The Next Generation Of Classic Boaters – Should We Be Thinking Outside The Box (Bilge)?

Image courtesy Boston Public Library

Yesterday we ran a story about a subject that has been on our minds for some time now, asking the question “What are we doing to attract younger folks to the hobby of classic boating?” And as expected, the response from our viewers was fantastic. If you missed that story and the almost 60 viewer comments – you can see the story by Clicking Here.

We are proud to say that here at Woody Boater we are surrounded by some very knowledgeable people, who clearly understand the hobby,  and also some very influential people throughout the classic boating hobby. Our daily viewers come from all over the country and from many different walks of life (both within the hobby and outside the hobby), resulting in a remarkable cross section of viewer comments and insights. But the one common thing that everyone shares is a true passion for their boats and the classic boating hobby.

We carefully read each and every comment, they are all great and we respect everyones point of view on this subject. And we truly appreciate each and every comment. Here are some excerpts from yesterday…

Floyd R. Turbo – “I’d be interested in the stats of who’s in this hobby from a “cold call” perspective. That is, has no youth connection, saw a woodie or show later in life, had little to no exposure to boating in their youth, but made a connection at a show or some other link and got into the hobby at that point and continued attending events.”

Rick – “What is the perception of classic boats? I do think that less static boat shows help. Even a group of classics pulling up to a waterside restaurant filled with people help show that we can have user boats and generates interest.”

Greg Lewandowski – “As we discussed last weekend, the younger 30+ crowd is not at all into our conventional boat shows, or agonizingly original antique and classic boats. To help the cause, our chapter has created a “modified” class so we can judge boats that are substantailly revised from original in design and/or power. They still must be 1976 or older, but maybe we need to give that age requirement some more thought. We are also initiating monthly Tuesday night “runs” on area lakes on just a “show up” basis to get more users to come to a club organized activity. This will be open to non members so anyone can come along.”

“If we want to get noticed by the hot rod and tuner car people, maybe we need to make more of any effort to get to know them. A thought I had this morning was to set up a chapter display at the big Autorama custom car show in Detroit. Take a couple of our real hot rod and race boats in there to let them know that is also part of our hobby. This could also be done at other car shows. It’s probably too late for this year, but we can look into it for 2014.”

RR Gadow – “I dont think there is anything that is attractive about the “lifestyle” of wooden boats fo the 30 and under crowd. I was in my mid 30′s (now 39) when I caught the bug big time…and it was soley on memories of growing up around them and thought it was time to expose my kids to it. Ive been a big advocate of getting the “younger” generation involved.”

Rabbit – “I love the hot rod reference. Very true. Keep it loose. Keep it fun. Uptight old guys talking about correct snaps will not attract 30-year-olds.”

“Now I’ll beat a dead horse, because I’ve made this argument before:”

“Red Wing boots. I’m in advertising like Matt (Cadillac, actually is one of my bigger clients.) Red Wing used to be my client and the CMO and I are still good friends. Red Wing has a heritage line. They’re made exactly, precisely like they were 60, 70 years ago. And they’re made in the USA.$250 a pair and up. They can’t make enough of them. And they’re selling them all to 25-40 year old guys. They appreciate quality, American craftsmanship, tradition. And they have some money to spend.”

“In two weeks here in Minneapolis (St. Paul, actually) there’s going to be an event called Northern Grade. It’s a “pop-up market” with brands like Red Wing and Duluth Pack selling their wares. It’s a mob scene. Wallets wide open. I’d park an affordable, nicely finished user boat there. They’d go nuts for it.”

Jason – “There is simply nothing cooler on the lake then an old woody (and nothing sounds better)! I have to agree, although I enjoy the occasional boat show, I have zero interest in setting in front of my boat and talking about it (plus I have two kids so who need constant entertainment) – I want to be on the lake using it, making memories with my family.”

