2015 Lake Guntersville Antique and Classic Boat Show – Simply Delightful

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Michael Kirkpatrick and Dianna Ratliff wave from “Au Revoir” as they head out onto Lake Guntersville toward their home Sunday morning after the show. Michael has lived on the lake most of his life.

Today we have a delightful report from correspondent Kentucky Wonder, which features some delightful people, delightful classic boats, delightful photos, on a delightful lake in north Alabama. By the way did we mention the dee-witeful 1931 Dee-Wite runabout? – Texx

2015 Lake Guntersville Antique and Classic Boat Show
Story & Photos by Kentucky Wonder

Last weekend, Anne and I ditched the workload, hitched up the boat trailer, and headed south to Alabama. The Garmin GPS navigated us through the dusk and dark to Guntersville, a town neither of us had ever heard of before reading this year’s Antique and Classic Boat Show flyer. To be honest, we almost cancelled in the weeks prior because of the pressing concerns of owning our own small business. We are now glad we kept the date.

Detail of the engine hatches and stern decking of “Au Revoir”. The firehat-style vents were chosen during the restoration. Water droplets were typical of the weekend, as rain showers came and went for much of the three days.

The show was hosted by the Lake Guntersville Yacht Club and sponsored by The Dixieland ACBS Chapter. The Yacht Club had excellent facilities for holding the show, with room for all 25 boats in attendance. Their goal for next year is 50 boats, and there is room to do that. The show was being held concurrently with an antique airplane show at the nearby airport, and several activities in the town of Guntersville itself.

The stern of “Au Revoir”, Dianna Ratliff’s freshly-restored 1931 Dee-Wite runabout. The lettering was painted by an artist in Alabama, and was nearly misspelled until Ratliff realized her directions to the artist were in error.

We missed Thursday’s activities, but launched Friday morning with plenty of time to get settled in before the lunch cruises were to begin. There were two cruises offered, one short and one long, but a thunderstorm effectively killed the cruising mood. So we hopped into cars and went anyway. The crabcake sandwich at The Docks in Scottsboro was excellent! After a couple of clear hours boating that afternoon, the Yacht Club offered a time to mingle and sample favorite hors d’oeuvres. Then on to a wine tasting in town and finish the evening having oysters provided by The Bridge Cafe.

“Lady Bug” is a 1954 14’ Penn Yan Captivator model KTFM owned by Paige Brown. It features striptite construction with the premium Aristocrat options, and has its original interior. The motor is a 1956 Mercury Mark 58, 40 hp. The truck is a 1925 1-1/2-ton Ford Model TT. It has a 20Hp, 177Ci, 2.9Liter, 4Cyl engine that can run on gas, kerosene or Ethanol. 6 Volt System (with electric starter option), a Warford 3 Speed Auxiliary Transmission made to Pull. Its top speed is approx. 23 mph in forward and 25 mph in reverse. It is owned and restored by Ralph Grant (Father) and William Grant (Son).

Saturday morning, the City of Guntersville started up their free shuttle service between the Yacht Club, the Airport and their quaint yet modern downtown area. Breakfast in an airplane hanger was provided by the Experimental Aircraft Association chapter, and was the hottest pancakes, biscuits and gravy, eggs and BACON I can remember. Just a great southern breakfast. (Fruit was available for sensible people like Alex)

A Stearman biplane is prepared for takeoff Saturday at the Guntersville Municipal Airport. The public were offered rides in the classic plane for $100. Stearman NC55268 is a 1941 Boeing built airplane, has two seats and is equipped with a Continental 220 horsepower engine. The plane was originally used as a trainer for the US Army Air Corps during WWII, used to train the Tuskegee Airmen.

We took a slow walk around several World War I fighters, classic flying trainers, and a couple of aeronautical oddities that I do not remember seeing before. Now I know how people feel when they come to look at our boats. They do not know what they are, they just know they are simpler and more beautiful than today’s offerings.

Homes and boathouses along the shore of Lake Guntersville as seen from Michael Kirkpatrick’s seaplane. The lake is located in north Alabama, between Bridgeport and Guntersville. Created by Guntersville Dam along the Tennessee River, it stretches 75 miles from Guntersville Dam to Nickajack Dam. It is Alabama’s largest lake at 69,000 acres. Overall, only 20% of the shoreline can be developed, leaving the shores of the constant-level lake mostly green.

