The Classic Boat Culture Is At A Crossroads!

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Fla Fri 31 Majestic

Our future – Lorraine Tamsky of Majestic Briteworks relaxing at The Palm Gardens on the Dead River.

This past Lake Dora show was to us here one of the best events of the past Lake Dora events. But, it down in size, both at the gate and with vendors. Gas prices are way below the norm, the weather was amazing, and the event was well publicized online and locally on Fox Orlando News..

Sure there was some crap weather on Saturday, and the gate was down. But the participants showing was down a bit as well. BUT, and its a big BUT Bertha Big Boogie Butt, BUT here. We must have had 30 folks come up to the tent who had never been and were happy to be there and will come back. That is a sign of a great product, returning traffic. Woody Boater is still growing, with over 250,000 unique people coming to the site, and over 60% return. So that’s over 125,000 people out there interested. And that’s just Woody Boater. Over 20,000 came to the site on the CBS Sunday Morning show. There are people out there.

fun day fla 9

They come from all over the globe. Our family is worldwide now.

So what is it? AGE? Interest? Cost of the boats? The simple answer is YES, and NO, the way we see it here at Woody Boater is that the “Hobby” was late to the game in truly identifying who the next generation is, and more importantly how they think. How they think is the most important part here.

Fun Day Fla Ramsey

The future. Scott Ramsey of the Ramsey Bros Restorations

The “Next Classic boat Generation” is around 30, doesn’t like joining clubs or anything for that matter, they don’t read paper anything or even watch TV. Boating is a dream still since they are just paying off Collage costs and first home down payments. They may have 1 or two kids and dealing with all that. BUT..again… We are talking about a mind set here. Our Next Generation” is a romantic curator of sorts. They are not interested in the restoration of a show boat right now, but more of a continuum of history.

kids 2 Wave

The next generation is alive and well. look for a great feature in the Brass Bell on these guys.  Don’t have a subscription? You still read don’t you?

They want to show off the age of there boat or car. They don’t have $100K to sink into a boat of any kind. We asked around, the hot market in the classic boat world today is $25K and under. Makes sense. These are guys..mostly that don’t want a new boat or boring boat. They see and feel the art of things. The same guys that would clear coat over a rough rusty paint job on a car. Like Gas Monkey Garage.  This crowd does not see themselves in a boat show of sorts. They want to be out on the water and have an excuse to go boating with others.

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 8.41.07 PM

Chris Wise and his all original boat are always a hit at the shows

Saturday 5

Lets go!

The Lake Dora traffic and amount of boats is a reflection of a missed generation of Gen Xers that felt like they couldn’t participate in an old rich mans game. yes, that’s not the case anymore, but to be honest, it was and we are paying the price of that bureaucratic head in the sand opinion. Note, don’t bother with millennials, they will Uber there own boats. They don’t even buy cars. BTW, that’s a concept. Boat rides to places. Offer it up like Uber.

Fueling at Mount Dora

Three generations of Classic boaters! We miss you Larry!

The good news is that it’s happening, and we are seeing growth in the area of lower cost boats and fun events like the amazing Gull Lake Woods and Water event. The number proved that. How did that happen? The way it was put together, and Marketing. It was masterfully marketed by an amazing team. They used social media, digital banners, video, and planned a year in advance. They went all in and it paid off.

woods Guys

Young cool restorers are becoming regular faces at event like Woods and Water on Gull Lake

All will agree that the Woods And Water event was mostly under 60, if not under 50. These folks there were there to see the boats, but many arrived in cool boats. The thing we must all do is think hard about our events and think differently about them. Get a 30 or 40 something to help plan it.

Saturday 21

This boat was not registered for the show, but they showed up! Thats the future knocking on your cabin door.

Get folks out on the water. No more boring music. Play cool music, have a cool party before the event. By the way, this years Woodystock welcome party hosted by many was a huge event and every year gets bigger. Think of the show as a party. A reason to go boating.
Maybe start it two days earlier to get vendors and participants involved. Heck, all i want to do is go boating and hang around with good pals that share my passion.

Ham Helm

Tats on a Milenial at the helm. Maybe there is hope after all!

94 replies
  1. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    I have long felt that the emphasis on judge shows and over the top restorations to “factory original” was a major problem for the ACBS and the hobby. That pursuit has certainly helped preserve a certain subset of boats and our collective knowledge, but it has come at a huge cost of alienating the next generations. Things are changing in ACBS and Sunnyland is not even a judged show but it still suffers from the old reputation.

    The emphasis on paper media is another issue. The Brass Bell is a very high quality publication and it is loved by many of the current CCABC members, but I think it takes up way too much of the club’s funds and attention if you want to attract the under 50 set. Newspapers and magazines are dead to people in their 40’s and were never a thing to those younger. A good article on Woodyboater probably gets read by 100 times as many people as a great article in the Brass Bell. If you focus in on the under 50 set, I bet it will be more like 1000 times as many and for under 30, any even larger gap. And Woodyboater is already an outdated format to the next generation beyond that. They are following their favorite YouTubers, not reading blogs or postings on Facebook.

    Young people are out there boating, the hobby needs to figure out how to reach them and retain them.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      As a person who gets out to many classic boating events annually, I completely agree with m-fine’s insight here today.

      • George Emmanuel
        George Emmanuel says:

        I sort of agree, but it is the older group that provides the volunteers and financial contribution necessary to keep things going. There’s an old saying in churches: For every aged member that passes away, it takes 5 newer members to fill the gap.

        As for magazines, you can’t beat a good bourbon, a comfy chair, and a good vintage boating magazine!

    • gene porter7
      gene porter7 says:

      Great discussion today, particularly the eagerness to get younger people involved.

      But the boat shows are still very useful; they are a venue – perhaps a major venue – where non-boaters get enthused about the hobby. And this works best by far for in-water shows where owners are free to grab an interested kid or a family off the dock and take them for their first ride in an old boat. This kind of informality for shows can have a high payoff and is well worth promoting – just don’t think about charging for rides, which would take you – and perhaps the show sponsors – into a whole new world of insurance issues. So keep the shows, but focus them on using the boats, not just gazing at them.

      So less formality and more boat rides at shows sounds good, but what about the judging process?

      Most know that the formal ACBS judging process is strongly focussed on originality/authenticity and favors preservation over restoration/replication. But less than half the ACBS Chapter shows are now judged by these standards and this blog suggests there is considerable antipathy out there for a judging process that demands originality. As with hot-rod cars ashore, there is at least some enthusiasm for tastefully customized old boats – particularly non-wood boats. We need to make sure the vintage boat tent is big enough for both flavors of enthusiasm. But don’t forget that the ACBS decade-old enthusiasm for preservation was intended in part to discourage replanking 92 point boats in the hopes of reaching 98 points a year later. The patina of old wood has had a lot of woodyboater support in months past.

