Splash Mob On Balsam Lake.


Bruce Bildsten in his 1947 Gar Wood Ensign “Rabbit” with his boathouse in the background. (Please pretend you didn’t see the jet ski.)

A huge thanks to fellow Woody Boater Bruce ” Rabbit” Bildsten for sending in this fun report of a spontaneous “splash mob” on Balsom lake Mn. not all shows need to be months of planning.

“Rabbit” passes a classic Wisconsin resort.

“It’s that time of year when the pages of Woody Boater are filled with one spectacular boat show after another: Clayton, Tahoe and (a little closer to home) Gull coming up soon. And while the shows are great, sometimes woody boaters just want to go out and do some woody boating. Last Saturday, I posted an outing for fellow WoodyBoaters on Balsam Lake, Wisconsin, which is where our cabin is. It’s a short 70 mile drive up the beautiful St. Croix River Valley, so it’s an easy day trip from Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Bruce at the helm of “Rabbit”

With 2,400 acres filled with islands and inlets it’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon with your fellow woody boaters. We’re also fortunate to have a big restaurant with plenty of new dock space and a gorgeous patio overlooking the lake. All I had to do was announce the event through the club and tell everyone to meet at the restaurant -Paradise Landing- 11ish. Paradise not only reserved the slips, but also created a big welcome banner.

The gang’s almost all here. The others are down at the dock.

We had nine boats in attendance, which was just about perfect, including two fiberglassics. Dane Anderson brought his camera and his perfect glass Spifire (the same model and color his father bought new.) A neighbor from across my bay, Matthew Toenjes, brought his 1966 Sierra Alpex fiberglassic that he bought new in 1966 and has never left Balsam Lake, except for service.

Some ruffian sports a “Speedboat Outlaws” t-shirt.

There was a nice selection of Chris-Crafts, two Shepherds and my Gar Wood Ensign. After a great lunch and stories (as a huge fan of “Slapshot” I especially liked NHL referee Ian Sandercock’s stories about the good old days in the NHL) we spent a glorious afternoon cruising Balsam.

Speedboat Outlaws –  Balsom Lake Chapter -#15 Mahogany, perfect blue skies, water and friends. Life is really quite simple, isn’t it?”

Great boats, great people and a beautiful Saturday in Wisconsin lake country, now that’s my idea of a boat show.”

Another great name:  Born Again is John and Karen Freed, 1947 Deluxe Runabout.

“My only regret, considering we had Dave Bortner in attendance, is that we didn’t pull up to the sandbar and put my Eez-In ladder to use.”

Chris’ perfect 20-foot Shepherd “Encore” is another Balsam Lake cabin boat.

Dave Bortner’s 1940 18′ Chris Craft Sportsman “Lucky”, with Jim Goulding at the wheel.

Alan & Barb Lindquist’s Chris Craft Sportsman “Blue Heron”. When I mentioned to Al that Barb looked much more comfortable the helm than my wife, Al pointed out that Barb was a retired Northwest Airlines 747 pilot. I guess she’s comfortable!

Tom & Pat Scherber’s 1955 Chris Craft Holiday “Julliard”. What a great name, considering the music that comes out of that flathead.

Ian Sandercock’s 1955 Shepherd “Sandy’s Mistress” always attracts (and holds) a crowd.

6 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Great story and a beautiful group of boats. That is, for sure, what classic boating is all about. I wish I would have been part of that great day!

  2. Bob frfom Mazeppa
    Bob frfom Mazeppa says:


    Do you have a picture of your ladder? We are trying to decide what kind of ladder to get to make beaching our Skiff Craft more convenient.

  3. Rabbit
    Rabbit says:

    Thanks for the shout out, Matt. And Bob, regarding the ladder, Dave Bortner went to the original maker of Eez-in ladders and had a limited run of their original ladders from the 50’s made. They’re really solid, functional, reasonably priced and historically correct. If you click on Freedom’s ad here on Woody Boater, it will take you to their website where you can pick one up.

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