Are Youth Programs Enough To Grow Classic Boating?

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Well, I thought I would just ask the question. I have been mulling this around in my head for years now. The bottom line is this. People love their classic boats like they love their classic cars, toasters barbie dolls, whatever it was that triggers a memory and area of comfort. In todays world that is changing so dramatically anything that is familiar and evokes a nice image is golden. But as time marches on, those “things” fade away. Just look at the value of model A’s or 57 t birds. FLAT! Because that age group is passing on…yet 1969 Z/28s keep going up. Cobras, Shelby’s, the list goes on. Classic cars and boats are a mixture of memories and function. Now lets focus on boats…One had to have been around the water as a kid and enjoyed boating to have an emotional connection. To hate varnishing a boat with your dad, to recall the wonderment of hard work  and varnished wood in the sun light. So the logical step is to refocus on kids today. Get those darn kids in a wood boat and they will love them later. I get that, BUT.. I recall doing that as a kid and you know what? I saw the boat as a boat. Plain and simple, there was nothing classic boat it, it was just a boat. We lived all summer long in a small Boston Whaler and a Starcraft aluminum boat. I have no need to get either of those boats today yet I love boating today for that reason. Note I did not say classic boating, theoretically I would hoard Boston Whalers and Starcrafts. The kids programs are great and fill a need, they are great for bonding with fathers and sons, they include the family and introduce boating as well, time to build a have fun with a boat. But is it the strategy to build the future of classic boating or just boating? Sadly I have come to the conclusion. NO… It’s not enough.

I feel that we are at a crossroads where memory is being lost to other things. Kids memories of tomorrow will be other things that are dreaming of today. We need to transfer the image of classic boatinga romantic image of a lifestyle. Timeless imagery that evokes an image, fashion. OK stop laughing and think. The real target to grow the hobby is 35-55 year olds right now. That is the real youth program. Talk to 30 year olds now and the rest will fall into place. 30 year olds are on the cusp of buying homes at a later date on the water in 5-10 years. they will be the ones in the market place. WE MUST REACH THEM NOW!  If we miss this group, the hobby, passion will die and the 10 year olds of today will never connect. In fact the 10 year olds are the kids of the 30 year olds. Reach the 30 year olds and you get both groups.

SO… how do you do that? They aint coming to boat shows or reading newsletters thats for sure. They are not there yet.  Don’t be mad at me.. I am speaking the truth, and the only way to improve things is to be honest. The 30-40 year olds sadly they have no memories of being out on the water in a wood speed boat. They don’t know what 2 cycle oil is, or varnish. No memories to tap into. They grew up in IROC z’s Toyotas, Datsuns.. Formula boats, Donzis… Note that the Donzi group is growing and thriving, fiberglass boats are becoming more valuable. That is not from youth programs. It’s a mind set and memory triggers. And  of course affordability.  Wood boats need to move from memory to art. This is were the “curator” in some peoples DNA kicks in as “rabbit ” put it a year ago in a similar article. The “Curater” which is ageless by the way, the curater demographic will come to boating as an artistic statement rather than a memory when they get there first place near the water. “If I am going to get a boat, I am going to get a cool boat”. is a good example of the thought pattern. I want a cool boat that evokes a lifestyle rather than is just a water craft to out on the water with. Do it in style.

How do we reach this target? It’s not complicated, its a simple media stratagy. Be were they are, be were they are while they are dreaming and thinking of how to spend there free time. Be online! Be on Facebook, be fun, be affordable, show them that a cool $500 plastic boat is just as cool as a $200,000 Triple. Invite them in to the tent, take them on rides. And talk about how these old cool wood boats are half the maintence as they used to be. It’s that simpke. The boats speak for themselves. It’s just putting them in the right place. If you own a new boat marina, put a 10K cool classsic boat in there. Offer all the same support as you would on a new boat. Offer a warrenty like Katz’s or Antique Boat Center.

We want your opinion. We did this story as a question because it’s just us thinking this way. We are not trying to attack youth programs, or any one group. We just  see something out there as a folks that has been in the marketing field for over 30 years. We are indeed at a critical time in the life cycle of hobbies and passions. I would hate to see us miss the next generation to hand this all off to by being close minded. The lifestyle of classic style boating needs to life on in a timeless way. As a symbol of  life on the water that includes style grace and fun. Otherwise it’s doomed to be put out beside the shed to rot away in peoples memories. Please comment and add your two cents. It’s all for a good cause. 

114 replies
  1. RiverRat
    RiverRat says:

    I do not know the best way to pass the passion on. There is no telling what person of any age is going to take it up as a hobby. The only thing you can do is share your boat with as many people as you can, the shotgun technique, and hopefully it will stick. My nephew got grandpa’s old plastic boat and sees his dad’s and uncle’s boats as too much work. We just have our fun and hope it rubs off.

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    As someone in the later half of the 30-40 range, I think you are correct. I bought my first woody in my early 30’s and while I am obviously interested in the lifestyle, I have no interest in shows. My kids ride in, get towed by and drive my woody, but I don’t see them participating in the youth programs anytime soon. Don’t get me wrong, I think those programs are great, just not for every kid.

    I think the key to getting the 30 sumthins is to market owning a wood boat as an accomplishment more special than an ordinary boat. Yes, I could boat with my family in a Four Wins, but for just a bit more work, we can have a wood Chris-Craft. Obviously for all but the wealthiest 30 year olds that means post war deluxes and sportsman, U22’s not 1920’s tripples. It also means user boats with PB&J stains, sticky lemonade spills on the carpet, scratches in the varnish, not perfect finishes and orriginal zippers. It means weekends on the water with family, not weekends at shows with other owners.

    I think the other HUGE key to reaching this demographic is to have Woodyboater merchandise available on the web. Especially Sons of Varnish shirts, flags (about 4′ x 6′ pls) and yacht ensigns. Other woody boater shirts and hats as well.

    Finally, sex sells, so go to college campuses and give the attractive young women free woody boater shirts that say “I love to ride older wood”. Figure out how to make young women in sexually suggestive poses with the shirts and the boats a viral YouTube thing like planking, and voila, 20 million people will be calling the ABC and Katz looking for their water ready boat.

    • Dennis J. Mykols
      Dennis J. Mykols says:

      Man, you are on to something there, sex does sell, sorry, in this day an age, the thiriesomethings are bombarded by ads with a sexy angle. They are use to it were as 60-70 year ols may be offended.

  3. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    You have brought up a subject that has been discussed many times by our Michigan Chapter board of directors. I think you are on target by suggesting that we need to communicate with them in a language that they understand and feel comfortable with. This means the internet, Facebook,etc. and giving due attention to the later non wood boats that their demographic can better relate to. We are focusing more attention and adding content to our newly redesigned web site, and have set up a Facebook page for the Algonac show with that in mind. We will see what success that may have over the next year or two. We are also encouraging members to exhibit their classic glass boats at our shows, and use them in our events. I agree cost is a factor, but I don’t think it is universal when I see the 40 – 50 year olds regularly dropping $70K+ on their Mastercrafts and Ski Nautiques. They could buy two pretty nice classics for that money. My daughter’s 28 year old boyfriend who has no experience in boating, has shown a definite interest in my boats, and has attended some of our shows. I am trying to foster that interest and see if he will in time want to get more personally involved. I guess he is my personal test case! I will be reading the other comments you get today with much interest to see if there are any other good ideas that our club can adopt to help us foster the perpetuation of the “lifestyle”.

  4. steve bunda
    steve bunda says:

    Matt , I have been thinking the same thing for years . Teaching kids about boats and boat building is great, but one will not see any results in growth of the hobby untill they age and have extra money to play with. That may take 20 or 30 more years and we need new interest in wood boats now. Wood boats are a luxury item and are competing with many other things for those dollars. Bringing new people into the fold will take an effort to focus on 2 groups of buyers, one who is finacialy able to purchase a completed boat and or afford to pay for restoration costs. And the other person that has the skills to restore their own boat. I have both as customers ages 25 to 75, the 25 year old is learning with my help and gives me some of his time in trade. The older people people located and bring me boats for a restoration as something they have allways wanted.

  5. Rick
    Rick says:

    One issue to connecting with today’s youth is attention span. They are so used to small condensed packets of information that most would not have even read today’s blog all the way through before they got bored and moved on. I speak from watching my own kids. They are bright and ambitious but if you don’t grab their interest in the 1st 5 seconds or 20 words they are gone.

    PS- Someone HAS to get M-Fine a Sons of Varnish shirt before he pops a blood vessel. LOL

  6. Matt
    Matt says:

    I agree with the above. I was born in 1973. I don’t have nostalgia for seeing these boats when they were new, or even used. But I have nostalgia for going to the Tahoe show as a kid. The cool factor of old engines, the lines of classic boat designs is timeless. Most designs have held up, many have not. On of my favorite boats of all time is the 60’s/70’s era Boston Whaler. There is nostalgia there but they are also beautiful boats.

