Lake George – Last Gasp – Last Hurrah


lg01Thanks to fellow Woody Boater Kent O. Smith Jr for sending in a Last Hurrah gasp! Take it away Mr O. Smith Jr

When seeing the foreboding forecast for later in the week – slushy sloppy measurable accumulations – my WoodyBoater friend Steve Upham suggested that we go for a “last hurrah.” After all, his 1939 Chris Craft 21’Deluxe Utility was still in the water. The only problem might be today’s forecast – highs in the low 40s and a 15 knot breeze from the north.

Since I subscribe to the philosophy that a bad day on the water is still better than a good day at work, I accepted. And who knows what photo op might present itself…I donned an under layer of thermals, grabbed my camera bag and headed for the lake.


Arriving at the marina where Steve kept “Ewe Boat,” I checked the latest weather. My iPhone reported a balmy 38* but the sun was trying to peak out and it was supposed to warm up a bit. But when I opened the truck door, a stiff nasty northern wind threatened to blow the door off.


Steve already had the cover removed, motor warmed up and was pulling into the fuel dock by the time I convinced myself to brave the breeze. With it this chilly, how far would we go? Did we really need fuel?? Steve is the always prepared type, so he put eight gallons in the boat, just in case we went on a three hour tour. We might freeze and starve, but we certainly wouldn’t run out of fuel.


“Ewe Boat” is a very well maintained utility still sporting her Model K engine. Rather than adjust the carb for the cold weather, Steve feathered the choke some to keep the motor purring. He warned me that the steering wheel column might squeak some due to contraction, though it behaved today. He’s owned the boat for 48 years, so he is well acquainted with it’s quirks.


As we headed out of Warner Bay into the increasing wind, the sun decided to kiss some of the remaining fall foliage making the chilly day most beautiful. In the main body of the lake, we encountered some fair sized whitecaps which threw spray over the boat as Steve throttled up the mighty K.


Despite keeping the bow up, the wind whipped water over the decks, against the windshield and eventually under Steve’s seat. Nothing is worse than a wet cushion in the off season. Steve promptly did a “Ewe Turn” – yes, pun intended.

Heading south with the wind resulted in a drier ride. We edged west as we approached Long Island, the lee giving us a respite from the biting breeze. It was much calmer here, so I tried to be creative with the camera, setting it on the foredeck for a low profile shot.


Long Island really isn’t that long, so soon we were back in the wind. Steve executed another Ewe Turn and we headed back for the marina, meandering through a couple of the more protected bays on the way. The sun started to fade as a huge bank of dark clouds approached.

At one point, the sun was reflecting directly in front of us. To our right, it was sunny, the water blue and looked inviting. Off to the left, the ominous clouds loomed making the water look gray and angry. Perhaps it was winter itself settling in early on the lake. We didn’t hang around to find out.


Despite the chilly and uncertain weather, it is the boat ride that warms your soul.

Many thanks to Steve for a wonderful last hurrah on Lake George.

14 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Great looking boat. The pre-war utilities are really special. Thanks for sharing the adventurous ride!

  2. Mo Sherrill
    Mo Sherrill says:

    JR — what a great set of photos and of course it brings back so many fond memories of my favorite lake in the world! Love the fall foliage and most of all the boat and the scenery that was so familiar! Thanks for braving the cold blast and giving us a great ride on Lake George, NY.

  3. Stephen Upham III
    Stephen Upham III says:

    Great article! I will vouch for it’s authenticity! I am touched – nobody ever referred to my original small-bore K as ‘mighty’. My pants are just about dry now … As you say, a bad day on the water is still better than a good day at work! Till next Spring, Steve

  4. Mark
    Mark says:

    Exactly what my last gasp looked like. White caps on the lake. Only difference is that I had to “wet launch” in the water – no dock.

    As I was getting ready to trailer her out standing in the water two people with kayaks showed up and had winter jackets on. They must have thought I was crazy but as everyone says it is worth it no matter what.

    • Dave Nau
      Dave Nau says:

      Forecast is partly cloudy and 73 degree high for Tuesday, Nov. 1 in Cleveland. Drat, both boats will have been winterized by then. October 15 was my last gasp.

      Be great for the World Series in Cleveland if the Indians can get back still alive from Chicago by then. Sure hope so. Go Tribe!

  5. Ollon
    Ollon says:

    Thanks for taking me back to my childhood summer lake. We had a place in Diamond Point. I live in CA now and while the boats up at the lake are stored for winter, there will be no last gasping at sea level. Last Saturday was better than about any day in mid July.

  6. Ollon
    Ollon says:

    Offshore of Huntington Beach with a couple hundred other spectator boats watching an airshow. Yes that guy is swimming.

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