Is There A Generational Shift Taking Place In The Antique & Classic Boating Hobby?

Yesterday Woody Boater reached out to the community to inquire about the high cost of antique & classic wooden boat restoration and what steps could be taken to control restoration costs prior to and during the professional restoration process.

The original discussion was based on a newcomer to the hobby in his late 40’s, who was considering purchasing a standard post-war Chris-Craft runabout which required an complete restoration. The story summarized the challenges he faced in terms determining the initial costs for the proposed restoration by a professional restoration company. In the end, he decided to not move forward with the boat purchase and subsequent restoration due to concerns about the high cost of professional restoration services and the high risk he felt was associated with the project.

We received some great feedback on the story, which raises some more questions. So here are 10 burning questions. Its OK, its not the Survey, you don’t need to answer all of them.

1. Is there a “Generational Shift” currently taking place in the antique & classic boating hobby, where baby boomers are now becoming more involved in the hobby?

2. If so, is there a realistic entry level method for these newcomers to become involved in the hobby for a reasonable cost?

3. What should the hobby do to encourage the so-called new generation of enthusiasts to join the hobby?

4. Should the hobby be putting more emphasis on encouraging other less expensive non-wooden classic boats to participate in local & national boat shows and related events. And will this ultimately result in the newcomers moving in to the wooden boat ranks over time?

5. As the so-called next generation of antique & classic boating enthusiasts become more involved in the hobby, for the folks that want to purchase and restore a wooden boat is there an adequate supply of restorable wooden boats?

6. Will the so-called next generation of wooden boat enthusiasts be more interested in restoring classic boats from the 1950’s & 1960’s due to availability as opposed to harder to find, more expensive pre-war boats?

7. Should the professional restoration companies be gearing themselves towards the so-called new generation of enthusiasts in terms of pricing options for entry level wooden boats, plywood boats and non-wooden boat restoration work?

8. Does the hobby need to rethink how it reaches out to that next generation? What age is young in this hobby?

9. Does it even matter? Are old wood boats the model A’s of today. No one of the age of 30 grew up with a wood boat.. Is there anything that these woody boats can stand for that is beyond just memories?

10. Did Bristol Palin really get plastic surgery? And if you don’t care, is the hobby doomed!

Let us know what’s on your mind, we enjoy the feedback and any related comments you may have on the subject.

Matt & Texx – Woody Boater

Classic dashboard image courtesy of Miracle Photography.

55 replies
  1. Ben Monfils
    Ben Monfils says:

    Great questions! No right answers, just perspectives – perfect for a blog comment board!

    My answers: Yes, No and Maybe

  2. Larry Forget
    Larry Forget says:

    Been there, done that with 1947 Chris runabout. Like the Golden Pond movie, What can you have fun with grandchildren. The early 60’s cuddy 18 ft has a lot of value & all the color & blink for a few thousand $$.. Wood cabin & bulkhead , trim to varnish like a Glasspar Searfair Sedan. Chrome horns & other fitting to still polish. Front bunk to nap or weather protection, makes for a great picnic boat & teach kids to drive,/ cruise at a slower speed.

  3. don vogt
    don vogt says:

    As was said, so many excellent questions that would take weeks to try to answer. There is obviously a generational change underway. I think most people are at least initially attracted to boats they were familiar with when they were younger. These are most likely plastic. It is important to make the lovers of all different kinds of boats feel welcome in the hobby. Boat shows and as much publicity as possible are two good ways to attract new members. Once they become aware of the various organizations and meet fellow hobbyists, they can find their way.

    As for wooden boats, the supply of great ones is limited and the experience of classic cars will most likely be repeated with classic boats. With restoration being so labor-intensive, costs will continue to escalate. The better ones will be moving out of the reach of the average hobbyist. It is therefore doubly important to incorporate newer boats into the hobby.

  4. Allen
    Allen says:

    Like many hobbies the are so many resources. I have been in sailing One Designs, antique cars and sports cars and now wooden boats. All phases of my life. I think in the wooden boat area we have to be fun, educational and supportive of new seekers or wanna bees. I have found that club meetings that tend to be more “business of the club” each month don’t lend itself to drawing people in. My sailing club exposure was always alot of how to’s….and a little business. Most people want to learn and enjoy not listen to 2 hours of business stuff each month. So to that end I have tried to include activities, videos, expert demos to keep the program fun……Imagine wanting to learn bluegrass banjo so you join a group only to talk about the financials of the club and up coming events etc. and never talk about playing the banjo and how to do it for fun. People have to lighten up and reach out and show how enjoyable the hobby can be and that the end result is sense of accomplishment and preservation of American heritage. Just my thoughts for the day.

