Wood I ever!

Classic and antique boats at Garvan Gardens

Taking a glance down the Garvan Gardens docks at fine collection of show-room shiny antique and classic boats, all fully restored and 100% operational.

Back in the day, these groovy wooden boats seen at the Garvan Gardens Antique and Classic Boat Show looked every bit as cool as they do today. Trust me on this. I know. I was a wild eyed kid then, salivating over Chris Craft ads in magazines. Now that we have several generations of failed and delaminated, mold and fungus-infected junk fiberglass vessels scattered promiscuously around our landscapes, we can appreciate their wooden ancestors even more.

Anthony Chapel interior

Click the pic to see Anthony Chapel

Before we venture much farther, let me direct your attention to the Corndancer dot-com Photo of the Week page where you will see Anthony Chapel at Garvan Gardens near Hot Springs, Arkansas. The soaring 57 foot ceilings of this woodland masterpiece will make you say wow. Shooting and chronicling the chapel was the other part of this trip.

Wood, thanks to Mother Nature’s molecular genius could perhaps be the ideal boat-building material because it retains its stiffness better than fiberglass. And stiffness is very desirable in a boat. A stiff boat slices through the water. A non-stiff boat wallows through it. Perhaps some of the latest polymer, chemical, carbon, resin-soaked materials can now match wood, but I’ll be the last to knuckle under and admit it.

Cadillac Boats 14' foot wood boat and Chris Craft Cobra

In the foreground, the Chris Craft Cobra, a mid fifties classic is nearly 18 feet long. The boats were equipped with a 120 or 131 horsepower inboard engine. In the background is an all-wood 14 Cadillac Boats Venture, powered by a 25 horsepower Gale outboard.

These boats are individually owned, restored, and operated, at no small cost, I might add, by members of Heartland Classics, a chapter of The Antique and Classic Boat Society, Inc. As high-filutin’ as that sounds, I found them to be a friendly, outgoing lot who love to talk about go riding in their boats. I recruited a couple of them to keep an eye on a sack-full of Nikon equipment while I shot and they said they’d be happy to accommodate me. I asked them to “slap anyone up-side the head” who even looked twice at the equipment and they readily agreed.

1949 Chris Craft

This 1949 Chris Craft Sportsman, “Mischief,”  is 22 long and has a 6-cylinder 158 horsepower Hercules inboard engine. The boat is owned by Larry and Jan Hamilton of Moore OK.

These are responsible folks and you see a lot of possum-blond coiffures in their ranks. Their boats run from a pristine wooden 14′ runabout with a 25-horse outboard to a 27 foot Italian craft over which I and several others involuntarily drooled. These folks are not top-waters and it takes a significant commitment to play in this league. I for one am grateful for their commitment to preserve parts of this heritage of craftsmanship and beauty — and cheerfully make them available for us mere mortals to enjoy.


1969 Riva Boat

Click the pic to see more wood boats and Anthony Chapel.

See more boats and Anthony Chapel pictures on our Weekly Grist Gallery. I strolled the docks and shot a bunch of boats all of which are in show-room display condition including two classic Italian Riva boats.  There are also a couple of other Anthony Chapel and a bunch of tulips who appear to be paying attention to a conversation.

Thanks for dropping by,
Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind


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