar and I’d try to imagine a dozen of them running at full throttle back in the 20’s.
The sight and smell of the exhaust brought crowds to whatever part of the docks it was emanating from. It ranged from the almost docile roar of John Allen’s 1923 Liberty powered Baby Gar to the staccato rap, rhythm, and popping valves of the wild and wooly Liberty that resides in Apache II. This made incredible engine music that kept you keeping the beat by tapping your toes right along. There’s something about a Liberty running through 16” straight pipes that reminds you just what mammoth power these engines have.
There was a 28’ Gar Wood with a Scripps V-12. Dave Bortner brought Sea Flow II, his magnificent Hacker Craft powered by a Scripps V-12. The multiple cylinder crowd had all they could do to contain themselves. “Cicada”, on loan to Lee Anderson from the Antique Boat Museum, made its appearance at the show (yesterday’s header), with its Liberty V-12. Man, there was just no end to it.
There were electric powered boats, production boats, one-of-a-kind specials, raceboats, cruisers, rowboats, triples, utilities, you name it, it was not only here, but could win a best in class anywhere it would be shown. There were so many incredible boats here in this one place. In four short years this show has become a must-see event.
Dave Bortner also brought his big 30’ Lyman. When you stood next to this boat it felt like you had been shrunk down to half size and you were standing next to an Islander. This was made for BIG WATER! It would prove its mettle out on the choppy north section of Gull Lake as part of Saturday’s boat parade.
The boats from the collections of Lee Anderson and John Allen were supported by an all-star cast of spectacular boats. Brian Marks brought his Hutchinson triple from the west side of Gull Lake. This super rare runabout, “Scram”, shows a different side of Hutchinson than most are used to. Kermit Sutton docked his 19’ Dee-Wite runabout with an early Gray V-drive. If you’ve never seen a Dee-Wite up close, you owe it to yourself to come see this boat. He also has a 17’ split cockpit runabout, just as pretty as they come. These boats are from just another of the great collections that grace this Minnesota area.
Mike Favilla spent time with “Dazzle”, his 1925 Dodge Watercar, explaining the virtues of this perfect user boat. But, it’s not that kind of “user boat,” it’s the user friendly nature of the boat that makes it his favorite. Dazzle’s condition just gets better and better every time I see it.
Lee Anderson also brought “Ethyl Ruth IV”, a John L. Hacker designed Gold Cup racer from 1934. Sitting next to “Apache II”, it showed the contrast and development involved in a few years of on-the-water testing. “My Darling”, with its Allison V-12 (when this started I immediately looked up in the sky, expecting a large C-135a to come out from around the trees), was docked next to “Imp”, powered by its Wright 620 V-8 racing engine. What an incredible sight. What an incredible sound!
Bob House showed his immaculate 1947 Century Sea-Maid, just to prove that not all classic mahogany boats need racing engines to be here. There were Coronado’s, Resorters, even fiberglass Coronado’s and Resorters.
Chris-Crafts weren’t left out either, with all varieties included. There were Customs, Capri’s, they were all there.
The Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum brought over their 1907 Fay & Bowen launch, “Stella”, winner of the Best Launch Award at last year’s ACBS International Show along with “Bertha”, a Chris-Craft Limo. “Stella” could be seen leaving the dock all day long, giving spectators rides on beautiful Gull Lake.
The crowd on Saturday was steady, despite the rain and drizzle. At 4:30 PM the parade began with the deafening sounds coming from so many large engines.
Of course, then there was “Tolka”, the fabulous boat from the shops of the Alexander Graham Bell Laboratories. This boat has had an incredible journey from the day it first hit the water that has followed it right through its discovery and renovation by Peter Breen in Ontario, Canada. You can experience this story at http://www.tolkaboat.com/. You don’t get more special than this boat. To see it up close and personal is quite an experience.
On Sunday it was sunny and bright and the great weather brought out the spectators by the thousands. When it was over and the boats slowly eased back out into the lake, it seemed like they were disappearing, just as they had decades ago, slowly fading into the distance until they were gone.
Thanks Lee for a great story today… And thanks to Dane Anderson for sharing his beautiful photographs with us here at Woody Boater, and to Dave Bortner from Freedom Boat Service in Minnesota for his assistance on the water.