  5. Jack Schneiberg
    Jack Schneiberg says:

    These past two day’s discussion forums have been very interesting and led me to a number of reflections. My first wood boat in 1995 was a ’46 Century Deluxe Utility. I had a fair amount of the woodwork done for me – but had to farm out the motor (4 cylinder Gray), upholstery, and gauges. My son-in-law and I did all the finishing work and all the original hardware was B+ so I left it alone. I won a number of awards with the boat. I still had $20,000 plus in it when I was done and after 3 years of fun with it, I sold it for $15,000. Different market.

    Last summer I finished doing a 1951 Century Imperial Sportsman (outboard). It has yet to see the water because of some motor issues I have to fix. I tracked all my time in the boat – well – 98 % of it in a log book. At $10 per hour, with materials, I have over $20,000 invested in a boat that I might be able to sell for $9,500 if I found someone who really wanted one. I do much of the work myself because I enjoy it but some can’t do that or don’t want to do that and they are forced to go to the professionals if they want to restore a wood boat. Having done it myself – I know how much work is involved and I know how many hidden surprises can come up when you start pulling planks off. How does one accurately cover those surprises in a concrete estimate?

    I also have a ’75 Century Sabre 19′ with a 350ci in it and a brand new Century interior. The glass hull needs a strip and repaint. $5,000? maybe? I’ve got $3,000 in it with the new interior. That would put me at $8,000 and it might just bring that in the market place in the next year if I had that work done.

    It’s not rocket science to see that glass boats are the hobby’s future as we run out of the older generations with deep pockets to pay for $50,000 to $100,000 restoration jobs on a dwindling supply of restorable wood hulls.

    The restoration shops have to get paid for their time, materials, and make a profit. The law of supply and demand will work to make things equitable in the end. In the meantime, if one wants to do a wood boat with any reasonable return on the investment (other than the “fun” and the “WOW” factors) – the first purchase better be some shop tools, some books, a course at the local Voc Tech school, and then spend some time preparing the wife for the fact that her mini-van is going to be sitting in the driveway for a few years while the garage becomes a workshop.

    Farming sawdust can be fun!

    • Brian Mortimore
      Brian Mortimore says:

      Just a few comments:
      1) I’ve met lots of wonderful woody boaters who’ve been quick to offer help and advice – regardless of our age differences (I’m 42 and got started about 10 years ago).
      2) I’ll never understand why some folks try to justify the value of their boat based on how much time they have into restoring it (with the exception of professionals of course but they don’t tend to complain about that, they just bill you and that’s that.) My point being; I’ve never heard a golfer, bowler, or gardner crab to anyone who will listen “boy, if you only knew what my billable rate was for doing what I so enjoy!”
      3) The majority of hobbies and interest don’t have the entry price tag that we do. If we were more inclined to embrace all forms of older, classic boats, the hobby will grow. If not, then a bunch of folks will sit around wondering why they’re boats are losing value (i.e., no one will want them or know what to do with them) and yes, we’ll be viewed as the next Model-T club.
      4) There’s a finite number of pre-war triples, barrel backs, and Gar Woods. Lets open our minds a bit and go out of our way to encourage our friends with 1970’s era fiberglass to clean them up, make ’em beatiful, and celebrate the classic boat for all the memories and feelings they invoke, despite material make, or model.

  6. Adam Koons
    Adam Koons says:

    I think those are great questions as well. Although I have never had a pre-war boat, I am in my early 20’s (which I consider young in this hobby) and restoring my second wood boat myself. I have found that doing as much work my self on my 1958 14′ plycraft, and my 1961 20′ Lyman really cuts down the cost and make for a fun hobby that can really turn heads of people of all ages. People can’t believe that I do most the work myself, since I am so young and new to this. Woodworking is a dying skill that so many just don’t have anymore. These boats aren’t the show champions, but they are still amazing machines, especially since they were cheap to buy and semi-easy to work one. I think that is the way to enter into this hobby. By starting small, and working your way up, there is a ton of knowledge and skills to be gained along the way, which will prepare newcomers for the more rare restorations. I love this hobby and only hope that it will continue in the future, and my young generation will pick it up and run with it.

  7. Rick Bohn
    Rick Bohn says:

    There are a lot of parallels with the hot rod industry. The supply of old Fords to hot rod is drying up so now companys have stepped up with new reproduction bodies. The same can happen in boating. Building new woodies with the same style and class of old boats can help to carry the hobby. It is also a very rewarding experience to construct a boat fron the keel up! I finished my first build last year and the now the only question now is what to build next?