Slats – “As a 30 year old myself, I speak with knowledge and first hand accounts of what is happening to the future of this hobby. I work on the water 70 hrs a week with mostly college age kids. I think I can say with some certainty what is going on in their minds regarding varnished woodies. Trust me when I say this, a majority of the ones I know would love to be on a woody instead of a plastic boat. When one rolls past us, we all stop and drool at the magnificent drift wood that has floated by. We marvel at the sounds, the lines, the names, the cool burgees, the different shades and colors of stains. The emotional and physical reactions are all positive and borderline on lust.”

“I think that there a few main reasons why you don’t see them (30 year olds) getting as involved as you would like in this hobby. First off is the example set by others in the hobby. By this point I mean more people treat their boats as museum pieces than they do as actual boats.”

Matt & I often get so caught up in the viewer comments, that we don’t take the opportunity to share our thoughts on many of these subjects. But I can tell you that everything we learn from our viewers is carefully filed away in the vault – for future consideration.

For what it’s worth – here’s my perspective on this challenging subject.

In November I attended the Goodguys Southwest Nationals in Phoenix, Arizona. For me it was a good opportunity to spend some time with some long time friends from the car hobby and catch up with the recent trends, hot topics in the custom car hobby, etc.

It was reported that around 2,300 cars were entered for the event, ranging from high end customs to basic “work in progress” street cars, including many original cars as well. Since the late 1970’s I have attended and participated in numerous custom car events, collector car events, cross country collector car rallies, etc. For me, the Goodguys events represent the future of the custom car hobby. They are innovative, and folks of all ages gather together with their pre-1972 cars for these events, many with their families and children – experiencing the huge car culture. The Goodguys Rod & Custom Association currently has around 80,000 members and in 2013 they will stage 19 national events from coast to coast.

Although the cars all have designated parking areas where many people “tailgate” together over the weekend, the Goodguys events are by no means static events. Most of the participants cruise around the show area in their cars, following a designated route throughout the fair grounds. Sounds crazy but it works!

The best part about this is that if you stand along the route, most of the cars eventually come to you, and you get to experience the sound of the engines, the whir of the superchargers and the smiling faces of both the participants and the spectators. There’s never a dull moment at a Goodguys event and that’s why people keep coming back – even in a challenging economy. And if you like any aspect of the car culture, you will find it there.

It’s also common to see the younger folks engaged with the older folks, sharing their knowledge with the next generation. But in the custom car culture, it’s OK to show up with a less than perfect car or a “work in progress” car – It’s more important to show up at the event with your ride, regardless of the look or condition.

I’m not sure that same mentality is reflected with the current boat show formula. Some folks may be intimidated or feel uncomfortable showing up to a boat show with their lower cost “work in progress” boats – so in many cases they don’t. With the current formula, will some of the organizers or participants look down on these “less than perfect” boats at a show?

I remember entering my small unrestored 1957 15′ Lake n’ Sea fiberglass boat in a local boat show a few years ago. My “less than perfect” fiberglass boat was shuffled off to the far end of the dock with a few other outboards. Safe to say it has remained in storage since that weekend, resting in it’s “less than perfect” but all original condition.

This year when I attended the Goodguys event in Arizona, with the classic boat hobby and the question about how to attract the next generation of boaters to the hobby in my mellon – I paid attention to the age groups to learn more. What I observed was the next generation of younger classic car enthusiasts were everywhere. In some cases what they were driving was less than perfect or a work in progress, but they were there parked right next to the show cars. No hood yet – no problem, maybe next year. That’s how it works at Goodguys.

There was even a wooden boat on display there which attracted lots of attention from the spectators.

Signs of the next generation of car culture was also very apparent when I stopped in at Bonneville Speedweek in August. Normally I wouldn’t pay much attention to the age thing, but I was trying to learn and to see if I could make any comparisons to the classic boat hobby in terms of how this segment of the car hobby was coping. These guys love old cars, love working on old cars, love restoring and running old school engines and living the lifestyle. And they also love to roar off across the salt together.

So with that said, getting back to the original question – “What are we doing to attract younger folks to the hobby of classic boating?”

– Should there be more emphisis towards attracting the “less than perfect” boats at local classic boating events to encourage younger folks with smaller budgets and “work in progress” boats to attend?

