Woody Boating vs Classic Boating.

Thayer IV U22 1460 out on Lake Dora giving rides and having fun again.

I was in this big fancy research planning meeting the other day with people way smarter than me.. OK, for the record, any meeting I am in is full of people way smarter than me.. Heck.. If I eat lunch by myself, the Bolonga has more brains than me.. Anyway, the conversation led to Woody Boater.. They always do in my strange world.. I was explaining the concept of Antique & Classic Boating and trying to make it relevant to new folks.  That it was an interesting time in this hobbies life. That many of the folks in it now are in it to preserve a way of life and the memories that they hold dear. But that eventually that emotional connection would fade away. A 20 year old today does not have font memories of going out on a cool wood speed boat. He does though have  memories of Knight Rider and Ninja Turtles and horsing around in an I Roc Z. Dear god we are doomed. Or are we.. We talked about the word “Classic” as it is refereed to in cars and boats. Is a 1941 boat a classic to a 20 or 30 year old.. Or is it a cool old boat. Made classic by iconography? It depends.. A 41 barrel back is, and 41 cruiser may be fire wood.. The word classic is a trigger word to evoke a memory, and if you don’t have that memory, then it eventually dies away and represents a time period that eventually just withers away. Anyone under 30 see your pals running around in a model A lately? I asked that question and I got a surprising answer.. I told you I was the dumb one in the room.. The answer was YES.. Ya see, there is a lifestyle out there of 20-40 year olds that love model A’s, flat heads and so on.. Hot Rodder’s.. Garage Magazine, Jessie James.. The list goes on.. They are not classic car guys, they live a life sytle .. a culture…that is an art movement, fashion and the fun that is surrounded by cool cars fixed up in an individual way. There are guys and gals learning to pinstripe, bend and roll metal.. All that cool stuff.  So how does this pertain to boats? We have young guys like Mike Mayer, Mike Green…. doing all the cool stuff ..  Bending wood, playing with varnish.. Experimenting with epoxies, cool motors in triples… Alex Watson and Paul and Karen Harrison who collect these beautiful boats and then use them to no end. Alex claims it aint perfect til its got a scratch.. The scratch or ding is part of the experience. These are no small boats I am talking about either.. 24 Sportsman’s, amazing one of a kind Gar Woods. All stuff to connect the past with the future..

Alan Weinstein and Herb Hall gave rides all weekend long in this stunning Riva

This past week on Lake Dora we had a revaluation.. We were not going to stand on the docks anymore. We were going to go out and have fun. We wanted to go boating. Inviting friends to pile in and go out and just enjoy all that our boats had with other folks that felt the same. Full throttle turns and taking on wakes like it was 1950.. Nothing exemplified this more than watching Thayer IV and Mariah out on the water. These two boats could have been sealed up and stuck away in a museum. No one would have argued.. But instead they have been beautifully preserved, restored so they can be used and give people rides. To connect them with these cool boats. And that’s just what they did. The second they went back into the water they brought joy to everyone there.. Seth Katz of Katz’s Marina told me folks were coming up to the booth and asking how much rides were.. WHAT? They’re free, that’s why they were in the water.. Seth gets it.. its about having fun on the water and using our boats to have a more full boating experience. Herb Hall from Sierra Boats out there with Alan Weinstein the Riva Guru giving rides in an amazing Riva.. To feel the boats, there history, and to enjoy the boats even when it’s not in the water. Carla and Chris from Hagerty Marine Insurance were out there with us on Miss America IX.

Carla from Hagerty showing how she felt about her ride on Miss America IX.. That's a million dollar smile for sure.


On the Dora Canal, Woody Gal, ARRRRRG, and The WB in Suzy

Thanks to Jim Staib of Fine Wood Boats who lives the Woody Boater life style in full. Took us all out for a fantastic day on his amazing U22 Photo Gary Visser

That’s whats different about Woody Boating and classic boating. Note, I am not saying that if you go out you don’t care about accuracy and history.. Or having a 100 pt boat.. It’s about using the heck out of that 100pt boat. In fact in the Woody Boater world, it aint a 100 pt boat unless you go out on it and abuse it the way Chris, Gar, Carlo and the others intended it to be used. That’s Woody Boating.. It’s out there on Lake Michigan in a stunning Sport Fisherman, or running out of gas in your Tahoe Winning Scripps powered Sedan on Lake Tahoe,  those things suck gas like a mother.. Would never had known that sitting on the dock….It’s doing full throttle turns in your million dollar Riva. And yes, its praying that the 2K runabout you just got floats.. Spending 3 years restoring a boat only to go out and play in it. Letting a ding in the varnish be a good thing.. Because its all part of Woody Boating. Its about having fun in a cool boat that gives back to our spirits. That’s what is relevant to any age. And that is the future of Woody Boating.