    You don’t need to have been a teenager in the 40’s/50’s to appreciate a boat from that era any more than you do to appreciate Chuck Berry. If it was great then, it will hold up. There is definitely a nostalgia factor for folks from that era that goes above and beyond.

    Appreciating culture as a whole is a big part of it. You need some frame of reference, be it through film, literature, history, cars, music, clothing from a certain era to really appreciate it. You don’t have to have been born in that era though. I appreciate a lot of the style from the 50’s and early to mid 60’s – clothes, definitely music, architecture, cars, and boats. The image of a mid 50’s Chris Craft or mid 60’s Riva conjures a lot of emotion that goes beyond the actual thing being looked at.

    Also, for me, wood boats are more affordable than buying a newer plastic boat. I can buy a project boat for $3,000, spend three years restoring it, spreading out the costs, and have a boat.

    And there is a great community with it. My friends now are friends who work on each others’ boats.

    What the elder statesmen can do about it is be open to helping young punks who show an interest. I’ve met a lot great people through this hobby who are helpful. I’ve also run into more than few cranky old farts who don’t have time to explain stuff to someone who can’t possibly understand since I wasn’t even alive when these boats were built. So, there’s that.

    My $0.02

  7. BigRed
    BigRed says:

    I’m only 29… I’ll comment next year. Jk. Good point on getting the word out. I picked up my first woody on the side of the road and from there I went straight to the Internet. Found Woodyboater and the BSLOL Facebook page. The fact is, the vast majority of ‘youth’ don’t have the money to get INTO the hobby. I always laugh when i hear on here (or other places): “its only 40K!” I got into this hobby because I wanted (eventually) to have the coolest boat on the lake, not because of some past experience. I was never in a wooden boat until I launched my first project. Cost was an issue and the reason i wont bring my little boat to very intimidating boat shows. I agree with mfine, if you put (reasonable) boats where we can see them – there will be interest. I think the BSLOL does a good job hosting a show at a very popular bar/restaurant on Lake Minnetonka… I saw many more youth there than other shows I’ve been to.

    I look forward to many more years in this hobby. That is, if I can ever save up enough to buy something nice!

  8. chad
    chad says:

    The best way to reach people, of any age, is getting them on the water. It’s not about the boat, it’s about boating. You may infect a few with the “woodie bug”, but it’s very important that you reach them ALL with the boating bug.

    If boat shows cater to the spectators and future hobbyists then maybe we should let them ride in the boats. What fun is there in tying a boat off for 2 days without starting the engine?

  9. ranger
    ranger says:

    m-fine touched on it briefly…Women!

    we also need to reach out to the women. Harley Davidson did it and we drove their market for many years as we ladies got tired of riding in the back and “making potato salad”.

    it is well know that women have a large say in the household affairs (ask hubby, maybe too much)…i pulled my husband into this lifestyle and he has been a terrific sport about it, but it is really my passion…

    at the shows and events i would like to see a few more things designed with women in mind, make the weekend fun for them…

    at the hartwell, ga. show the women go out for lunch and shopping and for the military appreciation event at camp lejeune we had a singing group and dancing…fun for the ladies!

    the workshops are great but unless they are really interested in those things and not just accompanying their husband…i am afraid you will see a lot of bored babes just sitting in their chairs…not a good image…

    me, i have to be dragged from the dock and love to learn new things but i realize that i am in a small group within this lifestyle…

    bring the women in – they in turn will bring the family…

    remember if momma ain’t happy than nobody happy!

    invited the ladies for the a ride in your boat, let them drive; make their day special and you will have helped their husbands tremendously.

    just a thought…

  10. The Central Scrutinizer
    The Central Scrutinizer says:

    BigRed in the post above me makes a pretty good point. Money is a factor for the younger generation. They can get a loan and buy a new boat so easily. At my lake, (Lake Chatuge, GA), the PWCs are everywhere. Most people have more than one. We could probably post tales of their boating rules ignorance and overall rudeness for days and days. I’ve seen two Donzis and butt load of mega dollar wakeboard boats on our lake. My neighbor has a pontoon boat that goes 55MPH and he leaves his dock at full throttle. For most people, it is about speed.

    I have a Glen-L boat and I frequent their forum. I do see teenagers posting there fairly often. There are kids building boats with their fathers. It is a good bonding experience and that whole I built it myself thing goes a long way. They aren’t classics, but building a cold molded or plywood boat provides a lot of experience. Restoring an old Chris with one’s father would also have the same effect. I have 19 and 16 year old daughters. They are still in high school and university, and “hate the lake because it is boring and there is nothing to do up there”. But, they don’t hesitate to tell their friends that that shiny wooden boat was built by their father. They see the attention it gets and that definitely reinforces the cool factor. Especially when a couple of 20-30 yr old silicone hotties in a plastic ski boat tell their old man that they love his boat 🙂

    • jerri
      jerri says:

      Central…. If you’ve been reading the later posts maybe we should try “giving the public a ride” at Chatuge 2012?

  11. WoodenRookie
    WoodenRookie says:

    Most boat shows are the last place that age demographic will see value in the hobby. We need to to be showing big screen videos of user wood boats enjoying weekends skiing, tubing, and boating. When we purchased our last fiberglass boat my kids were younger, there was no way I could sell my wife on the a wood boat with kids. She saw me killing kids for juicy juice spills and gold fish stains on the wood boat. Odd but thats exactly how we are on our fiberglass boat as well. You can’t take that age demographic to a boat show and hope they dont see art, constant chrome rubbing, anal presentations of dock lines, and hope that they see a fit for them using a wood boat.

    A boat show is the last place you can sell entry into this hobby for those of that age unless they want a trophy hobby. A boat show is a place for us to see what has been preserved & restored to admire, not use. Without user boats at shows we are wasting our time. That age cannot fathom the hours and expenses we put into these boats unless we use them. Even though these expenses may be similar to what people spend on new/used fiberglass boats.

    We cannot talk about hours, dollars, maintenance and years of restoration we put into our boats. Rather we must compare costs and enjoyment to fiberglass and hope we can sell on long term values. That demographic has schedules for kids sports, school, and time restrictions we can’t imagine and if we dont market versus alternatives we will continue to lose the battle.

    User shows, user boats at more lakes. USER to gain entry. Sample the Big indoor boat show participants and ask them about that Wood boat booth that was there. Bet ya not one of the people looking to buy a boat even considered a wood boat as anything other than a old guy’s tinkering hobby club. We dont market as a user club, we market as a hobby.

  12. matt
    matt says:

    I love the comments, they are dead on.. What I am hearing load and clear is to market these boats as boats, usable fun boats, just with some hisotry and character. I have noted that the resto mods at Mecum are selling very well. What that tells me is that folks want to drive something different, they want to “drive” them and use them. The argumant for modern power in a 5200 bottom boat is and can be the future. Look at Mike mayers tripple. Its a hot rod. Yet very nice. I would ride and enjoy that boat long time! I think that U22’s should and could be that boat. There are a gillion of them out there and modern power in one is additive.

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      You definitely hit the target with “something different”. Lots-O people but PWC because they are affordable and easy to trailer. A classic boat, especially wood, is different. For me, the fact that the one I bought had a jet drive made it even more different and more appealing. Anyone can buy an old wood Chris-Craft, but one with a jet drive is super rare and therefor super cool to own.

      Also, FWIW, I was not in the market for a boat, let alone a wood boat when I bought it. I saw the boat for sale by the side of the road on my way to lunch one day. Kicked the tires, got bit, and a few months later the sellers became reasonable with their price and I suddenly became a woodyboater. I think I was exactly 30 at the time.

    • Dennis J. Mykols
      Dennis J. Mykols says:

      Right on. This has been my attitude for years. My 1970 El Camino was restored,but to be a daily driver. And when I gstarted looking for a woody, I wanted something I could trun the key and GO… No soaking, no old tempermental engine. Same with the varnish finish. Old School was built with a wooden rub rail, after to launches, I put on a stainless steel one, now no more hassels docking.
      When I talk to people at shows or at the lauch ramps, I try to explain to them how the mondern day woody, is NOT like your old time consuming vessel.

  13. RRG
    RRG says:

    First off:

    -Stop showing plastic boats on Woodyboater (the young ones like the sleek fast look of plastic, so we need to reprogram them)
    -Stop talking about zippers (enough said)

    I look back when I started in this hobby at the ripe age of 30…and everywhere I went you had someone talking negative about wood boats…It would have been easy to be swayed to a plastic boat or been completely put off buying a boat in the first place.