  8. Redsbeardsraven
    Redsbeardsraven says:

    Its to late for me . Im 44 years old with a 1949 40ft Chris Craft woodie. Also a small 17ft wooden Switzercraft. My 15 year old son (who i’ve tried to pass on the wooden boat bug to)
    seems interested, but sure likes fiberglass go fast boats and sometimes looks at me like I’m from another planet
    when I’m pulling screws out of another bad plank on the Chris craft. I think you can’t pass on the wooden boat bug.
    And the amount of people really interested in wooden boats
    overall is small compared to the crazys interested in fiberglass. If it wasn’t the situation would be switched around. When the subject came up I went back and took a close look at the age of people at the wooden boat shows. Not good. Try it yourself plenty of pics from shows out there. Its really got me thinking….

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:


      You son may not be overly interested now, but he is 15 and I am sure there are other things on his mind. When he is 25 or 35 he may have more appreciation for boats that offer more than speed.

  9. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    I can add a bit of perspective on values, and the age of participants. Briefly I am 46 years old and bought my first boat – a 1965 Glastron Futura 500 V-164 in 2006 for $4000 – quite a bit for a glass boat. I did not buy it because of memories of childhood (I have no boating memories from childhood); I bought it because I thought it was neat. The next year at age 42 I bought my first wood boat and I was hooked. Numerous others have followed. In 2008 my wife and I attended our first ACBS International show. We were called the “young couple” and much was made of our relative youth. I was a bit surprised at this but we loved our experience there. Since then, I have noticed more people of our age group and perhaps up to 10 years younger starting to appear. These people have different attachments and different memories and they bring those to the boating hobby. The hobby is not dying, it is changing. To those who hate anything but wood boats that is a bad thing, to the rest of us it is hope and it is encouragin. I have no real biases when it comes to boats or the materials they are made – I like to see people enjoying their boats and I like to share the company of folks who do that.
    The following might be an interesting story, to illustrate past attitudinal change in our own hobby. I have a 1948 25’ Sportsman and I reviewed some papers I got with it last night. It was bought in September, 1974 by a 47 year old man named A.J. Shirtliff of Kalispell MT for $1000 from a local marina. It had the original Scripps 208 and was in solid but not great condition. The boat was 26 years old, and needed some work but it was not in terrible shape by any means. So, what was the hot ticket in the young hobby then? What did the old guard or founders think of a post-war boat? My guess is not much, given the price. I found some calculators and $1000 in 1974 is roughly $4500 in today’s money. I suggest that was a small sum then for a decent, sound classic boat and not much now. At 47 was he the new blood, bringing in post-war junk to a hobby perhaps fixated on slender, graceful launches of the teens or big triples of the ‘20’s? Today, the 25’ Sportsman is amongst the most collectible of CC’s, certainly of the post -war era and is a valuable boat. What happened since 1974 to change the market perspective on this?
    Some of us look contemptuously at newer boats. Seriously –what would most hobbyists think if a 26 year old fiberglass 1985 boat entered a local show? This is likely what the buyer of the 26 year old 25’ SP encountered in 1974. Hard to believe, but probably true. I am organizing our local boat show this summer, and I will encourage ANYBODY with an interest to display their boat and participate. Change in the hobby means hope and invigoration, not death.

    • John Kadimik
      John Kadimik says:

      Hey Paul, I remember when we were the “young couple”. Kim was a lot younger then.

  10. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    1) I don’t know if it is a shift as much as a constant evolution. Existing boat owner will always be getting older and every year more of them will reach the age where they are less interested in boating or unable to continue. Many will pass their boats on to children or grand children just as they will pass on vacation homes and lakefront property. Others will sell their boats. Potential new owners are always out there. 20 somethings may lack both the interest and the financial means to restore a wood boat, but as people age that can change. There will always be a new crop of people buying summer homes or vacationing in resort areas, and they will see the old woodies cruising by and some of them will say “I want to have one of those”. Others will reach retirement age and decide they finally have the time to restore and old Century or build a Glen-L barrel back.

    2) The cost of the hobby depends on what kind of boat you want and what you want to do with it. If your interest is in a 50’s or 60’s utility or skiff that you use for familly fun, it can certainly be done for less than the cost of a new bow rider, if you are willing to put the time in to having a classic. If you need the praise of judges to feel good about yourself, you are going to have to spend more money. Lots more if you want a rare and desirable boat from the 30’s and 40’s that you can show off as a trophy.

    3) That is a tough one. To some extent shows are decent advertising to the extent that they bring in the general public and give them a peak at some beautiful boats, but I also think the glistening way better than new show boats with puritanical focus on “as delivered” originality present a nearly unobtainable and unaffordable target for the potential owner. I think the hobby needs to attract and promote more of the affordable and less than perfect boats that are more readily available. You can get a 17 foot sportsman with a non original v8 and non original interior and have a nice looking and very fun boat for a fraction of the cost the 48 yr old was quoted for the show piece restoration. The hobby should encourage that as an entry point, and not make him feel the $40,000-$100,000 price point is what wood boating is all about.

