If you’ve never ridden in a classic or antique wood runabout, you owe it to yourself to make it a bucket list item! You may have heard the old saying “nothing rides like a wooden boat”. I can testify to the truth of that statement. I had the incredibly great fortune to grow up in a family that owned wooden boats. My childhood summers were spent in and around these gems, at first just riding in and helping clean them, then as I got older learning to drive them and helping maintain them. Learning to drive a single screw inboard boat, especially around the dock, is a lesson in humility and patience, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Back to the topic – what makes them ride so well? Take a look at a typical runabout from the 1920s through the ‘post war’ years into the 1950s. Many of these craft were planked with mahogany and framed up with oak or similar wood. This meant they were relatively heavy by today’s standards. They were also narrow relative to today’s boats. Back then designers didn’t have seemingly unlimited horsepower options to choose from like we do today, so they kept the boat’s beam on the narrow side. This increased the length to beam ratio which was a sure way to increase speed and soften the ride. Then there was hull shape. Deadrise forward was normally very sharp, and sections were usually concave on the path from keel to chine. The deadrise flattened considerably toward the transom, where there was typically very little, which gave plenty of lifting surface aft. So, at typical cruising speeds, the bow rose enough for the oncoming water to meet the hull at a ‘sweet spot’ where there is still a great amount of V in the hull, thereby slicing nicely rather than pounding into the water, while the flatter aft sections prevented the stern from squatting too much. The end result of all the above? A sweet, soft ride that must be experienced to be believed!
Here are a few places where you can go to get a ride you’ll never forget.
Thousand Islands, NY http://www.abm.org/index.php/visitor-info/power-boats-rowing-skiffs/
Lake Winnipesaukee, NH http://www.nhbm.org/the-millie-b/ also http://www.ekalactivitycenter.com/antique-boat-rides/
Buffalo, NY http://www.wnyclassiccruises.com
Alexandria Bay, NY http://www.antiqueboattours.com/boat.htm
If you know of others, please let me know so I can add it to the list!