The 36th Annual Portage Lakes Antique and Classic Boat Show.


This report in from Fellow Woody Boater Rich Marschner

The 36th Annual Portage Lakes Antique and Classic Boat Show held this past weekend near Akron, Ohio, was a gem.
Ohio’s Portage Lakes
– ten interconnected lakes that sit on the fulcrum of the division between the northern Lake Erie watershed and the Ohio River watershed to the south – have long been a boater’s haven.
We had 48 boats – easily the most in the history of this show – and what a great gathering it was. There were our long-time contenders, but there were also new boats a-plenty – including two very nice pre-war barrel-backs

and an incredible home-built runabout whose construction spanned nearly 70 years. “Dad’s Legacy” was, for many, the most interesting boat in our show.

Plus there was something special from the fiberglass era that really caught the judges’ attention…but more on that later.

I can hardly express what a charge I got out of my first boat show ever, of any kind – I had never even owned a boat until just before this show, so it was a real maiden voyage. My wife and I bought Woody Boater Matt Smith’s “Sylvia” this spring, and have had her in the water, oh, maybe five hours total.

We considered no sunfish, no outboards, no nothing – we went all out, buying the 1941 Chris-Craft barrel-back which Matt had consigned to the Antique Boat Center in Cincinnati. Dennis and Lou took such good care of us, including a memorable “cruise” on the Ohio River the weekend we picked Sylvia up. It was the first time we’d heard the MBL 158-hp motor fire up – a moment I’ll never forget. Thanks, guys…what a generous introduction to boating you provided us.

Sylvia being judged. HEY! get off my x boat, ya thats the wrong chrome nail.. Get your hand ut of my exahst pipe.. Hey hey wait.. no I wont cough!!!!

When you walk in on the 36th Annual Anything, you’re missing a lot of perspective. Many of these members have been involved for decades, and our personal small arrival in 2011 was very much a non-event. So we tried to just meld in, tried to figure out what the routine was…and then we found out that the guys who have been here forever were doing everything they could to make you feel welcome, like you’ve been here all along, even though you don’t have any idea whatsoever what’s actually going on.
So let’s see…what did the visiting public see this past weekend in north-central Ohio?
They saw the most boats ever at this show…48 altogether…ranging from the early ‘20’s to the ‘80s.
They saw a boat which was home-built, started in the early 1940’s but not completed until just a couple of years ago by the next generation. “Dad’s Legacy,” finished in 2009 by Larry and Jinny Ottermat after decades of sitting in storage, is an 18-foot runabout with entirely classic lines. The judges and voters all approved – “Dad’s Legacy” won its Contemporary Powered Craft class and placed 4th as the People’s Choice.

Jason Hammond entered his 1922 18-foot Thomson Bros. “Hiawatha” canoe (geez, it’s only a foot shorter than my barrel-back!) and handily won in the “Non-Powered” class.
And there was Eric and Julie West’s awesome triple-cockpit 1928 Hacker Craft Dolphin Triple that won both its antique runabout class and the People’s Choice…but then it almost always does.
Just finished this spring after nearly ten years of patient restoration since being salvaged — as gray as they come — from a farmer’s field in north-central Ohio, Larry and June Prebis’s 17-foot 1942 Century Seamaid barrel-back won easily as best antique runabout under 20 feet.
From the fiberglass era, there was Carl Lange’s perfectly restored chocolate-bronze 1972 Chris-Craft XK18 Ski Jet 400-hp monster, which won for Best Portage Lakes Boat.
Many other boats won deserving honors, making this year’s event one of the best in a decades-long tradition of displaying northeast Ohio’s most interesting boats to an appreciative and ever-larger crowd.

10 replies
  1. randy & ginger
    randy & ginger says:

    “So we tried to just meld in, tried to figure out what the routine was…and then we found out that the guys who have been here forever were doing everything they could to make you feel welcome, like you’ve been here all along, even though you don’t have any idea whatsoever what’s actually going on.”

    That was us a year ago and we had exactly that same experience!

    We were just going to kinda crusse in there and watch and copy everyone’s behavior until we sorted ourselves out…

    Well, that plan didn’t work…

    We were gathered up and showered with love and affection from the moment we stepped out of the truck and into this fabulous world of antique boating!

    No doubt, it’s the boats that bring the folks together but it is the people you will get to meet that really makes this lifestyle so special and interesting…

    Great story!

  2. jerri
    jerri says:

    I absolutely agree with you 100% Ginger. This is the most welcoming group in the world. By the way…. when are we going to see you again?

  3. Rich Marschner
    Rich Marschner says:

    Chris — The home-built was a 17-foot runabout…it’s pictured right where it’s first mentioned in the story.
    And where are Randy, Ginger and Jerri from?

  4. Texx
    Texx says:

    Rich – Randy & Ginger are from Geneva, Florida, they own “OoRAH” a very cool 1940 24′ Staudacher – Hacker runabout.

    Jerri & Terry are from Ellijay, Georgia, they own a number of boats including “Paramour”, a classic 1962 Chris-Craft Sea Skiff.

    All are fellow Woody Boaters and very active in the South Eastern States, support and attend many boat shows throughout the year.

    • randy & ginger
      randy & ginger says:

      rich, welcome aboard to you and your wife!

      glad to see you all have Sylvia, we’ve never seen her in person but have been following her story on woodyboater…

      we live in central florida, holler if you’re ever in the area. we run the dora chain of lakes, the st. john’s river and the intercoastal…so you never know where you will see us but you will see us…we use our boat, a lot!

      tomorrow OoRAH is going to run the river and then will be on lake monroe watching the sanford fireworks.

      not sure where you are from but if you can, think about the sunnyland show in march 2012…it is huge and great fun! an event to be experienced, for sure!!!

      and if you are near where the blue ridge chapter runs, by all means get in touch with them…fantastic people, beautiful lakes…can’t say enough good things about them!!! we have fallen in love with those guys…

      the charlotte show is in september and it is one of the best! plan on staying for the sunday poker run (it doesn’t matter that you don’t know your way around the lake -we don’t either – they will look out for you so you don’t get lost!!!!)

      we attended a bluegrass chapter event at dale hollow lake last year and had a really good time with those folks, too.

      we consider ourselves…lucky…blessed…to have met some really great people that have become our fast dear friends! like jerri said the antique boating community is the most welcoming group of people we have ever met!!!

  5. Don Ayers
    Don Ayers says:


    It’s so great to see you have jumped in with both feet and are having such a good time. This is the way it should be for newbie’s. I rarely recommend that a newbie to the hobby buy a project boat. You miss out on so much fun as you learn the ropes and get involved.

  6. Bud Long
    Bud Long says:

    Rich! We were so pleased to get to see your boat. What a beauty. Thank you so much for bringing it to the Portage Lakes show. We have room for 55 boats at the show and we came close to “filling” up this year. Your bringing your “41” was a big step toward achieving a full show.
    Thanks again.

    Bud Long
    Chairman, Portage Lakes Antique @ Classic Boat Show

  7. Rich Marschner
    Rich Marschner says:

    Randy and Ginger – we just did the Chautauqua Lake show the weekend of the 8/9th; another really good event that we plan to attend every year. The Southeast events you mentioned are pretty far for us, so we prob won’t be making those shows…tho they sound like great fun.

    Don, you’re so right! By the way, did you ever get the email I sent — or at least tried to send — to the BB site a couple weeks back? If not, I’ll resend…

    Thanks, Bud — it was our pleasure to meet you and the rest of the gang at Portage Lakes, and then again to see so many of the NOC folks at Chautauqua, too!

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