Fellow Woody Boater Alex Watsons strategy. Start’m young, real young. Oh and give your 5 year old a 25 Sportsman. Little Salter at the helm in Hessel Michigan, summer 2012. Go Salter Go!

Last week we reached out to our readers to ask questions that are top of mind in regards to the hobby of classic boating. One question kept coming up. What are we doing to attract younger folks to the hobby of classic boating? We here at Woody Boater of course have an opinion. An opinion based on years of thinking this over not just as hobbyist, but as marketing professionals. Why we created Woody Boater for in the first place. What in the end we are talking about is recruitment. An open door….The issue here is simple actually. It’s relevance. One must connect on an emotional level with ones passion. That’s it. There is no rational reason to ever own a classic boat. It’s all fashion. A classic boat, in fact any boat in most cases is a want, not a need. One must have a good foundation in life to even be dreaming of a boat. There are charts and graphs about this.Below is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid. This is the common go to when describing ones needs in ones life.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid. To summarize, The bottom is food, the top is classic boats and gold bathroom fixtures.

Now I show this chart to illustrate a point. To a 15 year old, there needs are a game boy, iphone, and dating. OK and food.. To a 20 year old, it’s school, or a job. And being secretly terrified of the future. Boating is not even in the picture. Even if they grew up on a lake as a kid. They are focused on life. So. Youth to our hobby, starts around 30. Yes there are special cases. Like Parker Salin pictured below with another fellow under 30 Woody Boater Martin Belcher. That’s Martin’s restored boat they are sitting in front of.

Parker on the left and Martin. Two great guys, and extremely passionate about the Woody Boater culture, pictured at the Antique boat Center Open House.

Parker owns three classic boats. Works on them him self. Why? What is in there hierarchy of needs that drives them? Is that the key to Classic Boating, vs just boating. Is the hierarchy of needs just for boating? Well. Yes and no. Yes from a stand point, that for less passionate folks then Martin or Parker, one must be in a place of life that one can afford a boat and must be near water of course. And be able to spend time and money on something that sits un used for some time. Art.

A classic boat, is more than that. It requires a certain passion to be different at this age. Its NOT about a memory as a kid. These kids grew up in front of laptops, Not the radio. There MUST be a connection to something else. And that is were we shift gears for a second. To Hot Rodding. Look around within the hot rod culture. Watch TV. Hot rods are cool for the under 30 crowd. There must be a way for folks under 50 these days to connect. And that’s “Culture” Lifestyle” I know I know, here I go again. But its about art, fashion and the most important thing. FUN! If its not fun and gives back something back in an emotional way. Forget about it. As Texx says. No kid on the planet wants to sit around at a boat show and talk about screw sizes and how well preserved the boat is. They want to go boating! But in a more connected way. With some style. Mike Mayer is our poster child on this. His hot rod triple is fun times ten. No matter what water he is on, trust me, his cool Woody with that massive V8 is respected for not just its style, but also the power and fun ratio.

What needs to be done!

First. don’t think of youth programs as just 10 year olds building racers. Sorry, I am going to put it out there. It’s all good. And part of the solution, but NOT the entire solution. And the good folks at the ACBS are all over that so thats covered. But nothing is being done for the 30 year old. Is it a marketing campaign to folks just entering that part of there lives that a boat is a reasonable dream. Only they have the DNA of Parker and Mike, Martin that makes them want more. To need more out of the boating experience. What about featuring the under 3K boats at the shows. Give away cheap classic plastic boats to under 30’s to get started. mentor a 30 year old. Plant seeds. the boats will do the rest. We here at Woody boater are just one opinion. Yours is critical to keep this going. Your comments are part of the story and solution. This story should be a collective town hall meeting on the subject, so we can all gather and make changes to how we put on shows and most importantly, events to make things more fun. thanks for your opinion, let it rip!

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75 Responses to “Is 30 The New 15 When It Comes To Classic Boating?”
  1. don vogt

    All good points, Matt. The question that occurs to me relates to who is buying new boats? Boat manufacturers must be spending a fortune to advertise their boats for sale. Do you have any statistics on the age distribution of boat purchasers? It would be interesting to see how that breaks down. If 30 years olds aren’t buying many new boats with all that advertising going on, it suggests there may be difficulties in reaching this demographic? Even though we know, of course, that a classic boat is better than a new one. Right?

  2. floyd r turbo

    Must be a lot of ppl still mulling over your comments. Use to go to air shows with my Dad in his ’54 Mooney Aircoupe which he had no business owning in our financial condition. Stood around the shows or airports, kinda boring. Airplanes are the flagpole on Maslow’s triangle. It never got my interest because I grew up riding in my grandfathers woodie every weekend at the lake 10 yrs earlier than my Dad’s airplane “influence” . I’m not sure you can “manufacture” that interest without some history behind it. I’d be interested in the stats of who’s in this hobby from a “cold call” perspective. That is, has no youth connection, saw a woodie or show later in life, had little to no exposure to boating in their youth, but made a connection at a show or some other link and got into the hobby at that point and continued attending events.

