On the Water
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Classic Wooden Boats

Published: February 1, 2006
Photo by George Fischer

Run your hand along the polished mahogany hull. Feast your eyes on the slim lines and quaint detailing that could only mark an antique boat. Then plop back into the soft upholstered seats.
Just like classic cars or antique furniture, classic wooden boats have a special place in the hearts of those who love all things with a sense of history.
Several thousand antique and classic boats are on the registry of the Antique and Classic Boat Society today. Across the United States, owners proudly show off their classic boats in annual maritime parades.
The Thousand Islands on New York State’s northern border has been attracting boating enthusiasts – both utility and pleasure – since it began developing as a summer playground in the late 1800s.
Here, photographer George Fischer shares some of his beauties from the book, “Classic Boats of the Thousand Islands” by Anthony Mollica Jr. (2005, The Boston Mills Press), available from the publisher at www.bostonmillspress.com, retail outlets or online booksellers. Descriptions and histories of the boats also come from the book.
Photo by George Fischer
1929 Gar Wood runabout

The runabout was the boat of choice in summer home communities, where seasonal residents depended on them for running daily errands. In the Thousand Islands, runabouts also were popular for island hopping from one party to another. Likened to an open-air limousine, this 28-foot Baby Gar had three plush cockpits that could seat up to nine. Her Chrysler engine took her to speeds up to 40 mph. Messenger was delivered brand new to the Thousand Islands in 1929, and all five of her owners have been Thousand Islanders.
Photo by George Fischer
Ol' Boy
1938 Chris-Craft Sportsman utility runabout 

As America climbed out of the Great Depression, surviving boatbuilders trying to stay in business developed small, multipurpose utility boats. Smaller and more spartan than the earlier runabouts, these boats still had plenty of space for passengers because the engine was housed in a center console with space open all around it. Wicker and canvas chairs frequently provided seating. Ol’ Boy – so named because she weathered her 400-mile maiden voyage without a hitch – today is owned by the same family that purchased her at the 1938 national boat show in New York City.
1950 Chris-Craft cruiser

This 30-foot cruiser is an example of one of Chris-Craft’s best-selling cabin cruisers. Her interior offers the convenience of a dinette, galley, forward berths and an enclosed head. An open cockpit provides plenty of room for guests. Her current owners have added an extended canvas top that protects the entire cockpit from rain or too much sun. These owners purchased Friendship in 1988 and spent 10 winters refurbishing the boat – but they never missed a boating season during the renovations.
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