– The idea that Greg Lewandowski had to organize cruise nights during the summer is great. Maybe they could also encourage prospective boat owners or work in progress boat owners to join and to ride along.

– I often wonder if a dealer or boat shop could ever create a program where they located some inexpensive utilities (like U-22’s) and prepared them as safe, entry level user boats that a newcomer to the hobby could purchase without spending a fortune or getting in over his head from the start. Maybe paint the wooden hullsides white to cut down on cost and maintenance… Or install a basic 283 or 327 V-8 for power. The dealer could even offer some form of basic financing for the prospective buyer. Even trade the boat in after a few years to move up a class if desired.

– The key to success may almost be a two-part question. 1. First you find ways to attract the next generation of boaters to the hobby then 2. What should be done to keep them in the hobby. Getting an young, enthusiastic family involved in a 2-year 140,000.00 wooden boat restoration doesn’t work – trust me.

– In today’s world, information on the hobby, clubs, chapters, publications and even events has to be accessible digitally or on line. Even the car hobby has realized how important this is and they are reacting with on line publications and member access.

– These days many car museums are challenged with low attendence, and in some case they are even closing up shop due to low attendence. Many in the car hobby feel this is partially due to the digital age, and many younger people are no longer interested in learning about automotive history unless they can’t see it on line.

– Classic boating event organizers need to find innovative ways to partially escape the static shows and get more active on the water. However, as our friend Don Danenberg said once, boat show spectators need to be able to see and experience the classic boats at the dock (which I agree with Dan on), so it’s a fine balance for the event organizers. As we know, many clubs and chapters are already making the necessary steps in this direction.

I think we can all learn something from other types of clubs and organizations outside the classic boating hobby. Agree? Disagree? Let us know.


61 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Great comments and perspective. Let me think about this a lettle more. There may be some merit in using the WoodyBoater forum as a communication tool for getting the readers that do not currently have a boat to events where we can truely involve them.

  2. Rick
    Rick says:

    Most people I talk to that are not into classic boating are not aware that we do not all have $100,000 boats. That they can get a nice floating and running classic for 12000-15,000. Granted it won’t be a triple with a Scripps but it will still turn the neighbors heads and get you on the water. Not everyone can afford a Ferrari or Rolls, so people need to know there are also Chevys out there in the boating world. Also for most people a grey boat is not the way to start, bring home something the family can use right away because you’re competing for those $$ that can also buy a Jetski.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      That’s why a reasonably priced “turn key” ready to drive away utility (U-22) would work well to get started. A reliable modern-ish V-8 power plant, etc.

      Just like buying a used car and driving it off the lot same day.

  3. Ranger
    Ranger says:

    I really enjoyed the comments from yesterday, especially from the younger than me, set.

    What was my big take away…I’m not going to fret that our boat should have been revarnished already, no siree!

    I’m going to open up her throttle, let her slide sideways through the turns and holler Woo-Hoo til I’m hoarse!

    Yep, this year the old girl is going out for fun, anyone got some skis I can borrow? (and the name of a good orthopedic surgeon)…

  4. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    All this boat talk is great and all, but the current temp here is 6 with a high of 12 for the next two days. Not good for boating. Now, the way I understand it, if we switched to the metric system like the Canadians, 6 and 12 would be cool but no where near as frigid. In fact, at 6-12 in Canada water is still liquid and we could be boating today. I say we petition Congress to change over to the metric system so we can all boat 12 months a year. That in turn will make the hobby easier to sell to young folks.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      A fine (Fine) young accountant like you could master the metric system in days.

      It’s all just zeros and guzintas…

  5. WoodenRookie
    WoodenRookie says:

    Part of the preception problem for younger hotrodder/vintage car restorer’s is watching auctions on the speed channel and assuming all wood boats go for $40K-infinity. They see lots of cars go for what they deem do-able but very few boats go in that price range.

  6. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    Great stuff the last couple of days. Another way to cross Market Classic cars with Classic boats is to take your woody to some local Classic car shows, like below. Or put on some “Wheels an Keels” type shows.