  3. Dan Ward

    I bought my first wooden boat two years ago at age 53. My son is a mechanic and he cares for it like it is his child. The boat is named after his daughter, so we have three generations loving wooden boats with no prior exposure. He says that you should drive a wooden boat like you can’t afford it, and I’m OK with that.

  4. Paul H.

    Floyd – I was “cold-called” – first boat at 42, no childlhood history of power boats. My dad had raced sailboats at the local yacht club but that never captured my interest, even as a kid. I can’t explaini it, other than I like the uniqueness, design and style of old things presented as they were built and because I have a cabin on a lake, boats fit. It went on from there.

  5. John Rothert

    I agree with Floyd on his “cold Call” analogy…..just wonder about “connections” leading to affections. Past in prologue…

    But great posting by Matt, rich food for thought!

    I am going boating!

    John in Va.

  6. Rick

    There is the perception of modern boating that all the advertising encourages of bikini girls and party times. Even the larger boats may have an older gentleman on it but there is usually the trophy wife there with him. What is the perception of classic boats? I do think that less static boat shows help. Even a group of classics pulling up to a waterside restaurant filled with people help show that we can have user boats and generates interest.

  7. Greg Lewandowski

    First of all, if you have a best photo contest this year, the header shot af Marion at the helm of Alex’s big sportsman already won it!
    As we discussed last weekend, the younger 30+ crowd is not at all into our conventional boat shows, or agonizingly original antique and classic boats. To help the cause, our chapter has created a “modified” class so we can judge boats that are substantailly revised from original in design and/or power. They still must be 1976 or older, but maybe we need to give that age requirement some more thought. We are also initiating monthly Tuesday night “runs” on area lakes on just a “show up” basis to get more users to come to a club organized activity. This will be open to non members so anyone can come along.
    If we want to get noticed by the hot rod and tuner car people, maybe we need to make more of any effort to get to know them. A thought I had this morning was to set up a chapter display at the big Autorama custom car show in Detroit. Take a couple of our real hot rod and race boats in there to let them know that is also part of our hobby. This could also be done at other car shows. It’s probably too late for this year, but we can look into it for 2014.
    Keep the creative juices flowing, and it may end up in a list of suggestions that the individual chapters can use to keep this great hobby going for the next generations.

    • RRGadow

      I think we have to keep the Hotrodder and Tuner in seperate catagories…we have a chance with the Hotrodder (which will probably be above the 30 age bracket)…the Tunners will be in the 18-30 age bracket, but will have no interest in our boats….as they are hopping up their Hondas, and will feel our boats are way to old…and not modern enough.

  8. RRGadow

    I dont think there is anything that is attractive about the “lifestyle” of wooden boats fo the 30 and under crowd. I was in my mid 30’s (now 39) when I caught the bug big time…and it was soley on memories of growing up around them and thought it was time to expose my kids to it. Ive been a big advocate of getting the “younger” generation involved. I own a guitar company and our marketing team is always looking for new routes of exposure when it comes to the market in our field….so just for fun I alsways bring up wooden boats….I dont feel “hotrodding” will have anything to do with it…what is the attraction of putting a hopped up motor in an old wooden boat? If it were about “hot rodding”…they would buy a Donzi and go 90 mph. So in the end, IMO there isnt any gold ticket to get them involved…we just hope that there are a few more Parker and Martins out there that come along.

    • Dennis Mykols

      I have had both, an 18ft 1988 Donzi, sold it for my 1923 Gentlsman Racer Hacker, with a 460 ci. big block. I took both boats to Classic car shows and always had a crowd around either boat. I really think the early fiberClassics are the way to draw the 20 to 30 guys. 1. Cheap entry, Hop up engine, Fun. 2. still something Different, has the WOW factor.3. you get away from the “varnish is ALL work and no play, which is what people all think about when considering a woody…

  9. RiverRat

    Ecourage young women to love wood boats and the boys will follow, youth connection or not. I had the connection to my past but got into wood boats because they were cheaper, or so I thought. And the Cool factor. Add to fact that working with wood is more fun than fiberglass. I like to keep my huffing limited to varnish, not interested in fiberglass maitainence and repair.

  10. rabbit

    I love the hot rod reference. Very true. Keep it loose. Keep it fun. Uptight old guys talking about correct snaps will not attract 30-year-olds.

    Now I’ll beat a dead horse, because I’ve made this argument before:

    Red Wing boots. I’m in advertising like Matt (Cadillac, actually is one of my bigger clients.) Red Wing used to be my client and the CMO and I are still good friends.

    Red Wing has a heritage line. They’re made exactly, precisely like they were 60, 70 years ago. And they’re made in the USA.$250 a pair and up. They can’t make enough of them. And they’re selling them all to 25-40 year old guys. They appreciate quality, American craftsmanship, tradition. And they have some money to spend.

