After spending six wonderful days in the Bay Lake / Gull Lake area of Minnesota, we decided to make our way down to Lake Minnetonka, just west of Minneapolis, to check it out. Although this wasn’t in our original travel plan, how could you not visit this historic area which is only 2-1/2 hours from where we were staying.
Fellow Woody Boater Dave Bortner from Freedom Boat Service in Mound, MN extended the invitation to visit him and he graciously took some time from his busy schedule to give us the grand tour of Lake Minnetonka yesterday. And to top if off, Dave gave us the tour in his immaculate 1961 Century 21′ Coronado powered by a rare Cadillac V-8. Classic Minnesota at it’s best.
From Wikipedia – Lake Minnetonka is a 14,528-acre lake in the U.S. state of Minnesota. It is located west-southwest of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis–St. Paul. The lake is irregularly shaped with numerous bays, peninsulas, and islands that form approximately 125 miles of shoreline. The lake is located almost entirely within Hennepin County; however, its southernmost extension, Smithtown Bay, reaches into the City of Victoria, which lies within northeastern Carver County. Lake Minnetonka is divided into two separate sections, the Upper Lake and Lower Lake (which refer to the flow of water from west to east, not geographical location). The rich history of Lake Minnetonka is well documented in Wikipedia by Clicking Here.
Our tour started at 7:30 AM sharp at from Mound – at the west end of the lake. We were anticipating a 2 or 3 hour tour with Dave in the Coronado, which ended up taking 8 hours with a lunch break and a stop to visit Marina Manager Skipp LaJoy at Tonka Bay Marina, in Excelsoir, MN. Tonka Bay Marina is a huge full service marina on Lake Minnetonka which stores around 450 boats during the winter, and they also manufacture the legendary Skiff Craft line of wooden boats their Plain, Ohio plant.
As this was my first ever visit to Lake Minnetonka, I can say that it’s easy to loose your bearings on the lake with all the channels and bays, so Dave prepared this quick map to explain where we went. Now I’m not sure Dave should get into the mapping business any time soon, but we decided to post the his ad-hoc map to give you an idea of what we are talking about here. The lake, which name means “Big Water” is huge with lots to see as you cruise through the various areas of the lake.
When we began our tour at 7:30 AM it was already 80 degrees and the heat quickly reached well over 90 degrees, so the big Coronado’s hard top was a life saver – and the gull-wing roof panels makes docking, ingress & egress easy.
Off we go as the big Cadillac likes to run between 2,500 & 3,000 RPM – a bit thirsty for avgas at the higher RPM range but the sound it makes is worth the price of admission (easy for me to say, Dave insisted on buying the avgas). What a grest way to tour the lake.
Classic boats are everywhere on Lake Minnetonka, but many were on their lifts on Tuesday morning. Dave knows every classic boat on the lake as many of them are serviced and maintained by Freedom Boat Service.
The summer cabins and permanent residences dot the shore line everwhere you look with an interesting mixture of original classic architecture and modern structures. And as expected, there is also some serious properties on Lake Minnetonka, many with deep family history.
The unique styling of the ’61 Coronado is fantastic as Century blazed the trail for innovative design in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s – and the boats are easy on the eyes (and ears) from any angle.
Below, under the cover is a very interesting boat – can you guess what it is? If you guess right, you will receive a special gift from Woody Boater HQ. The answer will be posted around 4:00 PM this afternoon here in the comment section.
We rounded the corner and as Dave approached this boat lift I had a serious flash-back. True story, in 2003 a photo of this Riva Tritone caught my eye in an advertisement and it was that photo which first ignited my interest in classic wooden boats.
I saved the photo and later asked a boat broker where I could get a boat like “Pirahna” and was told by the broker it was not what I needed. I was shocked to see it today, so Dave and I stopped to have a closer look, it’s one of Dave customers who owns it so we had the opportunity to have a closer look and appreciate the Riva’a magnificent styling and detail.
Nearby, we passed another collection of Riva boats on Lake Minnetonka – three in all.
When Dave Bortner was five years old, for Christmas he was given a copy of “The Golden Guide To Power Boats” in his Christmas stocking. On page 134 was a small photo and description of a 1961 Century Coronado, and on that day Dave decided that this was going to be his “dreamboat.” Dave still has that exact same book, and now has that same “dreamboat” – a wonderful story of a childhood dream which came true for Dave when he purchased his 1961 Century Coronado wit a 325 HP Cadillac V-8 ten years ago.
I am very glad that we made the decision to go down to Lake Minnetonka for a tour, we had a fantastic day with Dave Bortner and the Coronado.
In fact we had so much fun yesterday, that we decided to spend another day in Minnesota with Dave as he takes us on a very special road trip today. Stay tuned and join us as we discover more “Classic Minnesota!”