The show was free for the general public, and was well attended, especially given the persistent overcast and occasional sprinkle of rain. Most of the boat owners were accessible to answer questions about their particular craft, and knew enough about the surrounding boats to cover if the owner had to slip away. Several boats took people for rides after the show hours were over. Our hobby was represented well.

Yukon, a Kenosh model 16 foot canoe, was made by the White Salmon Boat Works. The hull was constructed of western red cedar, redwood and spruce, fiberglassed inside and out. (Not sure what that means)


Bob McMahan has owned “Torch Song” for 13 years. It is a 1953 Chris-Craft 22’ Sportsman with Hercules ML engine. The stern ensign is U. S. Power Squadron. Burgee is for the Chattanooga, TN Squadron. Bob and his wife, Gail, had friends Bob and Pat Welty aboard.

Saturday evening featured a dinner of barbecued pork and chicken, cooked by members of the Yacht Club right there on the grounds, with all the appropriate sides for a southern feast. The grill had been burning all weekend, and it was good to have the taste in one’s mouth instead of being teased by just the smoky scent. The hosts of the evening thanked the guests for coming, and offered special recognition for a few of the boats and their owners.


Photo courtesy Lake Guntersville Yacht Club photographer Jeff Henderson.

Those recognized were photographed together by LGYC photographer Jeff Henderson, and they are, standing left to right-

Bud Ongman – Blairsville, GA
Historian’s Award, 1966 Old Towne Sailing Canoe

Jill Dyas – Dunwoody, GA
People’s Choice Award, 1906 Ray Laker Launch, “Sora”

Ed Stone and Marcia Elkins – Huntsville, AL
Golden Classic Award, 1971 58′ Chris-Craft Roamer, “Grand Slam”

Nancy Wilson, Guntersville, AL
Silver Classic Award, 1961 Century Raven, “Ravena”

Anne Leazenby – Owensboro, KY
Chairman’s Award, 1949 20′ Greavette, “Eau! Canada”

Dianna Ratliff – Guntersville, AL
Best in Show, 1931 Dee-Wite, “Au Revoir”


Alan Alred – Guntersville, AL
Best Chris-Craft in Show, 1954 Chris-Craft Sportsman, “Fussy Gus”

Jill Dyas takes Anne Leazenby for a short ride in “Sora”, the 1906 Laker Launch that won the People’s Choice Award at the 2015 Lake Guntersville Antique and Classic Boat Show. Sora’s home lake is Lake Rabun, in Georgia.

We came away from the Lake Guntersville show impressed with the Lake, the Town and the People. Friends were made, and so were reservations for next year.

“Jr,” the 1927 Chris-Craft Model 300 Owned by Norman Blackley, heads out onto Lake Guntersville Sunday morning. “Jr.” is a 15 footer, powered by a 4-cylinder Gray Marine 75hp engine.


A delightful 1948 Century 16′ Utility Deluxe with a Gray Marine Phantom Six. Boat is named “Mama Hat”, and is owned by John Gauntt.

On a personal note, we were lucky enough to finally meet Lance Wilson, who lives in the area, and had just finished the restoration on Dianna Ratliff’s Dee Wite. Lance was involved in getting our 1949 Greavette imported from Canada more than 20 years ago, and has helped direct it to new caretakers when necessary. It is Lance’s hands that have kept it from becoming another lost old boat.

Lance Wilson guides “Ravena”, his wife Nancy’s Century Raven, through the channel onto Lake Guntersville. “Ravena” was one of two Ravens at the show. Wilson’s home is a short boat ride from the Lake Guntersville Yacht Club, the venue for this year’s show.

Special thanks to Kentucky Wonder for sharing this delightful report with us today. Also special thanks to the Lake Guntersville Yacht Club for hosting the event and The Dixieland Chapter ACBS for sponsoring the show, and the help from all the dedicated volunteers who make these local shows possible.

From the story today, Lake Guntersville and the surrounding area looks like a fantastic venue for a classic boat show – one we hope to check out in the near future.