    Its all about the memories…I got into boating because of the memories of staying the weekends on my grandparents boat. Kids these days wont have those memories, hell, it suprises me to hear of so many people that havent been out on the water in a boat….so in a nut shell for once you are right Matt 🙂

  14. matt
    matt says:

    I do live in a nut shell! HA.. The shot at the top, the header is my son at age 17 with his girlfreind loven boating. He has it right. Going out on an “Ordinary boat” is no fun. These boats evoke the entire experience of boating for me. They give back.

  15. Don Ayers
    Don Ayers says:

    There should be fewer “judged” shows and more gatherings. And where there is a “judged” show it should be run by very knowledgeable people so that winning actually means something.

    • Natashia Kadimik
      Natashia Kadimik says:

      I agree! Gatherings and non-judged shows, like Mt. Dora, are much more fun than traditional judged shows. If you’re looking for the younger audience (I’m 25), wooden boats need to be marketed as FUN! While there is absolutely a time and place for the judged show, the younger generation is much more interested in jumping in the boat and going for a ride. Doing that with a bunch of other woodyboaters just makes it all the more fun – and if you’re looking for the cool factor, nothing turns heads like four or five woodies pulling up to the bar dock.

      All that being said, there is still a place for the judged show in woody boater world. A judged show is the place to learn – to get a restorer or judge to show you all the minute details of a boat, to tell you what is correct, to show you how a boat would have looked coming out of the factory. Don’s point about fewer, BETTER judged shows is an important one. If people are putting their boats up to be judged, the judges need to be knowledgeable and fair so that their constructive criticism can be used to make real improvements. If you’re just going to give an award to everyone, then make it a non-judged show and give out fun prizes (or beer!) instead.

  16. LG Century
    LG Century says:

    As a long time woodyboater voyeur, I feel like I’m in the demographic of 40 something, new to the hobby, first time boat owners.
    Here is my story; I did not grow up with boats and didn’t have a burning desire to own a boat until my wife and I bought a second home in the Lake George area of NY. I was and am a die-hard amateur antique motorcycle restorer, specializing in post war Springfield Indians.
    Hence the orientation to old stuff. The antique motorcycle hobby (the Antique Motorcycle Club of America) specifically has a youth division who’s mandate is to create opportunity for young people to enter the hobby through mentorship and work with local vocational schools. What makes this pursuit somewhat successful is the fact that AMCA criteria for an antique falls at 35 years. We’re now seeing Japanese bikes entering the fray. Obviously moto’s are a lot cheaper and plentiful. There is the universality of bikes in general given most kids and young adults have wanted a bike at some time in their life.
    Get early success at bringing a bike back to life with good mentorship and you’ve got an enthusiast for life. The most valuable experience in my journey with Indians is meeting and talking to all the old guys who are eager to pass on their experience and expertise to the next generation. Indian went out of business in ’53, so this brain trust is shrinking.
    That said, my experience in the boating hobby has parallels. The goal of wooden boat ownership was a long journey with me sitting on Lake George in a 16 foot canoe with a ’56 Evinrude fisherman outboard. I sat in that canoe fishing for 7 years saving the requisite funds toward my dream. Last August I got the “green light” on the family front, my child had turned 5 and I had $10,000 saved. This is where the education to the hobby really began. Like many new to the hobby, my practical knowledge of wooden boats was fairly unsophisticated, I feel comfortable with mechanicals, but wood? I had a lot to learn. I had spent years looking at offerings from brokers and ebay and had an idea that a 18-20ft utility was the way to go. Now, as a potential buyer, I re-focused my efforts to consider boats in my area of the world and found a few boats that I could actually visit and compare.
    A couple of private boats were very obviously beyond my abilities to make sea-worthy. I contacted a broker with few boats of interest. After a time and a visit to the broker, I had a specific interest in a ’67 Century Resorter (one of their transitional models with fiberglass covering boards). the boat was a user in need of refinishing. The broker however was much more interested in steering me to a pristine ’85 glass Resorter. I was a bit confused, in that the broker was really high on this boat!? I left the broker to think about my impending purchase. In the interim I contacted three surveyors two with specific expertise in wooden boats. They asked me what I wanted from a boat and my experience in boating. When I mentioned I was a new boater, there was a hesitation and the question “do want to start boating with a wooden boat”? Hmmm… Gave me pause for sure. Then I discovered the website for the Wooden Boat Shop and found out what a 5200 bottom was. Seeing the depictions of rotting timber and the famed triple laminated transom frame and single planked bottoms of Century gave me real concern. As a family guy, safety was also paramount. I had visions of towing my family around on tubes and skis. The site educated me on subjecting a 50 year old structure to these rigors. The prospect of spending 7 years of hard earned only to go to the well for an additional $15,000 bottom job really gave me the chills. I realized I was clearly over my head. The broker and surveyors clearly knew something I didn’t. I was heartbroken that a wooden boat was not in my immediate future.
    The outreach from the community was great with an offers of what to look for in classic boats etc.
    In the end I negotiated a deal on the glass Resorter and am very happy. The owner was a complete gentleman and has really enhanced my ownership experience answering all the questions on the care and feeding of my new craft.
    Has glass boat ownership diminished my desire for a wooden boat? No way. I rabidly consume all information I can on the wooden boat hobby and do so from the perspective of a (almost) classic glass owner. I will enter the wooden boat hobby someday. To that end, my experience (and I can’t be alone here) points to more glass boat support in the guise of the Arabian vs. X-19 and Donzi story. Maybe more access to entry level information for would be boat buyers at the ABCS shows. lA walk around a typical user boat with a surveyor on what to look for might be helpful. Also there’s a lot of great information given in the various symposiums. How about live streaming some of those sessions on a fee-basis? I know I would love to learn the information but can’t make it to Ohio to see a symposium live. The more one learns about the hobby the better. Wooden boat ownership for the “average” guy requires careful consideration as the dream can turn to nightmare quick as a bad fastener. Glass may be the “gateway” to wood ownership.

  17. WoodenRookie
    WoodenRookie says:

    Also a pile of grey boards with a seized up motor, and a rusted non-roadworthy trailer aint worth $5000, $4000, $3000, $2000, I dont care what the serial number is. Period!

    Hit Craigslist up for 60’s – 70’s Correct Craft, Mastercraft, ski Nautique. Buy em all day long lake ready with fairly modern power and nice trailers for $3-4K. Not the character of a true woody but there is some wood and character there!!

    Don is right on with more gatherings and less judged shows.

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      +100 to the less judged shows, and I like the gatherings idea, but they need to be focused on using the boats and family/kid friendly.

      Meetup for a summer weekend picnic with a bunch of families tubing, skiing, going for rides etc. sounds like fun. Sitting around the docks with the boats tied up would be kind of fun for me, but the family would get bored real fast.

  18. chad
    chad says:

    Sounds to me like WoodyBoater needs to organize the first annual “Woody Boat Bonanza” – an all inclusive, non-judged event with the focus on FUN. Just think of the participation. T-Shirts, hot dogs and bikini contests.

  19. MikeM
    MikeM says:

    I don’t think the challenge lies in creating the interest in these boats. I think the challenge is dispelling two myths and creating somewhat of a mantra for all owners at all shows. That is:

    1) It’s cheaper than you think (or at least it CAN be)

    2) It doesn’t take as much work as you think (or at least it doesn’t have to)

    The first thing I always here is “Ughh, it’s soo much work to keep a wooden boat”. I point to my boat and say that I restored it 6 years ago and we use it 5 times per week and I may have up to 10 or 12 different guests aboard per week. Getting it to the restored “nice” point is difficult, keeping it there isn’t.

    Maybe an ACBS or WB campaign that says “It’s easier than you think…ask me how”.

  20. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    I bought my first classic boat at age 41 (’65 Glastron) and followed it up the next year with a Chris. I bought that Glastron because I first saw it 15 years earlier and thought it was cool. I am 47 now, still on the younger side of most in our hobby. I had no childhood memories of boating at all- my first ride in a small boat that I recall was either a Zodiac or my dad’s sail boat on Lake Ontario. I got into it because where I live, there were almost no classic boats of any type and I liked the uniqueness and style of old glass and wood. It was impulsive, and though I could have bought earlier, it never occurred to me to do so. The first boat I ever owned was pontoon boat at age 36. I now have too many boats, but that is okay with me.

    I do not get the antipathy towards plasitc one bit. I think it is a narrow and exclusionary perspective and clearly few on here seem to be in sympathy with that. I have a 1926 Mullins – does it deserve consternation because it is not wood, even though it is ancient and exceedingly basic and bland? Matt’s featuring glass boats suggests this is a “classic” boat site, not exclusively a woody boat only site. Bring on more of it, I say.

    I am the organizer of our local ACBS show. It is non-judged and will remain that way for as long as I organize it. It is a three-day weekend event with one day for the dock show, the rest of it dedicated to on water boating. You can do both at a show. Most shows I know are moving to combining the two features and that is the best way to organize it, in my opinion. I have nothing against judged shows but I agree strongly with Don’s comment about judges needing to know what they are doing.

