A Simple Photo On Ebay With A Deeper Question About The Classic Boat Culture.


Ebay photo with a deeper message

So, here it is, a simple photo of a cute kid standing next to an old race boat. Seems normal enough today. Now, look closer. The cute kid is African American. And that brings up an interesting topic. How come there are not more minorities on our passion? I am not saying there are not, but sure seems like an old white guy thing. I suppose we could go on and on about memories and how back in the day it was only well to do white families that were privileged enough to go boating, so the memory is there. But maybe that’s not the case? Are we as a group, not inviting of different cultures? I am being honest here, I don’t know. I am an old white guy, and so I see the world through my blue eyed lens. I certainly invite diversity. But maybe I am putting out vibes that I am not aware of? Are we all? I would say I don’t think so? But then again, I am not all that aware of things these days.

We have used this as a header several times, had anyone noticed? Photo Shaun Fenn

It’s an interesting topic that of course has land mines all over it, and will no doubt ruin my week because I even bring up the topic. But its true, we as a Classic Boat culture are very white! The car world isn’t. So its not for the lack of loving cool old stuff. I see all sorts of people on boats out on the water, so its not a boat thing? Is it that old woody boats are icons of something and a time that is just bad? I don’t think so. I am asked all the time about my boats by all sorts of Diverse people. Cool is cool. So what is it?

Photo Shaun Fenn – Lake Dora Florida

Maybe if we as a group, were to look deep into our souls, and for a second think about it, we could reach out to diverse groups and try new things to attract new people. I know we will here at Woody Boater. And to think, a little snap shot of a cute kid standing next to a boat could mean and provoke so much.

More from the photo shoot.


18 replies
  1. Randy Rush Captain Grumpy
    Randy Rush Captain Grumpy says:

    Crickets chirping …….. Well i grew up a poor white boy in NH. Never saw a lake or a boat till i was 30. I also never saw anyone of a different race till i was 17 when a black family moved into town. Because of this i have a very annoying habit , when i see someone different than me i always asked them where they are from, what there life is about. I find this very interetsing. I go to boat shows, yes they are mostly old white dudes, and i do think its these people that grew up with the boats that make it seem like they are the only ones who like wood boats. . So in a way i can see that woody boating may not have the same appeal to them, but it doesnt hurt to at least try to interst some diversity into the mix. OFF SOAP BOX NOW,

  2. Fred
    Fred says:

    Excellent! Thanks for asking all the right questions. Diversity is what is going to help us survive, not just as a hobby.

  3. Rabbit
    Rabbit says:

    It is an old white man’s hobby and that kind of bugs me. I’m a 58-year-old white man and sometimes I feel like the young guy. If we all made an effort to reach out to more people who don’t look like us: More women, more young people, and more people who don’t look like us.

  4. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    It isn’t only us…Look at your Kiwanis or Rotary club…a few young guys. More women but it took the Supreme Court to make us accept them…We just tend to associate with people who look like us. Been to a black church lately ?..My wife and I recently went to funeral for our yard man. Out of 150 attendees we and one other white couple were the only white faces there….and their music was much better than our church.

  5. tparsons56
    tparsons56 says:

    I have been pondering about this subject as I winterized the boat this morning [even though its going to be in the 80’s today in Michigan – you never know about the weather here]. My opinion is that you can break down this discussion into two groups [A] Those who own and care for the boats and {B} Those who appreciate them for what they are. I say this because while I can appreciate fine art and admire the artists skills I have no desire to actually own a famous painting or sculpture.

    As a multiple antique and classic boat owner I can attest to the hard work and pride that goes into our hobby. Frankly, however, as a 61 year old white male it has only been recently that I have had the free time and resources to be able to pursue this dream which I suspect is why you see so many middle age to older people [men and women] in our hobby.

    Based on my experiences going to and being entered in various antique and classic boats shows that the beauty and workmanship of these fine crafts transcends any cultural, age, gender or religious differences based on conversations I have had with people of all races. There are some shows like the Boats on the Boardwalk that takes place in downtown Traverse City which attracts not only boaters who come just for the show but other people who are just in the area and stop by for a look. I enjoy standing next to the boats to answer any and all questions about our hobby and it is great to see the interest and appreciation that all people have towards our boats. Hopefully some our conversations have prompted someone to get into the hobby.

    I agree that we could use more participation from across any age or cultural lines but we do have to understand that we do have a small niche hobby. I don’t see that this lack of diversity as a premeditated function of the group, however, as the fellow classic and antique boat owners I have met are the friendliest group of people who love talking to anyone about our hobby [maybe too much at times – sometimes it is tough to shut us up].