    In two weeks here in Minneapolis (St. Paul, actually) there’s going to be an event called Northern Grade. It’s a “pop-up market” with brands like Red Wing and Duluth Pack selling their wares. It’s a mob scene. Wallets wide open. I’d park an affordable, nicely finished user boat there. They’d go nuts for it.

    • matt

      I love the idea of product association with hip cool brands. Also the concept of getting younger folks at the helm of these boats. Sorry, but anytime I see a 60 year old behind the wheel of anything, I asosiate that product with that age. I dont reacall old folks driving the boats in the original ads.

      • Tommyholm

        I agree with the red wing analogy. The boots would not be so popular today if the price was $25. They are an exclusive up scale brand icon. I,m sure red wing would rather sell a 1,000 of them at 250$ rather than 10,000 at 25$

        • Chad

          Great boot. I wish all of their new styles were made in the USA. Some are made in China. Nothing like manufacturing costs going down and the retail price going up.

  11. Alex

    I don’t think there’s a magic bullet to getting kids /young adults into the hobby / passion. It’s a combination of little things that add up. Parents or grandparents who own one or more classic boats stand a far greater chance of transferring the love to their kids / grandkids. That’s because the boats can be part of the kids’ youth, adolescence, and young adulthood in so many ways.

    The reason I have a classic boat is because I grew up with them in our Michigan summers. The memories I have are so deeply cherished, I wanted with all my heart to provide the same for my kids. I’ll wager that’s the case with many in this blog — the seeds were sown in our youths.

    I don’t have a “plan” for infusing the joy in my kids. But it’s clear already many of the things we do naturally are having a cumulative effect… We go for lots of boat rides — daily in the summer. We let them ride on the front deck (of our largest boat, at very moderate speed only). We let the kids drive all the boats (with our supervision at this age). We let the kids play in the spray off the sides. We invite their friends on boat rides. We let their friends drive the boats. We involve the boats in annual holiday events (i.e. watching July 4th fireworks sitting up on the decks). We involve the kids in cleaning and wiping down the boats (so they can appreciate their beauty up close and take pride in them). We let the kids eat in them. We go for picnics in them. We take day trips in them (to Mackinac Island). We anchor them, beach them, and let the kids swim off them. We let the kids tube behind the biggest one (BIG wake). We take them out on rough days to play in the big waves (the kids call them “rock ‘n rollers”). We go get ice cream at sunset in them. We go for starlit / moonlit rides in them. We spontaneously break into races with other classic boats (the kids still talk about one of those years later). In short, within reasonable parameters, we let kids be kids in them.

    The pictures we have of our kids’ faces in the boats show them at their happiest — more than Christmas or birthdays or any other points in their lives. Those pictures also capture the memories for them.

    We’ll keep making more memories in the boats. And soon, the kids will be making their own memories in them.

    Call it the circle of mahogany if you will.

    • Carl Garmhaus

      Do you adopt? Seriously, you have the right idea. Use them, have fun, take others with you. Let them drive, don’t worry about a little dock rash, it can be fixed. When I was fourteen I was allowed to take the family cruiser out alone, during the week, impress my friends, try to pick up girls at Metro Beach. I had a hell of an advantage pulling into the marina with a boat over the older guys with cars. However, I wasn’t just turned loose, had to ace the Power Squadron classes and demonstrate good seamanship to my parents first. I grew up around it but many have not. Exposure is the key and I have seen a lot of good ideas here today. As Greg said earlier, our chapter is having impromptu cruise nights this year. Exposure, reinforcement and early fiberglass may show the way.

  12. m-fine

    Random thoughts…

    If you want to get a 30 yr old to buy a wooden boat, it is best to catch their eye in their teens and 20’s even if it takes 15 years to seal the deal.

    Some people will come into the hobby because their parents exposed them to it. Others will avoid the hobby because their parents were into it. There will also be those who have little exposure or history who somehow get the bug. That is the big target market for growth.

    Image is everything. Old people talking about screws and zippers at a boat show is what young people want to pretend will never happen to them, NOT what they dream about. Sex sells, as do smiles, fun, babies and puppies.

    Young people are already targeted by boat marketing but once they decide to get a boat, the wooden boat offers a level of style, class, and uniqueness that the new boats struggle with (new Chris Crafts and a few others are exceptions but come with huge price tags). To get young people into wood boats, it would help to keep images of great looking woodies in front of them, especially with young sexy people on board. Getting wood boats into advertising, TV shows and movies will be a subtle but powerful form of marketing. Once they decide to get a boat, the image will be there in the back of their mind ready to sprout.

    As someone pointed out, get beautiful young women into wood boats and the young men will follow as fast as they can. I am not sure how to get the teens and early 20 something girls interested, but images like Alex’s that show young kids smiling and young families having fun and building memories are a great way to market to the women of child bearing age. If nothing else, a great way to get a young spouse to be supportive of your decision to buy a woody.