20 replies
  1. Texx
    Texx says:

    Today I would also like to give a shout-out to David Letterman who, after entertaining us for 33 years, gave his final performance on the Late Show last night and bid farewell.

    I had the pleasure of meeting Dave at the 1999 Indianapolis 500 motor race and he was a total gentleman in every way. It was quite an experience. – Texx

  2. Chris B
    Chris B says:

    old boats old planes,and a few old folks.. delightful. thanks for going on the adventure. best part about having a classic boat is the places we get to go.

  3. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Great story on what looks like a fun event. I was surprised to see the Power Squadron ensign. That is usually seen on the big water of the Great Lakes. I guess 69,000 acres is a pretty big lake!

  4. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Kentucky Wonder it is always hard to take time for yourself when you are self employed, but it is usually worth every minute and is such sweet reward.

    I love the idea of antique boats and planes at the same time, what a fabulous idea.

  5. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    You had me at antique aircraft, then you hit me with crab cakes, an awesome Penn Yan, and then BACON? How did I miss this show?

  6. Jim Staib
    Jim Staib says:

    Years ago there was a cruise that started in Guntersville and went for a week up to Kentucky and ended back in Tennessee. About 450 miles. I remember a 90′ drop lock and that Guntersville was “Dry” on Sunday. Good times tho.

    • floyd r turbo
      floyd r turbo says:

      Good ol’ days of the Tennessee River Cruise with the wood boat version of the “Rat Pack” – Staib, Gary Scherb and guest Whitey Smale, Bob “Tipster” Johnson, Chuck Schwager in his 33′ GarWood “Red Arrow”, Les Rue, Mike and Ann Matheson, with organizers Ken and Nan Jorgensen (Ken now deceased). Wilson Lock in northern Alabama was the lock that rose 90 to 103 ft according to Army Corp of Engineers. I’m sure I’ve left some people out.

  7. Jack Schneiberg
    Jack Schneiberg says:

    That header shot hit me right between the eyes. “Mama Hat” woke old memories. When I was a lad of say 10-11-12 years, I lived on a lake in southeastern Wisconsin. On Saturday mornings I always made my way to the end of our wood dock and perched impatiently on the dock bench waiting for sound of a “Gray Marine” starting up over in the next bay which I couldn’t see from where I sat. Shortly after I heard the sound, a fellow named “Bill” would guide his “white” Century Utility (’48) between the island and the peninsula out into the main channel of the lake and make a swing into our bay. He would usually stop, say hi, and often invited me for a ride. To me, there was no boat on that lake (and there were a lot of varnished hulls in the mid-50’s) that caught my attention quite like that “white” Century Utility. For some reason with all the boats that have passed through my pocketbook, I’ve never managed to have the cash for one of these when one of these are available. Maybe someday…………..

    • Cobourg Kid
      Cobourg Kid says:

      Nice Narrative Jack, it immediately brought back memories of similar stuff I used to do while sitting on the dock at Go Home Lake

  8. gary
    gary says:

    45 years ago Guntersville was a sleepy marina, two stores and a couple gas stations. There were also the Cotton Mouths and Copper Heads which prompted me to change the wooden fin on my water ski for a metal one which changed water skiing instead of cutting snakes in half.

  9. Cobourg Kid
    Cobourg Kid says:

    Wow! Now that’s a comprehensive report , barbecue, boats, and antique planes not to mention a hill rimmed lake with a cotillion of beautiful ( and historic) boats dancing around on its waves. Thanks for bringing it to us KW

  10. Alex
    Alex says:

    Great pics, as always KW. Thanks for posting them.

    The artwork on Au Revoir is beautifully done. Kudos to the artist.

  11. Grandpa Bob
    Grandpa Bob says:

    Greg, Bob joined the Power Squadron at the Detroit Yacht Club on Belle Isle many years ago. Thanks to Bryan for a great report. A special thanks to Steve Cullen, LGYC and Dixieland ACBS member, for chairing this 3rd Annual Show. The following dates are in place for the next two years. 2016 5/12-15; 2017 5/18-21. Put them on your calendars, watch for announcements and come join us.

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