Generations Of Classic Boaters Coming Together In Minnesota For The Whitefish Chain Event


Last weekend fellow Woody Boater Dane Anderson attended the 2012 Whitefish Chain Antique and Classic Wood Boat Rendezvous north of Brainerd, Minnesota. For the last few years we have always enjoyed sharing Dane’s unique style of photography here on Woody Boater, so let’s see what he has in store for us today… along with his report from last weekend’s event. And you can click on the pictures and they Blow up! They blow up real good!

Whitefish Chain Antique and Classic Wood Boat Rendezvous
by Dane Anderson

This year’s event was the 25th and their biggest yet, with over 80 boats boats registered and huge crowds all day. Minnesota collectors Lee Anderson and John Allen were both present this year and brought along some spectacular boats from their collections.

Dennis and Judy Madigan have been organizing the non-ACBS show for 23 of the last 25 years, and announced that they are passing the torch to the owners of Moonlight Bay, Bill Terry and Sally Egan. Joe Rittger tells me that the move to Moonlight Bay and the accomodating nature of the restaurant owners was a big reason for the success of this year’s show.

There were a 135 people at the Skippers dinner on Friday. Saturday crowds were estimated at over 12,000 people and 139 Volunteers helped Dennis and Judy Madigan and the staff at Moonlight Bay to make it all possible.

One of the secrets of their success is how they welcome visiting show participants…

They have a small army of volunteers “Dock Crew” wearing white gloves to help you out everywhere you go. There are crew members at the marina in the water helping get boats off and back on trailers. You’re greeted in the parking lot and your launch is staged to keep things moving smoothly.

When you arrive at the show docks they catch you at the docks and hold your boat while you get the dock lines set, adjusting bumpers to match your boat. It really makes you want to return every year. Many of the “Dock Crew” are children of the long time participants which seems to be a great way to involve the younger generation in the Classic Boating lifestyle.

Judy was in charge of registrations and awards, and Dennis has a gift for mixing humor with information to command attention from the skippers. Dennis likes to announce that he is happy to accept all complements and if you are unhappy with your dock assignments you should talk to Judy. Maybe now they’ll have time to get their own boats in the show. There was a waiting list for this year’s show so they gave up their spot.

The yellow Tee shirts are “Dock Crew”. The shot of “Will-O” has Dennis and Judy Madigan riding in the back seat. “Will-O” is part of the collection of the late Bill Robertson who passed away in 2012. He named all of boats after grandchildren. “Will-O” has served as the parade grand marshall boat for many years.

You may see the yellow Tee shirts in some of the photos but you’ll find kids in almost all of the photos. It’s a Minnesota lakes thing. Lake country in central Minnesota is all about family. They even give an award to the “Best Dock Person” every year. Charlie’s daughter Piper Underbrink won the award for “Best Dock Person” at this years show, and rode in the “Mail Boat” with Joe Ruttger.

The Greg Dively family had 4 generations working the docks and they came 500 miles from Omaha to be there.

The 33″ Baby Gar at this years show is from the Clayton Antique Boat Museum in upstate New York. The museum shipped it to Lee Anderson for some repairs on the Liberty engine.

I just love the deck crown on this Belle Isle. Dave Bortner from Freedom Boat Service was on hand at this years show and drove the Belle Isle Bear Cat it for the popular Fly-By, leaving his 28′ Hackercraft “Seaflow II” at the dock.

Pat Carnes owns this very cool 1955 Larson Thunder Hawk 18′ with twin Johnson Golden Javelins – It’s great to see these back in the water, especially with the kids riding along learning to appreciate these fine classic boats.

“Lift & Sniff” before take off…

“IMP” – Another beautiful original from Lee Anderson’s collection was at the show this year, it’s a rare 1929 Purdy with 620 cubic inch Wright V8…

And how cool does that look heading out on the lake for a Fly-By.

Long time supporter of the antique & classic boat hobby Jeff Stebbins aboard his beautiful 1940 Lyman 17′ Islander.

The “Mail Boat” is a 1949 U-22 owned by Joe Ruttger… This boat did mail deliveries from 1949 to 1969.

From the Mikkelson Collection – Pat Carnes 21′ Falls Flyer back in the water doing what it does best.

And Carl Mammel’s rare Dodge Split-Cockpit Runabout was also on hand this year.

“Scram” is Brian Mark’s 26′ 1931 Hutchinson – The range of wooden boats at this year’s event was very impressive.

Charlie Underbrink brought the 1960 26′ Gage Hacker (below) and the 1956 22′ Shepherd “Ols Shep” (above).

The 2012 Whitefish Chain Antique and Classic Wood Boat Rendezvous was once again a wonderful event, with a focus on family and youth involvement in the hobby.

Special thanks to Dennis and Judy Madigan for all your leadership and help over the years, to Bill Terry and Sally Egan from Moonlight Bay, and to the many Volunteers that make this one of the best antique & classic boat shows in the mid-west.

Dane Anderson

Thanks Dane for sharing your this great story and your images with us here at Woody Boater – We appreciate it…


7 replies
  1. RiverRat
    RiverRat says:

    Great collection of boats, love that Hutch from the river and the old Lyman as well as the other beauties. Thanks for taking the time to send them in.

  2. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    You betcha, hon. Nice variety of boats and great pix. Glad to see Will-O still there, nice tribute to Bill Robertson, who was a fine gentleman. And that’s the way to treat your volunteers and boat entrants. Don’t know who came up with this first Sunnyland or Whitefish, or ??? but that sure makes the captains happy.

    Any wood chippa’s on display (with deference to Fargo).

  3. Bob
    Bob says:

    Missed the show thisw year, but was happy to see the coverage. Dennis & Judy are the best!
    But Bear11 and “walleye” the dog are headed to Bayport,MN show this weekend! Watch for report!

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