Live-ish From The 2015 Lake Hartwell Antique Boat Festival In Georgia

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Jerri Nowlen waves while husband Terry Harbin pilots their 1940 18′ Gar Wood Utility Friday during the 2015 Lake Hartwell Antique Boat Festival. The overcast conditions did a nice job of minimizing sunburn during the weekend.

TODAY’S LIVE-ISH REPORT from Lake Hartwell, Georgia comes to us courtesy of contributor Kentucky Wonder and show organizer John Heiderich. The Blue Ridge ACBS Chapter continues a solid history of organizing top cabin classic boat shows with great boats and innovative awards, which is refreshing. – Texx


Waiting to be retrieved by trailer, John Hawbecker and daughter Delaine Hollandsworth take shelter under an umbrella as the rain finally begins Saturday afternoon during the 2015 Lake Hartwell Antique Boat Festival. They were riding in John’s 1959 Chris-Craft 17′ ski boat.

2015 Lake Hartwell Antique Boat Festival
Hartwell Marina, Georgia – April 16-18
Show Summary by John Heiderich
Photos & Captions by Kentucky Wonder

The weather was threatening all weekend, but the only rain we had occurred when we were getting the boats back on the trailer.


A hat and goggles hold down a hint of what used to be. Tommy and Ginger Watson’s current boat, “The Roaring Twenties” – previously featured on Woody Boater, actually started its life as a 26′ Chris-Craft Express as pictured in the snapshot. The boat won Best of Show of the 2015 Lake Hartwell Antique Boat Festival, as voted by the participating captains.


Tommy Watson explains the origin and construction of “The Roaring Twenties” – his Gentleman’s Racer that began its life as a 26′ Chris-Craft Express cruiser. A small crowd gathered whenever the 700hp Ilmor racing engine was ignited. Thankfully, there was never a time when his engine and those of “Miss America IX” were running at the same time. The crowd would not know where to gather.


A full-length view of Lake Hartwell Best of Show / Skippers Choice winner “The Roaring Twenties” that Matt captured during the Sunnyland Boat Festival last month in Florida.

The show attendance was also effected by the weather, with attendance estimated at 1,500 to 1,600. The people attending all had a great time looking at the boats, piloting the remote control boats, viewing the 30 Porsche cars, shopping at one of the 15 vendors, and of course enjoying a bite to eat at one of the food vendors.


Mark Neff, left, and his father Tom Neff wave from their 1940 Ema-Rold Craft Runabout during the 2015 Lake Hartwell Antique Boat Festival. The 26-foot, triple cockpit boat is the only of its kind, as the company ceased production after this prototype due to World War II, and never restarted after the war. The Neffs restored the boat themselves.


The triple cockpit “Northern Reflections”, a 1940 Ema-Rold Craft Runabout. It has been repowered with a Ford 351 V8.

The weekend started with a Cocktail Party at John and April Heiderich’s house where Cinnamon Margaritas were the drink of the night. The Friday lunch cruise was cancelled because of the threatening weather, but several boats headed out for a tour of the lake anyway. Friday evening’s event at Dennis and Julie Moore’s Boat Barn was a great time for everyone.


Paul Ledford and good friend Jean Riggins (a great Realtor in Anderson / Clemson /Seneca area) wave from Paul’s 1965 Chris-Craft Super Sport 21 Friday during the 2015 Lake Hartwell Antique Boat Festival.


Sarah Amos “shoots back” from her and Edward James’ 1971 19’ Riva Junior “Ciao Baby” as everyone returned from a Friday cruise during the 2015 Lake Hartwell Antique Boat Festival.


A couple of boats gather in a cove near the marina before heading out on a Friday cruise during the 2015 Lake Hartwell Antique Boat Festival. Note the raingear of the participants. Rain threatened nearly all the weekend’s activities, but never actually arrived until the last 30 minutes of loading boats on trailers Saturday afternoon.


Kids steer remote-controlled model boats while the “adults” wait impatiently behind them for their turn during the 2015 Lake Hartwell Antique Boat Festival.


Some of the remote-control model boats available on the water during the 2015 Lake Hartwell Antique Boat Festival. The public was invited to run the boats as long as they wanted for free. The Titanic model did not sink.