      When asked “what is the difference between a high-scoring ACBS boat and a good museum boat?” The standard answer is “ACBS boats are actually USED” (the often derided “hanger queens” excepted). That is why ACBS rules require judged boats to arrive at shows under their own power – where facilities permit. So is it time to rethink the core “originality” standard in the ACBS liturgy, and consider leaving “originality” to the several excellent vintage boat museums while the ACBS Chapters drift away from originality toward new more subjective criteria of workmanship and quality – much like the Street Rod culture?

      Worth some discussion?

      Gene Porter
      Past pres, acbs

  2. Miles Kapper
    Miles Kapper says:

    Some interesting points. As these 30 year olds start collecting boats they will most likely start looking for the same genre’s that we started with when we got into it. Chances are they will be looking at Fiberglass for many reasons the most important being the memories they had growing up. To this end the Fiberglassics are becoming more popular and we are beginning to see this in more web sites that cater to them.

  3. WoodyBoater
    WoodyBoater says:

    Oh god! I feel so old! Sadly you are right even about woody boater in its current state. We are though under way with the next evolution of woodyboater for that reason. It’s a revolution of change that we here love by the way. What an exciting time to be alive!

  4. Mike K
    Mike K says:

    it seems for the first time in years this show did not take place on the same week as my childrens spring break. did they move it up a week to avoid easter? just a thought, im leaving for florida this friday (sans boat, renting a plastic due to no lift at rental home)


  5. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    So WoodyBoater, CCABC and ACBS you want to market to the next generation? You may want to sit down and watch this. You think you have high quality photos and great articles, and you do, but don’t think your competition is without talent. This video is not the work of a national organization, it is the work of a few kids who happen to boat on the same branch of the same lake I do. Watch a few of their videos and you will want a wake boarding boat too!

    THIS is your competition….

  6. Ed F.
    Ed F. says:

    Along with being a WoodyBoater and a daily follower on this website, I also am a daily follower on a classic truck website. Specifically 67-72 Chevy trucks, that site has a flashy name, A recent thread asked ” how old were you when your truck was born”? I was really surprised at the young age of members there. At 63 years old, Iam ancient on that site, while sometimes at boat shows I feel like a youngster. The younger generation of truck enthusiasts have very different ideas of what a classic truck should look like. They want 20″+ wheels and air suspension that drops the frame to the ground. They also embrace “patina” real or faux. The older guys like me, prefer the more stockish look with rally wheels, slotted aluminum wheels or Crager SS. Or totally factory stock. At first I was appalled at what the younger guys were doing to these trucks but over time I realized that they are doing the same things we did when we were younger, just a different definition of cool. Iam not convinced that we skipped the genXers. I think they are coming to the party but just coming slower than maybe we would like. I think it’s important to accept what the younger generations think is cool. The important part is that boats and cars are being saved and passed on from generation to generation. Our parents and grandparents certainly didn’t approve of our definition of cool. It would be very interesting to ask the question here, “how old were you when your boat (boats) were born”? And also what did “modern” boating look like when you were growing up? What influenced you as youngster that planted the seeds of your interest in boating?

    • Troy in SC
      Troy in SC says:

      I was not alive when my boat was born.

      That being said for the other boat that I did bring to Dora this year I was 23. That is an interesting question.

      For Matt and Texx I want to ask with all this information what are the plans/ideas for the WoodyBoater event that was talked about last year?

    • Tom F.
      Tom F. says:

      I was not even born for 3 of them, 1936,1953 and 1956. Growing up on the St Clair River with both sets of grandparents also on the river above Algonac, one grandfather had a 1938 17′ CC runabout before I was born…pictures of this boat planted the seed. I was heavily entrenched in boating from the moment I was born in 1957. Whether it was playing with toy boats, going out on the family boat or waiting for the day when I could get my license… “modern” boating for me was starting around 1968 . Dream boat was a 13’Boston Whaler. Ended up with a 14′ rowboat (Miley Smith school boat) with an 18hp Johnson…much like a Lyman. This was my first restoration. Conversely my best friend, who’s parents were well off, his first boat was a new 1968 20′ Bertram “Baron”…fastest boat on the river and he was just 12 years old. Fiberglass was well on it’s way to replacing wood. I worked at a state boat harbor in high school and college. Sea Rays were the new “Chris Crafts”. I remember when it clicked big time. A kid came in to the gas dock with an early 50’s CC cockpit runabout…from that moment on I was hooked. Then I found the first Real Runabouts vol. at the library and it just started accelerating. Of course growing up in the land of GarWood, Chris Craft and Hackercraft didn’t hurt..but that Speltz book opened my eyes to boats I never knew existed. I think boat shows, and the internet are the “eye openers” for some today…because their able to see things they never knew existed.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Ed F. – Good commentary today, we appreciate what you are saying.

      One thing that we are seeing more and more in the hobby is people commenting that their wooden boat has been passed down through generations within the family, but in many cases, the next family generation isn’t interested in taking responsibility for the family boat.

      Not sure if this is related to costs of maintenance, repairs, storage, if the family cabin is still around or if they are simply no longer interested. – Texx

  7. Bob Kays
    Bob Kays says:

    I met a young couple this winter at a gathering of ski boat owners. They are getting married this fall. If they can arrange a waterfront reception, they really want to arrive in a mahogany boat. I will make it happen for them. There is hope, but we all have to work it and encourage it. They also now read WB.

    • Pat Oven
      Pat Oven says:

      Bob, I had a similar experience a number of years ago when a young couple asked if I would deliver them to their wedding reception in my Chris Craft. Everyone at the reception expected to see them arrive in your standard limo. What a surprise when the boat arrived instead. Whenever I see folks that were at that wedding reception they still talk about the old wooden boat. We just need to keep promoting our sport to all generations.

  8. Kent B
    Kent B says:

    We ask similar questions in a much different pastime: Iceboating.
    The correlations are never clear. Low fuel prices should spur activity. Hotel availability and price has been relatively stable but not always favorable. (Remember when people used to camp?).
    Judged shows are similar to Competition racing. Many people will not register or even come because they feel they are not “good enough”. But in iceboating, just as I saw in Dora last year, more than half of the reason to come is The People! The trick is to encourage participation without fear of being “Judged” Unrestored, and “Rat-Rod” classes should be emphasized. And of course any boat in the water and running is a beauty to behold, especially to her owner. I cannot get over how often I see a boat parked at a boat show, and the owner isn’t even there all weekend. Sort of misses the point doesn’t it?
    Your pictures of people out smiling and waving and making wake on Lake Dora is what inspires me to attend. Sure I like seeing the beauties lined up on the docks, but until they run and “Cut water” they are just furniture.

  9. Gene porter
    Gene porter says:

    You feel old?
    I was feeling smugly ” with it” for routinely eschewing TV and facebook, but having just spent nearly an hour reading my several newspapers before turning to WB, I suddenly feel hopelessly dated.

    More generally, a nice analysis of the hobby’s generational situation.

  10. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    It appears my comments with links don’t show up, so add the h t t p and slashes manually…

    So WoodyBoater, CCABC and ACBS you want to market to the next generation? You may want to sit down and watch this. You think you have high quality photos and great articles, and you do, but don’t think your competition is without talent. This video is not the work of a national organization, it is the work of a few kids who happen to boat on the same branch of the same lake I do. Watch a few of their videos and you will want a wake boarding boat too!