    For young men, the engines are a great marketing tool. Common cars are getting more and more complicated, with less room to work on them, and the engines are more about quiet and efficiency. The weekend wrencher will find a utility with the doghouse removed will give great access to a simple old school V8. The engine will be easy and relatively inexpensive to work on, and it has a growl and power no Honda Civic can match. This is where a little hot rodding and customization will have more appeal than a religious insistence on 100% factory originality. Let them have some chrome under the cover. Once you get their interest, they will see the appeal of an original K or M as well…for their second boat.

    There will always be room for the factory original preserved tripple and barrel back, but to get young people, you need to also welcome the cheaper yet more enjoyable utilities and appreciate personalizations and customizations. A 17 foot Sportsman with a 400 cuin V8 covered in chrome and braided lines, with a custom interior, killer sound system and wake tower may make some people cringe, but it sure beats a 17 Sportsman on a burn pile. Plus, those “kids” will grow up and someday they too will be 70-80 years old and more interested in the finer points of screws and zippers.

  13. Ranger


    You are my HERO! I love what you and the family are just doing naturally with your boats (and isn’t that what our memories are about…)

    We’ve got to make a conscious effort to reach out to the younger attendees at the shows and we will certainly make sure that’s a priority for us to keep in mind. But that still only reaches very few but as individuals each putting forth a concentrating effort, we can certainly plant a few seeds! Multiple that by the Woody Boater faithful…and by George, we’ll have a movement!

    And by all means the classic glass guys should be welcomed within our midsts without question, we enjoy running (ok, just trying to keep ’em in sight) with the Jersey Skiffs (thanks JitterBug!)

    It’s all about the fun, the passion will follow!

  14. Dennis Mykols

    Here are my two Grand Daughters Ava and Payton, enjoying a fast “A RIDE” with Grandpa. These two little girls live on the water every weekend, and love to drive Old School, FAST.
    All my three sons, now pushing 40 have been into boats all thier lives, and I am glad to see my five Grand Children living the memories that will be with them all thier lives.

  15. RRGadow

    It is all about the memories….These 3 have already called dibs on Ole Chris when I kick the bucket…so they are well on their way to being the next generation.

  16. floyd r turbo

    Being inclusive in any event will help to keep what few 30 somethings we have coming back, the more we have of their age bracket the more chance of getting them back. I can understand, tho’ there may be some of the older gen that’s not going to appreciate some kids that are not well “managed”. I was displaying a ’32 28′ CC triple restored upswept for a member who couldn’t make it at the Atlanta Marine Trade Expo “glass” show where we had a number of chapter woodies. An 8 yr old jumped in the front leather upholstered cockpit, vaulted over the seat back like a pommel horse into the second cockpit, hopped onto the engine hatches and did a “cannonball” into the aft cockpit. After I gingerly removed him and told him “no no” and adult came by saying “these kids today” (with a smirk on his face), it was his!. As I walked to the bow to get my chamois, I purposely stepped on his foot and muttered, “I don’t know which is worse, the kids or their parents”.

    But who gets more enjoyment here, the child or the adult.

  17. floyd r turbo

    I take that back, check out the grumpy ol’ fart in the lawn chair. My sentiments exactly.

  18. Jason

    Coming from a 33 year old in the hobby for five years, woody boating for me is about preserving the past, coupled with having fun with my family, coupled with “tending” (see below), coupled with simple “cool”. There is simply nothing cooler on the lake then an old woody (and nothing sounds better)! I have to agree, although I enjoy the occasional boat show, I have zero interest in setting in front of my boat and talking about it (plus I have two kids so who need constant entertainment) – I want to be on the lake using it, making memories with my family.
    From another perspective, I’ll make the analogy of a new and wood boat to a mechanical and quartz watch – “Mechanical watches (wood boats) are so brilliantly unnecessary. Any Swatch or Casio (new boat) keeps better time (runs better), and high-end contemporary Swiss watches (wood boats) are priced like small cars. But mechanical watches (wood boats) partake of what is called the Tamagotchi Gesture. They’re (wood boats) pointless in a peculiarly needful way; they’re comforting precisely because they require tending.”

  19. Randy Rush-Captain Grumpy

    Matt: You hit it out of the park on this one, every point is perfect, and the princess header is great!

  20. matt

    The header is from Texx, he shot it! Its got to be the best header of the year. It says it all.

    • m-fine

      That picture should go on the cover of the Woodyboater header shots coffee table book.

    • Chad

      I agree, Marion looks “glamorous”.

      That smile is what life is all about.

      • m-fine

        I am not sure that is a an innocent smile. See the hand on the throttle? Me thinks that might be an evil grin.

  21. Carl Garmhaus

    Get a facebook page going for your chapter. The younger set is all about fast, electronic media. That’s one way to reach them, fast, in your face, stuff

  22. Chad

    Tomagotchi? Is there a pill or creme for that?

