3 Generations Types Of Classic Boaters.

, ,


I was doing some think’n yesterday and thought, mmm what is different now about classic boating? It feels different.  And it hit me. We have talked about the need to preserve the history of our boats before. Talked about the transition of owners.  In a sense, a second generation to take on the task, and now there is a third generation emerging. Yes I know from an age stand point, it’s probably more generations. But here is my logic, and it’s more of a generational mind set than age. So, I did some mesearch ( When you do your own thinking) and I broke it down and created names for the generations. 

The Originals

The Originals. This is the generation that had these boats new. They were just boats, and at some point became old boats, that need way to much work. And because they were just boats, were treated as you would an old plastic tub. Think 1985 Anything. Yup. Not cool. 

Pete Beauregard even preserved the Chris Craft Plant in Algonac. BTW, one of the nicest guys on the planet.


The Preservationists. This group came about the 1970’s and 1980’s This is the part of the group of originals that wanted to keep some of their past alive. They remembered the good part of their boat love. And started clubs and organizations. Classic Boating Magazine, ACBS, and the start of boat shops, become restorers. This group was launched into the public eye with the film On Golden Pond, which is why those boats are so valuable.

Matchbook? Or Art?

The Artists. This group started to really step up around 10 years ago, but has hit the tipping point now as we discussed. This group, cares less about the preservation of a memory, and is more about the design, and texture, and history of it all. They like age, patina, and flaws. We are now in a time where perfection is so normal, it can be in human, and our boats, Woody Boats are the last of human boats. Hand made, flaws and all. And perfection is in the humanity of them. Case and Point, Stinky. And the Ramsey Bros Dart, they have a place now. This may also explain why shows and clubs are down, and gatherings and web sites are up. Facebook is not to blame, its a shift in how people see the world. Distance, in time and space can enhance anything beautiful. And Woody Boats are beautiful. Even the ugly ones are beautiful. Although I have never seen an ugly one. 

Stinky? yes!

Now, this is not to say that there are not Preservationists and artists all in the same time frame. It’s not just one thing. I recall a study done on Porsches. Some bought for racing, and some bought from a life long dream, and others buy them to look at them and pamper them.

Not age, but mind set

Why even talk about this. Because understanding who our community is made up of, can make it a more fun place. And more inclusive, and welcoming. Not that we are not now. But think when your club has events, think about how your websites look and feel. And think about how your boat feels, and lives. The Artists are not really club belongers, and it’s far more than a boat, and they need our advice and open heart. 

And most of all. A VOTE FOR SWEET PEA! Make Sweet Pea the first Trawler to win a Lake Tahoe Award

17 replies
  1. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:


    Stop bashing 1985! They had some nice lines!


    This one gets dyslexic: 1958 meets 1985.

  2. Steve in the woods
    Steve in the woods says:

    As someone who witnessed the beginnings of the plastic evolution, it was about style and art! When we saw the 1st Glastron on the River, we just knew NASA must have built it. We had wooden lightnings and wooden sailfish boats, parents were excited about the idea of less maintenence. Cars had fins why not boats? That being said, I only (so far) work with wood because of art, and folks love it. Besides, cannot stand the itch of glass.

  3. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    I think you have a very good start and framework, but I don’t agree 100% on the third generation.

    Yes, the third generation includes those who cherish the patina, but they also include those who want and love a “new looking” wood boat for the art. They don’t care if it is “as delivered” as much as they like shiny varnish and chrome and the look of wood and classic designs. Then there are the restomod guys who want to take a piece of history and a piece of themselves to create something more personal. There are also the guys who want a user boat that is a little more exciting than the standard glass fare. It doesn’t need to be perfect and shiny, but the patina is just there, not really the draw, and may I only still there because of budget and time constraints. All of these third generation owners could be classified as enjoying the art aspect because they certainly do care more about the aesthetics of wood boats than any nostalgia which most do not have.

    And, I do agree 100%. Understanding these new owners, what draws them in, what’s interests them and what turns them off, will be absolutely key to survival of any of our clubs. And this is where I must whole heartedly disagree with #10 from yesterday. Virtually none of these third generation owners will ever want to own a show boat. At least not the way we show and judge boats today. Shows will need to evolve into something they want to participate in, or they will be all gone in another 10-15 years.

