Kent O. Smith Jr, Goes Back In Time. And Has Photos


As we gear up for the big Lake Dorona virtual boat show, Kent traveled back in time and has emailed us the photos. Now, back in time,  he reports he is on some AOL dial up thing, and so its taking lots of time to get them to me. But we did it. Now this brings up all sorts of questions. but the big one is, Kent, can you please let Micheal Jackson to wake up.. And Bill.. STAY AWAY FROM MONICA!  Anyway, thanks Kent for going back. HIT IT CHER.

Hit it Kent!

Triple times


I love me a triple

Mount Dora!

Double dog dang! U22 with a blonde inside..

Simpler Times
In support of Matt’s idea for a virtual Lake Dora boat show, I dug into the deep archives from years ago when the world seemed a lot less complicated. Please forgive the lower quality of the images, these were shot with early digital point and shoot cameras that topped out with only a few megapixels, or are scans of film prints – but they still tell the story – the WoodyBoater spirit was alive and well long before WB even existed.

A Hickman Seasled with very unique rudder arrangement

Lots of Jersey Speed Skiffs even back then

My first St Johns River Run and Mount Dora show was in 1998. Mom and Grandma went with me, the average of my crew was 72! Back then, I had a website called “Woodies on the Web” (warning, don’t Google it, you won’t find old boats!) which had the basic histories of the major boat builders and Gold Cup Races, complete with photos. I took pics along the way and uploaded them to the website each night so folks around the country could follow along. That task required several hours each evening to send maybe a dozen images over *dial up internet* that were thumbnail in size by today’s standards!

“Miss Step” long before restoration

The pictures I’m sharing today span from 1998 to 2004. Looking back to those cruises and show, there didn’t seem to be a care in the world except for making sure you had enough fuel and libations for the trip. I met many great folks who have been boat friends ever since. For someone living in the northeast, it was magical to go south each March for the tropical weather and great camaraderie.

Hanging out with Carla twenty years ago!

Enjoy the look back in time and here’s to better days and lots of classic boating in the future.

One of my early action shots

Blasting across Lake Dora

A floatin’ café, only in Florida

Mom and Grandma, my crew

We knew all the watering holes on the St. Johns…the Shady Oak had cold beer and great blackened grouper sandwiches

Guy Marvin’s “Majestic” and other boats lined up at the Outback Crabshack. Guy lead most of the early river runs.

Fixing the throttle on a U-22 at the Lake Beresford Yacht Club (home of the best Bloody Marys of the cruise). That poor U-22 also lost it’s steering and part of a plank from the bottom, but still made the whole trip without a major tow

Norman Blackley got this little Chris Craft for his 15th birthday. Twenty years ago, as a senior citizen, he was putting over 2000 miles a year under the keel

Tish and the late Blair Cook would bring flats of fresh strawberries and a 12 volt blender to Silver Glen Springs. They would make daiquiris and hand them out to everyone as they waded into the state park (no alcoholic beverages rule!) from their boats.

Hanging out in Silver Glen Spring, one of the few crystal clears springs along the St Johns River.

The late great Pete Henkel explaining to me how his Racing Runabout ran at speed.

“Workin’ Skiff” in Silver Glen Springs

The epitome of the lower St Johns River, so nice to be in the tropics after a long northeast winter.

A fixer upper spotted along the river near Lake George.

Early morning in Palatka

A contingent of Canadians – since the launch was slow, they would have to leave early morning in order to arrive at the destination by evening. Mid day, we would pass by them and drop off more cold beer to get them through the afternoon

Tied up next to Jim Staib’s “Licky 7” at Blair’s Jungle Den in Astor. There were signs that said “No cleaning fish in the rooms.” Yeah, that kind of luxury accommodations.

More boats at Blair’s Jungle Den

Party in Palatka. Back then ACBS meant Antique & Classic Booze Society. But we sure had fun!

Trying to get the boats together for the obligatory bridge shot in Astor.

Thanks so much Kent. It’s fascinating to see these images through today’s filter. Something that is so simple and timeless feels so .. so.. last week. WOW. But here in WOODYBOATERVILLE we are committed.. or should be…. to keep it going through this. After all 99% of the joy of our events is being around pals, you, and new pals. Never has that been more self evident. The boats just connect us. But our humanity is the glue.

TUNE IN TONIGHT FOR THE VIRTUAL WELCOME PARTY. This is a tradition we together with the Sunnyland folks started years ago. Called WoodyStock. And I cant think of a more important time for that. WOOHOOO.


21 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Thank you Matt and Kent for a truly uplifting story to take my mind off all this current chaos. The photos are great but the stories are priceless. It was really nice to see the photo of Pete Henkel that tied in to the Michigan gang.

  2. Jeff Funk
    Jeff Funk says:

    Attempting to outrun the virus on the St. John’s river yesterday in Nick Arnone’s very fast Coronado, with Tom Drotz at the wheel of the Donzi 18′. Can’t think of a better place to self-quarantine than in FL boating. Making the best of an otherwise bad situation.

