Niagara Part 2 – Big Water, Big Smiles, Big Story, Big Thanks To Kent O. Smith

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Big Hacker power

Saturday morning, I’m onsite before dawn. It’s a photographer thing, not necessarily my thing after drinking late night with boat friends, but we do what we need to in order to get the shots. The club has its own lighthouse, neat to see against the predawn sky.

Beautiful dawn colors at the club.

Some of the gathered Gar Woods under the pre dawn skies.

The Huntley Power Station across from the club was shut down about five years ago. Previously, if the wind was just right, soot from the burnt coal would drift across the river and settle on the boats.

Tranquility – “Toots” at rest before the big show day.

The historic Buffalo Launch Club campus.

As the sun starts to rise, great colors emerge over the tranquil water which make for great images.
More boats arrive along with many land displays of boats and classic cars.

The M. Mouse Clubhouse is here on the Niagara River, not in Orlando ☺

A really neat vintage Chris Craft hardtop day cruiser.

This Riva aptly named “Bubbly” looks like a boat that movie stars would sip champagne on.

Lots of classic cars participated in the show.

“Toot-a-Lou” might be the world’s smallest tug.

The show is kicked off with a local choir singing the national anthem as well as the Canadian national anthem. Being September 11th, there is a 911 dedication. Since it isn’t in the chapter budget to have the Blue Angels fly over after the dedication, instead, they had a performance boat fly by. Two MTI cats and a few other fast boats zipped by at over 100 miles per hour. Many docked at the show afterwards, a nice addition to the displays.

High performance MTI catamarans fly by at 125 mph in a 911 tribute.

The larger boats brave the lake and return to the club the way we came.

Some of the fast boats stayed on at the show.

Nice filtered sunlight on the decks of a Chris Craft barrelback.

The very cool wheel and dash on a Chris Craft Cobra.

Youth judges sponsored by Hagerty Insurance are hard at work.

Would have liked to have seen this pristine Cobra run in the water.

Custom Craft was another local builder.

The chapter auctioned off this donated 27’ Richardson cruiser for $2,000. Only one of the twin 289s runs, but it did come with a flatbed trailer.

Phil Stegemann bought this rare pre war Hacker utility on eBay and restored it himself, his first wooden boat.

A cruise around Grand Island was scheduled for Sunday morning but we woke up to high winds, overcast skies, and the threat of thunderstorms. The 8AM departure was delayed as we all checked the radar on our smartphones. Every app indicated something different. Finally, a hearty group of boaters decided there was a window between squalls and departed. We lucked out, while still overcast and windy, not a drop of rain fell as we circumnavigated Grand Island.

The smaller boats wisely choose to take the canal route back, though it’s mostly a no wake zone.

The canal route also requires going through one lock with about a 7’ drop.

Though a slower trip, it was well worth taking the canal and not getting soaked.

Love it when the boats just line up right!

Rocky Nagel has water skied behind his Century every year since the boat was new!

“Miss – Led” is a great name for a classic boat.

Three generations of Robinsons represent more than a century of family aboard this Century boat – Larry, Mike and young Charlie.

No one has fun at these shows, don’t bother going. Who would want a ride on a 27’ Gar Wood speedster anyhow?

Due to questionable weather, just a handful of boats made the round Grand Island cruise on Sunday morning, this Chris Craft was a perfect boat for the conditions.

Saturday afternoon weather was nice for some fly bys.

This cool little outboard boat is a Schweizer built locally in Niagara Falls.

Afternoon chop on the river is still better than those monster waves from Lake Erie.

“White Kncukles,” a 22’ Gar Wood speedster gives a nice show to the spectators.

There were roughly 60 boats in the water and another 30 on land plus the cars, making a very nice show. The spectator attendance seemed to be very busy. Some boats did late afternoon fly bys off the outer pier. The bar was packed all afternoon right up to the awards dinner which featured excellent steaks. Being this was a Gar Wood gathering, the Turcotte family, builders of the modern Gar Wood boats, were well recognized.

Teddy and Bruin hold a Gar Wood burgee with a tag dedicated to the memory of Joe Turcotte, a nice gesture by Randy Fletcher.

At the north end, you can see the city of Niagara Falls, Ontario. We pause for a moment, look north, and consider that we are just three miles from a 167’ drop over the falls! Not a good location for your motor to quit! Fortunately, no one has issues.

Some sections of canal allow you to reach cruising speeds.

This big Chris Craft Continental is a great boat for these waters.

Somebody is having a ball on this Century!

With shows like Smith Mountain Lake being canceled, some folks made the long haul to a place where the show must go on.

Great bank turn by a classic 17’ Whaler.

The Century “Miss – Led” with Niagara Falls, Ontario, in the background.

“Toots” with the South Grand Island Bridge in the background.

Phil’s self restored Hacker looks great at speed.

Just three miles downstream from us is Niagara Falls – you can see the mist rising up from the 167’ drop.

Despite the overcast weather, just being out on the boats has us all smiling.

The rest of the ride on the west side is calm and pretty scenic. Sadly, the sun didn’t show much. The international line is very close to the US side so we were technically in Canadian waters for a good part of the run. From what I understand, as long as you are moving along and don’t have any alcohol onboard, the Canadian authorities won’t bother you.

A Chris Craft Sea Skiff under nice afternoon light.

The high sided Sea Skiff is another great boat for these waters.

Like Matt says, it’s not a show until someone gets towed in.

Overall, I can highly recommend attending this show. The venue is great, the people are friendly and the food is good. I met Andy Chudy, a Niagara Frontier member at the Clayton show. He was complimentary of my photography and suggested I should go to Buffalo, so many thanks to him for twisting my arm. And many thanks to the Niagara Frontier chapter for such nice hospitality. I’ll be back!

And that’s a wrap on another fun boating event.

For more info on the Niagara Frontier Chapter please visit HERE!
And if you want more Kent O Smith Jr goodness CLICK HERE

14 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Fantastic report and photography of a first class event. The dock shots are great but I love to see them out running. The assortment of beautiful boats is amazing. I love the “go fast” tribute. Thank you!

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

    All I can say is fu(k!n A! One again great shots Kent O. To get these great shots without sun, well done. Thanks for sharing.

  3. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    Excellent coverage Kent. That’s a lot of work to focus all your energy on planning shots, taking notes, arranging rides, getting ride boat positioned, not to mention going through all the shots to find the best ones. Great job.

  4. Philip Andrew
    Philip Andrew says:

    Kent thank you. Loved reading this post. The dawn shots were definitely worth the effort in my opinion.

  5. Gail Turner
    Gail Turner says:

    These are fantastic! Thanks, Kent, for sharing them with us. What a wonderful club and hobby we participate in!

  6. Kent O
    Kent O says:

    Thank you all for the kind comments. I wish there was a “like” button on here to acknowledge what you all write. Yes it’s a lot of work, but it’s a passion, so please keep on Woody Boating!

  7. Philip Stegemann
    Philip Stegemann says:

    Kent, What great photos!! It was a pleasure meeting you and seeing your passion and commitment. This was my first real boat show and I wanted to thank my fellow members of the Niagara Frontier Chapter for all their hard work. I’d call it a huge success!!

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