    4) Yes and Yes. BUT, I would fear that the introduction of a classic glass would be done in a way that pushed the price on a show quality glass restoration through the roof as well. A friend recently bought a 70’s MFG for less than $1000. He can spend a few grand more to replace the foam, floor and interior, patch up the various holes drilled in the deck over the years and restore the color and gloss. He will have a great looking and very functional boat for less than $5000 but it will certainly not be “as delivered” show quality. Somehow the hobby needs to welcome these people and their DIY spirit and their interest in boating, not look down their noses at them. In 20 years this guy could be the one who has the money to buy your 1930 tripple cockpit, but if you turn him off now, he wont be interested down the road.

    5) There is not an adequate supply of BB’s and Cobras but there are a ton of 50’s and 60’s boats out there. There are also plenty of boats that have been restored that will need to be restored again in the coming decades. Add in new wood boats, and there certainly seems to be plenty of wood boats for those who are interested in owning one.

    6) Absolutely. Some of it will be driven by what they saw on the lakes when they were kids, some by price and availability and some by usage. I have young kids so a pre-war runabout with separate cockpits is not really practical or desirable for us. On the other hand, a smaller utility like my 1962 16′ ski boat is as fun and almost as practical as any modern boat.

    7) The shops need to make money. If someone wants to sell me a 5200 bottom for $2500 that would be great, but it is not practical or reasonable to expect them to do so. I think there is a bigger market for shops to sell materials and expertise (training and assistance) to those who can not write a 6 figure check and whose boats are not worth the expense of a full on professional restoration.

    8) I think I answered most of that above, but yes the hobby should reach out to new members by celebrating the more affordable and less perfect boats. Make meetings and shows fun for people who want good looking user boats, and who are not obsessed with finding the correct seat covering material that was used on a half dozen boats in 1926.

    9) First off, people of all ages can appreciate the beaty of natural wood. The look of mahogony and the sound of an old inboard will always catch peoples attention. Second, There are people under 30 who grew up with wood boats. They did not all get pulled from the waters in the late 60’s. Take your boats off their trailers and take your kids and grand kids boating. Watch On Golden Pond again, does the old man make the kids day by taking him to CLayton, or does he teach him to drive the boat and let him take it out on the lake for a spin? This summer, my 5 and 8 year olds will ride in, drive (with supervision), and ski and tube behind a wooden Chris Craft. They will remember that when they are 30 and when they are 60. If I take good care of her, perhaps my grand kids will ski behind the same boat someday.

    10) Huh?

  11. Woodenrookie
    Woodenrookie says:

    We have two clear choices in my eyes, move our hobby strongly in the direction of fiberglass or watch us die a slow death. I have for years watched newcomers totally taken back by the recommended procedures we offer on these forums. We recommend new no-soak bottoms like they are a gallon of milk. Time after time I have seen people tell a guy whom found a 17′ utility to go spend $12K on a professional bottom, knowing full well what the boat is worth. I believe we need more recommendations to bring those younger than us in slowly and educate them about the hobby. Local chapters must reach out to teach the hobby. If we dont reach out with our resources, tools, and experience then we will lose the generation whom never stepped on a wood boat.

    Their are many industries which use fiberglass and I have to believe many more experienced people whom wouldn’t be afraid to tackle fiberglass restoration than tackle Wooden restoration.

    1961 17′ Glaspar
    1961 17′ CC wooden ski boat

    You do math both financially and level of experience.

  12. Mark
    Mark says:

    As a chairman for our local ACBS Chapter, I try to encourage classic fiberglass and later (late 50’s) wood boats as an excellent “entry level” boat for the hobby. This stuff can be picked up for reasonable $$ and is a good way for a new member to get his or her feet wet.

  13. Chris
    Chris says:

    Hello all,

    I am the one that was selling a the 1956 Sea Skiff that made it on the site over super bowl weekend. I have since made made some budget adjustments so I can continue with the project.

    Anyhow, as a young enthusiast I definitely feel the pinch due to escalating costs of sticking with this hobby. Having grown up with wooden boats, my family motto was “if your are old enough to stand you are old enough to sand”. I grew up learning a lot of what is required to maintain and repair wooden boats. With that said, not everyone has a pile of cash to purchase and restore a pre-war barrel back. Working with your hands and completing a project is one of the most rewarding feelings. Everyone needs a little help though and sometimes that requires hiring a specialist to make specific labor intensive repairs.

    With a little time one can put together the basic hand tools and power tools to fix and make about anything. I have found that knowing a guy with the tools/experience and a case of beer coupled with your time can get most things done.

    As far as a stock of wooden boats left to restore or finding something to get into for fun is not that hard. We all know there are plenty of boats laying around, one just has to look. Sometimes they can be had very inexpensively and damn near free. The wooden boat community has overwhelmed me with support for my project and putting me in touch with people in the community that can help out. Woody Boater is a great resource.