    THIS is your competition….

    h tt p s:

    They eat bacon too!

  11. Fred S
    Fred S says:

    Good article, I’m in my mid sixties and owned two Chris Crafts at the same time, phew, one I kept for 27 years and just recently sold back to the original owners son, who is my age. I love the old mahogany boats, but now I’m much happier. I still have wood boats, but they are small, and manageable, a 13′ Lyman, and a repro Penn Yan Swift. Painted sides, varnished decks. I can easily launch and retrieve these by myself, I can lift the trailer onto the hitch, by myself, and don’t need a huge truck to launch, and can easily store these for the winter in the garage. These are the boats I remember as a kid, so I’m still in the hobby, but with less stress. Now all I need is a Sweet 16 Donzi.

  12. Rabbit
    Rabbit says:

    We keep coming back to this discussion, but it’s so important. We made a concerted effort to get a younger crowd to Woods & Water, but we wish we could have done even more.

    I think the biggest issue is that classic boating seems like a more expensive and labor-intensive hobby than it really is. (I can’t tell you often people have asked me if I had to varnish my boat every week.)

    People in their 30’s are into vintage motorcycles, cars and trucks: they just put their own spin on them. Rat rods, the shift from Harley’s to vintage Japanese converted to cafe racers… we just need to let a new generation define what’s cool to them and not get so hung up on what we think is right.

    A few ideas:

    – More outings and less judged shows.
    – Partner with vintage bike and car clubs: Let those people see the light. It will happen if we rub elbows.
    – I think there’s a huge opportunity for interaction between Woody Boater and other cool men’s blogs like A Continuous Lean or Gear Patrol. I haven’t had much luck yet, but I’m still trying.
    – More patina. More fiberglass.
    – Sorry, but ACBS needs to loosen their grip. New blood needed!

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      Rabbit – Good comments and I agree with you. I would like to understand or define what “new blood’ is, though. At one point I was probably thought to be that, but now after5 years on the ACBS BOD, perhaps I have become one of the “old guard”??? LOL…not likely.

      New blood to me is new ideas, passion and energy and a willingness to step out of the old box. Age is not as important as creativity and a willingness to try new things. Having been involved on both the ACBS and CCABC and my local chapter BOD’s for a long time, we all try to attract this “new blood”. Finding willing and able folks is a BIG challenge – the will is there in all the groups I am involved with, but are the people available? They are not easy to find most of the time.

      Personally, I am all for as many boating activities as possible, non-judged shows, partnerships and the widest array of boats achievable, of almost any hull material you can name. Those are the “likes” I brought into or quickly developed within the hobby and they are continually reinforced by my evolving experiences and attitudes. I love ‘patina” and my Skiff has logged 227 hours in the 5 years I have owned it (after logging only 117 in the first 45 years of its’ life)- and its’ but one of several boats I use. I am a boater and hobbyist and I like to be around others who feel the same way and like to be on the water with friends. That’s why I am here.

      I want to attract more glass, meaning participants, but I want the wooden boats as much as ever. More glass to me means more overall participants, not less wood! That message needs to be out there.

    • Jack D
      Jack D says:

      “we just need to let a new generation define what’s cool to them and not get so hung up on what we think is right.”

      I couldn’t agree more. Have your judged shows, but do something else that excites the general public. No one outside of ACBS gives a damn about whether the brass screws are vintage correct etc.

      The local ACBS has joined with the Hydroplane Museum in sponsoring Mahogany and Merlot at Lake Chelan, WA. Some racing, lots of free boat rides and a beautiful setting.

      The problem is, it is way out in the sticks; not near any Metropolitan area, and that is where the next gen lives.

      • Texx
        Texx says:

        Jack D – Thanks for your comment today. Woody Boater is a big fan of the Mahogany & Merlot event and have attended many times. Although this event is away from a major populated area, it has the potential be be a huge season ending event if marketed and promoted properly with the help of the local Chelan Chamber. – Texx

  13. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    want an example of the wrong mindset and how it has negative impacts for the hobby.
    How about the email I got, and assume many of you all did, from ACBS touting their intent to fight for their copyright on the term “Keels and Wheels” such BS.
    ANYONE that wants to GO BOATING in the antique way should be encouraged and supported and have their … kissed not kicked…..IMHO.
    A real positive: the COMMUNITY we all have together….Proved again in Tavares…..great boat, great time, great friends!

    John in Va.

    • Jeff Funk/President ACBS International
      Jeff Funk/President ACBS International says:

      Just to clarify, that was one Chapter, not ACBS International. That particular Chapter invested a lot of resources in the title ‘Keels & Wheels’, and then spent the time and money to have it copyrighted. It’s their legal right, whether you or I believe it a generic term that should be shared by all.

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      John – I have to step in and correct your post. The issue with the Keels and Wheels is NOT with the ACBS – it is with the group in Houston/Seabrook (non-ACBS) that puts on that specific show and has done for years. It is they who are preventing the ACBS, local chapters or anyone else from using it – and that is their right. They own it and copyrighted it, but I agree with you in spirit.

    • Mike Fogarty
      Mike Fogarty says:

      I got the same e-mail and I cannot believe these folks would object to our Indian Lake ACBS Chapter holding our 18th Annual Wooden Keels and Vintage Wheels show which has been called by that title since its inception. It is a different name from the Seabrook show, but in today’s litigious climate, Who Knows? It certainly throws cold water one one’s enthusiasm Mike

  14. Jeff Funk/President ACBS International
    Jeff Funk/President ACBS International says:

    This has and continues to be a challenge for our own hobby, antique/classic cars, and other clubs of similar genre. Times change, the younger genertion wants and has different views/interests, are more involved in family dynamics (can you say travel sports?), etc. Then, when those of us who are more senior are in a position to evolve our clubs to attract younger members…we’ll many times we just don’t ‘get it’. Good example—my parents never got me or my brother either. As one who has some influence in the ACBS, it’s been our primary goal to reach out and attract the very group Matt’s talking about here. This is one of the reasons the ACBS reached out to and now embraces early model fiberglass boats…much has Matt has done on this site. A positive step, but much more needs to be done. Another positive step we’re making is appointing younger folks to the Board. At least they ‘get’ what their own generation wants. We certainly don’t have all the answers, but this issue is critically important, we recognize that and will keep moving to attract those that will make up the future of this great hobby. Good article Matt, we need to keep talking about this.

  15. steve bunda
    steve bunda says:

    Some of us wood boat coinsures have been waiting for the day that the culture grows to include younger owners. That change could expand the interest and focus away from fully restored and expensive rare show boats to , entry level, and all other descriptions and classes.
    Many of us have stashed away excellent original boats for the next generation to enjoy. When I got into the hobby one of the most exciting things was to find a original boat that had been put away and preserved for years.
    Here is a Chris Craft stored waiting to be discovered, look at how thin the deck stripes are, and how tight the planking is.

