The First Last Gasp Of The Season! Ugh!

Alone at the dock ready to go one last time.

Alone at the dock ready to go one last time.

Thanks to long time fellow Woody Boater Paul And Karen Harrison for sharing this wonderful and sad final day of summer for their beloved multi award winning Gar Wood up in the great North West.

Get out the Antique Boat Center cup holders.

Get out the Antique Boat Center cup holders.


Our last day of the season was much like I imagined it would be as I drove the 550 miles back from Portland to the cabin on Friday, except better . The weather was forecast to be picture-perfect and after a morning spent cleaning up outside and pulling boats, Karen and I decided to take a last ride of the season in the Gar Wood. Our destination was a small creek 30 miles up the lake, which flowed into Shuswap at that point. The attraction, aside from the beauty and remoteness of the place, was the Sockeye salmon run. Shuswap Lake is a major transit point for millions upon millions of Sockeye salmon which return to the river in which they were born to spawn and die. The largest salmon run in the world is the Adams River run, to reach which the fish must migrate through our lake. Rather than the crowded, commercial spectacle that the Adams River has become, we chose to boat to the mouth of this small creek at the most remote end of the lake, beach the boat, wade amongst the fish and just take it all in. For great information on the run –
Walking along the beach

Walking along the beach

HArrison Salmon


HArrison salmon3

 This very small creek was just teeming with salmon – all of them appearing very haggard with orange/red bodies, humped backs and hooked jaws. The energy they had expended and were continuing to expend as they battled the riffles, shallows and gravel of this barely shin-deep rivulet was very evident. We were treated to one of nature’s most poignant and profound sights – the embodiment of a drive and instinct that we still struggle to understand. We watched as hundreds of salmon paired off in the shallows, participated in elaborate mating rituals and prepared a redd (a sort of nest) in the gravel for their eggs. These fish, every one of them, will be dead in a matter of days but the billions of fertilized eggs they leave behind will remain. People come from all over the world to BC and other pacific coastal areas to watch this phenomena, and it is easy to see why. We were very wary of bears, which are also attracted to this creek in numbers, but for a different reason!
There is a party going on now! Wait, thats one cool vintage plastic boat..

There is a party going on now! Wait, thats one cool vintage plastic boat..

We returned to the boat after leaving the spawning stream to find a crowd of people gathered, and two new boats beached beside ours. What had happened while we were away was that two cool “late-classic”  fiber-glassics had pulled in beside us – a 1987 22’5” Bayliner Cobra and a 22’ 1979 Glastron-Carlson. The reaction of the various folks on the beach was quite remarkable – there were several very large houseboats and smaller pleasure craft parked nearby and the occupants of them all ventured over to look at our boats. The folks ranged in age from early 20-‘s to mid ‘50’s and they were all enthralled by all three boats  and were peppering us with questions about them. The dozens of folks that came over were not “classic-boaters” but they loved cool stuff, and were drawn over by this impromptu little gathering on the shore. They didn’t really care what the boats were made of or even what year they were – they just liked them and recognized as unique and distinctive.
Harrison Beach7
The Glastron Carlson is owned by Keith MacInnis of Kamloops, and he owns a classic. He just replaced the engine, but kept the original Ford engine in case he wishes to return it to original. He uses his boat on the South Thompson river and on Shuswap whenever he gets the chance. I sure hope he joins our ACBS chapter and comes to the show next summer – his boat gets lots of attention. The Bayliner Cobra is owned by a local fellow who was out for the day with his family – three generations in that boat, having fun, tubing and watching the salmon. The owner of the Bayliner, a fellow in his 60’s, told me he had built a Glenn-L from a kit as a young man. What a great way to spend the day – out in a classic with your family! I have never seen a Bayliner like this one before, and it certainly draws attention!
One very cool Bayliner.. Yes we said bayliner.. Maybe its another Bayliner Co?

One very cool Bayliner.. Yes we said bayliner.. Maybe its another Bayliner Co?

As the day wound down and we had to leave to pull the boat, it struck me that outside of a few people, no one really cares what boats are made of – they care if someone takes pride in their ownership and care, that they use them and preserve them. They appreciate the effort it takes to keep them going and they appreciate the opportunity to see them in use. Many were flabbergasted that we had beached the Gar, let alone the other two, but I said “they are boats and they need to be used, no matter what”.  This was indeed our last day on our home lake this season, but it was about as good a day as we could imagine. Just how fortunate are we to be able to hop into a great old boat and motor up the lake to see one of the nature’s greatest shows? I am sure many WB will be sharing similar stories of great “last days” of the season, and we look forward to reading them.
O Canada! Come on lets all sing along!

Come on lets all sing along! OOO Canada!