  4. Frank@Falmouth
    Frank@Falmouth says:

    Being a collector, (Curator?) of wooden boats I find the acquisition, research, and history of old things the most satisfying. But Artist? …I like that… I appreciate the patina of an old boat and can imagine or recall the stories the scrapes or imperfections could tell… An old manytimes painted Bay boat is as attractive as a worn and used varnished utility to me.. and maybe more so than a perfectly restored example… Ive started the road to restore some, but fear they may never be completed as we know the path of restoration, when “we might as well do this,..while we are doing that”… and to reference yesterdays discussion,…use it as is, restore/fix it later…is my mantra now. Ive taken that approach to my classic cars/trucks Ive acquired as well and have found people almost more appreciative to see a 60’s classic on the road that hasn’t been restored to perfection… “yup thats bondo I did back when I was in college”… While many would say I have “too many” boats/cars/old stuff, I do hope to pass them on someday to people who will appreciate and preserve their legacy and history. THe problem is letting go of boats that have family history, and fond memories. Will I ever sail the 1942 Ventnor Moth sailboat which I learned to sail in, at 10 years old, again?. It hangs from the rafters in its worn patina’d condition and I can just sit and stare at it and it brings me back to my youth.
    I hope the new generations will step up to take the torch (not literally!) and continue to protect and preserve these classics in a “throw away society” . They dont have to be perfect, just protected and preserved..

  5. Eric Z
    Eric Z says:

    The younger “Artist” driving (on the right), staking claim of his old mans “Preservationist/ Artist’s” boat (on the left). I think the 1964 boat has the best rear end of the 3!

  6. Murdock
    Murdock says:

    We care for a LOT of various woodies at the marina and they are being USED on almost a daily basis. The U-22’s have become the family station wagon and for three couples, the engine box becomes the cocktail table at 5:00 pm for libations and snacks.
    My point is, we don’t use the trailer queens. Several customers have triples and single cockpit speedsters that sit in the hoist or boathouse, but how often do you get to go for a boat ride that involves one and not friends and family?
    Art? Patina? Preserve? I say it’s all three because we are just the next generation of caretakers and there’s room for all at the wooden boat table.

  7. Waldo
    Waldo says:

    Well I enjoyed all of the comments and agree that the third generation has no idea of the sweat and time it takes to restore a wooden boat to investment quality. I started in 2004 working on a 1955, 18’ Chris Craft Continental, spent 4 years and did it by Dannenbergs instructions in Volume 1 & 2 of his books.
    5200 bottom, over 4,000 new screws, chrome, rebuilt the KBL myself and had a great time. Today the younger generation just wants it without any sacrifice. I am pushing 80 years old and not about to quit. I do realize that one day I will have to let my boyhood dream of owning a classic go to someone else. I just hope that it will go to someone who really appreciates all of the work and will continue with the clubs and shows. I am just afraid we old woody guys are a dying breed. Enjoy life and boats while you can.

  8. The Bottom Line
    The Bottom Line says:

    Enjoy life and wooden boats while you can. Couldn’t have said it shorter and sweeter than that!!!

  9. Blacksheep
    Blacksheep says:

    Have to agree to disagree with most of this crap. I’m 39, on my 4th classic boat, still own 2. Bought my first because of my experience working at a local marina as a teenager. Bought my 2nd as a present to myself after my final deployment overseas, which is on its 5th year of a professional restoration and will be show perfect. Bought my 3rd as a flip. Bought my 4th as a project I intend to keep and restore myself, which will be a restomod (upgraded engine, drive, and upholstery materials) and yes I don’t care what you think of that. Oh, and I have the dreaded pontoon you guys always make fun of, so factor that into my profile. From what I see at Shows, most guys my age get in via family, a cheap way into the water (classic outboards) or even an entry level ski boat. The new gen of boaters is a complete mixed bag dependent upon many factors. You’ve got all walks of life just as you did in the 50s, 60s, 70s and so on. What is considered a collector boat will also continue to evolve as well, broadening our way of thinking. Many restorers will back me up on this, as they see these customers first hand already. Some restorers already seeing my generation spending on say a early 90s Malibu or 80s Nautique full resto. Just my two cents

  10. Ned Protexter
    Ned Protexter says:

    You know what grinds my gears Bob? Being told the younger generation (I’m 30) has no idea of what it takes and the hard work, ect to make and keep these boats nice. Maybe that’s what turns the younger guys away from the clubs and they would rather just be around people that don’t tell them what they don’t know all while doing it.

    Something I see with the clubs (dying) is that they will sit around and come up with ideas to attract young people to the club and when you look at the people coming up with ideas, they are all 60+ years old and are out of touch with what we would actually like to do with a club. I even wrote a whole WoodyBoater article on this and you know how many clubs reached out to me? ZERO.

    I’m willing to help and bring some friends in and make a decent campaign for any of the wood boat clubs but I’m not going to campaign for two years to try to sit on a club board, burn all of my vacation time, ect. and more than likely get shot down at the meetings.

  11. Matt
    Matt says:

    Thanks Ned, been there done that and agree. As a 60 plus person, I will add that its not an age thing as much as an open mindness. Never stop pushing and trying. After all Woody Boater was and is an example of that.

Comments are closed.