    I have user boats that I love and trophy level boats that I both use and love. It does not have to be either or, as some people here have suggested. It is totally inaccurate to stereotype folks who own concours level boats as stuffed shirts who don’t use them. That happens but it is no way universal. I find it equally distrubing to think that numbers of well-heeled owners of expensive boats espouse elitism and look down at folks with modest boats, or glass boats – in all honesty I know very few classic boaters that really feel that way. I have rarely encountered it and would strenuously object if I did.

    The boats I own include nearly every era and construction material and style there is. I like old boats, almost all of them. Some are expensive and some are cheap. I have deliberately bought cheaper, more accessible boats in order to illustrate to new members that the hobby does not have to be financially out of reach. EVERYBODY with an old boat is welcome at our show and in our chapter. We cannot attract new people by conveying they are not welcome if they own plastic, or own a rough user that is not original.

    I am not a marketing type – see comments yesterday on that. But, the hobby in general, in all its guises, must decide what it wants to be and learn to market itself to the target, using new methods of communication. We must as well be providing access to the tactile joys of running old boats, something that can only be done live, on the water. Offer boat rides at the shows – why not? Get the boats out on the water, and get people in them. All the social media pinterest in the world cannot replace the experience of being on the water.

    I have a feeling that there is lots to say on the subject brought forth today, likely enough for a week’s worth of commentary.

    RICH WILCOX says:

    There obviously is a full and diverse spectrum of Woody Boaters out there. I attended the Tahoe Concourse last year to educate myself on what was a new hooby for me after saving a 1957 Southcoast 23 (think Lyman 23) from a local boatyards chainsaw and dumpster. It was wonderful to meet the volunteers, vendors, judges and owners. Everyone was helpful and generous with their time in answering my numerous questions. It helped me feel like I could tackle this project on a shoe string budget. So judged shows are in their own way still a great thing.
    Getting back home I called on many members of the San Diego marine community who were instrumental in providing guidance and parts

  22. RRG
    RRG says:

    Just to be fully transparent…I also own a plastic boat (20′ wellcraft)…..We just treat it like a red-headed step child that is a Duke basketball fan, and plays for the Yankees.

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      I think the greatest scorn from clasic boat folks is reserved for those of us who own pontoon boats and PWC’s. I have both and they are very useful and enjoyable and I wouldn’t be without either of them.

  23. brian
    brian says:

    Every year at the end of school, we take our 1930 Zoomer down to the riverfront park and offer up rides to the kids as a sort of school’s out and summer is here celebration. 30 plus kids are there every year, screaming and wanting more than a few rides.

    I take our kids and their friends out tubing as often as we can, even for Last Gasp.

    I know the kids are getting memories up the wazoo, but will it transfer to them actually taking care of ours or getting their own in the future?

    Who knows. I hope so.

    When asked by strangers out and about, I take the time to tell them not just about the boat, but how easy it is to maintain and that it is better than a fiberglas one, for us, because it does all that we want it to do while looking great. I try to debunk the wrong perceptions about owning a wood boat.

    Cost was my initial thing. I could justify $4500. There would have been no way, with me or the missus, to blow $15k, 20k, or more.

    Perhaps we enthusiasts need to market the hobby and club as a better alternative to blowing the cash to go to Hawaii or Disneyland.

    A family will blow thousands for a week at one of these places but for some reason, cannot be bothered to spend the same amounts to get a wood boat that will be used summer after summer, giving memories to all along the way.

    Our grandparents – the folks that owned these babies new, had only enough money to have fun with their boats every year while camping and all of that. Going to Europe was a once in a lifetime event.

    With the economy in the potty, perhaps now is the time to press the issue about staying in the USA and vacationing at lakes and rivers all the while having fun in their new affordable classic wood boat.

  24. Harry Wilson
    Harry Wilson says:

    This may sound like a shameless pitch, but what the heck! A question has been asked, and I am involved in a project that was given life because of the very issues raised here – the loss of (an appreciation of) wooden boat history.

    Many of you will have read here on Woodyboater that a movie on the racing careers of Harold & Lorna Wilson is well into production; we had our first focus group screening of the film in Toronto last Sunday. The unique thing about this docudrama is that the story is partially explored through the eyes of a class of young screenwriters whose final assignment is to create a documentary on the Miss Canada team and story. Each of the student screenwriters takes an angle; for one it’s all about boats & technology, for another it’s about a woman in a man’s world, it’s a love story, it’s a story about a forgotten hero… the film should appeal to a highschool and university age viewers (as well as the older set) because they can see themselves in the characters of the film.

    Our intent is to bring younger people to the history as much as it is to revive warm memories of those who experienced it. It should be a great family dvd; everyone will find something in it.

    The movie & restoration project website, with its vast store of history and movie background, should be public next week. I will alert Woodyboater readers when it is in the public domain, and we look forward to any comments you might have.

  25. Floyd R Turbo
    Floyd R Turbo says:

    What Chad said, making newcomers feel “included” is an important point as well as the other points mentioned about a user “class” at shows and/or more rendesvous. Also activities that provide interest for the children that these 30-40 somethings bring with them. My daughter came up with a “package” for any child attending that included several boat “outlines” to color, free crayons, safe boating quiz, little toys in the packet, etc. We sent this to ACBS nat’l as an example when talking to their “youth’ chair. Did she get any credit/recognition? Not. She developed the web site for the chapter free of charge, saved them the $1400 dev. chgs and $500 annual maint. chgs and redesigned and upgraded it twice with twitter feeds. She didn’t ask for compensation but a little recognition and inclusiveness would have gone a long way. Was she even offered a boat ride at the shows she attended with me? No Anytime I brought a seaworthy boat to a show I made a point to give a ride to someone standing on the dock looking longingly at these woodies.
    Members have a tendency to go off in their friendly groups and newcomers feel shut out, especially if they are somewhat introverted. Newcomers or newly interested need to be “tagged” so mentors can show them the “ropes”. It will happen at Tavares where first timers will be on their own and feel left out going to the picnic or other event where a more “seasoned” member could lead them thru the canal, stay with them if they have a slower boat insuring they find the destination. These are the things not being done at some shows, especially the bigger ones where newbies get lost in the crowd.

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      Floyd- I am involved with the ACBS as a board member. I am VERY interested in your comments, your suggestions and experiences. My personal experience as a new comer to the hobby differs from what you noted, but I am not the retiring type, either.

      I think you have rally hit the nail here, and your observations have resonated with me. There is a lot that we can do, and input like yours is critical. I am thinking of ways to accommodate your suggestions re: newcomers as we speak, and I will very mindful of this at our own show this summer. Thank you.

  26. Jason
    Jason says:

    I am another one in the early 30’s age bucket. I couldn’t agree more that my age group is your market. You really have to be able to pull us away from the Mastercraft’s and get us interested in the “coolest boat on the lake”. It’s about making new family memories in a cool old boat; tubing, skiing, etc.

    My first boat (and woody) was a 1954 Wagemaker Wolverine, beutifully restored for all of $2200 – it got me into the hobby. Loved, and frequently used, the boat with my 2 kids (4 and 2) and my wife, but really wanted a classic inboard ski boat. So I happened to run accross a 1963 Correct Craft Atom Skier – talk about a cool boat, again for all of $5100, restored for the most part as well (with slight over-the-winter cosmetic improvements). Point being – it’s not about the $50K show queens; it’s about affordable woodies people can use, appreciate, and “be the curator of”.
    Lastly WE NEED MERCHANDISE! Let me buy a hat or shirt, and I really liked m-fine’s comment on “I love to ride older wood” – I’m sure my wife would just love to wear that one! Nonetheless, we really need stuff to advertise the hobby.

    Keep the hobby alive!

    • CASUDI
      CASUDI says:

      JASON said: “Point being – it’s not about the $50K show queens; it’s about affordable woodies people can use, appreciate, and “be the curator of”….

      OK, last month I spent some time in the ACBS booth at the Seattle Boat Show at the invitation of Ron Stevenson. One of our instructions was to get people to list boats (on the scruffy yellow pad) that they wanted to sell, or wanted to buy. This was our “mission”, and we ended up with at least a dozen buy or sell opportunities. And we generated lots of discussion about the club while we were at it.

      So, an idea. How about Woody Boater adding a buy/sell forum, with prices limited to $5K or a tad more. Obviously not the place to peddle your freshly restored “show queen”, but for the ‘starter’ classic boats. And lets create a “Klout”-type of reward system to go with it. You earn ‘klout’ for finding a starter boat, and someone can earn ‘klout’ points for selling it to a ‘new” classic boater enthusiast. Earn enough ‘Klout’, and you get a ‘Sons of Varnish” shirt/hat/flag/burgee/reward. Anyone can get involved in finding ‘starter’ boats, and matching them with new ‘appreciators and curators’.