Detail of a Porsche Speedster during the 2015 Lake Hartwell Antique Boat Festival. The area Porsche automobile club held a drive and show in conjunction with the 2015 Lake Hartwell Antique Boat Festival.


Teutonic two-seaters bask in the overcast Saturday afternoon during the 2015 Lake Hartwell Antique Boat Festival. A few non-traditional Porsche automobiles also attended.


Cindy and David Cowart’s 1958 18′ Arena Craft Durmont sits in its slip during the 2015 Lake Hartwell Antique Boat Festival. The restoration on the boat was recently finished, and the show was the first for the boat.

1958 Arena Craft

Detail of the seating of the 1958 Arena Craft’s interior.


Teriyaki sauce is brushed onto Chicken-On-A-Stick Saturday during the 2015 Lake Hartwell Antique Boat Festival. Lemon Pepper was another optional flavoring. Business was more brisk for the Polish Sausages covered in peppers and onions.


A scary beekeeper welcomes festival goers to a booth selling fresh honey during the 2015 Lake Hartwell Antique Boat Festival. The beekeeper hidden by the sign looked much better than the masked figure, and said she doesn’t even use the suit when handling bees.

The weekend events finished up with a fine dinner where our awards were handed out, friends had a last chance to visit with each other, and renew relationships and plan the events they were going to attend this year. Indeed, a great time was had by all.

John Heiderich
Blue Ridge Chapter Show Chairman

2015 Lake Hartwell Antique Boat Festival Awards

Best of Show / Skippers Choice
Tommy Watson – “The Roaring Twenties” 26′ Chris-Craft Custom

Fred Thomas Best Antique Boater of the Year
Al & Faye Smith

Old Boats, Old Friends
Dave & Pat Nesbitt

(Old Boats, Old Friends is a Perpetual Award, started years ago by Mike and Sue McSwain, given to someone who exhibits both a genuine love for old boats and also for the friends developed through the Blue Ridge Chapter over the years.)

Boat Enthusiasts
Randy Cunningham

(Also a Perpetual Award, Boat Enthusiasts is given to someone who has an enthusiastic portrayal of the classic boating hobby, drawing others into the hobby and the Blue Ridge Chapter.)

“I can tell you that Randy Cunningham is very deserving of this award. He is very entertaining, always having a funny story about the current topic.” – Kentucky Wonder

Both awards have name plates added every year with the recipients’ names, and are displayed at the Hartwell Marina throughout the year.

I Want That One
Edward James – “Ciao Baby” 1971 Riva Junior

Best Runabout
Bob & Linda Smith – “Lisa Ann” 1930 Chris-Craft Model 100

Best Utility
Patrick Cunningham – “CeCe” 1959 Chris-Craft Sportsman

Best Contemporary
Randy Cunningham – “Mello Yello” Chris-Craft fiberglass

Best Pre-War
Tom Neff – “Northern Reflections” 1940 Ema-Rold Runabout

Best Post-War
Tom & June Riggle – “Slow Dancing II” 1952 Chris-Craft Sedan

Best Outboard
Ed & Brideett Arrington – “First Love” 1959 Barbour Sliver Clipper

Best Century
Bob & Linda Smith – “Linda Ann” 1975 Century Arabian

Best Chris-Craft
Chris & Gina Hansen – “ExAustin” 1965 Chris-Craft Super Sport

Special thanks to Kentucky Wonder and John Heiderich for sharing this report with us today. Also to the dedicated organizers and volunteers from the Blue Ridge Chapter for continuing to make this event a winner.

One final note: We were thrilled to learn that this year’s Fred Thomas Best Antique Boater of the Year award was presented to our friends Alan & Faye Smith. We have had the opportunity to spend some quality time with Alan & Faye at various classic boating events over the years, and always enjoy their company. Faye has also contributed to Woody Boater on a number of occasions which we appreciate.

For those of you who may not know – Alan Smith is the Great-Grandson of Christopher Columbus Smith who, along with his brother Hank established Chris Smith and Sons Boat Company in 1922. The company changed it’s name to the Chris-Craft Corporation in 1930.

To learn more about Alan & Faye Smith and their wonderful Chris-Craft Sea Skiff, you can check out a story we published in 2011 named SmithSkiff – Keeping It In The Family.

Smith Skiff 2 - Copy

Alan & Faye Smith in their 1957 Chris-Craft 22′ Sea Skiff “SmithSkiff” near Algonac, Michigan 2012.