    For people getting into the hobby, sitting down to map out the repairs and the process key. If you look at a boat it is made of many components. Most pieces to a boat are manageable when speaking of something under 25 feet. Things can be made in a basement or shed and even your kitchen. My grandfather lofted lines for the boat he built in his kitchen after everyone went to bed. Frames, ribs, planks and decks are all components. If you take your time and do your research, most projects can be completed in your backyard.

    I have spent months researching my boat, ordering hull drawings and scouring the internet for boats that have been restored. I just completed a boat cradle from factory specs and my boat is due to be transferred onto it shortly so I can begin replacing ribs. getting this info to get where I am would not have happened if it wasn’t for the community or a little bit of resourcefulness.

    Time, effort and resourcefulness will keep the hobby alive and well. Things will get more expensive and we will always drool over boats like Tempo or Thunderbird, sleek Barrel Backs and Riva’s. Perfect varnish, clear mahogany and detailed engines don’t dictate a boats beauty, it just ads to it. Boats were made to be used and half the fun for me is just saying I have an old wooden boat and putting in a little work over the weekend. The other half will come when I put it in the water and take that first cruise downtown Annapolis and pull into Ego Alley.


    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      Chris – Love your attitude and your take on things. I have a Sea Skiff that I love as much as any of my boats, and I am very proud of it. It is being kept as-used and I am deliberately avoiding restoring or over-doing it. I displayed it at the International last year, rough as it was, simply to make a point amongst all the over-the-top boats that were there. Any participant in our hobby should be able to use and display his boat with a sense of pride, and even more so if he does the work himself and sweats it out like you do.

  14. RRG
    RRG says:

    Im another that get wierd looks from the older guys…as im 37. Over the last 3 years ive been restoring a 1958 35′ Connie, and recently purchased a 1940 33′ Enclosed Cruiser. I tell people all the time that if I had to have a fiberglas boat I would go without boating….and I also enjoy 12 knots!

    My brother constently asks why I dont have a 20 foot go fast!

    Im lucky enough to have extensive wood working skills…and actually enjoy working on them over going out and cruising. So I dont have to spend 50K on restoration…but I sure spend enough on the other issues.

    We really need to work on getting younger people in this hobby….There is no reason why we cant do what the classic car hobby has done. When I got involve in this crazy hobby the one thing that was quickly realized is theres a need for more info out there.

  15. Chris
    Chris says:

    Paul, I definitely agree with you. Doing things on my own is the only way I can make it happen, plus I like working with my hands. And yes, any participant in the hobby should get a sense of pride over their boat no matter how much money they spend, the condition of the varnish or who does the work. Joy is had from using these old boats and that is really what matters.

  16. Chris
    Chris says:


    I am 32 and would love to upgrade to an enclosed cruiser or picnic boat after I finish my sea skiff. It is a hardtop and that is about as close to an enclosed as I can get right now. I have spent the last year explaining to my fiance that fiberglass has no soul. I took her to the sailboat show last year and we went aboard a restored Herreshoff and that is when she understood.

  17. chad
    chad says:

    There are, and always be, wooden boats available – they often find you. Get into the hobby at any level you can afford.

    Chris is right on the money and has the right attitude towards boating and restoration. We need more Chris’s to keep the hobby fresh.

    And I’ll say it again… The wooden boat hobby is NOT dying a slow death, it’s a constant evolution.

    It’s the old dudes that own and restore them are dying the slow death.

    So go for a boat ride today! Take a kid and an old guy.

  18. Brian Robinson
    Brian Robinson says:

    I’m 31, restore boats professionally with my father, 66, and think that that Bristol Palin looks much better.

  19. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    ACBS started 36 years ago with a goal. The goal has been reviewed and inhanced as the years have gone by and will continue to be upgraded to keep the hobby alive and well. When it began, just about any post-war wood boat was a good starting point to join in the fun that the hobby has created for thousands of us.

    Contemporary boats that were built in 1975, the year ACBS began, are now classics and have earned the right to be saved and preserved. As time has gone by, the ACBS is being led by people that grew up in the post-war period. In a few more years the leadership will continue to shift to the next generation, and so on.

    So to say that we are in the midst of change now is to say that it hasn’t changed much in the last 36 years. But it has changed tremendously already and I believe it will continue to take on change as the leadership is taken on by the next generations (baby boomers).

    We’re experiencing growth in our local ACBS chapter and most of the new comers are younger than I. They’re bringing with them a new energy and interest in boats that are old to them. Many of them love the old wood boats and like being around them but can’t afford them yet. Some talk about owning one some day when they can better justify the time and money it takes to restore one and maintain it.

