Absolute Clayton By Kent O. Smith Jr.

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From the third cockpit of “Grandpa’s Dream”

A huge mega thanks to Kent O. Smith Jr for his amazing report on Clayton. He says it best. “Being the next guy in line to share photos from the same show is challenging at best.” But one thing we all know is that Kent is up to the job, and did not disappoint. Hell, he made a rain storm look fantastic. WOW! I love shots like that. Take it away Kent O.

he Keyes of Happiness – Carman on “Grandpa’s Dream” with his son and daughter-in-law

I arrived a day later than the YNOT guys, but a few hours before Matt. We all shot similar establishing images of the show, Matt sharing his first making it more difficult for Aaron and I to find unique perspectives. As the weekend wore on, we all had different experiences to photograph so for the WoodyBoater reader, it’s like going to three shows in one because each photographer sees things his own way. You get it all.

And so at every boat show, some rain may fall

Friday afternoon was breezy and warm, exactly what you’d expect at a boat show. The weather patterns on the St. Lawrence are distinctive in that they can change in a heartbeat. One minute you are enjoying a beautiful summer afternoon, the next you are threatened by storms rolling in from Lake Ontario. That pattern held true for the Antique Boat Museum’s 50th Anniversary show.

With the ever changing weather, you need to get out and enjoy while you can. I had barely digested lunch when I found myself in the third cockpit of Carman Keyes’ 1985 HackerCraft 30’ “Grandpa’s Dream.” Big Hacker triples handle the chop of the river nicely and this boat was no exception. This is hull number 13 of the Morgan Hacker era, completely redone in 2010-2011 and wins awards wherever she goes.

How many years in the barn does it take for paint to degrade?

Less than an hour after our short cruise, the wind picked up and the gray storm clouds rolled in. Folks scrambled to cover their boats as sheets of rain advanced in our direction. Friday evening was a washout, no rides, just cocktails in big boathouse, though the rain did offer some nice photo opportunities with the way it beads on varnished decks.

Rivulets of rain on varnished mahogany

Saturday morning was again gray and overcast so many of us slept in a bit. By mid morning, the sky cleared for a short while but the wind intensified. The gray overcast took over again. Whitecaps whipped up throwing spray and sea weed on the outer pier. Not a nice day for boating…Unless you are Adam. Adam Retersdorf runs Reets Boatworks. He had a recently completed Riva style sport boat that he built for a customer; the kind with HUGE flair that loves windy rough days like this one.

Riders on the storm

Dramatic skies over the museum

His 30’ creation is powered by twin Ilmor 6.2L 430hp motors and is appropriately named “Arrivederci.” Adam wanted to see how the boat performed in the rough stuff, so we went out for a fast river blast. The boat performed well and we stayed dry despite Adam’s attempts at hairpin turns. Running with the wind, we even caught some air over the three footers coming down the channel. Like the 1982 Boston Whaler catalog said of the 13’ sport model; “pounding down waves for the sheer hell of it.”

I only saw from afar one other wood boat out in the nasty weather for the rest of that afternoon, so it was early cocktails and then on to house party that evening.

Short lived golden light in the boathouse

Sunday morning finally offered a little sun so I bee lined for the boathouse to capture some golden light. It lasted a whopping 20 minutes. We had several boats ready to go out. By the time we were ready to shove off, a dark cloud from the west put a damper on that thought and the wind howled yet again.

Last of the nice light on a Fitzgerald and Lee runabout

There was chatter from the museum staff that the parade might actually get cancelled since the forecast was for increasing winds. Several brave souls ventured out from the docks heading straight for the launch ramp, hoping to get a jump start on the trip home. I wandered around inside shooting mostly the same shots Matt did of the wonderful displays and considered leaving early myself.

Gene Porter on his Lyman “True North” heading to ramp

Then the unpredictable river weather offered up a small miracle – the winds died down and the clouds parted in time for the parade. The show must go on.

Keith Kipp’s Miss APBA racer “Lady Shores” running for the launch ramp

I crammed into the third cockpit of Jack Rifenburg’s 28’ Gar Wood “Just For You” with a couple of cameras and my better half, Marsha. Boats slowly jockeyed for position in the line up as eager crowds filled the pier. There were less boats that usual, but it was still going to be a great parade.

The Stanley runabout that Kenny Bassett is documenting

Not part of the show, a Van Dam hard top passing by

Uncle Wes’s Gar Wood 25. Recall that Uncle Wes is the happy fellow often seen dancing aboard boats…though this morning he was “Wes-ting” from a hangover

Ed Bombard’s nice Chris Craft Sea Skiff “Wild Rose”

Lining up for the parade

Two Gar Wood streamliners loaded with passengers

Dan & Teri Cristafulli’s 27’ Gar Wood speedster “All Wound Up”

While the parade is nice, the seaway is crowded with both participant and spectator boats. For me, the after parade is the best time because many of the boat captains, pent up from being at the dock for the last couple days, like to really run their boats.

From the third cockpit of “Just For You” at 55 mph

Someone in the comments the other day asked what was so challenging about photographing boats at this show. Well, the weather for one – not many boats ran around all weekend. How many dock shots can you take that look cool?

