Vintage Sailboats Needed!!

17th July 2012
Anyone out there with a vintage sailboat? Ackroyd or other?

Here is my column for this week! Send me your thoughts. Do you know any younger people who are passionate about wooden boats?


Youth and Wooden Boating

By Tim Du Vernet

It doesn’t take more than a quick glance at those participating in boat shows and many of the antique boating events to realize this hobby seems to be the domain of middle age and older men.

There are precious few “young” people in their twenties who have independently developed this passion. There are those fortunate enough to have parents with the passion for wooden boating and willing to share it with their children.

In some cases, several generations pile into the boat for the boat show or cruises to town. But the younger generation doesn’t have the time, resources or apparently the same interest to strike out independently. Those that do, usually enter the hobby with a Dispro, a canoe or a 1950’s or newer utility.

The late Patrick Wren was a collector of smaller boats and he enjoyed his SeaBird utility. Paul Gockel had his first Dispro as a teenager and it was likely that Paul Dodington was possibly conceived in a Dispro. I enjoyed my Dispro while at University and my canoes nearly daily.

From popular accounts, it would appear that most of those with means in this age group are more interested in speed and ease of use. The idea of manually lubing a 90 year old engine just isn’t in the cards. The preference seems to be an epoxy boat or a “Tupperware” performance boat.

The Toronto Chapter of the ACBS has recognized this troubling trend over the years and tried to boost the interest in wooden boats through the youth program and an apprenticeship sponsorship.

At this year’s boat show, the dory boat building program was very popular. It was wonderful to see parents as challenged as their children with the construction of the small boats.

The Muskoka Sea Flea group is all about family fun and their simple craft are very accessible to all walks of life.

So who will take on a 36 foot launch as they pass out of the aging hands of the pioneering collectors of today? That is the big question and only time will tell.
Summer Excitement is Here

By Tim Du Vernet

The ACBS-Toronto boat show is looming large now. With just one weekend to go! For wooden boaters, the show represents a serious start to the season with the long weekend past.

While ACBS-Toronto organizes the event hosted by the Town of Gravenhurst, the ACBS is a big organization and draws participation to this show from several of its chapters.

That means both boating participants and spectators alike will get to enjoy a broad range of classic boats from as far away as Florida, Ottawa, and beyond.

As classic boat collecting matures, more and more fiberglass boats become vintage and historically significant. This year’s show will combine all classic craft into a one day public event on Saturday with member activities happening Friday through Sunday.

Once again, the ever popular card board boat building event will be fun for youth and families as well as those who love to see just how far a card board boat can go.

A special highlight of this year’s event is the return of Miss Canada IV to Gravenhurst. Built by Greavette Boats, she will be the centre of attention at 12:00 with official ceremonies. The return of Miss Canada represents the co-ordinated efforts of many people from Ingersol to Gravenhurst. She will be part of a remarkable documentary film titled “Harold and Lorna”.

The show boat is the very historically significant KITTYHAWK. This name is tied to aviation history as well as more humble boating history on Georgian Bay.

Built in 1929 by Gidley Boats, KITTYHAWK started her career as a taxi boat. She came up for sale and Orville Wright bought her in 1931 after she a hardtop had been added.

KITTYHAWK was his Georgian Bay boat, where he spent the summer. At 32’6” and substantial freeboard , KITTYHAWK, is ready to handle the waters of Georgian Bay. Perhaps her sturdy nature is one of the features that attracted Orville Wright. The Gidley “Gull” model is described in the brochure as an all mahogany express runabout, equipped with a Kermath engine. A “general purpose craft she has a passenger capacity of eight plus incidental baggage accommodation.”

Shis is currently owned by Guy and Kathy Johnstone, who summer on Georgian Bay in an area known as Franceville East. KITTYHAWK will be brought to Lake Muskoka and launched specially for the show. It is expected that representatives of the Wright family will be present for the special showing of this remarkable boat.

Once again, there will be lots to see at this year’s boat show. Remember, the show is one day only with a modest admission fee.

The ACBS will also be selling posters featuring the KITTYHAWK in two versions, the production version and a very exclusive, limited edition version produced by Tim Du Vernet. More updates on the show next week!