    For now, they are restoring 15′ and 17′ Cavaliers and fiberglass classics. Some have classic cruisers, both wood and fiberglass. These people are the future of the hobby and they’ll bring the classic glass along for the ride.

    Not to worry….

  20. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    I need to throw in a couple of WOWS.

    First WOW is for the number of us sub 40 guys restoring wood boats and posting here.

    Second, I decided to google the Palin thing since, yes I do live under a rock, and all I can say is WOW, she must have a hell of a dentist if that was from fixing her teeth!

  21. Mike Green
    Mike Green says:

    My two cents from watching and being a part of all of this for about fifteen years is it is correct to say that its definitely evolving. Who ever made to comment that the boat shows are all about the high points boats and its no fun was not at the International show last year!

    With guys like Chad and Brian around it is sure to last a long time and get better with time. What do you think will happen to all of those boats that have been restored over the years? When the owners of them are gone do you think they are just going to be put out to pasture to die a slow death or will someone buy it for it second life. A lot is said on ones perspective, if you think it is dieing well it is for you, if you get up get out there and have a good time no matter what you quality of you boat is then there are no looses and we all win.

  22. Texx
    Texx says:

    Hey John, I’m going to tell Kim you said that… By the way, we were wondering… Is that you in the black & white cover shot today working on that old boat?

  23. Kim Kadimik
    Kim Kadimik says:

    Hey Texx, I just read that and all the other comments. Great subject! John sure looked good when he was young a long, long time ago.

  24. Randy Rush Captain Grumpy
    Randy Rush Captain Grumpy says:

    Last year I went to a ACBS judging meeting with my wife. There was probably 40 people there. The average age was 75, My wife said she couldnt remember an event that we were considered kids at 56.
    Another observation, I was chatting with a guy who was complaining he had not worked in 14 months, then in the next breath telling me he just sent his motor to California for rebuilding $24k. If I was out of work 14 months I would be worried about feeding my family. So there it is in a nutshell. People have different priorities. Im never going to own a 95 point boat, dont want one now or when im 75. Would rather have a really nice driver that my family and friends can enjoy. I was not brought up with boating, wood or glass. I moved from classic cars that I could afford to my first wood boat 6 years ago, a 1959 Penn Yan Magellan with the original 40 hp Evenruide. Being new to wood boats i drove the hell out of that boat, sanded the decks with a grinder, slopped varnish on anything that didnt move and was happy bringing it to a bot show. It was funny people -regular people just looking at the boats would come by and look at my crappy boat and tell me “I learned to ski, fish, drive in one of those. I came to the conclusion that people that grew up with those boats enjoyed seeing them , the expensive hackers, well they when they were new they were expensive and only the really well off owned them, just like now.
    Right after I bought my Penn Yan, my oldest daughter then 12 asked if she could own a row boat, i was given a 10′ dory homemade in 1942. I told them they could have it if they did the work on it. Well over the winter my two daughters 12 &9 scraped, sanded, cauked, primed and painted this boat. I made them do a school desplay that they wrote and illustrated with pictures of them doing the work. They recieved an honerable mention and a story in the newspaper. The guy with a checkbook restoration (70k) got third place. The amount of people that came by and commented on my girls and their boat was amaising. My oldest now 19 drives our current wood boat to the boat show every year. So y

  25. Randy Rush Captain Grumpy
    Randy Rush Captain Grumpy says:

    Guess I wrote too much, So youth will come into the hobby, maybe not in garwoods or hacker crafts maybe in penn yans, lymans etc.
    Lost thought, when people look at my boat I always tell them what it cost to do the work and own the boat. I think we should do a sheet showing what each boat actually cost at the boat show so people can see there are reasonably affordable wood boats .

  26. Lou Rauh
    Lou Rauh says:

    Matt – My compliments to you for raising such poignant question about the future of this hobby. We have responded to your questions on the attached sheet. I love what you do for the hobby and Antique Boat Center.


    1. Yes, younger folks are becoming involved as older folks lose interest.

    2. Newcomers to the hobby can get involved with inexpensive outboards such as Lymans. Also newcomers are buying some of the early fiberglass boats at reasonable prices.

    3. Some of the activities of ACBS with boat building and “judging” are helpful in attracting young folks to the hobby.

    4. Emphasis on fiberglass boats will bring more people into the hobby, but not necessarily continue on into wood boats.

    5. We believe that there is an adequate supply of “project” boats.

    6. We believe that the “next generation” will be more interested in the 1950-60 boats as opposed to the pre-war boats. This is not as a result of availability, but what appeals to them aesthetically.

    7. We make no distinction in pricing on how long a customer has been in the hobby.

    8. Bring more good looking girls into the hobby, and the boys will follow…

    9. The 30’s generation is going to be attracted to the boats that they remember as a child. This parallels the auto collection hobby.

