The Kind Of Story You Would Hope Your Son Would Write.

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Last night the Boatress said, “did you read your sons website today?” Note, she reads his site and not mine.. More on that later. I looked at it at dinner and had one of those moments where you realize that it’s the dumb little things you do with your kids that can define them. Not yelling at them about good table manners, or sleeping to late. I wondered of all the times I did dumb things that might screw them up now. But today, I am prouder than a Peacock that he has the fever in him and is part of the Woody Boater world. Here is the story from his website. Mr Hank Smith Warning, he is very loose with explicit language, girls and is opinionated on his site. Yes I know, that just fuels your desire to read..

What Boating Means to Me. By Hank Smith

Yip Yap is a 1958 12' whirlwind Jr

Yip Yap is a 1958 12′ whirlwind Jr

A little background, I’m considered the Boulder Bureau for my Dad’s blog, Woody Boater. I’ve been to quite a number of boating events, as well as spending a majority of my high school summers and college breaks hanging with my parents and numerous dogs on boats. With my own college graduation weeks away I was asked by a friend to reflect on my life and what specific events made me who I am today. Kinda funny actually, one of the events I talked about was going to Buffalo, NY, with my Dad in seventh grade to pick up a boat. First off, I love roadtrips and secondly, I loved getting to miss school. I remember waking up at 5am and hitting the road, we even got McDonald’s breakfast (my Dad used to love that stuff). Anyways a few hours into the drive we stopped off in New Jersey to see the SS United States, my dad’s previous obsession, which I’m sure added to his boating hobby. Skipping ahead a few hours of me listing to my iPod, we arrived in Buffalo.

We added this shot. this is the moment we looked at the boat, hank took the photo, thats Dan our pal looking it over. It was a fresh barn find. 2K

We added this shot. this is the moment we looked at the boat, hank took the photo, thats Dan our pal looking it over. It was a fresh barn find. 2K

The boat was a 196(?) Whirlwind, that I could pick up on my own since it was made of plywood and aluminum. It seriously felt and looked like a speeding plywood death trap. My dad told me that it was for me and my brother to be able to drive around the river with him and my mom, which was cool.

Hank on the right behind the wheel, Ham our other son on the left. This is on the Potomac River

Hank on the right behind the wheel, Ham our other son on the left. This is on the Potomac River

My brother and I driving around. (I’m on the right)

The first time we put the boat in the water back in Virginia, it sucked, seriously. I just sat there and listened to my Dad cuss at the engine that wouldn’t start. Hell, it even caught on fire with me driving one time. The months passed with a new Nissan engine and nothing bad happened. In fact, I got really good at dealing with all aspects of the boat, my dog Zipper even would ride around with me. Funny, the boat was even named ‘Yip-Yap’ which was Zipper’s nickname. The moral of the story was before that roadtrip to Buffalo I never really understood hobbies and having a passion. As a teenager, fads come and go, and until then, I never really connected the dots on how people could be so knowledgeable and involved with something that wasn’t taught in school. It was such a major concept that really isn’t highlighted in school. At the time I had a guitar, but just played a few songs and that was it. The trip to Buffalo and seeing how knowledgeable and interested in boats my Dad was gave me a reason to start learning about music and guitars. That started everything, I knew all the models of guitars, who used them, what they should cost, how to fix them and so on. This eventually lead to me building my own guitar.

Zipper and Ruby.

Zipper and Ruby.

Zipper, who looks surprisingly like Oreo

Oreo who is Hanks Dog, out on the great wicomico as a puppy out for her first big swim last summer

Oreo who is Hanks Dog, out on the great wicomico as a puppy out for her first big swim last summer

It seems like such a simple event, but it taught me to reach beyond what you are told to know, and focus on what you feel passionately about. I would be a different person if I hadn’t have been to Buffalo, because even beyond hobbies, it showed me how working hard and caring about everything you do will only make you a better person. Passion and caring is something not taught in school, but it has always made my schooling and working experience more enjoyable and brings pride with everything I do.


61 replies
  1. matt
    matt says:

    Shut the hell up, Dont give him any ideas. I could have restored a 50 ft cruiser … by now.. And one more to go.

  2. Alex
    Alex says:

    The best way to grow a WoodyBoater is to seed early and water with memories.

    Nicely written. And punctuation and spelling are correct.

    You sure he’s yours?

  3. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    BTW, you got the name of his blog wrong. It is “The Mr Hank Smith” with a little of that The Ohio State University thing workin there.

  4. Old Salt
    Old Salt says:

    He is Matt’s son “… hours of me listing to my iPod,…” should be
    “… hours of me listening to my iPod,…” but “listing” does seem appropiate when talking about wooden boats.

  5. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    Great story. Matt you got to be proud, you never know what impressions kids remember as they grow up. As parents, and Grandparents, we just try to guide them along the straight and narrow highway.
    I get so much enjoyment these days talking to my 39 year old twin boys and hearing how they remember various boating events when they were growing up, what they remember, what lessons they learned, etc.
    I am looking forward to a couple of weekends from now, when we have a planned cruise on the Detroit River with my Grandson, 13 year old Spencer, and his Uncle, my 39 yr old son, Don. You see, we sepnt several years on that river when the boys were 11 to about 18 yrs old. This is were they grew up and formed thier character. Now to revist those crusin grounds after 15 years or so, and with my Grandson who is the age my sons were back in the day, will certainly be a day of tear jerking memories for us. And a day Spencer should hear a lot of family stories about boating on the Detroit River.
    Now, if it will only stop rainning and warm up about 30 degrees, it will be even better…

  6. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    Right kind of boat, right kind of son….to be sure there is a connection.

    and though I saw him for only a moment in Tavares, I can tell Matt does not like Macdonalds nearly as much as he once did!

    good story to start the weekend…I for one….am going boating!