Congratulations to Alan & Faye and thanks for everything you do for the hobby.


22 replies
  1. Brian Aiken
    Brian Aiken says:

    Once again a great show, well worth the trip. There was also a good showing of aluminum Feathercrafts along with their enthusiastic owners. For those who don’t know, Feathercrafts were built in Atlanta and mimicked the lines of wooden boats. Some had walk through decks, some were rear center steer with extreme tumble homes ala barrelbacks. Very lightweight, they can be polished like chrome.
    Even though I am a wooden boat guy [My ’57Correct Craft “Wooden Nickel” didn’t make the show.. we’re awaiting a prop strut bearing]; I still love all old boats so seeing these and the Arena Craft among others pleases me a lot.
    The Porsche guys are also great company, but my favorite folks are ACBS DIYer’s like Jerry Winter and Bob Churhill among many others.
    I got a cool site from the Feathercraft guys for those interested:

  2. Kent Baker
    Kent Baker says:

    Passed by Hartwell on our way back from the Tavares Show. The place is on our short list of interesting destinations to cruise.
    The new owner of our old 1965 19′ Lyman lives there. Only in this odd culture do we get visitation rights on our old boats!

  3. Alex
    Alex says:

    Ahh. Unfrozen water. How beautiful it looks when the snow is falling, again, in Northern Michigan today. How depressing is that? Very. Everyone feels just like the guy in this image.

    I really enjoyed this story. Nice pics too KW! That Ema-Rold Craft header shot took my breath away. What an exquisite boat.

    Thank you.

    • charley quimby
      charley quimby says:

      Hey, there Anon: I am starting to see and hear a lot more of the R word than need be. Getting tired of the H word, too. No harm intended on your part, I am sure. Leave that kind of language to the trashy cable programs. CQ

  4. Dane
    Dane says:

    How nice to learn about boats that I was unfamiliar with. EMA-ROLD looks like a great boat and the Durmont from Arena Craft is one that I haven’t seen either.

  5. Texx
    Texx says:

    Dane – The 1958 18′ Arena Craft Durmont appears to be a rare model. A preliminary web search yesterday and check through my Bob Speltz library came up empty. More research required on the interesting boat. – Texx

  6. Wilson Wright
    Wilson Wright says:

    It’s a great show in beautiful venue…It was really fun before the recession forced the Georgia State parks to close…We recall fondly when we could rent a cabin and tie up our boat almost at our door step and boat back and forth to the show. Truly a show for ole friends.

  7. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Great looking show.

    Love to see the remote involvement for the kids! That is a very cool idea.

  8. Bob Smith
    Bob Smith says:

    Thanks to all for a great show!
    Correction re: Bob & Linda Smith’s “Linda Anne”
    She’s a highly modified 75 Century Arabian.
    Original FG bottom, 454/V Drive with a custom mahogany design above the waterline.

  9. Brian Aiken
    Brian Aiken says:

    Georgia State parks ARE OPEN! and on Lake Hartwell!
    So Wilson, take heart.. I wasn’t aware that they’d ever closed but this link is to one just around the corner by water or land from my house. I’m quite sure they are open because we go by there almost daily. This one [Tugaloo] is about 25 minutes from the Hartwell Marina, Hart State park appears to be even closer but I don’t know anything about that one. Also remember that one side the lake is in South Carolina so the SC state parks may have cabins.
    I do know Tugaloo though, the cabins are very nice, many have private docks. There’s great new launch ramp and it’s only a few minutes off I-85. I just took my boat over there and the first one I came to had cars in the drive and fishing gear on the dock.
    It’s probably an hour or more to the Marina where the show was by boat, but as I said, it’s an easy drive if you are towing anyway.

  10. Jerri Nowlen
    Jerri Nowlen says:

    Thank you to the wonderful chairs and volunteers for the Lake Hartwell Show. It was a fantastic event as always. This show truly kicks-off the boating season locally and is a chance to see all of our dear boating friends/family. We LOVED renting a house with Kentucky Wonder and his vivacious wife which made the event even that much better. Ms. Wonder…. S’mores at Chatuge??

  11. Jimmy
    Jimmy says:

    Chris Craft super sport lake hartwell winner “ExAustin” featured on flipping ships and several other blue ridge chapter boats on animal planet!

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