Cobbosseecontee Lake Getaway
Thanks to fellow Woody Boater Kent O. Smith, Jr. for sending in this amazing story. And his photo’s.
Nestled in the foothills just outside of Augusta, Maine, is a hidden gem of a lake – Cobboseecontee. About ten miles long with nearly thirty islands, Cobboseecontee Lake is home to a small band of Woody Boaters who just like to have fun with their boats. While you won’t find an organized public boat show here, the locals have their own impromptu gatherings whenever the mood strikes them.
Cobboseecontee is very unspoiled and uncommercialized, with just one fuel dock and no hotels or restaurants. Some islands are privately owned with beautiful camps that could grace the cover of Cabin Life magazine. There is even a restored lighthouse on the north end of the lake that is the only landlocked lighthouse in the state of Maine. Boating traffic is minimal any day of the week. The lake is known for excellent bass fishing.
But on days when the lake is calm and the sun is warm, a few short phone calls and texts summon enough boats for a mini show or lake cruise. While there are a number of wooden boats on the lake including two 21’ Cobras, a rare custom built twin engine Correct Craft, and a 23’ Barrelback that was once owned by Reed of Reed and Prince fasteners, only those in town and available show up.
When visiting my Woody Boater buddy Larry Jamieson last weekend, Larry gave a shout out to his local boating pals and within the hour, I was presented with a nice photo opportunity. Five boats gathered in a cove where an old marina used to be where I met a couple old boat friends and was introduced to several new ones. After some coffee and chit chat, it was time to take a ride.
As engines started to rumble, I climbed into the third cockpit of Larry’s 1932 Chris Craft 21’ with a couple a cameras and lenses. The boats idled out of the cove and throttled up in the open water. I started clicking the shutter…
Cobbosseecontee has many nooks and crannies – we wandered in and out of them as we circumnavigated the lake. Residents on shore watched and waved as the gleaming mahogany paraded around. Passing the girl’s YMCA camp, thirty or so young campers cheered as the Woody Boaters blasted by.
Jeff Timm was one of the participants in the impromptu run. He brought his 1929 HackerCraft triple “Moonglow”, that had a modern V8 for power. Jeff also owns one of the two 21’ Cobras on the lake.
Randy Gannett arrived in a sharp Grand Craft utility named “Art’s Obsession” with two of his grandchildren. The Grand Craft was equipped with a bow thruster making docking a cinch. The high freeboard kept Randy and his grand kids dry when powering through other’s wakes.
Charlie Hippler and his wife Stephanie ran his 1953 Racing Runabout “Rumblin”. I put a bottom and new sides on the boat for him a number of years ago; he finished the boat and installed the engine. Charlie is a bit of a motor head – when he’s not working on the boat, he’s restoring antique cars and hot rods – so he opted to pickle the original MBL and install a tweaked 350 instead. “Rumblin” will not only rumble, but get up and run just as well.
Jim Hippler, Charlie’s brother, is also a motor head. His Continental is now powered by a 440 Chrysler that makes his big utility one of the faster wooden boats on the lake. Charlie’s son rode on the boat with his uncle.
Larry Jamieson’s 1932 Chris Craft 21’ “Mi Piace” also sounds healthy on the small lake. It’s powered by a Marine Power 350 with four inch exhausts. If they don’t hear his motor a mile away, he can fire off the twin air horns that are louder than most trucks. “Mi Piace” is an Italian phrase meaning “she pleases me” and this boat certainly does. Riding with Larry are his fiancé Ellen and my wife, Marsha.
One by one, the speedboats carved their way through the bays and coves of Cobboseecontee. Bracing myself in the third cockpit, I tried to keep track of where each boat was and we rounded corners and bends.
Suddenly, through my viewfinder, I saw spray flying from one of the boats as it twisted violently into a spin! It was Charlie in the racer, I had been rapid firing shots of his as he started to bank into a turn in a tight cover. Quickly, I dropped by camera to the seat and looked – sure enough, Charlie and Stephanie were fine….he was just playing around and had put the boat into a powered snap turn. Looking back at the sequence of eight shots, both Charlie and Stephanie are smiling during the even, however, Charlie did get soaked by the spray!
When photographing an unplanned event, and not having boat to boat communication available, you never know how your shots will come up. Each driver is just out there running around having fun. However, around one turn, as luck would have it, three boats lined up almost like it was planned.
For me, this cruise was the best 90 minutes of the weekend. Great boats, great friends and a great time. Many thanks to the Cobbosseecontee Crew for a great time, it made our vacation a true Woody Boater style one.