  7. Sean
    Sean says:

    By and large the modern automobile has become an every day appliance that cannot be serviced by it’s owner. Furthermore, it’s operation is heavily restricted and enforced by the probability of a laser radar tax collector behind every mailbox making even the most law abiding driver paranoid. In short, driving ain’t fun.

    We have to keep boating fun. It should also be inclusive and contemporary. We should celebrate the different directions in which our boats are built, modified (or not) and used. We should encourage hands-on involvement in all aspects. We need to reward innovation and effort on common boats , as much as the $300,000 professional restoration of the unobtanium boats.

  8. alfaguy
    alfaguy says:

    One idea I have often had, and thought about implementing but never got around to it partially due to the lack of time, and partially because I haven’t got any idea how to do it (and the fact that any of the ‘local’ ACBS chapters are at least 1 1/2 hours away).

    One of the car clubs I am affiliated with, many of their shows are benefits with all proceeds going to some youth organization, children’s hospital, or something similar.

    In all cases, participants (the car owners in this case) take the children on a short organized drive which concludes at the site of the show. The kids are usually given some token gift and lunch.

    In our case, since (most of) our boats seat more than two people (unlike the cars in the above example, most of which are strictly two seaters) we could include parents, care givers, or whomever.

    Other than the insurance/liability concerns (which I’m sure could be dealt with) I don’t see why something similar couldn’t be done within the antique boat world and/or the ACBS.

    As an aside I knew nothing of antique boats until attending a car show in a town that as part of their heritage festival had both a boat and car show. Met a guy with a triple hacker recreation whom we became friendly with and spent the day going for rides with him on the lake. Fast forward a few years, I know have my own CC runabout. I was somewhere in my 30s when this happened, and got my first boat in my 40s.

    If there is someone out there who reads this and thinks that this might be a viable idea who has some clue how to pull it off, feel free to contact me. I might even be willing to help with the organization of one or more such events.

  9. rabbit
    rabbit says:

    I’m inspired to do what I intended to do last summer. I keep my little Gar Wood Ensign at our cabin outside of Minneapolis. There are about eight or nine other woodies on the lake that I know of. Although the lake isn’t huge, it’s got a big new restaurant with plenty of dock space. I’m going reach out and let everyone know to meet their for a lunchtime cruise at the same time every month. Whoever shows up, shows up. Whoever wants a ride at the docks gets a ride. No posing. Just fun. There’s nothing like the sight and sound and smiles of a half dozen woodies cruising the lake. Spread the joy.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      I think a small community lake would be perfect for an impromptu cruise nite during the summer. That could catch on with the locals and blossom into a fun weekly event.

      Car guys do the same thing all over the country and it works great.

  10. Carl Garmhaus
    Carl Garmhaus says:

    Part of the problem with having folks stay away from an ACBS show with a “work in progress” is the emphasis on awards. It’s a fine line we deal with all the time and a continuing argument about how many awards to present. Personally, I would rather have a looser format, take the boats out anytime during the day, and give out fewer awards on a less than serious side. HAVE MORE FUN

  11. Gary
    Gary says:

    Between yesterday and today there are some really great ideas. The common threads are water experience, entry level boats and best varnish jobs up front.
    The entry level thought bothers me from the standpoint that there were never as many woodies built as there were cars. Plus, a lot of entry level boats are pattern boats that are big time and resource eaters.
    At the car shows that Matt & Texx attended a big theme jumped out and that was hands on experience doing the the hobby. So, a thought about that entry level boat is some sort of kit and or plans progression because a lot of the time I get asked how much is my boat worth and that seems to be an obstacle to many. And to the uninitiated that pattern boat is a pandora box of unthought of jobs.
    The idea of changing the venue of boat shows to put the exotic on the outside and spending time creating smiles from giving cruises is the cats meow.
    I had to make a grocery run last night and as usual I saw 4 kickers with motors for less than a grand each plus at the store most of the guys were talking about catching Salmon yesterday. Why am I restoring a boat?