      Cheers to all, CASUDI

    • Jimmuh
      Jimmuh says:

      I second Chris/Hagerty’s comments; it’s great to see input from a raft of ‘new’ people who I have not seen on WB before. And they have good ideas too! Thanks to all of you!

  27. Jim Volgarino
    Jim Volgarino says:

    Great read on this subject and I really appreciate the comments, from all sides. Got involved in this hobby as a spin-off from vintage cars. Grew up around rods and muscle cars, went through all the various models and styles and eventually got pretty good at restoring, modifying, etc. About 12 years ago started a search for a boat. Wanted something different from the plastic boats and saw all kinds of options. For some reason I saw wood boats as something that made sense for an old gearhead and I plunged in. Bought a Chris off ebay (remember this was a decade ago!) sight unseen, flew to Phoenix and towed that sucker back to the midwest behind a U-haul truck. The price was right, the boat was complete and I’ve loved it ever since. And it’s a user boat. My grandkids ride in it, spill things, tumble around on the seats and I’ve scraped my share of wood docks. But when we go out, they want to go in grandpa’s boat. It’s the one everyone waves at and people stop to find out “what year is that?” and my wife and I take lunch and some beverages to sit at the lake gathering place on hot afternoons to watch everyone swimming and just generally having a good time. What has always struck me over the years is on the lake where we spend the majority of our summer (Clear Lake, Iowa) we rarely ever see other wood boats out, at least not regularly. Ask anyone up there who they see out in the water all the time when it comes to vintage boats and they’ll say…”oh, it’s the Soaker” So where is everyone else? Maybe it’s just because I’m getting crotchety in my old age, but I think if you have ’em, you should use ’em. My 64 Impala (former show car by the way) is now driven and I enjoy talking to the kid at the gas station who wants to know about what’s under the hood more than any of the shows we used to work so hard to attend. I’ve questioned the ACBS emphasis on these big fancy shows with the high dollar resto’s that are treated as trophies. What’s the fun in that? These boats have grace and style and nothing sounds quite like a Chris burbling along in the evening during a leisurely cruise. Time to use those boats, folks. If the younger generation can’t see them, how can we expect them to have any interest? Hey, I’d attend gatherings anytime. Shows? Not so much. Had enough of that stuff years ago.

      • m-fine
        m-fine says:


        You must be new hear. The only spelling misstake you can make in Woodyboaterville is to spehl everything correctly. Sometimes I forget, but I try to slip in a spelling or gramatical error into every post. It adds some fun to posting and it helps our host Matt to not feel so bad about his righting.

          • m-fine
            m-fine says:

            Mr. Smith, to be perfectly transparent, the reason I make fun of your spelling is I am pretty sure you are the only person over 12 who spels wurse than I do, and I need to make the most of that opportunity!

          • matt
            matt says:

            Its three years in schools in France and Germany, then being a visual person on top of that. I gave up years ago. My father, a retired editor and Harverd grad grits his worn out teeth reading my crap. And that was 30 years ago.. Now its all my own language. Jokes on him! HA

  28. Henry Smith
    Henry Smith says:

    My greatest memories as a kid were being around vintage cars all the time in the garage and eventually when the one you all call “Matt” got into classic boating. My dad’s passion for boats fueled the best summers of my life, driving around in some really cool classic boats and hanging out with the family on hour long boat rides. I live far from either coast right now (Colorado), but I definitely plan on giving my children the same experiences.

    • matt
      matt says:

      The image that i placed in my sons comment, is the two boys Hank and Ham on Hanks 12 ft Whirlwind with a new 35hp Nissan moter. Each boy had a matching whirlwind. No jet skis.. Just fun stuff.

  29. Chris / Hagerty
    Chris / Hagerty says:

    OK, sounds like the Sons of Varnish needs to hold a North American ….Classapoluza Judges will be outlawed, women and children will be forced to take rides, that will make some memories… fenders allowed….OMG, here come Carla….gotta go….

  30. The Central Scrutinizer
    The Central Scrutinizer says:

    Wow, so many well thought out posts. The idea of gatherings not judged events is right on! I like to go to ACBS events, but don’t really care too much about how original the bottom is. For me, it is a matter of can I take it out today, tomorrow, next month, next year without spending $15k on a new bottom. I’m an old geezer of 51 and rode around in a wooden Century as a kid and also have memories of the damn thing being broken all the time.

    I don’t think there are too many young people who really care that every screw is original. Judged boat shows seem to draw a lot of “old guys” who are focused on nothing but total originality. Young dudes want their cool boat to be fast and tow tubes, wake boards and skis. That being said, I would not want to own a vintage Hacker if I could not afford to keep it original. That is why my wooden boat is an epoxy and fiberglass covered Glen-L 🙂 I want a Donzi…I’m confused.

  31. Marion E
    Marion E says:

    Hi. This is Marion. I’m Alex’s daughter. I think that to get more people into classic boating you have to first introduce them to it when they are little. If they are older than that, show them what’s cool about the boats. Shouldn’t be too hard. But you will have to work a little harder with the teens. I’m eleven, going on twelve, and I love our boats. My dad even named one after me. I like them because I was exposed to them at a younger age. By exposed I mean that I rode in and drove and docked them. These boats look beautiful to me and make my summers fun. Everybody looks forward to the boat rides in the summer. On the front of the boat, we watch the fourth of July fireworks on the water, and we watch the beautiful Les Cheneaux sunsets. That helps a lot. Maybe if kids and teens were exposed in the right ways to wooden boats, some of them would learn to appreciate how beautiful these boats are! I know that I can’t wait for winter to be over, so that my family can go back up to our cottage and get out the boats to a new dock. I’ve been telling my friend Emily about wooden boats and now she really wants to see ours, (not to mention ride in one, and drive it). I won’t forget classic glass boats like our Jet Boat either. That thing really flies! By brother was to scared to drive it, but I think that that was because he had crashed a golf cart earlier that day. In summary, kids early, teens really cool facts. Have fun when summer comes!

  32. Chris
    Chris says:

    Im a 30 year old that built and owns a outboard wooden runabout very similar to the second picture/painting in this story.
    In my youth I never attended any kids boat programs, we didnt even own a boat as a kid except a fiberglass canoe. I went boating a few times with friends as a kid and my family had a lake cottage on a very small lake barely big enough to ski on. I remember watching the motor boats from our canoe wishing I had a motor other than my paddle. That was probably the greatest factor in getting into wood boats, as a kid watching the boats go by I wished I could buy or build something to get out there.
    When I got my own house and wanted a boat for my wife and I to enjoy I decided like Matt said that I wanted something cool and something unique not just some fiberglass boat that anybody can buy. I had built r/c models and tinkered with tools a lot as a kid. I considered myself handy and so I decided I would build a Glen-L Zip for my boat. I love the looks on people’s faces when they learn this 29 year old couple built the classic looking wood boat they see at the ramp or gas station.
    This problem of getting younger folks envolved reaches to every craft, skill or hobby. Most of my generation just isnt interested in the things you have to work at to maintain or build. So affordable wood boats with a service plan or warranty is a key element to grow your audience. The problem is kids the past 15 years just seem to play video games all day instead of tinkering with their hands with tools. So when they grow up they havent learned the skills needed to feel comfortable owning something that requires special care. There are always exceptions and a minority of kids will always break the mold and be interested in building, owning and maintaining things like classic boats, hot-rods or r/c planes, etc.
    With that said I have never attended a ACBS boat show or any other classic boat show. I do attend the homebuilt boatbuilders gathering each fall in TN though. While I love looking at the professionally perfectly restored boats you see attend ACBS shows it seems the majority of ACBS shows are about awards for things like best finish and thats a turnoff to people with very nice wood boats that are not in that clique.

    Bottom line is you gotta make sure the public that attend your events leave having felt welcome and where they can see that the cost to get involved at an entry level and have a lot of fun is not as high as they think.

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      Hi Chris – Great comments and observations.

      I would like to take a moment to clear up a possible misconception about ACBS shows. While they may attract a lot of very nice boats and people may think that these shows are populated by people that are in some sort of clique, that fact is that normally, only a small percentage of boats are judged. You may go to a judged show (not all ACBS shows are judged by the way) and find that only 20% or so are judged. That number may be higher or lower but very often, the large majority of boats present are not judged. The people are there simply to display, observe and enjoy the boats.

      This is also the case at Tahoe, where last year at least, a very large number of entrants were simply on display, not being judged. I will point out the Concours is not an ACBS show while the South Tahoe show is an ACBS show – and not judged. I hope you will find the chance to attend an ACBS show, and please proudly bring your boat with you!