  3. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    The old days look like they were a lot more fun than being on lockdown with teenagers. Thanks for the ride down the St Johns version of Memory Lane.

  4. Ronald
    Ronald says:

    Thank you for the pictures/memories today. To me Mt Dora was a special place and wood boat electricity was in the air every year for a few days. I never went on the river cruises but just being around the event was a great time and a chance to put shorts on for the first time in the spring. Jo carol and and I are here now, we were already in Florida when the show was cancelled towing a field of dreams boat. There is one other 22 Sportsman from Pennsylvania here for the first time as they were already in Florida also with reservations at key west inn. Seems ereeie without all the activities going on but we are not at work and the restaurants are open so we are having a good time.

  5. Royce Humphreys
    Royce Humphreys says:

    Thanks Kent! Your pictures and write up dredged up great memories of my first trip on the St. Johns River trip was in 1995. I was invited to ride along in Stan Peterson’s 11937 17 Deluxe Chris Craft named “Lillie Ven”, Danish for “Little Friend”. We had a great time, met Pete Henkel, Lindsay Hopkins, Victor Fabricious, Dean and Wynne Guy, Blair and Tish Cook and Mike Favilla to name a few. Thanks for great memories and as I am self quarantined here in Iowa. What to do? Lots of hand sanding on my 1960 Century Ski Dart as I give a fresh coat of lip stick for the summer!

  6. Larry and Jan Hinton
    Larry and Jan Hinton says:

    Great times on the many Florida and Thousand Islands excursions with such good friends. Bill and Kay Joslyn in their Special K were always in the middle of all things boating along with Canadians, Jimmy and Linda Potter. Dora Canal was a special place to meet boats coming and going and say “Hi” to old friends. Silver Glen Springs is a magical place and who can forget Blairs Jungle Den for their five star ac0modations. Of course, we’ll always hold Mount Dora as the center of our universe. Thanks, Kent, for reminding us of such great memories.

  7. Jim V
    Jim V says:

    Any of you Dora cruisers remember a guy named Gerry Pederson from Canada. He always went and always encouraged others to go. Cheers everyone. Spring has arrived.

    • Scott Dunsmoor
      Scott Dunsmoor says:

      Kenny – that Mullins picture looks really familiar – like we all may have seen it a number of times – over and over again but with the back drop of numerous different boat shows over the years. Always a similar crew of characters on board.

      Looking forward to the next opportunity to do it all over again.

  8. Shep on Lake Shafer IN.
    Shep on Lake Shafer IN. says:

    Garwood is ready for another day on the water here in Florida!
    Virus has not changed much around here. Still able to get into restaurants just need to be 6’ apart.
    The few of us that are here are meeting up for a run up the lake for lunch.

  9. Tuobanur
    Tuobanur says:

    Wow, that sure brought back memories. In 1998, the year I bought Miss Dot but before I started restoring, I was on a trip through Central Florida and ran across the Mt. Dora show while staying there. I recognize some of those boats from back then, what great memories.

  10. Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U P )
    Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U P ) says:

    Great pictures Kent and Matt. It makes you think of warmth, sunshine, beautiful boats, and good people getting together . This the only type of boating going on in the U P right now. This is the USCG ice breaker Katmai Bay, who along with other ice breakers is opening up the shipping Chanel’s for the Giant Lake freighters to start sailing next week. Spring is a long time coming up here.

  11. Kent O
    Kent O says:

    Thanks everyone for the nice comments!

    @Ronald – I agree with the feeling about Mt Dora, in those days is was magical.

    @Royce – You may have met my father on that 1995 run, it was the last one he did before he passed away. Of course I remember Lil Ven and that whole bunch of great people.

    @Larry – And I remember meeting you on one of those early cruises!

    @Jim V – Gerry Pederson was a great guy, he was on many of those river runs. I did get the chance to visit him at his home in Muskoka once too.

    @Kenny M – There are some photos that must stay locked up in the archives forever LOL. They were great times!

  12. Stan Petersen
    Stan Petersen says:

    Wow! Some of those great memories made my eyes leak. I remember introducing fried catfish to your mother and grandmother at the Blackwater Inn in Astor. They loved it. (Or so they said.) I am now “boatless” but still have my memories. Thanks for sharing yours.

    • Kent O
      Kent O says:

      Hi Stan! They *did* love it! And had it many times since! Glad you enjoyed the memories, they were some great times. Best, K.

  13. Jeff Rogers
    Jeff Rogers says:

    Great work Kent! Have many fond memories of those years. Thanks for capturing. Whether in person or virtual, the vintage boat hobby is timeless – as are the people in it. Well done.

  14. Wanda S Hopkins
    Wanda S Hopkins says:


    Happy memories for me as Lindsey and I did the Cruise multiple times. Beth and Bob, Mike and Sue Favilla, Kenny MC, Jimmy and Linda Potter, Les and Penny and more……..
    Treasured times for us all.
    March 20, 2020

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