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Put three or four “kickers” together at a boat show and all of a sudden you have the “Son’s of Varnish” section… Varnish Culture guys hangin’ out – havin’ fun together.

  12. MikeM
    MikeM says:

    This is a great subject and definitely of importance to the hobby. After reading and thinking and reading some more and thinking some more, I’m ready to suggest that “we’re already doing it”. We’re not all doing everything but all of those excellent suggestions are being implemented somewhere by someone or some group. Giving strangers rides, having static shows, having active shows, taking kids out and their friends etc….the bottom line is that not everyone wants to own a boat, let alone an antique or classic. Keep using your boat, keep smiling and offer a ride once in a while.

  13. Alex
    Alex says:

    A couple thoughts.

    1) Younger people can always start small. There’s no shortage of decent little Pen Yans, Lymans, Wagemakers, etc. out there. They offer far less initial cost. Less risk of unforeseen major problems. Less repair / maintenance. Lower DIY-intimidation. Quicker access to usage (meaning, won’t take years to make water-ready or restore). Less insurance (lower horsepower and speed matters to some insurers). Less fuel. Easier or lower-cost or even free off-season storage. Easier trailerability. And more. Sure, it’s not a glorious chrome-laden triple or big honking utility. But so what. It’s a boat. It’s old. It’s wooden. It’s inclusion with others who have old boats. And it’s still plenty of fun to operate.

    2) As an alternative, Classic Glass marks an excellent point of entry to classic boating. Doesn’t even have to be Classic yet. Soon-to-be-Classic Glass is just fine. Yes, I know that bothers some purists. And yes, I know, glass boats no matter how quirky or sexy don’t quite offer the same sensory feast old wood does. But young people need to start somewhere, and this is a feasible, affordable, practical, and totally acceptable point of entry. More young people taking pride in and having fun with older boats. That’s what we’re aiming for here, right?

    Both these are not just relatively low cost points of entry. They are absolute low cost points of entry. And they jibe well with many of the other comments people have made today and yesterday.

    Not to keep layering boat shows with more and more awards, but perhaps there could and should be entry-level categories. Not to get young people to compete. Rather, as official sanction for entry level boating and welcome and encouragement to young people. I know I’d love to see what some of these young people come up with. Judging of this type of “award” needn’t necessarily be for preserved, restoration quality, etc. Categories could be for “unusual,” “fun factor,” and such. You know, keep it light. Hagerty, might sponsoring this interest you? Kinda kin with the youth judging program…?

    Anything to get younger people to dip their proverbial toe into old-ish boats is a win. And none of the above in any way dilutes or threatens the higher eschelons of collecting, restoring, or showing the costlier stuff.

  14. Alex
    Alex says:

    MikeM, I hate to admit it but you make a good point. No. Really. I hate to admit it.

    You’re right. Many of us are already doing the right things. So while we search for new ways and seek one or two new, big ways, let’s agree to ramp up more of the same, right! Cumulatively, it will add up.

    One thing I disagree with though. You say “not everyone wants to own a boat, let alone an antique or classic.”

    There are two kinds of people in the world:

    1. Those who want to own a classic boat.

    2. Those who don’t yet know they want to own a classic boat.

  15. Alex
    Alex says:

    Ok, am I the only one who sees that woman in the white lapstrake pants Texx included? That’s a treat for these snowblind eyes.

    Seen her nails though? Dang. A Retreiver is a safer bet around brightwork.

    • floyd r turbo
      floyd r turbo says:

      …not to mention the navel jewelry and the “rhinestone rivets” on the pockets, that’ll be tough on varnish and upholstery too if she decides to turn and reach into the back cockpit for a beer, camera, or nail file.

  16. brian t
    brian t says:

    I’d agree with Mike.

    We picked up our Zoomer for $4500, in great condition (minus a bilge paint job needed) and an 80 year history so even entry level into the passion can be done for an affordable price. The public though still thinks that if it is wood, it is a pain in the pooper and is only a rich person’s sport. Not to offend, but having the same $100,000 boat win awards year after year at the shows does little to dispell this myth to the general public that attend the shows.