I rest my case..

33 replies
  1. RiverRat
    RiverRat says:

    Alright Matt. That a’way to throw down. I am going to run out to my shed and throw some water on my Lyman since I do not have a chance in hell of getting it unburied anytime soon. I feel the love and all the memories I make everytime I use my boats and take family and friends out. When I die I am going to wish that I had taken my boats out more no matter how much I use them. I am sure that it’s true for nonwood boat owners as well but it is just a little more styling doing so in a wood boat.Get Wet In The Water

  2. don vogt
    don vogt says:

    Certainly in the case of the organized shows, there seems to be a clear trend toward more active use of the boats in addition to merely static displays. There is a role for both, of course. Many visitors to shows seem amazed that owners actually use their beautifully preserved or restored boats on a regular basis. You are right that communicating this is a very important part of recruiting a new group of people into the hobby.

  3. matt
    matt says:

    One of the most fun parts of any show for me is giving rides. At this years shows you will find me out on the water taking pics of people having fun. I vow.. NO DOCK SHOTS.. and if your boat is on land, its a car to me! Unless its cool..

  4. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    You got the right idea. I have had too many people ask me if I put my boat in the water when they see it on the trailer when we are traveling. I always reply that it’s a boat and it’s supposed to get wet. Be ready to take a lot of pictures in Algonac. We will keep you busy. You could get some great shots of Thayer lV!

  5. matt
    matt says:

    Algonac is special. Any shot in the water is the way god intended these boats to be seen. I recall seeing a turquise interior on the water there and the color finaly made sense.

  6. Jim Staib
    Jim Staib says:

    We used to have a club mostly in Wisconsin. Midwest Antique and Classic Boat Association, MACBA, the bylaws stated no competition (judged shows) the object was to go to different places, use your boat and have FUN! Scavenger hunts by boat, pub crawls, river runs, good people, a meal somewhere and good fun. I don’t know why but the club fizzled and ended up as an ACBS chapter. I miss the “Have fun” outings. Can’t wait for the next river cruise!!

    • Jack Schneiberg
      Jack Schneiberg says:


      I remember MACBAW. I was a member for a few years. I remember the outings. My first boat was a ’46 Century Deluxe Utility 15, and after it was restored to “show” quality, I used the heck out of it on those outings, at shows, and for family gatherings. I had the boat for 4 years and when I sold her, she had 200+ hours on the refurbished Gray 4-75. And, she still showed well – but some of the nicks and dings took it out of first place categories at most judged shows. I didn’t care – although that first scratch wrenched my heart so bad I was considering therapy.

      My current ’51 Century Imperial Sportsman 14 with a Mark 55 on it is well on it’s way to accumulating hours, too.

      I left the club before it became the Glacier Lakes Chapter of the ACBS. As I recall there was a lot of in-fighting going on over the seeking of ACBS chapter status or maintaining the “outings based” club it was.

      The young generation of people who are going to carry this hobby forward are going to be best served by getting involved in using these boats and experiencing the boats as they were intended to be used – that’s in the water and running around a lake or up a river. The hands on experience of restoring and using a wood boat is what creates the bond.

      There are no “Trailer Queens” in my barn.

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      Jim – ride your Hog up to BC this summer and come to our OACBS show – lots of boating, a show for the spectators and public but also opportunties and events for attendees to get out on the water and have fun and cruise our huge lake. Just because it is an ACBS show does not mean, in our case especially, that that there is no boating going on. Get up here and I’ll prove it…..

  7. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    Great story Matt. I feel absolutely in tune with what you are saying. I will never own a boat that I am afraid to use. If I did, I would have to reconsider why I owned it and what the hell had happened to me.

    I would like to mention Steve and Diane Heitman of Tavares, who spent most of last weekend coming and going from the show dock, giving rides to all comers in their stunning, fully restored KERMATH-powered 26′ 1930 Dart triple. These great people get it – big time. We went out on Tuesday in their lovely 350 powered 1957 CC 17 Runabout, super user and just great fun. A fabulous day for us, and a fabulous perspective.