  16. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    Maybe we just need to make more effort to bring our own to the shows. Two years ago I brought a 22 year old grandson to Tavares…He was hooked. I took him again this year and John Hawbecker let him drive his 17′ Chris Ski boat back from the picnic. The kid loved it and is already talking about coming back next year. The fact that Carla made a big fuss over him didn’t hurt.

  17. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    I just had to jump in to this very important topic that is concerning all of us associated with this great hobby.
    Roy Schoehnerr, one of our Michigan chapter directors, recently kicked off one of the best initiatives that I have seen in the 10 years I have been on our board. Because of his corporate background, Roy decided we should put together a “Five Year Plan” for our chapter. He has solicited involvement on a committee from several of our younger and younger thinking members. The task is to address the issues pertaining to membership, shows, all chapter events, etc., and provide recommendations for our charter and future direction of the club. The activity is just getting started, but I am personally excited about what this group will be able to accomplish. Although I am not part of the committee, I have already thrown a few of my thoughts at Roy, and plan to help out in any way I can.

  18. Don Vogt
    Don Vogt says:

    We continue to plow this same ground, with modest improvement. We have to keep asking ourselves what a newer generation wants out of the boating experience, how they communicate, and in what form do they want communications to them, what forms of social interaction appeal to them, etc. I feel we are still somewhat stuck in the “elks club of the water” mode at acbs, and straightfoward print communications, such as the Rudder, the Brass Bell, and Classic Boating, as great as they seem to us, are probably hopelessly old fashioned in today’s much more visual and web-based media environment.

  19. Don Vogt
    Don Vogt says:

    I wanted to add that we are in a competition for people’s time and attention, and we aren’t using the tecniques of the competitor”s as successfully.

  20. Miles Kapper
    Miles Kapper says:

    m-fine, every year the networks, cable companies, and now the streaming channels (Youtube, Facebook etc.) all do a series of presentations to potential advertisers called the “Upfronts”. I am a stage manager / director for corporate events so I have many “Upfronts” under my belt. Way back when (20 years ago) it was just the big three networks, and a few cable companies presenting. Now – it’s everyone! You might be interested to know that it is Facebook, not Youtube or the networks that distributes more video content than anyone else. Facebook outpaced Youtube for the first time in 2015 and is continuing to spread their lead.

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      First, I am talking about the next next generation, the teens and pre-teens like my kids and their friends. They are big into video. YouToob, Snapchat, Instagram all seem far more popular than Facebook with them although Instagram is a Facebook product.

      That said, the .com behind it is not the point. The point is the medium they prefer to consume is video. They don’t browse web pages and read blogs and they are not interested in READING a facebook post with a few still photos. Magazines? LOL, not a chance.

  21. Dave Nau
    Dave Nau says:

    All great comments. My opinion is things are going the right direction. Starter classic boats are almost by definition fiberglass or aluminum. There are hundreds of thousands out there, waiting to be discovered and restored. It also means outboard power. They are also a lot less expensive. Together, my two small 14′ fiberglass boats cost less than $5000 and one has won several awards in shows. I’m also more interested in cruises than shows, as the former provide more activity and can be shared.

    Time and money is limited for most folks, and small fiberglassic boats are easy to buy, maintain, launch, and tow. A compact CSUV with a 1500 pound tow rating will tow most of them, without having to have an expensive pickup. With many younger people trying to pay off student loans, buy a house, maybe start a family, and maybe even start to save for retirement, it’s the way to go. Heck, I’m retired, but with a daughter in London, England, our travel expenses are high and my little MFG and Arrow Glass boats let me participate in the hobby, while balancing other needs.

    It’s all good, and fiberglass does fit in with all that beautiful mahogany. Provides a little color, too!

  22. Andy C
    Andy C says:

    I am one of the older (39) of the “younger” crowd, but I have been around wooden boats all of my life. Younger people do not want to sit around and look at boats, they want to use them. Even though boat shows have become less static, to some they are still “afraid” to participate because their boat is not rare or in perfect condition. At our event here, we have always looked to expand and hopefully attract new people. For example a couple of years ago we invited an offshore boat group to attend. Most of the boats were considered fiber classics and they brought a whole new group to our show. People want action, they do not want to look at boats, they want to experience them. Sorry for the rambling on, but I would like to see more people of my age enjoying and using wood boats as I have done. BTW the picture is of a group of inner city students that 5 of us took out on our boats. Most of them had never been on a boat let alone a wood boat. They were nervous at first, but we let them drive and experience our boats. When they left, one said to me that he has to “get me a boat like that”. That is what it is all about.

  23. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    I have always thought bring in younger kids to events and getting them out on the water would be a key in planting the seed for the future. Like Wilson said, bring your sons, daughters, and their children.
    I think hooking up with local chapters of the “Big Brother, Big Sisters” organization would accomplish several goals. Community involvement, local press, and planting that seed in a young mind, that if they study, and work hard in life, they too can be part of this hobby. We would also be introducing the Big brother, and Sister to classic boating at the same time; thus hitting two generations at one time.
    Inviting these kids to a local event, or just create a day on the water with several boats, just to take these kids and their sponsors out for a ride, and lunch.
    This idea can be a model for all chapters across the country, were there is a Big Brother, Big Sister chapter.

      ROY SCHOENHERR says:

      Dennis, The Big Brothers / Big Sisters idea is fantastic. We did this every year at our sailing club when we lived out of state, and I still have letters of appreciation in my guest log.
      Plus sponsors are asking “What do you do for the community?” Would you be willing to coordinate this for the MI chapter “Algonac boat show??????????

  24. Bill
    Bill says:

    younger people today are interested in how fast will it go. they are not interested in a old woody that runs along at 20 knots they want speed. that’s why at these car auctions a big engine mustang or 442 olds muscle car goes for more money than a cord or pierce arrow even though they are twice the car in class and quality. they are just not interested in the older stuff us old guys like. they want a new plastic boat that is ridiculously overpowered.

    • Spurrio
      Spurrio says:

      I am pretty sure that the “younger guys” of yesteryear, like Gar Wood, Chris Smith, the Dodge brothers, a few Fords were in to riduculously overpowered wooden boats. Good for them! Look at the legacy they left for us. If that is what interests young people today find a way to incorporate it into the shows. Jersey Skiffs anyone? I own a 52′ 1966 Connie and a 2015 10″ Yamaha Waverunner and I like being able in my late 40’s to pick the speed I want to run at and pick the shows that interest me.

  25. Dave Clyne
    Dave Clyne says:

    Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. I had my best Lake Dora show ever. I interacted with people about their boats. I shared a lament with John Ross who is forced to sell his beautiful “Anejo” because at 85 he can no longer manage the boat without a great deal of pain. Always gracious, he reassured me that at 72 I was still a “youngster”. I celebrated her wonderful restoration with Victoria Bauer, owner of “Sweet Caroline”. I was excited to talk with Ken marvel who had brought a Fleetform, the model that awakened my interest in classic glass. The seminars were worth the trip. I didn’t get out on the water but the people and their boats were fantastic. Helen did do the Canal Tour and returned with “best ever”. See you next year !