    Life is short. Time is precious.

    It’s about having as much fun as possible in the short time we are here. Share the boating passion with family and friends at every chance.

    Don’t forget to eat, breathe and excrete.

  23. tommyholm

    here’s my two cents.
    both the ACBS and Century Boat Club have maintained a stable membership over the past 15 years. doesn’t go up, doesn’t go down. Both have attempted marketing efforts to expand but it doesn’t happen. I find it amazing, the stability. Both may become extinct like dinsosaurs but probably not in my lifetime. More likely the boats will become extinct or outlawed.
    I have noticed a lot of wooden boats appearing in high end product advertisements so you marketing guys/gals appear to like the placement as well as movie/TV people. The exclusivity of ownership is the appeal no doubt and although I strongly advocate against it, the ACBS thrives on it – the exclusivity that is. Attempts to make this hobby inclusive is like canoeing upstream without a paddle. Lots of luck.

  24. Tom Gruenauer

    I think we need to address the “COOL” factor. We all drive to work in the same looking car, drive around the lake in our modern powerboats that look the same (except new Chris crafts). The wake boat builders are trying to be cool with colors/graphics, note the age of wakeboatders . We all know the coolest boats on the lake are the woodies, really does not matter the year. 30 something modern boaters need to see that like tattoos these old boats reflect an individually and a unique boating lifestyle. When the guy with the hotrod in the above photo stops for a hot dog his ride will attract a crowd, the same with a woodie at the boat ramp. One of the best days woody boating was when the 40 year old with 250,000 dollar go fast boat ran over to talk to me about my 1960 17’ Chris Craft custom ski boat (I was 29 at the time).

  25. Slats

    As a 30 year old myself, I speak with knowledge and first hand accounts of what is happening to the future of this hobby. I work on the water 70 hrs a week with mostly college age kids. I think I can say with some certainty what is going on in their minds regarding varnished woodies. Trust me when I say this, a majority of the ones I know would love to be on a woody instead of a plastic boat. When one rolls past us, we all stop and drool at the magnificent drift wood that has floated by. We marvel at the sounds, the lines, the names, the cool burgees, the different shades and colors of stains. The emotional and physical reactions are all positive and borderline on lust.

    I think that there a few main reasons why you don’t see them getting as involved as you would like in this hobby. First off is the example set by others in the hobby. By this point I mean more people treat their boats as museum pieces than they do as actual boats. How often do you see a great triple cockpit towing a skier or a tuber? After all the time I’ve spent on the water in the last 14 years doing my job, not a one. Remember some of those Chris Craft ads with boats actually pulling people behind them? Utilities are a different story, but still few and far between. I got to know a phenomenal boat builder. He said that the boats he loved seeing at the end of the year for fall pullout were the ones that had a little ding here. And a little spot of rubbed off varnish there. Not the ones that still looked like they did in May. He liked the ones that had character. Had been used as they were intended. If you want something that just takes up space on your pier and looks nice, get a lawn chair or a plastic flamingo.

    #2 The cost of ownership. I’ve seen some great boats at unbelievable prices lately. I’ve seen a fixer upper Holiday(my dream boat) for sale for less than $2500.00 But to a 30 year old in this economy you add up the gas. Then the storage, then the trailer, and the registration, PFD’s, fire extinguisher, etc and it gets to you. Don’t get me wrong, but I practically have to put a bib on myself when I flip through the latest issue of Classic Boating when Im in the last pages looking over the works of Lange Custom Woodworking or Van Dam or Sierra Boat Co. I don’t know a lot of 30 year olds who can afford to hire out a professional to restore some good wood unless they were born with a silver spoon in their mouth.

    #3 Lastly I think one of the main reasons is the lack of trades type classes as exposure in schools. When I graduated from High school 13 years ago, there was a de-emphasis on classes like shop or autos. We were more pushed into computers and the like instead. The lack of an understanding or appreciation as to what it takes to build much less maintain or repair floating carpentry is beginning. They think steam bending is way to dry clean clothes not bend boards.

    Before I go, one last thing. My cousin has a beautiful 30ft Bill Morgan made Hackercraft that he kindly lets me take out. I’ve been known to terrorize the lake every now and again. Aside from taking out dear friends, my favorite memories have been when Ive taken the boat over to get gas in town on my own. While there, strangers come up and ask about the boat. I tell them all about it while fueling up. Just as I put the nozzle back and they start to leave, I ask them if they have time for a lap. the look on their face is like xmas in July. No one has said no to date. Give a perfect stranger a ride no matter how long or short it is and it will seem like a perfect ride to them. And they’ll have a memory to share and spread this hobby.

    • William Hammond

      Great topic and discussion. I’ve a little different story. My mother grew up around boats and water. Lived in Munising on Lake Superior. Her classmate’s family owns Pictured Rocks Boats Cruises. Loved Cruisers. I got my longing for Woodies from her.