    John in Va.

  7. Cliff Wolfe
    Cliff Wolfe says:

    A 26′ Chris Craft Sea Skiff is a great graduation gift, some thing like a 1954-1959. Or a Lyman, that would solidify you in the annals of cool fatherdom. You could be as cool as my dad , tough act to follow.

  8. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    University of Colorado Buffalos, his life changing boat story is in Buffalo NY, you can’t just go with any old boat, there needs to be a Buffalo connection.

    Since Curtiss had his main factory in Buffalo, how about a 1920’s Chris Craft powered by a war surplus Curtiss OX-5. Nothing says I love you son like a boat gift with some nice thought behind it! 🙂

  9. John Kadimik
    John Kadimik says:

    Congratulations Suzy and Matt, it’s obvious you guys have done a great job with your boys. How lucky they are to have boating in their upbringing and I’am sure they will pass it on to their kids. Good luck to them, and that’s a nice picture of a young Ruby.

  10. WoodyGal
    WoodyGal says:

    Matt, you did it right, that was the trick. You took him on a road trip to pick up his boat, you turned him loose in it! You gave him freedom and your trust.

  11. Hank
    Hank says:

    That pic with Dan was the exact one I was looking for! Also, I’ve noticed a few suggestions by your readers that I should get a boat for graduation… interesting

  12. MikeM
    MikeM says:

    I think you should buy him a one-way ticket to Buffalo for his graduation.

    (I can say that…I grew up in Buffalo)

  13. Alex
    Alex says:

    A 26′ Lyman? A triple? Jeezus people! This is a college kid. Why not give him your father’s Oldsmobile while you’re at it!

    Matt, get Hank an XK-19 or 19′ Commander Super Sport. (Seth has one for sale. Might even knock a few thou off for you. You know, “family prices.”)

    Hank, you’re single, right? With a boat like this your captains log will be a little black book.

  14. Alex
    Alex says:

    “Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

    Put the soccer ball in the trunk.

  15. Cobourg-Kid
    Cobourg-Kid says:

    Matt for graduation give Mr. Hank Smith a big hug. Tell him you love him and that you couldn’t be more proud of him (he already knows that but do it anyway). Hank doesn’t need a new boat. That little whirlwind you gave him so long ago will always have more FAR more value to him than any other craft because it was a formative part of his transition from boy to man and besides; you and Suzy have obviously given him something far more valuable than any boat (including a Riva), a sense of positivity, an inquisitive mind a love of craftsmanship and purpose in life…. and that’s priceless.

  16. Cliff
    Cliff says:

    Yeah yeah , that’s nice but we should not let Matt of the hook. Soccer ? Too much running.go for the boat.

  17. Chris B.
    Chris B. says:

    Very nice story today. I think Alex made the right choice, start out with a nice classic glass xk19. He will always have dads woodys to drive around. Matt you were setting your self up today with this crowd. As always the comments are the other half of the story and they did not let you down today. I leave with a smile, and that’s why I came.

  18. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    After reading a few posts on Hanks blog, I need to vote with Mayer and suggest the one way ticket to Buffalo. Give him 2-3 years of living and working there and he will have no choice but to learn how to drive in snow.

  19. Randy Rush Captain Grumpy
    Randy Rush Captain Grumpy says:

    Well I did the same for my two daughters, gave them a 46 dory and told them they could have it if they did all the repairs. Well that was 11 years ago,and they take great pride driving our boat to the boat show. Matt: Feel free to give my daughter any of your sons rejects. She getting a 05 pontiac Vibe with 236k on it.

  20. brian t
    brian t says:

    Hank – Rick above suggested something “sporty and Italian” for your graduation gift – how about a new Fiat 500 with a Lamborghini V12 stuffed in ? After all, you’re gonna need something to tow around that new Riva.

    • Jimmuh
      Jimmuh says:

      @Brian T –
      Ferrucio Lamborghini was way ahead of you….he installed 2 400GT V12 motors into his AQ. (they were later removed) Now this boat is being restored; should be done by summer. Might sound pretty nice…….

  21. Alex
    Alex says:

    Maybe it’s an experience you should get him Matt.

    Boats fade over time. But memories, well, they fade too. Except some.

    How about getting him “a three hour tour?”

    • Randy Rush Captain Grumpy
      Randy Rush Captain Grumpy says:

      Dont worry its still covered in shrinkwrap. Just some extra ventalation holes.

  22. Cliff
    Cliff says:

    Square dancin with the ladies on the…….what are they standing on I just noticed that there was a boat in that picture. Huh , what do yah know.

  23. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    This is a great story to cap off a sketchy week which has finally ended and remember If you’re going to use a boat to escape, make sure its in water not in Watertown (Mass, that is).

    Your sons story, so well written, congrats to him and the parents, all you could ask for.

  24. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    …and The two happiest days of a boat owner’s life is the day he buys a boat and the day he gets a terrorist out of it (credit tweet from Steve Levitan Verified account

    Co-Creator, Executive Producer of ABC’s Modern Family)

  25. Rabbit
    Rabbit says:

    Great story. My daughter is graduating from college in a few weeks, too. She loves riding in the GarWood but her best memories were in the ugly old pontoon.

    • George Emmanuel
      George Emmanuel says:

      Yes!–What happened to the Johnson? As I’ve said before, vintage outboards are dependable if they have been properly maintained. I hope it wasn’t tossed.

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