  33. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    OK, After I get my Sons of Varnish and Woodyboater gear, the next thing I will beg for endlessly is going to be the ability to put pretty pictures in my comments. I promise not to post any porn, I swear!

  34. Rabbit
    Rabbit says:

    Wow, Matt. What a great discussion thread. I’m the Rabbit he referenced earlier. Let me elaborate on this “curators” thing. There is a whole movement going on in the country primarily with guys in their 30’s and 40’s about the appreciation of American craftsmanship and quality. It’s about authenticity. It’s guys (mostly guys, but lots of women, too) who appreciate things like Red Wing boots, Pendleton blankets, a good axe. They lust more for a nice vintage Jeep or Bronco than some euro car. They’re want things that endure. They’ll pay $100 for the Levis that are made in the US, instead of China. There was an event last weekend in Minneapolis (called a pop-up market) selling those kinds of things and it was wall to wall. I’m just saying that this hobby has an opportunity to tap into that.
    There’s still a perception that a woody is more work than it actually is and more expensive than it actually is. (A friend of mine was under the impression that you had to varnish a woody every month.) The fact is, a nice user boat still costs less than a very basic new fishing boat. Just need to spread the gospel.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Great comment Rabbit, and I completely agree.

      But the burning question (and the reason we did this story today) is to then ask, “How do we spread the gospel or get the word out to those potential folks, and who should be doing it?”

  35. RiverRat
    RiverRat says:

    Love to hear from the young ones. Having family vacations at The River starting in ’55 is what set the seed in my brain. Going back every year since made it grow. Believe me if all boats were plastic I would own them. Having a hull wet at all times is the prime directive after Don’t Forget To Breath. Use of boats is most improtant. That is why all my boats are user boats needing something. Hopefully by the time I start to retire they will be all spiffed up with no major needs because I won’t be able to curl up in the bilge for scraping. I will be looking for someone to take over these boats and hopefully love them. Gatherings would be fun but constraint on time will not change. Knowing that I would be taking my boat out to use it would be a greater motivation. I would love to give some kids a ride. That would be fun to help the hobby. Showing up in my bikini would not help the hobby I am sure. Love all the comments except 51 years olds calling themselves geezers.

  36. Alex
    Alex says:

    Floyd R Turbo. Wow. You really opened my eyes with your comment.

    It never dawned on me to invite complete strangers attending a boat show to go for a ride. Maybe it’s because, at our show in Hessel, boats are not allowed to move or even start once staged (probably for liability reasons and because many boats are carefully cross-tied in close quarters).

    Going forward, I will make a point to watch for particularly appreciative and young admirers and offer them a post-Show ride. I’ll bet that would make their day! Talk about making an amazing first impression. Plus, I know there would be real joy in giving them that experience.

    Thanks for the great tip!

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      Good GAWD! Can’t even start them up? What is the point of orignial power if you can’t hear it rumble and gurgle? There is no way you are getting too many youngins hooked without tingling all the senses and that means the sound of the powerplant and the wind in your face.

      • matt
        matt says:

        The sound is everything. I had my cable guy install interent last week. He said, hey arnt you the guy with the wet exhaust. I love hearing that thing start up.The sound on the right boat is part of the mating call. To hear a flat head run is like music to my ears. I woke up in FLA last year to Miss America IX tearing up Lake Dora. It was almost as good as waking up to bacon!

        • m-fine
          m-fine says:

          I have a unique wood boat with a jet drive, and I do get comments on the jet every now and then, but I get 10 times as many comments on the sound. People (ok mostly male people) can just stand around and listen to a good engine with smiles on their faces. New jet ski’s, four stroke outboards and IO’s, and even many new muffled inboards might make for a quiet ride but they are boring. A CC V8 with wet exhaust OTOH demands respect.

          As for the bacon, I am glad you included the word almost! Actually the best breakfast a man can have in my experience is to wakeup to the sound of an old radial engine starting up and then fly in an open cockpit byplane in the glow of sunrise to get your bacon and real maple syrap covered pancakes. A woody boat ride to the bacon would be the close second, but I have not done that one yet.

      • ranger
        ranger says:

        thanks m-fine!

        we’ve been invited back to camp lejeune – new river air station in May 2013 after they complete the new construction of their marina building. hope to see you there!

    • jerri
      jerri says:

      Hi Alex,

      Floyd got me thinking the same way, and while we are not as restricted to not removing the boat during the public portion of the show… not many of us do it.  HOWEVER, I agree with you 100% and going forward will also make a point of taking someone out during the show.  If we each did that during a show, I would imagine the shows would get a lot more exciting, not just for the public, but for us too.  GREAT IDEA.

  37. matt
    matt says:

    OK, here is the dream ride. bacon cooking on a flat head engine in the early morning. mmmm, I need to try that..

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      I see where this is going! You NEED to try cooking bacon onb a flathead, but Suzy does not have a flathead. Hmmm sounds like Matt NEEDS to get another boat.

      Let us know how that works out for you!

  38. Jim Godlewski
    Jim Godlewski says:

    Alex, that’s an excellent idea. I have to say my son has been to a few boat shows and has never had an invite to go for a ride on someone else’s boat. That would be cool if that happened. I will try to do my part and get a youngster out if I see one that is interested.
    I have been trying to get my son, now 17 involved in wood boats. I could not seem to get him hands on with the resto since other activities took priority. Once in a while he did something small but if it took more than 15 minutes, forget it.
    Now, since the boat is done and now a user he is more interested in going out with me and that great. He loves the attention the boat gets and love’s to drive it. Taking his friends is a big plus too.
    I’m a bit disappointed in the comments of the show’s being judged by “knowledgeable” judge’s. Our chapter’s judging process has been modified to be more towards craftsmanship and not the 100 point system. I personally think this is good. We also had the opportunity to let my son team up with an adult and help with the judging. This in my opinion is a good way to keep him involved and interested. He loved it and wants to do it again. I did not even think any members would be offended if some of the “judges” were not highly qualified. At least we are getting involved and trying to help the club out and have fun at the same time. I 11 years tied up in our restoration and quite a few thousand dollars. If I get an award, that great. If not, who cares. That’s not what it about.

  39. WoodenRookie
    WoodenRookie says:

    “Woody Boat Bonanza” come see bacon cooked on an open flathead, Take a wakeboard turn behind the only triple with a Tower, user boats with wrong boot stripes, fiberglass bottoms, come on over to the dark side where newcomers are welcome.

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      Who said anything about fiberglass bottoms? ACBS may tolerate that foolishness, but I think we need to draw a line here. Fiberglass bottoms are OK on classic fiberglass boats, and they are welcome, especially if they bring the Donzi girls. Fiberglass over wood is…well its…um uh…I guess it is simply unspeakable.

  40. Jim Mersman
    Jim Mersman says:

    Okay, my turn. As the current president of ACBS and a proud member since 1995, I have to share my story at the risk of offending some of my fellow members. My wife and I were 30ish with a new born son when i purchased my first boat in 1991, a 1954 Wagemaker. Squirls living in the glove box an all. Learned how to restore it, hired out what i needed to and when finished five years later, I was proud. I was invited to come to the Water Wonderland Chapter of ACBS show in Traverse City Michigan to show the boat. I thought for sure this was not my “crowd”. What a shock. The chapter people putting on this event could not have been more welcoming. We went home without an award but were happy with the weekend.

    That fall, we joined the chapter and were asked to take over the newsletter as Wendy was the “creative type”. Little did we know what we just volunteered to do, but since we took that first leap of faith and volunteered for something, we created the opportunity to meet more and more great people. We didn’t wait for them. They taught us so much about the hobby and we will forever be greatful to them.

    Mac 2000 ACBS annual meeting was hosted by both Michigan and Waterwonderland chapters with the later being in charge of the pre-event cruises. I was asked to voluter to be a boat bouy out in the middle of the lake to guide boaters to the next channel entrance along with other minor tasks. WHAT A BLAST! My first experience doing this as a group. I was hooked. Through that, I met more boat nuts from around the county and that sparked my interest to become involved nationally. My point is ACBS has a great place in the hobby to inspire chapters to hold user events too, not just shows.

    Here we are, some 12 yrs later, in the hot seat if you will with a huge target on our backs. (yes, Wendy too) We have the ability to lead for at least a short time some of the direction and programs of the ACBS. I can only reply to the critizisms of lack of recognition and the countless other errors made by other ACBS members by saying this…..we’re just human, we make mistakes. Please do yourself a favor and don’t let that one time discourage you to the point you run away from a great group of people you haven’t met yet. You’ve lost out in my opinion. I have and will continue to voluteer for anything I can for the hobby including the ACBS. If anyone thinks we do this for the money, or the ego, think again, The only money paid to a board member is $3K for the president to help defray the cost of travel in the one year of his or her term. So, if it’s not fun, why would so many do it? When you’ve made a mistake, don’t you wish that the party you’ve harmed would extend the benefit of the doubt to you that maybe, just maybe you didn’t intend to harm them? When you go off on the ACBS as a whole because of one human error, it’s not fair and I would hope that if you made an error you’d want a fair shake to make it right. I’ve taught my son this by saying, ” you mess up, you fess up and make it right any way you can”. First, let me get that off my chest. Thank you, I feel better now.