    10. Hobby is not doomed, but under constant change.

    Lou Rauh – Antique Boat Center

    • Al Benton
      Al Benton says:

      Lou, very well put. The hobby has been handling changes for years and will continue to handle the changes in the near future that are necessary to keep it alive and well. As I said, Not to worry…

  27. mfine
    mfine says:

    Hey Randy, I lime the price sheet idea. How about modify the judging to be on a points per dollar basis instead of just points? That would give the affordable boat owners a real boost!

    BTW nice choice on the Penn Yan. Our fiberglass boat is a 76 Penn Yan and we are about 5 miles south of the old factory. My next wood project might be a lapstrake PY with an old outboard.

  28. Texx
    Texx says:

    Thanks Lou – We appreciate you comments and knowledge of the hobby from your prospective.

  29. Mike M
    Mike M says:

    I’ve been reading this thread for so long I can’t even remember what it’s about. I do, however, know that the Mission Inn has cable, and for that I am grateful.

    Anybody hear anything about the Thayer lately? I heard they found it somewhere…….

  30. Rabbit
    Rabbit says:

    I’m new to the hobby and feel young, at age 50, when I look at boat shows and gatherings. And that’s not good. We need new blood.

    I, like Matt, work in advertising and communications. We’re in the business of looking at demographics and trends. And I think the hobby is missing a major, seismic trend in this country that could bring in the guys (yes, they’re mostly guys) in their late 20’s through 40’s who could give the hobby the boost it desperately needs.

    There’s a huge movement toward authentic American brands and an appreciation of vintage stuff with quality. In fashion, you see it in record sales for products like Levis, Ray Bans, and Red Wing Boots. I’m talking cult followings.

    These same guys are restoring and customizing vintage Triumph, Norton and Harley motorcycles. The biggest growth in bicycles is in steel-framed single speeds, not the latest carbon fiber. They’re buying turntables and records instead of itunes. The camera world is going nuts over a new $1,200 Fuji fixed lens digital camera that mimics a vintage Leica right down to the leather and knurled steel knobs. In watches, the biggest growth is in reissues of classic designs by makers like Tag Heuer and Omega. Do you see a pattern here?

    The marketing handle for these guys is “curators”. In many cases these guys have some real money. But in most cases they’re just guys who’d rather have less things of better quality.

    You could call it a trend. But I think its here to stay. You could call them yuppies or hipsters. But I just think they’re people with some taste and brains.

    The point is, that vintage boats aren’t on their radar. YET.
    There’s a perception that woodies are too expensive and too much trouble.

    If we can start exposing these guys to woodies… just open their eyes, the hobby will see some real growth.

    Oh, and yes, bring on the classic glass and aluminum. It’s all cool.

    Here are some blogs to back up my words, but there are thousands:

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Thanks Rabbit for your comments and insight, great information. I too am in my early 50’s and own a classic Chris-Craft wooden runabout. To me it is pure American art.

      I also own a perfect 1966 Triumph Bonneville motorcycle that I refer to as my “Coffee Table Bike.” It runs and rides just like it did in 1966 but I prefer to keep it around to appreciate as an art form. To me it’s just like a coffee table book only a bit bigger.

      And thanks to Chris from Hagerty Marine Insurance for sharing the results of your recent survey with us (below). This is valuable information that we can all learn from.

  31. Chris
    Chris says:

    Here is a tickle from the 2011 Classic Boat Lifestyle Survey Hagerty recently sponsored.

    This was from owners that represented over 3000 boats at a value of more than $94 million.

    93.% Male
    6.5% Female
    Average income $112k (National average 52k)
    93% College Education
    Newcomers (<5 years) 25.6%
    Single boat owners 57.1%
    9.9% of the Newcomers are Women

    Classic (1943 – 1975) most collected bracket 83.3%
    Early Contemporary (1976 – 1986) 4.6%
    Chris Crafts represent 40.2% (more than all others combined)
    Average value of all collector boats $36,000.00
    Most Important reason you own a classic? –
    #1 Visual Appeal
    #8 (last) Investment
    Newcomers are less likely to be motivated by personal nostallgia and most likely motivated by visual appeal.
    The beauty of the boats themselves and personal nostalgia are the primary drivers of involvment in the lifestyle.
    We will be rolling out more of the results as we get the information reviewed. There were quite a few interesting trends and indicators from the results…stay tuned!!

  32. Cal
    Cal says:

    Hobby is not a good word for the restoration unless you are quite wealthy and can afford it. If you have a professional restorer do the job then your hobby is collecting the boat not restoring it. That’s like thanking the clown for the burger when he had nothing to do with cooking it. Project is appropriate for us who are not well heeled but enjoy the pleasure of reliving the past. Generational? yes. My 40 year old son and his family now operate my Century Sabre more than I do. He is a cabinet maker by trade and appreciates the wood. What really turned him on to the wood boat is the ooo’s and aaahhs he gets while on the water with his fiberglass friends.