    Another thing is the club stuff. Not everyone has the time and money to jump into the club 110%. I think that there are many of us ‘fringe’ folks out there for 100 reasons. It does not mean though that we are not dedicated enthusiasts.

  17. Carl Garmhaus
    Carl Garmhaus says:

    If I might point out one little thing that has been forgotten. If everyone wanted a wooden boat, there would be no room on the lake. You know, kinda like, “If golf was easy, you could never get a tee time”. Just a little humor, I love getting more people involved.

  18. Sean
    Sean says:

    First, let it be said I am a huge Woodyboater fan! As well as Woodyboater, I also belong to and These sites are more of a bulletin board forum. I frequent several other specialist car and Antique snowmobile sites run in a similar format

    I wouldn’t trade my daily Woodyboater stories for anything but, wonder if any woody forums exist? My local ACBS is information only as is my “local” club. It seems to me that these interactive forums lend themselves to the younger crowd (or newbies) as there is a lot of information exchange on many topics daily. The story comments section here (now with pictures) is as close as you can get to a forum without being a forum.

    I’m sure Woodyboater has its hands full presenting the quality site they do and may not be able to branch out in this manner….but I think it would serve the younger set well if they could.(Sorry guys, not trying to make work for you!)just thinking out loud.

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      Sean – the most active and informative woody “forum” with detailed historical and technical resources is called Boat Buzz and is found on the Chris Craft Antique Boat Club site. The ACBS does not yet have such a forum. On that forum, which is mostly related to Chris Craft boats, you will find a great many members ready and willing to share information and knowledge. Fiberglassics does a similar thing for fiberglass boats, and most of the larger marque clubs have on-line resources of one type or another. However, as of now Boat Buzz is the largest forum of its’ type in our hobby.

      • Ryan
        Ryan says:

        The question and answer page on gets a lot of daily traffic from current, past, and future Lyman owners sharing a variety of questions/answers related to Lyman restorations. Tom Koroknay spends a lot of time out of his day answering questions and providing advice to those currently restoring a Lyman and those looking/hoping to one day get a Lyman of their own. A lot of great points have been brought up in these discussions on Woody Boater….great to see! There are tons of lapstrakes out there that are water ready and can be bought at very reasonable prices.

  19. Guy
    Guy says:

    You want to get a youngster interested in Wooden Boats.
    Give them BOAT RIDES. Then you will see interest bloom.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Guy – Thanks for your comment. Over the last few weeks, knowing that we were planning to do this series of stories, I asked a number of friends for their comments on youth and classic boating.

      Almost all of them siad “Give them boat rides”

    FRANCHINI says:

    I already have two junior Woody Boaters (12 and 11 years old) that even own and show their boats. So when Matt and Texx put out the word that we need to grow the youth segment, I took it as a personal challenge. Long story short, she slapped me and said she had a headache. Now,I am persistant, but I might have to look into some of these other ideas that have been presented in the mean time.

    The picture was from the 2012 Opening Day parade in Seattle. The theme was “portholes to paradise” and as a group, the PNW ACBS chapter came up with giant portholes that had individual sayings printed to relect what paradise meant to them. Cole goes with me every year and I asked him what his favorite thing about woody boating was… He drove the entire parade route.

  21. mark
    mark says:

    1968 fg Resorter. Just an observation from my 14 year old and 12 year old. In our high school in Missouri ozarks part of a PE class is to have boater education certification. Age to drive a boat or pwc is 14 here. My daughter wanted certification to drive the pontoon and pwc. My son wants his certification for all our boats, but is claiming ownership to the 14′ Grumann fishing boat w/ 9.9 Evinrude. They grew up around boats. They want their boat license at 14 like most of their friends, to have an ID. and a card to carry before their driver license. Mark

  22. Andy R
    Andy R says:

    At 36 years young, I have been referred to as “one of the diapered members” of the CCABC. I currently own one of the first 100 fiberglass ski boats built by Chris Craft in’69, and bought it very reasonably. It needs some work and is in the process of getting a full makeover. I say makeover vs restoration because it will be more of a “Resto Mod” project. From a distance, it will look like a very nice, original ’69 CC Ski Boat. But the work incudes a mildly built 355 SBC in 327Q dress and should be around 275-300 HP, which should be enough. The floor was red Nautolex, which is nowhere to be found, so it will be PlasTeak or a similar product with Ferrari tan seats and vinyl.