    At 52 years of age now, i’m stuck in the middle of the market segment being discussed here and those that still own thier 1945 boat they bought new. Like the change our own boating industry went though from wood to fiberglass back in the 60’s, so too is the change in marketing, communication and information sharing the internet has brought. Both these tranformations were drastic and completly altered the playing field. Our members are polorized at times on each side of this new age of communication and some almost defient to change. Others wonder what’s taking so long to get in the modern age.

    So, what’s the answer for ACBS to evolve? Good question. To me, it’s about education, patience, tolerence and most importantly, respect of those that are not as familar or comfortable with the internet. On the other hand, it’s about allowing this 30+ group to voice thier opinion and let them shape the future with us from the chapter level AND national.

    Boat shows do have a place. They do inspire the wouldbe hobbiest to try and preserve the past for the past’s sake. Those that don’t appreciate that need to at least respect that there are fellow hobbyists that do.

    I will say here that for the record, I am not now and will I never be one who wants to own a 100 pt boat. I appreciate the fact that some do, but it’s not me. Heck, I sold a wood boat to buy a pontoon. Paul H came out…….now so did I.

    What has a more important place in my opinion is the use of them. Take someone for a ride. I just love getting kids wet in the back of my little boat doing a powerslide. Why Wendy and I are involved is the people, plain and simple. Nothing is more fun than to meet at the ramp, launch a dozen or so boats, go for a ride, and just take it all in. Use em I say. Use em.

    All of us in this hobby have an uphill battle to get younger people involved. ACBS is taking respectful steps towards change. I know it’s not fast enough for some, but for others it’s too fast as we hear often from our chapters. One’s classic boat net worth is not judged by the number of awards recieved but rather by the number of friends they have that are happy they recieved it.

    • jerri
      jerri says:

      Our welcome to the ACBS was similar to yours.  We joined in 2007, I 47 and my husband 52.  Having never owned a boat of any kind, we had just purchased a 1939 GarWood.  At the first ACBS show she took on quite a bit of water and had trouble with the engine….. The helpfulness of every member and the way they welcomed us was UNBELIEVABLE!  I can’t begin to say how much we fell in love with the group.  We now have 6 boats in various stages of restoration and we live for boating season and to see our ACBS family again. 

      I believe if we, as ACBS members treat the general public that attend boat shows the way we were treated once joining, we would cultivate interest in the younger crowd who will one day be the guardians of these boats.

  41. paulwind
    paulwind says:

    If you are able to see the above picture, that means I’ve figured out how to put images in comments. Enjoy!

  42. Alex
    Alex says:

    Jim Godlewski, thanks but the credit goes to Jim Godlewski for the take em for a ride idea. Maybe I can build on that tho… Matt and Texx, how about a WoodyBoater, first annual, “Kids Ride For Free” event? We’ll make it a contest. Participants (we, the people) will make an effort to invite kids for rides in our boats. The contest, like Last Gasp, will go for one week with photos submitted. Winning photos will best capture the delight of the kids. Bonus points can be awarded for first-time rides. Top prize, of course, weiners.

  43. Ron Stevenson
    Ron Stevenson says:

    Your subject today is very insightful. Some great comments and observations. Yes, it is all needed as we have discussed amongst ourselves for some years now. Why?

    BECAUSE, if nothing else, I NEED SOMEBODY TO BUY MY BOAT IN 15 or so years …..who will it be?


  44. Tim
    Tim says:

    Many people have mentioned good points and there are no wrong ideas on how to involve more young people to wooden boating. There is nowhere to go from here but up!

    I stumbled upon the Woodyboater website a few weeks ago and I really have to say that I am impressed with the constant updating of the site. As a younger wooden boat enthusiast (27) I see how my generation looks for inspiration online by reading and interacting in forums. I can only say from personal experience that I like to do a lot of research online before making a purchase or building the confidence to tackle a project. That being said, I have spent countless hours scouring the web only to find little information about the subject that I was looking for pertaining to boating history. I have attended many guest speakings at shows from people who have a wealth of knowledge, none of which none can be found anywhere online. This site is a HUGE step in the right direction to making my generation more informed and involved in the history of these boats.

    Back to the real point here . . . The real place to a person’s heart is in the experience. Give anybody and everybody rides! That is the most powerful trigger to stir interest in my opinion. I am very pleased this topic has been raised and hope it spreads to bigger and better things.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Thanks for commenting Tim, we appreciate the input.

      If you are having trouble obtaining general information about something related to an antique & classic boat, let us know and we will reach out to the growing Woody Boater community on-line for the answer. We don’t always hit gold, but every now and then we get lucky.

      One thing is for sure, we will have fun doing it…

      The only subject that’s a bit sensitive right now is period correct canvas zippers.

      • jerri
        jerri says:


        WELCOME!  I truly hope we see you at a Blue Ridge Chapter show.  When we got started with our GarWood, we knew less than nothing.  I was bold enough to go through the ACBS directory looking for other GarWood owners (there aren’t many!).  I would reach out to them by phone or email for information.  Every one that I called bent over backwards to help me find suppliers, give me historically correct info and all sorts of pertinent information.  All that to say, this is a helpful bunch… don’t be afraid to ask.  
        See you on the Lake!

  45. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    test 3

    If this works you can HEAR a woodyboat.

  46. Tom
    Tom says:

    Great topic today.

    I agree with if we want to grow this hobby, is to get people out in the boats. Using them is what they were built for. It doesnt matter if you are at a show or the local bar offering people a ride or simply an opportunity to sit in your boat while it is tied to a dock will build memories. I know this happened to me many years ago while I was at a boat show I remember looking at one of those 100 point boats and the owner offered me to sit in the front seat and he started the boat. I can still remember the sound and the smile it brought to my face. And for those of you that knew this man it was not uncommon for him to offer people rides. His name was Jim Lewis of Clayton NY and the boat was 30′ Hacker Craft called Swiftwater. Fast forward 25 years and I still can remember it like it was yesterday.

    Another idea at a gathering ( Fridays picnic run in Tavares)would be to put all the names of the crew members from each boat into a hat and each captain pulls a name from the hat and that crew member gets to ride in that Captains boat for the day. That way everyone gets to experience another boat. Imagine the memories that would be created. I know after riding in my dads boat I was looking for any opportunity to ride in someones elses boat.

    Last year on the St Johns river run I got the opportunity to cross the big Lake in the slowest boat on the run. We had a blast, when we got to the destination my Dad and brothers were standing at the dock, they asked how long it took us to cross the lake and without missing a beat the captain answered 8 BEERS. Thank you Ken and the Toronto Crew of R&H.

    Since being out of boating for many years it was that trip to Florida that rekindled the passion for woody boating again. I have since bought a Crackerbox boat and my 15 year old son got bit by the bug as well and has started woking on a Century Coronado. I look forward to many years of working with him on his new pride and joy.

    Get out and use your boats and people will see the fun you are having and will want to join in.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Hi Natashia – I think the boss is resting after a busy Woody Boater day. I can tell you, these big stories are rough on the old noodle, because we take them very seriously.

      The story with most comments was the Fiberglass Shootout story (listed on the right – third column on the home page) with 188 comments.

      However, this story today certainly had the most in-depth spectrum of comments in recent memory.

    FRANCHINI says:

    I am most impressed today with the number of younger readers responding. At 40 myself, I find that I am usually on the young side at most of the events. We keep hearing from ACBS, surveys, and magazines that the owners of wooden boats are old, gray, and dying at an alarming rate. Yet here today, better than half the posts are from the same 30-40 year old demographic everyone is trying to attract. Maybe it is just the nature of this whole fancy WWW thing, or maybe all the old-timers can’t figure out how to respond, but it seems here at WB the younger generation is alive and well.

  48. Rabbit
    Rabbit says:

    When you take someone for a ride in your woody, try this one: There’s no better view. No matter how beautiful the lake, how perfect that cabin on shore is, how amazing the sunset, it all looks better when you’re gazing over a varnished mahogany bow or transom. The most beautiful pictures look better framed in mahogany.

  49. WoodenRookie
    WoodenRookie says:

    Many stories can spin out of this thread so let the powers to be find each and everyone. The underlining theme that I read is we are/can be a group that takes the next step forward. It’s a simple step that we will now take forward founded by this principle “We will help move this passion forward with those younger and less knowledged”

  50. Jeff Greenfield
    Jeff Greenfield says:

    Some more comments and ideas.