21 replies
  1. Cliff
    Cliff says:

    Paul, you are definitely a braver man than I to beach such a craft. I would be worried about the strut or the rudder , not to mention the weight on the boat resting on the bottom. How was the pull off?

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      Seamless – the bottom (shore, not boat!) is very soft and it just nestled in. It also drops off fairly quickly so the weight was well forward. We barely churned up any silt backing out. We are careful of course, but it was also a windless day so we weren’t to worried. I’d say we were beached for about 90 minutes and the boat didn’t move an inch.

  2. Rabbit
    Rabbit says:

    I was pretty much alone on my lake Saturday morning, in my similar vintage (but much more modest Gar Wood) when a perfect Donzi Sweet 16 pulled up next to me. Thankfully, he backed off the throttle so we could cruise together. Wood and classic glass go together.

  3. Pappy
    Pappy says:

    Paul and Karen, What a great place to enjoy your beautiful Garwood. Too bad your season ends so early. BTW, one of our club members here in NC has a boat that looks a lot like yours! (pictured here, I hope)

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      Pappy – We know the owner very well – Dick Kish and his wife Linda of Richmond. Lovely people, and Dick was absolutely instrumental in our efforts to restore this Gar sedan. It could not have been done without his help. Dick and Linda have been our guests up at our cabin, and we have met at boat shows all over the country. Dick is one the best people I have ever met, not just in this hobby but anywhere, and he and Linda have become dear friends over the past 7 years. We had the two sedans (the only two left of 8 built) side by side at the Petoskey International in 2010.

      • Pappy
        Pappy says:

        Paul, I have only met Dick and Linda at our club shows at Lake Gaston, and in those few meetings I have had with them, I must wholeheartedly agree with your feelings towards them. The 2 sedans together must have been quite a sight. Thanks for sharing the story!

  4. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    Paul & Karen, Thanks for sharing your last day of Woody Boating in your Gar Wood with us. It must be rather bitter-sweet to watch the salmon reach their final destination; grisly their “Last Gasp”.

  5. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Great story Paul!

    I also made the last lake trip yesterday and pulled Yorktown out for the season.

    Seems we were not communicating well with others on the lake as we went by a Jeff’s house early and they were on the deck. Than Jeff went by while we were having lunch. Called Art, but he had already pulled his Century. Stopped in to see Larry as he was sitting down to lunch. Hippler’s were just getting ready for a ride when we stopped there. Randy and Marylee stuck their head out when we putzed by, and finally Jeff’s Hacker was covered and they were back on the deck on our final pass.

  6. Alex
    Alex says:

    Paul and Karen, thanks for the nicely written story and beautiful photos. So good were they, I could almost feel the atmosphere.

    I got in an awesome boat ride here in Hessel last night. No wife. No kids. No guests. No friends. There are very few of those occasions. And the weather was perfect! But there ain’t no way I’m admitting to any last gasp yet. I have 5 boats still commissioned.

  7. Rick
    Rick says:

    Still have a couple of months before layup here, nice pictures, still like the wood best. 1st thing that struck me though is no anchors set. Here were need to worry about tides and current, if we beached this way not sure where our boat would be on our return.

  8. WoodyGal
    WoodyGal says:

    Thanks Karen and Paul for a different last gasp story! The Sockeye run is a story all on it’s own but as part of a woody boating experience, it’s even better. Even more fun when classics join in and make it a cruise!

  9. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    A most unusual expaerience, well expressed….We’ll never have anything like that in Florida but the boating season does last a little longer.

  10. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    Well, I also ;went for a “Last Gasp” ride Sunday, but in our 24 ft Sea Ray we have in Rack Service on Spring Lake. BUT this was not MY last ride of the season. Looking forward to cruising the Finger Lakes in a couple of weeks in “Lyman Tyme”.

  11. Carla
    Carla says:

    Enjoyed the story (and pics), Paul and Karen. Classic is classic, despite the material. Looking forward to seeing both of you, and many other friends, in Skaneateles in less than 2 weeks! On a final note, be prepared to be “wowed” by the 2014 Hagerty Hall of Fame recipients…that’s all I’m saying!

  12. Mike W
    Mike W says:

    Fantastic! Did you chase the bears away?

    Not last gasp for us yet. The weather is beautiful here in MI so we took today off and may go for a little ride. Hopefully one more weekend trip before the year ends. After that its dock time with the heaters on and warm libations. The cruiser life.

  13. Dick Dow
    Dick Dow says:

    Beautiful report and obviously a great day! Our “last gasp” will be Mahogany and Merlot in Chelan next month. Last year a few of us motored north to Safety Harbor and watched salmon working their way up the creek there – always an incredible and awe-inspiring sight. Thank you.

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