    While I appreciate the attention to detail on both the wooden boats and classic cars, not everyone needs to be a Concours winner and no one should be chastised for having the wrong zipper. (Sorry Matt!). I would never want to see a rare prewar woodie or a numbers matching Corvette be hacked up into a hot rod, there is a place for good users/drivers. I don’t think it needs it’s own ACBS class, but those are the boats that would appeal to my generation.

    I come to the hobby with a mix of both Hot Rods and boating running through my veins. My father spent about 40 weekends a year fishing in bass tournaments and my Stepfather built hot rods.

    My brother in law and I attended our first official ACBS show with “Quitchabitchin'” and had a blast. We spent half the weekend working on the boat and found plenty of folks willing to help. We got her running and ran the snot out of her the rest of the time. The best part of the weekend was crusing with a ’48 CC Racing Runabout (see video on YouTube). I have to agree that while the woodies are great to look at, cruising and playing in the water is what it’s all about. I am not sure how to go about growing my segment, but including cruises and classic glass is certainly a step in the right direction. I would go as far as to say I would rather attend a good, informal cruise in than an organized, judged show.

    I think the overall message should be “Classic/Antique boating does not always have to break the bank.”.

  23. Jay Wagner
    Jay Wagner says:

    Use the boats more, more people will see the fun! ACBS needs to promote more in water running shows. The rides could get gooey with insurance, have to ask Hagerty.

  24. Philip Andrew
    Philip Andrew says:

    Great discussion over the last two days.
    My issue down here in NZ is a little broader than how to get the younger generation involved. It’s how to get the woody boater hobby started to attract more boats.
    I’ve just bought a 1967 Impala out of Florida so I can turn up at the many car shows around the country towing a woody. My kids already love the cars and the boats so I think they are hooked.

  25. Steve Leslie
    Steve Leslie says:

    Great topic with plenty of views. Keels and wheels shows are always fun for “static displays”. Perhaps ACBS good get involved with Goodguys. They are a great organization and they always have sections at their gathings, like “home built heaven”, “pro’s pick”, and “young guns”, where the builders are under 25. Maybe a pre 1970 boat section would help everybody.

  26. Ryan
    Ryan says:

    Perhaps the History Channel or Discovery Channel should do a show on antique/classic boats. There are tons of shows about dudes buying, selling, and building hot rods and choppers….why not incorporate wooden boats?? I’m watching Counting Cars right now on the History Channel.

  27. Wolfgang Rosa
    Wolfgang Rosa says:

    I think we should include the classic cars at our boat shows. I’m restoring a 53 MGTD which will be at the shows with me. I’m also building from scratch a 1920 Hacker racer, 25 ft with LS power. I know the car guys would enjoy a cool dip in a lake after a hot afternoon at the car show. The cool boat is the answer.

  28. Chris B
    Chris B says:

    Wow, been away for a few days, great to see all the comments and everyone so engaged. I think the boat show is still a great way to get the general public introduced to these boats. It’s the only place you can advertise to the general public that there is a gathering of wooden boats. It’s a show now that you have them there its up to you to make it fun, from rides to noise and waves. We have taken a few surveys amongst our 800+ members and the boat show is very important to 80% of those that responded, but only 14% thought judging was important. As for a youth program yes the younger ones building a small boat or painting a wooden model, or building a cardboard boat seems to be focusing on a demographic that’s too young but who do you think has these kids, People in there 30’s . It makes the event family orientated. Like you all have said, you need to make this for the whole family if you want it to continue. Be it mom dad and kid or grandpa and grand kids. I think in our club we are going there but it’s been a struggle. We all like the 30’ plus pretty boats, It gets people to the show but the little ones get them interested. I got into this at the age of 40 as I built a Rascal racer for fun, never imagined being part of a club. But to be honest if I did not belong to the ACBS I would not have got this excited about the boats. The people are great so that sucked me in even further. As long as we keep the boats running and engage with others I think we have a strong future. Look at all those comments we are not going down wood floats all by itself. and here is the next 2 generations being programmed with out knowing it.