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      I know John well and talked with him about his selling Anejo – I was going to mention this earlier. he started boating in 1957 and it was for him a 60-year passion. He both gave and received a lot in this hobby, and it is sad that he is having to let it go, but we’ll all face that. At 85, he is an elder statesman I’ll miss seeing him out in his boat.

      I am glad you enjoyed the event – it is really much more an event than a simple boat show, and that is one of the things that makes it special. We need more events!

  26. Richard Daley
    Richard Daley says:

    R Daley
    The comments presented show there is a real concern on this topic. Most of the bullet points have been discussed. To me one of the major issues that has to be addressed is that of judged shows. The younger generation is not into being judged in any way. The just want to hang with there friends. I belong to a truck club that has an annual international show NO judging of any kind. They routinely get from 500 to 1000 trucks that come for display to these shows. It’s a bring what you got philosophy that encourages all to participate and seems to work.
    That would be a big change for acbs and would certainly be tough for some to accept but if you truly want a younger demo this will have to happen.

  27. Dan Holdmann
    Dan Holdmann says:

    You could classify me as a younger person,38. I think that hard part for me is thinking that I need to bring a 100% period correct restored boat to these events. I have been a boater all my life and only within the last few years have made the switch to classics. A woodworker by trade I purchased my first Chris Craft a few years ago. I keep stalling the restoration because some of the things I want to do to the boat probably wouldn’t be looked at as OK. I want a safe family boat that we could use all the time. Modern engine and electronics, new cold molded bottom are just a few of the upgraded that I want to make.
    I’m also on the board for our local club and want this hobby to continue. I think the key is more acceptance of boats that are not 100% original.

  28. Champagne Taste
    Champagne Taste says:

    I am a person in the targeted demographic of this post after buying a used Fletcher runabout last year. It took a while to convince family members (both old and young) that choosing a lower maintenance wood boat was worthwhile until I took them for a spin. I have just joined ACBS Toronto and look forward to attend some of the activity based events during the year such as the Poker Run and 100 Mile Cruise with my family.

    I have attended the Gravenhurst show with my broader family and do enjoy seeing the eye candy. When you have young kids, the last thing you want to do is spend a day of your summer weekend in the heat looking at someone’s boat versus being on or in the water. This year will be the first time showing our boat. I will bet you most of my day will be with the kids at the Fun Zone at the Muskoka Boat and Heritage Centre.

    If you want more of my demographic, continue having activities in addition to the shows. Interest will come from younger boat owners like myself convincing my friends to buy one based on the fun time they had on the water when they visit.

    Woody Boater is a great site! It reminds me daily of the on-the-water fun that can be had even during the off season.

  29. thomas d.
    thomas d. says:

    we were at dora on Saturday. been looking forward to it for a year. my wife even noticed the boat count was down from when we were last there. i was hoping to see the Golden Pond boats. not there. there was a good crowd when we got there. then it started to rain. a lot of boat owners were rushing to cover their boat. these boats aren’t made of sugar, they are made to get wet. i didn’t get to see a lot of nice boats. I heard several people complaining about this. as far as the future, I don’t see the generation coming up wanting or caring about having a wood boat. can’t see them even thinking about having to do varnish or get dirty. if it doesn’t have a new X phone, internet, speakers sticking up on racks and all the modern day hook ups/plug in they aren’t interested. the crowd i saw were mostly middle age and up. I’m 60, I have 4 woodies plus a couple glass and aluminum boats. . my kids and grandkids have no interest in them, none. it’s like they are ashamed to be seen in them when their friends are riding in a new bayliner or mastercraft. i may have to break down and get one or at least a pontoon. I think as my generation and maybe the one after slowly die out so will our wood boat hobby, but I could be wrong.

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      I had two boats in the show – one my user Sea Skiff and the other my show level Continental. It rained and I didn’t bother to covert them up. Why? Because as you say, they ain’t made of sugar! It is water, not acid and soon the sun would be out to dry them off. The sun is more harmful to the finish than the water if truth be told.

      At 51 I am not one of the older guys but no longer a spring chicken, either. I have and do own both show boats and users, and the more I get along in the hobby, the more I realize that for me, the user is where it’s at. I prefer original power and whatnot, but I don’t care what someone else does to his boat, so long as he uses it!

      I actually know quite a few younger adults that are into the boats and appreciate them for what they are. Not all of course, but we can’t paint that generation with too broad a brush. They’ll find or develop hobbies for themselves and some of these will be variations of current hobbies enjoyed by older generations. There’ll be differences, but I think the hobbies will essentially survive in one form or another.

      • Dave Nau
        Dave Nau says:

        We just had a huge Piston Power Show at the I-X Center in Cleveland this past weekend. It had 2.2 million square feet of anything powered by a piston engine. Antique cars, classic cars, muscle cars from the 60’s, hot rods, custom cars, airplanes, military vehicles, motorcycles of all sorts, tractors, and of course, boats and outboard motors. Our local ACBS and AOMCI chapters participated with 18 boats, about 25 outboard motors, and even an Amphicar.

        This show had everything. Huge diversity in the crowd, from young families with little kids to guys pushing 100, and everybody in-between. Some car and motorcycle clubs had judging for their portion, but most did not. Jay Leno was there to give his “Big Dog” award for his personal favorite – a 1966 Pontiac 2+2 421 tri-power with 8 lug wheels and a factory four-speed.

        Well over 1000 vehicles on the floor, spread over two levels. I worked both the ACBS and AOMCI areas and was pretty busy. Tons of questions about everything, with the most interest coming from people loving the Amphicar and the 5 outboard hydroplane racing boats we had, although there was also a lot of interest the the 1939 99% original wood triple-cockpit Chris Craft runabout we had on display.

        There were lots of activities for kids at the show, and some families made a day of it. Not sure of final numbers for this year, but attendance has been growing each year, with about 45,000 paying to get in last year. Cost was $18 per person, less for kids, with parking for $10. Our boat clubs got in free if you brought a boat or motor.

        Bottom line, make it fun, keep the kids busy with activities, and folks will turn out.

        Our local North Coat Ohio ACBS chapter plans to have a big new two-day unjudged rendezvous event in mid-May on the new city-owned transient docks behind the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Lake Erie in Cleveland. Free and open to the public, we’re trying this for the first time. We’ll see how it goes – we’re pretty excited to give it a shot. The event will be called the “Rock & Dock”. This will be in addition to our traditional judged show at Portage Lakes the last Saturday in June.

        • Texx
          Texx says:

          Dave Nau – Thanks for chiming in, all good points. I was able to follow the Piston Power Show from Cleveland this year via Facebook, it was really great – next best thing to being there.

