ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

The little wood boat that could

LAKE SHORE - In these circles, it was akin to the Charlie Brown Christmas trees. But no other boat here may better represent the spirit of the 40th Antique & Classic Boat Show than the little wooden boat with no name.

Chloe the chihuahua wears a life vest while on her families boat Friday at the Antique and Classic Boat Society’s annual Meeting and International Boat Show at Bar Harbor Supper Club on Gull Lake. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery and Video)
Chloe the chihuahua wears a life vest while on her families boat Friday at the Antique and Classic Boat Society’s annual Meeting and International Boat Show at Bar Harbor Supper Club on Gull Lake. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery and Video)

LAKE SHORE - In these circles, it was akin to the Charlie Brown Christmas trees. But no other boat here may better represent the spirit of the 40th Antique & Classic Boat Show than the little wooden boat with no name.

Most all of the 130 boats here, at the sprawling docks at Bar Harbor Supper Club on Gull Lake for classic boating's marquee annual event, were of the awe-inspiring variety. Not all were wooden boats, but most were, their deep-wood finishes shining vibrantly, even before the sun appeared Friday during the first day of the two-day extravaganza.

Not that these owners would part with them, but if they did, many of these boats would fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars, some more. As is often the case with such fancy boats, most had names. There was the Tomcat, On Point and the Jane Valerie. There was even a boat that, reportedly, had been owned by automobile magnate Henry Ford. A huge, grand, wooden boat.

The first day of the event drew thousands of onlookers, and they crammed the docks, mostly around these massive, glowing vessels. On the edge of the action, a boy played quietly on a boy-sized boat at the end of one of about two-dozen stretches of dock. At first, no one paid much attention to the little boat, dwarfed by its flashy neighbors. But slowly, maybe as part of making the rounds, the onlookers came. And after a while, in droves.

According to the signage posted where the boat was docked, "This all-original boat was designed and built in 1930 from scratch by Glen Buck of Glencoe. The barn-find boat is believed to be patterned to emulate the designs of the 33-foot Baby Gar Wood Boats racing during that period. The boat is powered by its original 1930 P50 20 horsepower outboard motor. Nothing on it has been rebuilt ..."

ADVERTISEMENT

"This is where it all started," said one elderly woman, huddled in the crowd near the boat.

Brad Ernst of Lester Prairie, bought the boat about 12 years ago-for $500. The 12-foot outboard runabout has mostly sat out of the water since then. But Ernst, an antique and classic boat enthusiast, according to his business card, got it in running order just for the show. Even put a new coat of varnish on it for the occasion, he said.

But, besides that and the occasional tune-up, that's all that's been done to the classic boat in the 85 years since it was built.

"The Ernsts have decided to keep the boat in its original condition," it went on to say on the sign near the boat. "Nothing has been done to restore or refurnish the boat. It is the intent of the family to preserve this piece of boating history."

Even the trailer is original.

"It's got the Model-T hubs, so it's not conducive to pull around," Ernst said.

The last time the boat was running and in the water was about 10 years ago - when son Blake was about a year old. Friday, Blake bounced around in the boat like he had spent his whole life in it. He explained its nuances and talked of someday taking it out on his own.

"We'll mostly be taking it to the cabin," he said matter-of-factly.

ADVERTISEMENT

Dad isn't quite so sure, though, saying the boat still has its issues and can be difficult to operate. But although he said he's received numerous inquiries about the boat, he said he has no plans to sell it.

"It's unique - one of a kind," Brad said.

It seems Blake would agree. The other boats garnered plenty of attention from "kids" big and small, but Blake was more than content to spend the day in "his" boat.

"That's the future of wooden boating," mom Chris said as she looked on. "We've got to get the kids involved."

Blake was all for that, and again made a pitch to take the boat out on his own someday soon.

"Well," Chris said. "First, we have to find a name for it."

"We have one," Blake answered. "It's No. 70."

Onlookers had been wondering about the name as they voted for their favorite boat throughout the day. Boats without names were given slip numbers for voting purposes. The Ernst boat was No. 70.

ADVERTISEMENT

On Friday, No. 70 made quite a name for itself.

Peterson is the content director for the Northland Outdoors Network and may be reached at brian.peterson@northlandoutdoors.com .

For more photos from the boat show go to goo.gl/Ng6akO

Related Topics: GULL LAKE
What To Read Next
The Central Lakes College Raiders hosted Rainy River Saturday, Feb. 4.
The Central Lakes College Raiders hosted Rainy River Saturday, Feb. 4.
The Central Lakes College Raiders hosted Hibbing Friday, Feb. 3.
The Central Lakes College Raiders hosted Gogebic Community College Friday, Feb. 3.