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Free marina show features vintage boats from a bygone era

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Troy Shantz

The days of classic cruisers and wooden “rum-runners” will be recalled July 22 when the local chapter of the Antique Classic Boat Society holds it 7th annual show.

About 20 restored watercraft will be on display at Sarnia Bay Marina, evoking a bygone era on the Great Lakes.

“People are really looking for the wood boats,” said Gerrit Dykhouse, one of the organizers of the free show. “When they’re kept up, they’re amazing.”

One of those that will be on display is the “Spray,” a 1961 Chris-Craft hardtop.

“It was in decent shape but basically we had to pull it all apart,” said Ron Wade, the owner of Done Rite Restorations in Port Lambton, who oversaw its restoration for a client in Corunna.

The floorboards, drives and fuel tanks were all replaced or restored to their original glory.

“It has been taken right back to its original state,” Wade said.

Spray was built of mahogany by the Chris-Craft company of Algonac, Michigan.

After sitting in storage for 22 years, the boat was bought for a measly $1,400, Wade said.

Over the next three years Wade’s team poured an estimated 1,800 hours into her rebirth.

Chris-Craft was one of several boat makers in the St. Clair region home. “Rum-runners” were a popular style of wooden speedboat on the lakes, earning the name during prohibition era when used to quickly move alcohol across the border.

Some of these agile watercraft eventually found their way to sanctioned and unsanctioned racing circuits, with the bragging rights of their builders on the line.

Dykhouse explained many of these boats were extremely fast and sported engines that “should have been in airplanes.”

“There’s quite a number of them in the area, because this is really where this type of boat originated,” he said.

But be forewarned: many of the boats come with a rich history the owners will want to share at length, said Dykhouse.

“If you ask a question then be prepared to chat for a few minutes, because they’ll want to tell you about it.”



WHAT: The Bluewater Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society’s 7th annual Boat Show

WHERE: Sarnia Bay Marina, 97 Seaway Rd.

WHEN: Saturday, July 22, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

TICKETS: Admission is free



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