Classic boat show gives history lessons, thrilling rides

FOUND FOR FREE — on Craig’s List. Naples residents Laurie and Karl McEntire scored a free 1962 Westfield, which Karl spent two years restoring. The boat was among the entries at the 25th Annual Classic Wooden Boat Show held on the Causeway on Saturday. (De Busk Photo)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — It’s a tale that might appear in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. New Englander Karl McEntire got his antique boat for free on Craig’s List.

“It was free. All I had to do is pick it up,” he said.

“It was a mess,” his wife Laurie said.

Karl has the photos to prove that it was in rough shape four years ago when he hauled it home on a trailer.

Hard to believe looking at it.

Tied to the dock is a candy-apple-red, 15-foot-long, 1962 Westfield. It’s shaped like a torpedo, low to the water with a pointed bow. Inside the pristine watercraft is memorabilia from the late 50s and early 60s – a tiny Coca-Cola cooler and wooden water skis.

The McEntires are also inside the boat. They are smiling at onlookers and answering the questions asked by people at the 25th Annual Antique & Classic Boat Show on the Naples Causeway.

The mid-summer show is sponsored by the Mountainview Woodies Classic Boat Club.

The McEntires are first-timers at this show. In fact, this is the first time they’ve enter their ’62 Westfield, named the Lil’ Red Boat, in any boat show. They are new to Naples, too, having purchased a home here about a year ago.

In 2018, there were a noticeable number of first-timers. This is partly because the show’s organizers switched the date from the first to the second Saturday in August, eliminating a time conflict for boat owners who like to go to the antique boat show in Clayton, N.Y., according to club member Bob Foreman.

As a fundraiser for Camp Sunshine, the owner of a vintage speed boat aptly called White Knuckles took paying customers on the ride that really woke people up once the boat got out of the ‘no wake zone.’ The sound of the engine going full throttle could be heard from the town dock and thrilled the large gathering of people there. The Gar Wood was another boat used for the Camp Sunshine fundraiser; and the people who rode in that one and didn’t admit it was a hair-raiser still sported totally wet shirts.

Alongside the boardwalk, antique cars were parked side by side. A row of Ford Fairlanes from the ‘50s and ‘60s brought stories of nostalgia from show participants. People recalled outloud their childhood when their family owned a ranch wagon. Some commented on sitting next to their father on a special occasion or taking Sunday drives.

The Classic Wooden Boat Show began in 1993 when the boat club borrowed a few orange traffic cones from the Naples Fire Department, and a tradition on the Causeway began.

The show has benefited from the improved infrastructure — in 2017, the town dock was upgraded with synthetic docks designed to absorb wave action. The dock configuration created more mooring spaces.

Bob Bryant, who owns a wooden utility boat, was another newbie to the Naples boat show.

He said one of the advantages of the utility boat is that it can be a workhorse and he did not have to worry about scratching it.

“If you scratched one of those mahogany wood boats, you’d be spending hours smoothing it out of the wood,” he said.

From the 1950s through the early 1970s, “people used utility boats to haul things to their camps. Because there were not many roads around the lakes, boats were needed for bringing furniture and supplies to camps,” Bryant said.

Bryant has turned his hobby into a business. Since 1986 he has owned Bob Bryant Restorations, based in Sanbornton, N.H. He restores antique boats and provides custom woodworking on watercrafts.

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