      We never had a boat. I bought one, a 1956 Century Resorter when I was about 25. It was in rough shape. Took it apart and there it sits still today, unfinished. I didn’t know what to do and didn’t know anyone to ask. When I did approach a local professional restorer it became clear early on that he had no interest in me because I had no money and wasn’t going to be bringing him any business.

      Life happens and 33 years later I’m cruising eBay when I spot a 1960 36′ CC Connie at a ridiculous low price. I agonize over it for a week knowing how insane it would be but in the end I’m the new owner. Bring it back home to Michigan and begin to work on her. Older and smarter now I do find some local sources for parts and knowledge. I also find a professional who I have hired to do some of the stuff I know nothing about.

      Here’s my take on why the clubs are missing the boat. I joined CCACBS right away but there was no connection to a local chapter. I’ve joined ACBS but have not yet connected with a local chapter. So not any kind out outreach to newbies from the local club members. I go to all the shows but my boat’s not in the water yet so I’m a lookie-lou to the other owners. The guy working on my boat has introduced me to only one other Woodie owner. Not one single local woodie owner has ever taken any ‘stranger’ for a ride at any of the shows I’ve been at. This is really what needs to happen to help foster new interest. As a group we’ve got to stop being so stingy with our boats and help others to see what the joy is really all about.

      One final thought; even though I’ve spent many thousands of dollars with my boatwright he has never once offered to give me a ride in his classic. When I’ve got mine in the water I promise I’ll not be so tight with my boat. I want others to be a part of this hobby!

      • matt

        You are never alone in Woody boaterville. We all agree with you 100% We will be in NJ in july for the show there, and idaho for the big ACbs meeting. As to your boat worker. Thats not good business. Since most likly you are paying for his boat. Also there is nothing like a ride to release the juices. What town do yu live in?

  26. Matt

    That says it all to me! I could not have said it all any better. And in fact did not. You did slats! Thanks

  27. rabbit

    I completely agree with Alex’s philosophy. Pile kids in the boat -especially those who aren’t your own- and just use the darn things.

    On Saturday I was in the kitchen streaming Woody Boater Live on the family computer and my 17-year-old son walked in and started to listen. His response? Put me up on stage and let me talk about woody boating.

  28. thomas d.

    slats i like the way you think and your pretty much dead on, but i wonder sometimes when a young persons looks at my boat and says it’s amazing what they can do with fiberglass now a days. some don’t have a clue and i worry about the future of boats.

  29. Paul H.

    Great comments, but I might suggest that the “average” classic boat owner is past the age of having young kids, or at least kids who are still of the age where they want to have anything to their parents. I would hope that the people in the hobby who have young kids do expose them to the boats and use them as Alex and others who have commented here today do. I pull skiers with my BB by the way! This age group of people are the bunch that can still transfer the love of these boats to that generation – their kids. If the 50+ year old picks up the hobby, it is probable that his kids are past the age where they will be influenced by their parent’s hobbies. For this and all the other reasons stated here, it is the 30-45 year olds that are absolutely key to long term preservation of the hobby. Having a 50 year old newbie join a club or buy a boat is great for today, but when he gets old or passes away, there is unlikely to be a family member chomping at the bit to take his boat over.

  30. ian

    I have sold a lot of boats, but two really stick in my mind. One was a 10ft hydro sold to a 12 year old who worked all summer selling produce and presented $200 in coins for the boat. He got a deal, and he took that boat every day on his lake and 5 years later there are 15 similar boats roaring around gull lake with willie and his friends having a great time.

    the second boat I sold was two 18 guys who bought a 20ft lapstrake hull with a huge windscreen like a Lyman. The boat had a huge V8. They boat the boat for $2,500 and then brought out a chain saw and cut off the windscreen and installed a used wakeboard tower and kick ass stero with huge speakers and extra batteries. For $3200 bucks they had a 300hp wakeboard and had a blast for a couple of summers and then I lost track of them. It was just great to see…everyone of those guys has a story to tell about their boats that will hold everyones attention. It was a blast to do

  31. Richard Z

    As a 50 something newbie ,thinking about a wooden boat.I guess i should foget it. Sounds like I am to old for this hobby.I might pass away.I know my kids would not want it .

    • Jim Frechette

      If this is a serious comment, it is one of the saddest things I have heard lately. At fifty, I would hope you have 25-30 active years ahead of you that you could be enjoying a wonderful classic boat. Go get a boat and have fun with it as long as you can and , who knows, your kids might enjoy it. If not, run it as long as you can, maintain it and have a wonderful time.

    • Texx

      Richard – I am a 50 year old newbie in the hobby. I can say that I have made many new friends and enjoyed my time in the hobby… Once I figured out how it worked.

      So hang in there. Woody Boater is a good resource.


  32. Alex

    Richard, easy man. Chad (above) said it well. Life is short. Time is precious.