THESE ARE MY PEEPS!
I am sooo thrilled that you captured this in such a great way.
I am also sooo disapointed that I was not able to be there since we are still on the hard with the sister to Jim’s Continental.
I would have loved to see some pix on Woody Boater of the the sisters cruising down the lake I have spent my whole life on.
Kent I hope to meet you one of these days.
Thanks for your efforts.
PS: Here is another shot from one of last years Cobbossee “Mahogany Club” Rendezvous
Now that’s what it’s all about. I will dream about some day adding a Deluxe Runabout and Continental to the Lake Cobbosseecontee fleet. Absolutely great story and photos.
Are you on the lake?
Spontanious moments like this are the sorts of weekends I remember for years.
Great story and a very cool looking lake!
A great way to begin the day!
Thank you for a wonderful story and fanastic pictures of beautiful boats.
I am on a lake in Michigan, but I am the only woody on the lake, so my boating there is done solo. I do, however, enjoy several boat outings with my friends in the Michigan Chapter, ACBS. We get to explore the St. Clair Flats and River together at our own shows, and check out other lakes on field outings every Summer. I just thought it would be so great to have a group like you have on your own lake.
I grew up with my parents doing this kind of boating, mostly at night.
We went several decades without gathering until last year when the efforts of Randy Gannett and the Hippler family made some phone calls and organized a rendazvou. Now we have a good network of cell phone #’s and e’mails.
If you ever make it east let us know.
Gorgeous boats and setting. Need to head East someday.
Thanks for sharing.
We got to make it East one year, since our boat Lyman Tyme spent it’s entire life in Maine and N.H. She was restored in Wayne, Maine, by famed restorers the Androscogin Wooden Boat Works.
So many Lakes to visit, so little time left in life… Then you break an ankle and waste 6 precious weeks of boating!
Great sequence on the power slide, Kent, as well as the other shots. I can never get cooperation from my “captains” to get the great shots.
I used to stop by a nearby wooden boat shop there just west of the lake in Winthrop run by John Reed. Talked to him a couple of times before he retired and then another chap took over the red barn building. He said EPD and other regulations may put him out of business. Haven’t been there in a while and forgot his name but he was a local restorer/finisher who did some work for the reknown George Johnson of Wolfeboro.
I think that would have been Don Reed of ReedCraft.
Shop was bought out by Richard “Dick” Merrill. Still has several nice boats (including a twin 26′ CC Continental), but the shop is not active commercially. Last year he sold his Hacker with the Scripps V12. Neat boat.
Yes, Troy, that sounds right. Thanks for the update. There may have been a “sub contractor” working in Dick’s shop after Don retired when I stopped in back 15 yrs ago or so. He freshened up varnish on my cousins ’28 CC 24′ flat deck triple that I talked him into buying for his cottage on Sebago then sold it for him when he realized they’re nice to look at but he didn’t have the stomach for the “care and feeding”.
Boy, did I cry when I couldn’t go on those night boat rides! Cobbossee is lucky to have so much “mahogany”. Get that boat fixed Troy!
Thank you, everyone, glad you enjoy the photos.
Troy, let me know when your boat is done, I need an excuse to go back. Would love to do it again with more boats!
Send me an e-mail and I will add you to any communications I send out to the group.
One more shot from last year.
Fabulous story and photographs Kent – Thanks for sharing this with us. Looks like a fun group of classic boaters hidden away in Maine.
Kent, thanks so much for writing your story and sharing your clearly special area with us. Sounds like a great time. Loved your photo work as well. You raise the bar in action shots.
This is why I love this site. I come back to it a couple times a day to read the latest posts, and enjoy everyone’s comments.
And like in todays story, you learn of new and interesting little out of the way places around this great country of ours, where there is a strong presences of WoodyBoaters enjoying our hobby/lifestyle.
Dam, my bucketlist is SOOOO LONG cause of this site! So many great places to visit, and learn about, as well as crusin the local waters.
Thank you all again for the kind comments.
Dennis – just means you will live longer to do all the things on the bucket list.
Alex – thanks for the compliment, I’ve always enjoyed your photos.
Texx- your photos are great – even though you shoot Nikon 🙂
Everybody else, call your friends, get some boats out and let us photographers know – have cameras, will travel!
There were actually 8 shots in the snap turn sequence, if you are interested, they are on my blog page at http://www.cutwaterboatworks.com
Great work on story and photos, Kent!