Apparently no hands are required to drive a big Gar Wood

Yes, you can document the boats that were there, and many readers appreciate that. Those of us behind the shutter button are always in search of images that have a wow factor. Matt always says dock shots are deadly, meaning, just not that interesting. So being able to shoot moving boats is great.

ot the view of “Pardon Me” that you would want to see on the river. man that boat is HUGE!

Another issue is that so many boats and people and docks in the same close space makes isolating your subject from the distracting backgrounds an almost impossible task. Backgrounds that aren’t busy and melt away from the subject are just more pleasing to the eye.

First light on the docks

Finally, it’s a boat show and even us photographers are boat guys first. I bet I can’t walk 50 feet at any given show without seeing someone I know who wants to talk boats. So for me, it always has been and always will be boats first, photography second.

ed solo cup header shot from August 2014

Lastly, I would like to share a fun photo. Avid WoodyBoater readers may recall my report on the 2014 Clayton show where my friend Dan Rogosich went for a test ride on a pre owned Gar Wood 28’ twin cockpit. The header photo that day was of Dan saluting us with a red solo cup as Tom Turcotte Jr. captained. Dan did purchase the boat and after a season, decided he wanted more cockpit space. Gar Wood Custom Boats built him a 28’ Streamliner version that he took delivery of here at the show this last weekend. Dan thought it would be cool to recreate that photo on the new boat, “American Honey,” so my closing photo is that recreation.

Red solo cup recreation August 2017, looks like Tom still has the same sunglasses

A special thank you to Margaret Hummel, Director of Marketing and Events at the Antique Boat Museum, for providing me with a press pass and all her efforts to make the show a great one. Thanks Kent O. Smith Jr, and I echo a “HUGE Pardon Me” Thanks to Margret who nailed it! I am sure she is at home on the coach dreaming of tickets, badges and will people show up in a storm with high water. They did, and that is a testimate to all of you at the Museum! The entire volunteer staff was perfect and made us feel very welcome.


14 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Even more great photos and a terrific recap of the event. I did not realize that the weather was that inclement all weekend. Your story really made me understand how the weather made it difficult. Kudos to the show organizers for still making it a successful event for those involved. I know from personal experience what a challenge that can be!

  2. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Always LOVE Kent’s work!

    If I just looked at the pictures I would hardly know this was the same show.

    I hear rumors that you may make a trip to Cobbossee this fall. Keep me posted.

  3. Ryan Nagel
    Ryan Nagel says:

    Nice article, I agree that Kent’s photos are always stunning! He has taken several great photos for the LBOA’s annual calendar.

  4. Tom
    Tom says:

    Great pictures as always. All three articles show different angles of my dads boat Grandpa’s Dream but I have one more. In the boat are my wife Cindy, Carman Keyes (owner), Steve Fox , Jordan Walker (ABM assoc. director) and volunteer dock crew member Gayle.

    I want to give a big THANK YOU to the wonderful dock crew members who go un-noticed most of the time. They are the ones who have to put up with some “SPECIAL” owners who don’t like their location or who is next to them and can some times be rude to the volunteers. Make sure when you are at the show to offer them a ride. They really appreciate it. Those that were at the show probably met Dave who was there early (6am) and left usually late after the show closed, he ran his A$$ off all day making sure we got docked safely and we were having a good time. He said to me when I thanked him that he wanted to be sure we were well looked after so that we would want to return again. Without the many volunteers no show would go on!

    Matt I was a little disappointed that neither you or Jimmy took me up on the offer to teach you how to dock a boat from your blog on Friday. Grandpa’s Dream does not have a bow thruster and I took that boat so many times we burnt up 60 gallons of fuel and each and every time the boat was backed into the slip opposite Mark Mason’s Hacker Sultana without incident or stress.

    Another special moment was when Lady Shores owner asked me and my wife to take his boat to the ramp for him. Nothing better than an early morning blast through the rough water!

    One thing that was not mentioned from the show was how nice it was to see families enjoying it together. A special moment during the awards presentation was when the owner of Wish List (Mario) after 50 years of ownership turned the boat over to his daughter Lynn. There were many other families taking the boat show in as well the Turcotte brothers and sons, Adam and family from Reets boats, The Kadimik’s with their daughter, and many more families that were together enjoying the show. I for one know my dad enjoyed the show and is looking forward to our trip up the Rideau Canal for the Manotick chapter show this weekend.

    • Dave Clyne
      Dave Clyne says:

      What Tom fails to mention but is clear from his writing is how willingly and quickly he is to help others as well.

    • David Clyne
      David Clyne says:

      What Tom fails to mention but is clear from his writing is how willingly and quickly he is to help others as well.

    • floyd r turbo
      floyd r turbo says:

      Amazing compositions Kent, as always. Thanks for comment details as well. Its great to see Grandpa Keyes and family enjoying the event. I fondly remember the great times you guys had together years ago on the St John’s River Cruise. That big Hacker would make me nervous to be maneuvering around all those multi $$$ boats while being scrutinized by onlookers and being at the mercy of wind and wave action. And, yes, volunteers are gold.

  5. Tom
    Tom says:

    The man behind the camera being caught on the other side for a change. Photo credit to Phil Bougie.

  6. John Baas
    John Baas says:

    Kent O, your viewfinder eye through the viewfinder should be insured by Hagerty! Top shelf, sir!

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