Antiques Afloat

Shows highlight historic Michigan-made wood boat craftsmanship. // Photography by Jeff Smith
Amazing Grace
Amazing Grace is a 24-foot 1954 Chris-Craft Holiday owned by Jeffrey and Anna Smith of Traverse City and Flower Mound, Texas.

Jeff Rogers fondly remembers when he and his father tracked down an old wooden boat they had heard about, a 1939 17-foot Chris-Craft Runabout. They found it in Grand Haven, took it home and partially restored it. That was 1989 and Rogers, then a sophomore in college, embarked down a path that would shape his life.

Lady EL
Lady EL is a 20-foot 1930 Earl Barnes Runabout owned by Gail and Mark Andreae of Mullett Lake.

Now 50, Rogers still has that boat. In fact, he has more than a dozen antique wooden boats in his collection, in various stages of repair.

“I’m a sentimental sucker. I don’t sell things,” said Rogers, who lives in Grand Rapids and is the former president of the Antique and Classic Boat Society, a national nonprofit with approximately 8,000 members across the U.S. who share his affinity for antique boats. Today, he is president of the Water Wonderland chapter of the ACBS, one of two chapters in Michigan.

“I will see an old boat behind a barn and talk to the owner and buy it,” Rogers said. “I had another 20 boats, but I fixed them and sold them. I have three or four that are restored. The others are projects in waiting.”

“These shows are family traditions. They are ‘Up North’ and people say, ‘It’s what we do every summer.’ These are mostly Michigan-made boats.”
— Jeff Rogers

Rogers is among hundreds of antique boat enthusiasts who will display their vessels at antique and classic boat shows across Michigan this summer. The shows, which are open to the public, allow visitors to walk the docks and talk with owners, including those who are looking to sell.

“I’ll be showing my boats at the Hessel show (Les Cheneaux Antique and Wooden Boat Show) and at Boats on the Boardwalk in Traverse City, the two largest shows of the season,” Rogers said.

The Hessel show draws 7,000 to 10,000 people every year, according to Rogers. Boats on the Boardwalk in downtown Traverse City along the Boardman River also is extremely popular.

Laura & Tommy
Left: Laura J is a 22-foot 1967 Chris-Craft Sea Skiff owned by Arnold and Marian Smith of Fenton. Right: Tommy is a 25-foot 1948 Chris-Craft Sportsman.

“These shows are family traditions,” Rogers said. “They are ‘Up North’ and people say, ‘It’s what we do every summer.’ These are mostly Michigan-made boats. Chris-Craft is, by far, the most popular. The neat thing about Michigan is all the major boat builders were here: Chris-Craft, Gar Wood, Hacker-Craft and Century. The shows wouldn’t happen if they weren’t in Michigan.”

There are 14 antique and classic boat shows scheduled during the 2019 summer season.

Antique & Classic Boat – Show Calendar

June 1
16th annual Spring Lake Vintage Boat Show at Mill Point Park, Spring Lake.

June 14-15
27th annual Presque Isle Wooden Boat Show, Presque Isle.

June 15
38th Antique & Classic Boat Show, Michigan Maritime Museum, South Haven.

June 20-22
21st annual Bay Harbor Vintage Car & Boat Festival, Village at Bay Harbor.

June 22
34th annual “Where It All Began” Boat Show, Algonac Harbor Club, Algonac. July 13 Lexington Antique & Classic Boat Show, Lexington Harbor, Lexington.

July 13
South Arm Classics, City Marina on Lake Charlevoix/East Jordan.

July 20
White Lake Classic Boat & Car Show, Whitehall.

Aug. 3
32nd annual Boats on the Boardwalk, Boardman River, downtown Traverse City.

Aug. 10
42nd annual Les Cheneaux Islands Antique Wooden Boat Show and Festival of Arts, Hessel.

Aug. 16-17
Port Sanilac Antique Boat Show, Port Sanilac Municipal Harbor.

Aug. 24
23rd annual Wooden and Classic Boat Show and Parade, Pentwater Yacht Club.

Sept. 13-14
Port Huron Boat Show, River Street Marina, Port Huron.

Sept. 21
Century Boat Club Thoroughbred Round Up, Municipal Marina, Manistee.

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