    Become brethren with us on this blog. Buy yourself a classic boat. Something simple. Wood or glass, no matter. So long as it stirs you. It’ll offer full-sensory rewards unlike any other.

    Have fun with it. Take friends out with you. Meet other boaters. Do fun things with your kids. Let your whole experience take its natural course.

    P.S. I’m 50 and mid-midlife crisis. Trust me. The boats are the male equivalent of hormone replacement therapy.

  33. Martin

    Growing up on the water helps. Good people,good times and clean fun are the things that come into my mind when I think about enjoying the boating hobby. I wanted a project and to learn the history of how that boat was built and the correct way to restore one. Everyone has their own drive and I respect that. My interests are not just in boats, but other things as well. The people make it fun! You can have all the toys, but they are no fun all alone.

  34. Kevin

    Well I’m 28…my fiancée is 22 we have 2 boats 36 Garwood and 49 Chris craft…but I guess we are the exception to the norm. We are extreme antiques collectors. And I make a living restoring antique cars and am a part time antique dealer. So we live in the past so to speak. But but biggest downfall for people like us is the money…we are havi g a new bottom put on your Garwood. It’s costing over half my yearly salary to do it. I owned my home outright and had to mortgage it just to pay for this stuff to us it’s worth it. But the cost of having anything done is so high that it take the you get generation away you spend $80,000 on a wood boat with just the basics and see what you can get for $80,000 in a new boat that’s what turns people away

  35. Richard Z

    I wasnt serious,sorry about the bad joke.I tried to reply a while ago but it didnt go thru .I am going to get a wood boat either buy or build.if i buy it will be a inboard maybe built in the 50s or 60s.I have a boat slip but no boat.Sorry again.

  36. Greg Bridges

    As I restore my own ’63 CC Ski Boat, I think about how much fun I’m having doing it. I’m an alternative high school teacher that has built many wooden kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddle boards with my students. These students would never have even been in a canoe if it wasn’t for the fact that launching day came. Many years later, I run into them on the water in a water craft that they built themselves. I guess it helps that I also teach a community learning class at my local community college on wooden watercraft building so I have the tools and expertise to do it. After just 7 years of teaching classes, I’ve had over 120 students from all ages (17-89) take the classes and over 1/2 have built something. The majority of students are around 26-32 that have never built a thing with there hands in their life. Once they see how easy it is to use a hand plane, the rest just flows. How about a way to get decent grey boats into the hands of CTE teachers as a workable project that high school students can restore in a year. The project can’t last more than a year, or they will lose interest. That would get way more kids involved who will become life long learners and wooden boat owners. I’m 40 and my 2 kids (6 &10) love going to shop to help build a wooden kayak, surfboard, or help restore the CC. They even named it “Togetherness” as that is what is created when we work on it. Just my 2 pennies.

  37. Chad

    Great topic today.

    We really need to have a WoodyBoater gathering in 2013.

  38. Alex

    Greg, what a bright note to end the night on. Love the name of your family boat. Has warmth written all over it.

  39. Alex

    Greg, with your inspiring comment, I’m probably not the only one curious about the photo you tried to attach. Try to make it a smaller file (about 500K should do) and resubmit.

  40. Sean

    I’m 52. I bought my first boat at 45. I did not grow up around the water and have but a few recollections of wooden boats at my friends Muskoka cottage. I raced cars (endurance road racing) in my early 30’s and when my kids were born, I switched to restoring old Porsches.

    While the cars were fun, my wife did not enjoy either the track days or car shows. The Porsches were difficult for the kids, as a 911 has a very small back seat and is not comfortable. All the related drama took the fun out for me.

    The woodie (my 2nd …as I gave up on the first) is just about ready for it’s first full season. I have enjoyed managing the restoration and planning the modifications. On the couple of attempts last summer… despite unreliability, we managed to have some fun and create future family stories in our boating (mis)adventures.

    We still do not own a cottage or live near a lake. But, boating is a great family activity. My wife enjoys the ride and the scenery and my 12y/o boy is finally interested in something other than his Playstation 3. My 16y/o daughter….well, how can you please a 16y/o girl if you’re not the boy band “1 Direction”? But, she likes the sunshine and likes to drive, plus she tolerates the “old man”

    As far as “hot rodding” goes…This year the Greavette gets a modern (and reliable) 4.3 V6 with Vortec heads, roller rockers, Hi-Tek manifolds, custom cam, a complete Edelbrock intake system, alloy pullies and a five blade stainless prop screwed on the back of the Alpha I/O. I’m hoping to have a Corsa diverterv(budget dependent) for the thru-hull exhaust choice (best advertising a boat can have).

    This boat ain’t what the purists expect (or even respect) but it meets the needs of the entire family, it draws many nice comments from passers-by and is something that will keep our family together for years to come. It takes effort and resources but it is absolutely worth it as I cannot think of another single activity that can encapsulate everyone to this extent.

    Pic: My boy Michael caught discovering operation of the spotlight.

