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An Introduction to Vintage Watercraft

The roar of a classic engine, the reflection of sunlight off of shiny brass fittings, and the sparkle of lake water splashing against a meticulously cared for mahogany hull. These characteristics make vintage wooden boats, built in the 1920’s to the 1960’s, an amazing sight to see. At the same time these features also make them some of the rarest classic items on the planet.

Rare?

From the 2013 South Tahoe Wooden Boat Classic - Image taken by Steve Natale

From the 2013 South Tahoe Wooden Boat Classic – Image taken by Steve Natale

Just think about what these boats are made of. Wood is organic meaning that it expands/contracts with the weather. The boat manufacturers from this era built wooden hulls to last approximately six to eight boating seasons not fifty or sixty. The brass that these boats use for their ornaments and fittings is also one of the softest metals. There is always a good chance it can bend or break. When you get an opportunity to see a mint condition wooden powerboat in real life, check it out.  Remember those facts.

South Tahoe Wooden Boat Classic

This weekend will give you a chance to see some of these historic vessels troll the shores of Lake Tahoe in the 8th Annual South Tahoe Wooden Boat Classic. With over seventy of these cherished boats on display will be an exciting event for anyone to get a closer look into an era from the past.

From the 2013 South Tahoe Wooden Boat Classic - Image taken by Steve Natale

From the 2013 South Tahoe Wooden Boat Classic – Image taken by Steve Natale

Details:

  • Friday July 24th – Noon – 5pm (Beer Village Noon – 5pm) – Tahoe Keys Marina
  • Saturday July 25th –  9am – 5pm (Beer Village 11am – 5pm) – Tahoe Keys Marina

 

A perfect example of a Chris-Craft - Image taken by Steve Natale

A perfect example of a Chris-Craft – Image taken by Steve Natale

Vintage Wooden Boats

To help introduce beginners to this world, here is a quick guide to some boat manufacturers you might see at the South Tahoe Wooden Boat Classic.

Chris-Craft

From the 2013 South Tahoe Wooden Boat Classic - Image taken by Steve Natale

From the 2013 South Tahoe Wooden Boat Classic – Image taken by Steve Natale

Started in 1874 this company based in the Detroit area originally made power boats for the likes of Henry Ford and William Randolph Hearst. They also were the first to mass produce power boats, making owning a boat not just for the wealthy anymore. The middle class could actually afford to buy one too! By the 1950’s Chris-Craft was still considered one of the finest boat manufacturers in the world and offered over 159 models covering the entire spectrum of people’s incomes.

Century Boat Company

Started in 1926 in Milwaukee their company specialty was ability to make extremely fast wooden plank hulls. They were so fast that one of the hulls set the world record in 1930 with their boat called Century Hurricane, which recorded a speed of 50.93 mph. That’s fast in a wooden power boat!

 

 

Garwood Industries aka “Gar Wood”

Garfield Wood the owner of Garwood Industries was what you could consider the classic 1920’s “showman.” He was always trying to drum up business with a new gimmick or a flashy way to do what he loved doing most… going fast. He personally broke the world speed record five times in a boat and won five straight Gold Cup races between 1917 and 1921. He continued to build wooden power boats until 1947.

Hacker Boat Co.

The oldest builder of wooden motorboats in the world was founded by a man named John Ludwig Hacker in Detroit. He was a naval architect and one of the most famous motorboat designers in the world. His out of the box thinking for engineering and motorboat design is still seen in all boats today. The most famous design is the “V”- hull. Before Hacker motorboats had round narrow hulls, which caused the boat to “squat” instead of “plane” through the water. People thought “planing” was dangerous and needed to be avoided at all costs. He proved everyone wrong by building the “Au Revoir” with his revolutionary V-hull design. In 1908 it was considered the fastest in the world. With this success, Hacker Boat Co. was born.

 

From the 2013 South Tahoe Wooden Boat Classic - Image taken by Steve Natale

From the 2013 South Tahoe Wooden Boat Classic – Image taken by Steve Natale

Stop by if you have a chance.  If you can’t make it, Lake Tahoe Concours D’Elegance will be happening in a few weeks on the North Shore. For more info about this event go here. Lake Tahoe is definitely is an epicenter for these classics!

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