Why You Should go to an Antique & Classic Boat Show 

Many boaters around the world, whether they have thought about it or not, are not far from an Antique and Classic Boat Show. They’re held on lakes and rivers and other locales across the country and abroad. If you’ve never been to one, it should be on your list!

But I’m a (insert one) sailor/go-fast/trawler/wakeboard kind of boater, what’s in it for me? The real draw is the beauty of the boats themselves. Pictures and videos don’t do them justice. Whatever type of boater you are, you will appreciate seeing these boats up close and better yet, come away with a newly rejuvenated love of boating.

Dock walking is always fun, but dock walking at an antique boat show is the pinnacle. The major leagues. Olympic, gold medal stuff. Ideally, it’s a sunny Summer day. You approach a gleaming antique runabout. Before you even get close the varnish and chrome dazzle the eye. As you approach you’ll sense the rich smell of leather upholstery. Linger awhile. You don’t have to be a woodworker to appreciate the art of shaping planks into the sinuous form of bow flare running aft to an exquisite tumblehome. Likewise you don’t have to be a motorhead to appreciate an 80 year old power plant with names like Scripps, Packard, Kermath, Hispano-Suiza, Chris Craft, and others. The multi-sensory party doesn’t end with sight and smell. Try to be there when the owner fires up the engine for a special auditory treat.

Depending on the show there will be an eclectic mix of boats. Steam launches, sailing canoes, cabin cruisers, day sailors and racing boats might be in the mix. There are usually lots of outboard engines, too, either on boats or on display ashore. There is something for everybody and every boater to enjoy.

Don’t pass on the opportunity to talk with owners of these gems. Like all boaters they love to talk about their boats, and there are some amazing stories to be told. Some were found in a barn, perhaps only a shadow of their former selves, and restored to original beauty. Then there are the boats that were never restored, just maintained and preserved over the years. Some of these boats see very little service and are primarily museum pieces. Then there are those that see regular, every day use throughout the Summer. These are the boats that really charge me up, because I grew up in antique boats and from them sprung my abiding passion for boating. Knowing that they are being used and enjoyed by multiple generations gives me a bone deep satisfaction.

Time spent chatting with other enthusiastic boaters and looking at these pieces of art will infuse you with a newfound love of being on the water. But don’t take my word for it. Go see for yourself!

Here’s a great place to get started to find a show near you: The Antique and Classic Boat Society http://acbs.org

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