  41. Alex

    Sean, this is a cool story opportunity. “Road racer interprets classic boat.” You’d be surprised how many among us DO like that sort of thing. Please contact the WoodyBoater guys (Matt and Texx) when you splash your completed boat. It would be cool to see, and hear!, that finished product.

  42. Jay Wagner

    I’ve been working at Tinus Marine (in business 65 years)part time for 33 years and have seen the changes in the market. I’m also a member of ACBS, and am worried about growth of the club. Glacier lakes Chapter seems to be adding memberships,so in Wisconsin it’s working. We must try and use our boats more, what about poker runs? I like just running around different lakes also. Just for a point of thinking a new 18ft V6 runabout sells for just under 30K. But I’ll tell ya we sell piles of used stuff to young families for 10K. I think the thing is with wood boat is the guy thinks is too much maintainnce, so that’s why they go glass. Just as long as they get into boating. The marine manufacturers already have a program in place. When they get to the ramp and show off the woody we’re using they’ll come around. We also should try to promote our static shows at car shows, and the boat ramps.

  43. Eric

    Last summer vacationing I brought our little Dunphy rowboat “Paulina”. I was a hit at the resort. Many kids (and adult kids) went for rides, fishing and learned how to row. My 12 year old son (taking Mom for a ride in the photo) was ecstatic once he learned how to operate the outboard. All week he would take someone out to show them his favorite fishing spots and cruise around with a big smile on his face. Really made me proud to see him interact with the various families a create great memories for their kids (and us). Really great discussions today!

  44. 72 Hornet

    I ws lucky to grow up spending summers at the lake. I had my first boat at age 5. A 14′ aluminum Crestliner that I had to bail three times a day. I could drive it between three docks on front of the cottage. I was hooked! It taught e responsibility and boating skills. As I grew older, my father put me in charge of caring for our ski boat. Every Spring, clean, polish, launch, fuel, cover etc. Our next door neighbor had a Century woody that he kept in his boat house. He would take me for rides every Saturday morning. Now 40 years later, I own that Century and have tried to pass my passion on to the younger generation. That in my opinion is the key…
    This past summer, I had the pleasure of letting my good friend’s grandson use my 13′ Whaler and start the process of finishing a new Aristocraft Torpedo. I taught him to sand, prep, paint and finish the boat. We got the bottom painted this past sumerr. This summer we will concentrate on the staining and varnishing. He is hooked! I think a major part of it is spending the time with them and letting them see the fruits of their labor. It replaced the video game and we talk about of course the boats, but also alot about life in general.
    I think we all need to find someone young to share our passion with and let them explore the possibilities….A pay it forward as they say.

  45. Michael Vannier

    Matt, I purchases my first boat at 50, a 20′ 1949 Century Sea Maid beautifully restored by Wayne Spaulding here in sunny Colorado. Nearly every winter since, my son and I revarnished her to keep her looking her best. Five years after catching the bug, my 17 year old son Jack and I spent nearly every weekend being tutored by Wayne in his shop outside Breckenridge, restoring our first venture, a 1960 Chris Craft Cavalier Custom Cruiser. While Wayne and another Rocky Mountain Classics club member, Rom Nellis, did most of the restoration craftsmanship, Jack and I meticulously worked on dissasembly, documenting parts and measurements, and stripping and sanding. The restoration continues in our garage outside Denver. The exterior is nearly ready for final sanding and prep for those first colorful coats, and Jack and I are creating memories each time we tackle the next job. The video games and texting come to an end and we focus on the art we are trying to learn, together. Jack is a member of the next generation you speak of here. There’s really nothing like the Woody Boater experience. Much to learn and do, but wonderful times together doing it.

    • Texx

      Thanks Micheal. Do you have a few photos you can share with us please? Maybe we can share this story on Woody Boater.

      If you do, you can send them to Texx@woodyboater.com


  46. Bud Long

    Here at North Coast Ohio we have several career centers which are usually a combination of 2 or more high schools that offer courses in Industrial Arts, nursing, culinary, graphic arts, metalworking , etc. Last year for our 2012 show 6 seniors from the Portage Lakes Career Center (fed by 4 local high schools) built an all wood full size canoe. It won The ACBS Junior Achievment Award and was raffled off at our show to help defer the material costs. We are now working with the PLCC on other projects and hope to get more students interested in antique boating by association with our chapter.

  47. John Rusnak

    Well I know this is an old post but here it is I’m 31 a hot rodder from birth n here is my first boat a 23 ft Penn Yan All Seas Hard top with a 200 hp Buick in it 🙂 No lie its a life style I love my old iron and happy to b joing you all in varnish heaven .. Ps dad told me to pull the motor n put it n a hot Rod and burn the boat .. Silly old man !! Living the woody boater lifestyle here on 1/2 moon lake Milltown Wisconsin .. The truck is a 1947 international with a 500 cui Cadillac big block 🙂