          The show you are planning proves that there are people out there who are willing to be innovative and try new things. Nice work! – Texx

  30. Mark B.
    Mark B. says:

    I went to a professional shop a few weeks ago to see what was going on. At 55 I was probably the youngest person there which did not bother me but the fact that everyone knew each other and didn’t care to talk to anybody new did. We need to share and be open to conversations with others regarding whatever they wish to discuss. I did my own restoration and although my twenty something kids were there when I needed help they were not really interested in diving in – probably more fearful to mess up something than anything else. I am okay with that as hopefully one them will someday carry the legacy on and know that if the crazy old man could do it then they can to.

    There seem to be two Marks now so I will be Mark B.

  31. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    There are a few comments here, and I here them elsewhere all the time from this hobby, that the younger generations simply are not interested in wood boats. I think that is incorrect. They are not interested in wood boat shows and wood boat clubs, but if anything, the younger generations today have a better appreciation for the classic things that came before them than the boomers did. At least they show interest in all sorts of classic items that are not boats.

    I would be very surprised if they are ever going to be interested in turning a 97 point boat into a 99 point boat, but offer them a 1959 mahogany ski-boat at a price they can afford with a great sounding v8 and you will see some interest. A triple cockpit runabout with a six figure price tag and no where to put a tow rope or fishing rod? Not so much.

  32. Steve Snider
    Steve Snider says:

    I am the demographic of discussion, 31. I bought my first wooden boat in 2009 and it was pretty much by accident. 1964 Chris Craft Super Sport 20′. I was 24 and wanted a cool boat, something that stood out. The Chris Craft was in rough cosmetic shape but it was cool and just $5,000 bucks. What could i have possibly bought for $5,000 that even compared? I had no idea where I would keep it or how to fix it up. I joined the local ACBS chapter here in Seattle to learn more about working on the boat. Tons of advice, experience and enthusiasm from the club. I was lucky to have my mom’s garage to work on it, some tools and some natural ability. I have lots of friends my age that would love to own a wooden boat but there are quite a few challenges to doing that:
    – Extra cash for initial purchase
    – Garage Space
    – Tow Vehicle
    – Tools
    – Ability
    – Moorage
    – Mentors

    Now I own 2 classic wood boats the second being a 1963 26′ Century Raven which I just completed restoration on. I am the Pacific Northwest ACBS chapter vice president and very involved in the hobby. What got it all started? A $5,000 starter boat and guys in the local club that were willing to share their knowledge, experience and enthusiasm.

    Some might disagree with me but to own a wooden cost quite a bit of money and time. You need a place to work on it which most likely means you need to own a home. This home needs to have a large garage. You need tools which are expensive. You need skill to work on it or money to pay someone else. You need a truck or SUV to tow the boat. Unless you have a 5200 bottom ($$$) you will want to keep the boat in the water most of the summer which requires moorage. Quite a few expensive challenges but not impossible. These are the thing that keep my buddies from buying wooden boats. They want them but don’t have the means at this point in their lives. So instead they work on mine with me and then enjoy the benefits:

    • Andy C
      Andy C says:

      Steve glad to see the Century in the water and being used. I like it without the hardtop. –Andy (the guy you bought the boat from)

  33. CaptainSeth
    CaptainSeth says:

    At 40 I’m on the high end of the demographic you’re talking about here. I can assure you that many of the comments shared are spot on and reflect the issues facing the hobby (and my participation in it). Thank you woodyboater for continuing to address this! Some observations regarding the culture in general:
    -Not welcoming younger folks. “Did you even say hello?”
    -Shows and meetings are formal, stuffy, and not fun.
    -Focused less on the boats and more on socialization in many cases.
    -Tying your boat up at a dock all day means you won’t be out enjoying it all day.
    -Typically hold meetings at restaurants where you wouldn’t find this generation dining.
    -With notable exceptions (thanks woodyboater), lack of online content/education/access.
    -Too much infighting about this vs. that marque vs. plywood boats vs. fiberglass.
    -My boat’s not good enough to be welcomed into a club.

    What do we do? Dispel the rumors that it’s too expensive, too labor intensive, and requires museum-like storage to own and enjoy one of these boats. Show people we can actually use our boats! Resources are not as much of an issue judging from the number of $20-60k wakeboard boats I encounter at the docks these days. Young folks want to be out on the water and they gawk over our boats. We can do more to welcome them in. I’ve run Portland Boat Tours for 4 years giving rides to customers on wooden boats. The demographics of my customers are primarily 30 to 40 something couples and young families that have an immediate connection to the boat. The interest is there. What’s next?

  34. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    m-fine has made some good points about methods of gaining interest of the younger generations. However, a complete transition that would cater to them might mean abandoning all of the folks that presently support our clubs and organizations. We can’t do that.

    We can begin using new generation means to possibly gain their interest in classic boating, we can redefine what classic boating includes that may not exclude them, all while remaining loyal to those long-time supporters that we depend upon to survive the very gap that we are in need of overcoming.

  35. m-fine
    m-fine says:


    I completely agree. The clubs are going to have to keep a foot in both worlds if they want to survive and grow. We don’t want to alienate the core of the clubs that kept things going up to now, and quite frankly we can’t afford to.

    Much like the inclusion of fiberglass should be to ADD fiberglass boats not replace wood ones, we need to add new communication methods so we can add new members, not replace our old members before their time. People talk about this as a shrinking dying hobby, but there is a HUGE opportunity to grow. Just look at the numbers, a few thousand members of ACBS and CCABC and 125,000 people who read Woodyboater more than once. Capture a mere 10% of them and the hobby would be bigger than it has ever been.

  36. Dave Doner
    Dave Doner says:

    Great topic and comments. It is apparent there is still old school enthusiasm for wood boats. It is also apparent that dimensions exist which expand, ad to and promote the notion that boat boat interest and ownership demographics are changing; evolving if you will. I hope this discussion continues and becomes somewhat refined in order to nail down some of the important topic hot spots discussed here. It would seem to me that active, well moderated panel discussions including the various age demographics would be a well attended attractions at our various shows across the country.

  37. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    A few years ago we had a nice display of classic boats at the St. Louis Boat & Sports Show that was noticed by a young couple that had just purchased a new show-special runabout at the adjacent booth. He mentioned that he avoided us at first thinking that our classic boats were far above their price range. He loved what he saw and heard at our display and when he asked about the total investment to get involved, both he and his wife almost cried. They had spent twice that much on their new boat.

  38. Hunter Wright
    Hunter Wright says:

    When I bought my first boat I was 19 years old. It was a 1964 Sabre Craft outboard. Fun little boat. I sold her and was out of boating for two years. At the age of 21 I purchased my 1958 17ft Chris Craft Sportsman. That was in May 2015, in August 2015 I purchased a 1967 31ft Commander, and in November 2015 I purchased a 1967 42ft Commander. These boats are a way of life. My friends and family are now convinced they need a wood boat in their life. I think that it is our duty as wood boat owners to let people experience the life of a boat owner. When someone ask for a ride give it! I have put so many friends into boats with just that simple notion. I am not the normal 22 year old and never plan to be. My generation is interested in boating but it must be made affordable to them and they must feel comfortable. When I was purchasing my boat I had four surveyors hang up on me because of my age, I had cash in hand. Be kind and open a listening ear because you never know what might come of it.

