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.
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.
“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
16th annual Spring Lake Vintage Boat Show at Mill Point Park, Spring Lake.
27th annual Presque Isle Wooden Boat Show, Presque Isle.
38th Antique & Classic Boat Show, Michigan Maritime Museum, South Haven.
21st annual Bay Harbor Vintage Car & Boat Festival, Village at Bay Harbor.
34th annual “Where It All Began” Boat Show, Algonac Harbor Club, Algonac. michacbs.com July 13 Lexington Antique & Classic Boat Show, Lexington Harbor, Lexington.
South Arm Classics, City Marina on Lake Charlevoix/East Jordan.
White Lake Classic Boat & Car Show, Whitehall.
32nd annual Boats on the Boardwalk, Boardman River, downtown Traverse City.
42nd annual Les Cheneaux Islands Antique Wooden Boat Show and Festival of Arts, Hessel.
Port Sanilac Antique Boat Show, Port Sanilac Municipal Harbor.
23rd annual Wooden and Classic Boat Show and Parade, Pentwater Yacht Club.
Port Huron Boat Show, River Street Marina, Port Huron.
Century Boat Club Thoroughbred Round Up, Municipal Marina, Manistee.