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      Your comment does not resonate with me at all. Anyone who pursues an activity or pastime for pleasure, enjoyment or non-remunerative purposes is participating in a hobby. Just because a guy is good with wood and restores his own boat does not mean it is not a hobby. It may indeed be a project, but that in itself is part of his enjoyment of the hobby. He has no other reason to take on the “project”, so what else is it?

      I don’t restore my own boats because I lack the skill, time, ability or all three. So I have the work done by professionals and I then actually go out and use the boats as much as possible. How on earth does that make me a collector and not a hobbyist? I am not reliving the past, I am enjoying the present and part of that is participating in my hobby. Pleasure boating is priomarily a hobby for everyone who does it, in all its’ forms, no matter what kind of boat you use or how old it is. I am a pleasure boater who prefers old boats.

  33. Jim West
    Jim West says:

    At the end of the day, does it really matter. If you have a woody ( perfectly restored or not. ) a fiberglass boat restored or not. A hobby- yes. Can it get expensive- yes and that depends on what you want and or skill level. Is the hobby changing, yes just as others do. Main goal of having this classic boats should be pure pleasure. Have fun and meet people. This has been a great hobby and I have met alot of wonderful people that I would not have other wise.

  34. Bartlomiej
    Bartlomiej says:

    I’m a 27 year old graphic designer. I’ve always loved the attention to detail on the woodies and the sheer look of them. They are simply gorgeous! I’ve always thought to myself “one day I will own a woody”. Well, last season in April I came across a great deal for a 1963, 25′ Lyman Soft Top Sleeper. I inspected the boat head to toe with whatever knowledge I had gained in a short period of time. After sitting and thinking about it a little, I decided to go ahead with this purchase! Believe it or not, my Lyman is actually my first boat! Lots of older folks are surprised that a man my age has a woody! It makes for great conversation with people that know classic boats! All I can say is that I LOVE my Lyman and I love working on it! I personally wish more young people could get into this type of hobby and bring old woodies back to life! Fiberglass is not nearly as classy as a well varnished vessel!

  35. nick sucic
    nick sucic says:

    Great Questions,
    First i must say i am in my mid 50’s. been in wood boat and glass since 1960’s. My son has always like wood runabouts’

    1.“Generational Shift” many like the hobby, but not white white pant and blue blazers turn off.
    2. I am a woodworker so it is easy for me. Ask newbie’s to help someone who is DIYer. Maybe diy will be for them with low cost. Do not judge there work they are just starting.
    3.Keep the boat restoration shop away from closed meetings. They are looking for customers. this will scare away newbies. Make the boat restoration companies pay high dues and pay for learing events. The restoration people will ask for the newbies boat if the get stuck as a donation of sorts to help themselves .
    4 I said this in the 90’s let people boat in a show just by age say 1975 and old.
    5. adequate supply of restorable wooden boats? under 25 foot i say no.
    6 restoring any classic boats from the 1950′s & 1960′s any year due to availability will make the newbies happy.
    7 Should the professional restoration companies gear towards. they are not the newbies. A newbie may want a usable boat not a showboat. Gear to helping patch the boat, then maybe the will want a full restoration.
    8 Does the hobby need to rethink how it reaches out to that next generation? YES.
    What age is young in this hobby? My son at 10 years old helped with my wood boats.
    9. Are old wood boats the model A’s. no. car clubs are 57 chevy’s or 68 mustangs attracting young people yes. wood boat club’s should be the same.
    10 professionals in the wood boat industry turn young people away. not every 55 chevy is perfect some is blind. not every restoration is perfect i have looked at them but say nothing.
    Nick the scooter

  36. Walter E
    Walter E says:

    Looking at our Chesapeake Bay chapter of ACBS, there is a continued grayling of our membership. But enough about me. There are way for “younger” folks to get involved with old Woden boats without having deep pockets. First off, stay away from expensive boats like Chris Crafts. Start with a smaller plywood outboard. They are cheaper to buy and less expensive to restore because there’s not as much there. Also, do as much of the work as you can. Besides saving money I think you have a greater sense of ownership and acheivement. Sure the final results may not look museum quality like mostrofessional storations but the boat will most likely be shinier than when it was first built and all but the snobbish folks will compliment you on the work. And yes, ACBS really needs to embrace plywood outboards as much as they love a Chris, Gar Wood, or Hacker. And last but not least, restore the boat to use and enjoy rather than to show as a static museum piece. The cost to restore to “user” level is considerably less expensive.

  37. IM John Chow
    IM John Chow says:

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