  6. thomas d
    thomas d says:

    I don’t see anyone stopping anyone from buying and enjoying any boat, wood or glass. 99% of the people around here that are ON the water fishing/skiing/boating are white. some people just don’t like to be on the water, can’t make them. there is enough race politics today without bringing it into hobbies. it’s something that never even entered my mind.

  7. John
    John says:

    There are a number of boat building programs around the country for at risk youth in major cities. These are programs where kids are able to build boats i.e. rowboats, sailboats etc. These programs are remarkable and the kids have a ball.

    For example –


    et al

    These programs accept help in the form of time, donations, guidance, or anything you can provide.

    Next time there is an ACBS chapter get together, invite one of these groups in, if nearby, and offer a ride. Who doesn’t have a childhood memory of a “dream machine” they always wanted!

    “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow”

  8. Mark Edmonson
    Mark Edmonson says:

    After being in business for 40 years I have had two African American customers who grew up on the Detroit River and had beautiful Chris Crafts. They enjoy the hobby well

  9. Kentucky Wonder
    Kentucky Wonder says:

    You are correct that there are few people of color at ACBS or similar events, that seem mostly populated by old white guys. It is also likely true that few of those old white guys are attending rap music shows.

    What I am saying is that everyone has their interests, and they do not always need to intersect with those of others. How each person develops their interest is most likely by family or friend influences. People who grew up near water are more likely to be boaters. People who grew up in artful communities are more likely to be artists.

    What you should not do is force your interests on others, or deny someone access to your interests. In other words, treat other people how you would like to be treated. The world is a happier place when we do that.

  10. Scott
    Scott says:

    I have no answers….but I love woodyboater because you asked the question. At Mahogany and Merlot in Chelan, WA., wind blowing us off the water headed out to dinner. Now after the awards dinner and a great day with my woody boater friends I will drink a glass of Merlot and contemplate the questions put to us.

  11. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    Good questions and few answers…like most discussion these days it seems. The race issue is very real of course…but the AGE issue is the one that will make or break classic boating and a huge number of other hobbies and organizations….
    I swear I think the young folks most be taking virtual boat rides.???
    John in Va.

  12. Steve Lendzion
    Steve Lendzion says:

    Really, now we’re bringing the “I’m ashamed to be white” thing into a classic boating hobby?? Isn’t enough everyday on the news its all about race? Sports, Politics, religion, TV Show, etc etc etc and now a Classic Boat Hobby??? Looks like nothing is sacred anymore…Maybe if people quit talking about the difference of people in every aspect of our lives we wont even notice the difference, I never used to but with all the coverage its hard not to. Just my humble opinion, enough already.

  13. Bert Harris
    Bert Harris says:

    I could post a hundred reasons for the lack of diversity in the classic boat hobby. I lived in Miami for 60 years. I was born in Pittsburgh PA. In Pittsburgh my family had boats on the river as far back as I can remember. In Miami as well. There are lots of people of color in Miami with boats. Always was. Especially today. Anyone reading this that lives in Miami will attest. As far as classics go, maybe they are smarter that all the old white people and invest more wisely.

  14. Bert Harris
    Bert Harris says:

    a liberal approached me and told the money used to buy this boat could’ve fed thousands of less fortunate people.
    My response:
    “A guy looked at my Boat the other day and said, “I wonder how many people could have been fed for the money that boat cost.”
    I replied I am not sure;
    it fed a lot of families in Miami Florida who built it,
    it fed the people who make the engine and drive system,
    it fed the people who made the components that went into it,
    it fed the people in the copper mine who mined the copper for the wires,
    it fed people in Decatur IL. at Caterpillar who make the trucks that haul the copper ore.
    It fed the trucking people who hauled it from the plant to the dealer
    and fed the people working at the dealership and their families.
    BUT,… I have to admit, I guess I really don’t know how many people it fed.
    That is the difference between capitalism and welfare mentality.
    When you buy something, you put money in people’s pockets and give them dignity for their skills.
    When you give someone something for nothing, you rob them of their dignity and self worth.
    Capitalism is freely giving your money in exchange for something of value.
    Socialism is taking your money against your will and shoving something down your throat that you never asked for.
    I’ve decided I can’t be politically correct anymore. (I never was, actually)

  15. Guy Marvin, III
    Guy Marvin, III says:

    Thought you might find Sunnyland’s Jacksonville SCAMPY program of interest as we are teaching young people of all races, creeds, colors and sexes the fun of building wooden boats. We have a program at AMI Kids Jacksonville where we teach shop two days a week. We make the kids cut the wood, turn the screws and epoxy it all together. It is fun for all and provides a real sense of accomplishment for children who are badly in need of self confidence. Please come visit us the next time you are over our way.

Comments are closed.