    • Greg Lewandowski
      Greg Lewandowski says:

      Hunter, can I send you an application to the Michigan chapter. We would love to have you in the club!

  39. John unsworth
    John unsworth says:

    Get them when they are young as a Pope once said

    I would like to see the introduction of the 30 club. Each summer, club members commit to taking at least 30 under 15 year olds for a cruise in their boats. These could be neighbours, at ones summer place, or in conjunction with boat shows. If the seed of boat passion is to be planted, this is the time to do it.
    I agree with the writer above that this could also be done in affiliation with big brothers etc.

    One of my most memorable experiences in this regard was picking up my neighbors children at the end of a sailing school session.
    Their mother suggested her children would be thrilled to be picked up in grand style and sure enough they and a number of their schoolmates clamored aboard for a magnificent sunset cruise on the way home.

    They were thrilled and am sure that the wood boat experience has now been inculcated in their Muskoka summer conciousness.

    In my opinion, weaving the pleasure of these fine boats into everyday activities of young people is the key to the sustainability of the hobby

    • Kevin F
      Kevin F says:

      I used to be involved with aviation and there was a concern that was similar to ours. I was a member of EAA (Experimental Aircraft Assoc), and they has a similar plan as mentioned above. They had volunteers take young people up for airplane rides during airshows, or anytime there was a chance. They had a goal to get a set number of kids a ride in a plane (can’t remember the number, but it was big). I remember it being a success.

      I got my boat when I was 39, and I was definitely the youngest person in the group! That was 24 years ago.

  40. Doug F
    Doug F says:

    A lot of these comments hit home. I’m 37 and own a generational family boat that if sold would fall right in that 20k range. I love WoodyBoater and the multiple woody related Instagram accounts I follow because they focus on lifestyle and the boats in use. I have no interest in being judged in a show that will look down on my modern power, West bottom or bilge pump. I love the hobby for the feeling I get on a solitary cruise at 7Am on a Saturday, or when taking friends out for sunset drinks. I love the friendly waves and thumbs up the boat attracts, and the conversations it initiates that I otherwise might not. I love the sight of my young children against the backdrop of a blond stripe thru stained mahogany. There’s a reason why WoodyBoater ads win awards-it’s those feelings they capture first and foremost. If the hobby wants to attract more young people, the best thing that could be done is to show young people using their boats on media outlets they will find. That picture of Matt’s son is the perfect example.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Doug F – Thanks for your insight, we appreciate your and everyone’s comments on this subject today. And yes, we are watching them very carefully.

      Matt & I recently had a lengthy (and fun) conversation about some of the hobby print & website publications that display boaters dressed up in old, period outfits – and the fact that (in our opinion) this may not be what the younger folks are attracted to.

      People having fun on the water with enthusiasm and big smiles works better for us. – Texx

  41. Dick Dow
    Dick Dow says:

    Nothing I could add here that hasn’t already been said and said well! I just want to thank Matt and Texx for their excellence, (spelling notwithstanding 😉 ) enthusiasm and dedication. Woody Boater has had as much to do with the current state and future of this hobby as anyone and we are all enriched as a result.

  42. Ed F.
    Ed F. says:

    I have never heard of a Piston Power show but I love the concept. I hope that catches on. Tons of great thoughts and viewpoints here today. Glad to hear the younger folks weighing in. I believe that there is more interest in classic boats by young people than some think. Our kids and grandkids were raised on the water and are boaters at heart. Our 45 year old son has owned many boats over the years up to 36′. His current boat is a very affordable ’62 18′ Cruisers outboard that he has taken many liberties on during its “restoration”. He is making it his own and it is beautiful. By the way he was minus 9 years old when his boat was born. Our second son is 40 years old and bought a 1986 Switzer a few years ago that was in very neglected condition. He has done a total restoration on that, returning it to showroom condition. He was 10 when his boat was born. His younger daughter, now 14 loves boat shows, says that wood boat rides relieve stress, and finds time in her busy schedule to work with me on her 10′ GlenL Squirt. I see in our kids and the younger people involved in the classic boats and trucks, a real interest and enthusiasm for making their toys their own. Factory originality doesn’t seem important. I must say as much as I enjoy static boat shows it is very disappointing to spend thousands of dollars correcting items on judging sheets between International Shows, to then score 1 1/2 points less than the year before. Not much fun in that. There is something to said for deviating from “Factory Origional” or what some experts claim to be factory origional. I have heard some of the older boat owners complain that, all the younger people want to do is have fun. Isn’t fun what hobbies are all about? Perhaps if we listen and react to the younger point of view they will join us and we will all have more fun.

  43. Dane
    Dane says:

    We need to be more welcoming. It was asked in a comment earlier today, “Did you even say hello?”

    To me the annual boat show has always been about our one day to engage the public. A chance to display our hobby, passion, and boats. The truth that these boats are far less expensive than anything new comes out during dockside discussions. We should be doing everything we can to get the public to our shows and then engage them while they are there. That starts at the gate. There shouldn’t be one. Welcome people to attend, encourage people to attend and then behave like a group that they might want to be a part of. Say hello. Take strangers for a boat ride. We might just make some new friends.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Good points Dane. I remember inviting a young fellow to join us in the shoot boat during the Woods & Water show. You only had to ask once, and he was there with us in the Century. He loved it and was grateful for the opportunity. It’s that easy. – Texx

  44. Sean
    Sean says:

    I’m 55 and have been an ACBS member over 11 years and have owned a wooden boat for about 13 years. Before all this I raced cars for about 15 years and when I felt I couldn’t devote that time any more I restored/refit old sportscars for about 5 years. I stopped playing with cars because of the ever increasing presence of radar… what can I say, I like performance.

    It’s no different with boats. You don’t have to go to fiberglass to get performance but, you’re probably not going to stay stock. My Greavette was under $5000 to buy and took another $20,000+ to get in the water. It is an I/O (I wouldn’t own any other type drive) and currently breaks 50 MPH… It will be even faster this year. It also can tow a tube or a skier and holds 5 people very comfortably. I like to use it as much as possible!

    Not to say I don’t like fiberglass as my current project is a 1966 Thunderbird Formula Jr. V8 I/O. The point is it’s the type of boat and the cost; not necessarily the material of construction. I’d like to see more acceptance of “modded” boats in the ACBS and themes that get away from the romantic 20’s -30’s and embrace the fun 50’s – 70’s Including music and fun parties.

    Let’s not lose what we have… but we can be more inclusive and change things up a bit.

  45. Terry (Tuobanur) Limehouse
    Terry (Tuobanur) Limehouse says:

    All very good points.

    Getting a 40 year old perspective, this is what I am hearing which goes along with what this 60 year old has been thinking. We need to have a boat “festival”. A festival that not only includes classic boats but classic cars as well and no judging. We need arts and crafts and woodworking of all kinds that would encourage a younger crowd. Some entertainment, more venders that would reach out to the women and children that may be accompanying their parents and grandparents. The more people we can attract to the event, the more exposure we will get, make it interesting for all who attend.