    There definitely needs to be more emphasis on organized events that encourage the use of our boats. Shows are nice, but more often than not the boats are required to remain tied at the docks for most of the day.

    I’d rather be out on the water, and would be more willing to travel to events that are an organized cruise on a lake or river that last a day or longer.

    Of the few events of this type that are out there, whether in conjunction with a show or not, they are often are not well promoted and I often read about them on WB after they have taken place.

    Another idea that is somewhat out there, but is something we used to do in a car club I belong to, is we would organize an event where we pick up kids in need and give them rides, and then end up somewhere and give them lunch. These would be kids from a youth center, children’s hospital, camp for disadvantaged kids, etc.

    Organize some of these kid friendly events, and I’ll be there and would be willing to make a donation towards making this a fun days outing for all.

    I got hooked on wooden boats at an event I attended 12 years ago (I was 30 at the time) that was a combination car and boat show. We had gone to show a car that I have and knew nothing of wooden boats. Met a guy with a reproduction Hacker whi offered us a ride, and we were hooked. Never had a boat, and never really thought about getting one before that. Needless to say I now have my own CC.

    Time to pay it forward,


  51. Tyson K.
    Tyson K. says:

    Man o man, I have alot to say about all of this. I don’t even know where to start. I guess from the beguinning.

    I love vintage and retro things. Cars, furniture, architecture. Gimme a 50’s rancher anyday. I own 4 59 Chev station wagons, my house is a 59, and so on and so forth. I am also 40, and I bought my boat when I was 38. I wanted something not to big, and with Chevy power, for ease of replacing parts of need be. I came across a 1961 17′ CC Ski Boat, with a 283. It was in Maryland. I’m in Langley, BC, Canada, just east of Vancouver. I had it shipped out and I have been in love ever since. Why the old CC? My grandparents had a cottage on Graham Lake in Ontario, and their neighbors had this wooden boat and it had flags on it. I remember being in love with that boat, mainly cause of the flags, haha.

    So fast forward, 35 years, and I finally get my own. I didn’t know anyone in the hobby, until I joined the Chris Craft Antique club, and Paul H. messaged me, telling me about the ACBS. I quickly joined, and was told of a small show a few hours away, so I went to it. As many people out there, I had the same inmpressions of “wood boat” owners. I was under the impression you had to be rich to own one. I am PROOF thats not true. Anyway, I was nervous as all hell aboout meeting all these new people, but I gotta tell you something, and this goes out to anyone who may think like I used too, these were some of the nicest people I have ever met. My boating experiences are richer when I am out with them. But I wouldn’t have known about it if it wasn’t for Paul.

    I have spent alot of time, talking people into THINKING, CONSIDERING, an old classic boat. Fiberglassic, or wood. But it’s tough. People see Mastercraft Wakeboard boats (which were I come from, is Latin for “Douchebag”), and they see the pictures on Facebook of a boat full of bikini clad ladies, big speaker systems, and the “throw it in and go” usage of the boat, and you almost feel like you are talking to yourself about the hobby. I explain to people that I have smashed into docks, had mine dragged up a boat launch, parked it on the beach, and it leaks like crazy, and its ok! Sure some are for a turntable, and maybe should never go into the water cause of their beauty, BUT, 98% of old wooden boats are used AND loved, AND scratched, and bonked into things.

    People also think that owning a wood boat is completly out of there price range. YET, like has been said, they will finance $90 G’s for a new boat. I don’t get it. I laugh at them and tell them I know where there is a mint CC for $30,000, and you’ll own it alot sooner that your Malibu. But again loud music and half naked chicks. Hard to beat to the average 25-40 year old.

    Personally, the exhaust is my radio.

    Another thing that has been touched on that would help with getting the word out, is MERCHANDISE, MERCHANDISE, MERCHANDISE!!!!!! I don’t mean golf shirts with embroidered logos on them, or NASCAR multi colored “yard sales” either. I mean nice clean shirts. hats, hoodies, that sort of stuff. You would think Chris Craft corprate would have a line of “to date” clothing line. I see they have some new shirts and stuff in their store. Thats a great start, keep it coming. Antique and Classic boat Society, same thing. It ALL takes time, I know, but until the swag starts to flow, noboady is going to know anything about our clubs, or our hobby. No unless we tell them about it.

    I also want to tell you about my wife, who couldn’t give a rats ass about my boat. Last year I bought her up to our show. She enjoyed meeting everyone, especially Pauls wife Karen. Karen, I think, was instrumental to makeing Daniea, (my wife), feel like women are absolutly a part of boating. To put it into perspective, she tought ME how to park, haha. Daniea rode around with her in their CC Satin Doll, it’s a 40 something runabout, Paul could tell you the exact year, all the while seeing that, “hey, I could do this”. Now, she is getting her lisence, and we bought a 73 Hourston Glascrfaft off of Paul for her. I happened in 1 WEEKEND. after 3 years of her not really caring. The point of that story, it happens THAT FAST!

    Finally, someone brought up the idea of taking people for rides in thier boats during cruise ins. what a great idea. Maybe to not have a line up, but some litle dude is hanging out with his dad, that one gesture of good will, could trandform, not only the kid, but the DAD as well, and you never know, you could turn 2 people into potential woody boat owners, because, “some guy at a boat show once took me for a ride, and the sound of the exhaust was amazing.”

    I think with a little work, and good form, the word can get out, and there will be many new faces that are nervous, yet glassy eyed with glee, like I was 3 years ago.

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      “and the sound of the exhaust was amazing.”

      Yes indeed, how could anyone not be moved by the lovely exhaust note from Muzzy?

      I can’t remember how I first came accross Tyson’s youtube video’s, but the sound of his boat tenatively testing the waters on a deserted rainy day kept my spirits up while waiting for my engine rebuild.

      If you have decent headphones or speakers, crank the volume, check out this video and smile.

  52. Daniel
    Daniel says:

    I am 18 years old and am a woody boater myself. My family never had a boat of any kind and it was a 94 year old neighbour that introduced me to classic boats. Two years ago, he gave me “the Somerset”, a 14 ft british made plywood outboard from the late 50s with a 5.5 hp envinrude motor from the 60s. The boat had been sitting in a garage for the past 35 years and was in need of a thorough restoration. Over a period of 5 months, I restored the boat. I repainted the hull, revarnished the deck, reupholstered the seats, had the motor repaired and fixed a couple of ribs. I did the work and payed for the whole project myself and I must say that it turned out to be one of the best experiences I have ever had. Last summer, was the “official” relaunch of the boat and it was great to bring my neighbour boating in his old boat and he told me that it was good to see that it was in good hands.

    I think that the young people such as myself should be targeted as well. You should take your neighbours kids or your kids friends out boating, show them how fun it is and try to pass on the love for classic boats. 

    I have to say that the girls really like a wooden boat too!

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Thanks for commenting today Daniel – what a great story!  You are certainly an official Woody Boater.

      • jerri
        jerri says:

        Bravo Daniel,

        You brought tears to my eyes and goosebumps to my arms.  I wish I had been there to see the relaunching with the prior owner.  You did good! 

  53. Bjorn B
    Bjorn B says:

    Sorry for being late to the show here.
    As said in an earlier posts, sexy does sell. Look at the sales material from Chris Craft through the years. OK the bikini’s was a little bigger back then, but sexy for the time. I did not grow up boating, I saw a sexy girl on a Riva on a 60’ies era Italian movie as a 16 year old, and said I want that. No Riva for me, but a nice CC project in my garage.
    Could we lobby one of the (modern) boating magazines to have a “page 9” wood boat with/or without a pretty girl each month? I’m thinking smaller Runabouts and Utilities that are in reach for most boaters. No high end triples or Riva’s, they get enough publishing already.

  54. Blake
    Blake says:

    I am 19 years old and absolutely love wooden boats. I went to the annual boat show on lake hopatcong last year and was amazed. I am so mad that I missed it this year!! The show led me to explore boats a little bit on the internet and read a bunch of stuff. I found myself fascinated with the boats themselves, and the culture that went with the boats. I love being on the water, boating, boat shows, lake side businesses, etc… For the past year, I have wondered how I can become involved in the classic boat community. I would love to have the opportunity to learn more about boats and how to work on / restore them. I would be very interested to meet people willing to educate me on this subject, and would love to help the community in any way possible. If I was not limited on money, I would go out and pick up a boat right now!

  55. matt
    matt says:

    In one week, July 7th is a small intimate show on lake Mohawk, just 15 minutes from lake Hopatcong. You can bath yourself in varnish and small events are great to meet folks and pick there brains. We will also be there. If you cant make that, join the ACBS and find a local chapter you live near. You will find a group of folks that are there to help and pass on the tricks of the trade..

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