    I think the use and operational enjoyment of the boats is critical to perpetuating a connection within younger folks or new people in the hobby. Static displays work for what they do, but if you can give free ride to a guy with his kid, the kid will remember that and maybe the dad will get an interest – and a boat. The cycle of emotional connectivity can start again. It seems obvious to me that increased usage of our boats will only serve to expand the appeal of the hobby because more people will be exposed and engaged in boating, rather than viewing.

  8. matt
    matt says:

    We should also mention Rumrunner, she slayed us and must have increased the price of fuel around the globe. He was pounding out rides and sharring the love. This was the best Suunyland show in years because of being out on the water. It felt like a smaller show than usual. But two times the fun.

  9. matt
    matt says:

    Thats a fantastic point. I have thought about that as well, but never had the courage to think of it in any other way.. A festival.. palooza? Thats whats cool about the river run.. Its just not in one place. There is a need for shows.. but also a need for other types of big events. What was cool about Dora was it was both. Algonac is that way as well in a way.. It all stems from charging admission. If someone pays to see cool boats they want to see them. Being out on the water is not great for spectaters I suppose.. unless they are on the boat. I would love to rent an island for a weekend and have all the boats have to motor to the event

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      Palooza is over used. I like festival, since it goes well with having multiple facets and events. Cruises, rides, races, parades, displays, and even a judged event can all be part of the festival.

  10. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Get out and use your boat? Good idea, but please remind me in 4-8 weeks. We just had snow yesterday and it is still cold enough at night to crack an engine block or manifold that is not winterized.

    BTW, that Lake Dora water is looking pretty grungy. Tell whomever is in charge that it is past time to clean the filter!

  11. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    “You finally got you’re mind right, Luke?” It’s about experiencing the wooden boat senses: sight, sound, smells (insert you’re childish bean eating joke here) and touch (more childish jokes, but please keep it PC).

    I find 20 and 30 somethings have an appreciation for older rides BMW, VW, etc. The old beetles and bimmers that they now lower, repower, rim out, and repaint are years before they were born but they gather at web sites: vwvortex, r3vlimited, etc. Then they party at “SoWo” southern worthersee to, not only show, but cruise, “bump”, “lay frame” and party.

    This is their model and they’re not going to stand around hot, humid, stagnant marina water polishing their chrome when they can ride and enjoy the efforts of their re-engineering. My 17 yr old son has enlightened me and I’m “getting my mind right”. I attended “So Wo 2011” with my son in my lowered diesel VW Jetta and “rolled some coal” for the crowd which got this 62 yr old some high fives.

      • WoodyGal
        WoodyGal says:

        Put on your Son’s of varnish T-shirt, have a beer & you’ll feel better! When can you launch?

        • m-fine
          m-fine says:

          Late April to early May is usually safe. I can still get cold but usually not cold enough, long enough to freeze crack the engine and manifolds. I have debated picking up a heat cable and thermostat from tractor supply to get in earlier, but there are usually other issues anyway.

          Last year we had high water levels, this year with so little snow we have the opposite problem. Squirt only needs 11″ of water and our tunnel drive Penn Yan 18″ so I could get them in at the launch and on to the lake, unlike an inboard and most outboard and stern drives that wouldn’t make it yet. However, we need the lake to go up another 4-5″ before we can get the PY in and out of the lift. Probably another 2-3 weeks minimum.

  12. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    If you need a word for a non judged “user” classic boat event,we call them “rendezvous” up here in Michigan. Some of us would like to make all of our Chapter events Rendezvous, but many of our members still enjoy some form of judging, so we try to make our events a combination of both.

  13. RiverRat
    RiverRat says:

    Yes I have hugged my boat today and then had a couple of beers with my First Mate. If you want Islands I know of a place where there are at least a thousand of them. We are the most happy anchored off one of them in one of our Lymans.

  14. Ol'Salt
    Ol'Salt says:

    So what is the story on the cool cruiser in the header. What a beautiful boat. Looks like they are having runabout fun in a luxury cruiser. Tell me more.

  15. Tommy holm
    Tommy holm says:

    Well I,m glad you didn,t say the “insurance/liability” word in your expose. We have been afraid of lawsuits for tooooo long.

    Ride a Thoroughbred!

  16. Jeff P
    Jeff P says:

    I just like to hear the motors run. As i think a whole lot of people do. Hessel i thi.k used to have all or most of the owners start thier boat and just let them run for a little while. Whatever happened to that???

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