  46. 7FTCWBY
    7FTCWBY says:

    As a 30 year old member of ACBS and daily follower of Woodyboater I am very pleased to hear that we are having this conversation. Keeping and growing the hobby has to involve younger folks be them my age or even younger. One thing that I have done is brought as many friends as I could fit in my 16 ft glasser to the local shows I attend. Every time I did this we had a ball and people knew the show was more about having fun when they saw our Engel Cooler filled with brew. Now sadly I let the boat go in order to search for my dream cruiser (a Dorsett Catalina to match my Lowey designed Studebaker) but my wife and friends still plan to hit shows this year even though I don’t have a boat. This is great news to me and I hope that some of my connections from local shows or woods and waters let a few young folks climb aboard for a ride as I search for my next toy. Ultimately all it takes for us in the younger generation to get and stay involved is a feeling of acceptance and willingness to welcome a new friend aboard to learn and enjoy the water as a floating family.

  47. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    Great thread and post…read them all with interest.

    I am sticking to my post though.

    John in Va.

  48. Don P
    Don P says:

    This is one of be best discussions I have read on woodyboater. A lot of good points where made. Now we need to work on incorporating them in to the hobby.

  49. Gale Woods
    Gale Woods says:

    As I have only been involved with the ACBS Michigan Chapter for the past 5 years, I am learning every day what a great passion we all share. Keeping the passion alive is and should be “our mission” and our “goal.” Now, as one of our Directors, and on Roy’s Planning Committee, I am excited about bringing more young people into our chapter and sharing this beautiful thing we call, Antique & Classic Boating. Also…to show other Chapters what can be done by setting the pace. Bravo to Roy Schoenfeld and the rest of our Crew.

  50. Dan
    Dan says:

    I also think that people need to become a little more realistic with what they want for a boat when selling. If you have a old boat or two that is just sitting there waiting for a restoration that will never happen sell it. Put a good price on it, try to get a younger person interested in it. I’ve come across to many rotten boats that are good for nothing but patterns that the owner wants way to much money for just because if restored its worth a lot.

  51. Peter Gantt
    Peter Gantt says:

    Getting young folks out on the water is a great idea, but this needs to be coupled with instilling a love in them of the pure joy of working on and maintaining a classic boat.
    With the loss of wood shop, and mechanics classes in schools, sadly, the training of the next generation is missing. With proficiency comes success and”fun” of messing around with boats. Lacking the knowledge and skill leads many times, unfortunately, to frustration and disappointment.
    We can talk all day about the future of media, and how to reach out, but without figuring out how to teach what it takes, and the satisfaction of hands on proficiency, there will still be a link missing to attracting the next generation.

  52. Bruce
    Bruce says:

    At the base of this discussion, there exists a very real gap between young and old in the way each views his (boating) world. Appreciation of wood boats and all they represent clearly falls on the older side of the divide.
    Where the older guy finds therapy applying coats of varnish, a youngster sees a messy pain in the ass. The wonderful grumble of a flat head six might sound like music to one, but inefficient, noisy clatter to the other.
    Generally speaking, older folks are married to their simpler world and everything in it. That’s not the case for kids today.
    The progression of technology has taken fundamental hands-on participation out of the big picture for much of what we do. The cars we drive are repaired by specialists. When our computers and electronic appliances falter, they are just traded off for newer versions. No dirty hands, please!
    Seen in this light, a wood boat must appear a bit like a dinosaur. Interesting perhaps, maybe even beautiful, but not something to own.
    There are of course exceptions to the rule. Inheritance is one way, being born with an “old soul” is another. It happens, but not often. At least not often enough for growth in the hobby.
    As far as competing with the wakeboard crowd for attention goes, sorry guys, no way I’m installing a wakeboard tower with blasting speakers on my bullnose utility. I’d rather fade in peace, honestly.

  53. Mark
    Mark says:

    I have to agree. It is fun to get the kids involved with our boats. I love to get my kids out on the boat and they especially love using it on the water not just sitting in it at shows. The pre-events at Woods and Water were a blast for them and also a local BSLOL show last year on the river – they still remember to this day. They got to boat for most of the day and stop at sand bars along the river and swim. People seem to be shocked that wood boats can be used in this way. I love to keep them and their cousins involved in events.

  54. Ed S.
    Ed S. says:

    I know I’m coupla days late to the conversation but wanted to put in my 2 cents.
    We are far from alone in needing to attract the younger generations; just look at general aviation, the antique car hobby (other than muscle cars) and even 2nd home sales. They are all in decline and for some of the same reasons that plague us. Younger generations have huge amounts of student and consumer debt (typically $70,000/couple @ 7% interest), outsized mortgages (average new house is now 2600 sq ft/$250,000) and diminished earning power; all of which severely curtails discretionary spending. Compound the debt problem with loss of relevance (An antique dealer recently explained the shift in antique prices saying “People are buying back the memories of their youth.”) How many in their 30s & 40s have any youthful memories of woodies? We need to shift focus to boats the younger generations can relate to AND afford . General aviation would be on life support if it wasn’t for Ultralights and Light Sport Aircraft that have helped make flying accessible again. A number of auto clubs have workshops for young car buffs and are giving space to barn-finds.
    For starters, how about:
    -a class at the show to build the 6-Hr Canoe. (ala Wooden Boat Magazine).
    – a hands-on knot-tying or rope-work class
    -simple chart reading classes
    -some boats that visitors are encouraged to touch, climb on and maybe even ride in or row.
    -reps from USPS or USCG Aux on hand to talk about their boating courses.
    -have members do talks, presentations or posters about interesting things they have done with their boats, i.e. history, barn-find and DIY restoration stories, cruises, races (award extra points or awards for documentation/presentations)
    -a special award for what Hemmings calls Drivable Dreams (original, complete and unrestored).
    One last thing. No more Lawrence Welk or Swing Band music at the shows. The younger ones loathe that stuff.
    Thanks for reading.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Thanks Ed S. for sharing your thoughts with us on this subject – well said.
      The hard part is coming up with a plan to actually implement some of these fresh ideas, and what organization(s) are prepared to take the helm… – Texx

  55. Brad G
    Brad G says:

    As a millennial I think the problem is based in a supply shortage. I can count on both hands the number of persons my age who I have known to lose hope at purchasing a wood boat ready for restoration because the market of those for sale is dwindling by the month. This also has driven the price up in the mind of many sellers. I drive by a Holiday every day with water sitting in the bilge in the sun because the owner wants 10k, in March it was worth maybe 5k, now I wouldn’t pay 800. I saw another boat that can only be described as a “long-term project” sell for 12k. It had many unique properties, and deserved that price tag, but at that price point it will force out a lot of people in my generation. If we accept more fiberglass boats into the club and judged shows and more importantly into our social groups, then we will inspire a more natural growth of our hobby into the next decades of the 21st century.

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