  29. Larry Forget
    Larry Forget says:

    .. The A.C.B.S. had this exact question 3 or 4 yrs ago at Mt Dora when we were displaying boats.. GET MORE PEOPLE INTO CLASSIC Boating? At that time the age limit was rasied to 1976 , As mentioned above early in the comment thread. This was to welcome in classic glass or even Polished Aluminum runabouts..I assume the loyal WOOD local chapter officers did not practise the verbal idea.. Go back & re-read most of the above comments, Lets help find the new guy a UTILITY? A lapstrake Lyman may still be found.!! I was a 2011 ACBS member & when I sent in the owner inventory saying a 67 cabin boat, I never got a E-mail the rest of year.. Entry show $$ same price , if no award catagory even close… Renew dual chapter dues for 2012 $ 80 .??? Dont think so .. Incoming ACBS president sends out Survey letter & I write same comments, Dont feel welcome by Local chapter with a 67 18 ft boat.. PRES never sends a note BACK .!! Old Guard die hard with their Firday night coctail party… A lot of people dont have big V-8 Suburbon GMC to tow around 22 ft Utilities anymore with the family V-6 car..Lots of people would like to travel to a away boat show to also see the country scenry, BUT the expense of entering a non-varnish rig & being ignored is getting old.. Lots of guys going back to the car hobby.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Thanks for your comments Larry. We are listening.

      This is exactly why we are doing these stories and asking these questions. Your thoughts about needing a big honkin truck to tow a U-22 around make perfect sense and I agree.


  30. alfaguy
    alfaguy says:

    One more comment regarding boat shows … In general shows are a great way to interact with both other people in the hobby and introduce other folks to the world of woodies.

    However, many of the shows require that the boats remain tied up at the dock(s) most of the day. It’s way more fun if you can come and go during the day and this allows for the opportunity to offer rides to spectators.

    This is exactly how I got hooked on the woody boat thing.

    Unrelated, but here is a photo of my wife enjoying our woody during a weekly summer concert series on a local lake.

  31. Alex
    Alex says:

    alfaguy, since when is a wife enjoying being aboard a woody “unrelated”?

    That’s called an “opportunity.”

    That’s the moment when you propose all over again.

    “Honey, I propose we buy another boat…”

  32. Jay Wagner
    Jay Wagner says:

    I know when I displayed my 1977 Baja 16SS at the Pewaukee boat show, a lot of younger(30-ish) guys looked at it and told their kids that they wished they had or skied behind one of those! I had it shown with a vintage vest,wooden slalom ski, and vintage ski line . Seemed to get comments! Just saw on Milwaukee Craiglist, a 1979 Correct Craft 17 Mustang for cheap money. Good way to get into hobby!!!

  33. Brian S
    Brian S says:

    Combining old vehicles and boats at car shows, engine shows, even rest stops on the highway as you take a driving break all create a lot of exposure to people who may not know a lot about wooden boats but are sure attracted to them.

    Small, low cost, outboard boats are are a key to showing people they can get involved in the hobby without a huge bank account. There are plenty of these boats around.

    Shows and clubs need to strive to make the entry level people feel welcome and comfortable.

  34. Sean
    Sean says:

    This original (and well maintained) plywood Greavette SunflashIV sold near $8,000 after sitting for a couple of months. It was so reliable a marina was using it in their RENTAL fleet!

    Now that’s style AND value.

  35. Randy Rush-Captain Grumpy
    Randy Rush-Captain Grumpy says:

    I always let kids crawl all ove my boats at shows. The parents love taking pictures of the little skippers . Thats how you plant the seeds.

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