Built to cruise
Canadian lakes, the mahogany "commuter" above cost $12,000 new in 1917,
$12,000 to restore. "Fawn" (right) is an 1887-vintage 19-footer
designed to run on naphtha.
the 85-foot "Bonanza" was Boston-built in 1910. The 32-foot speedster
below, "Suwanee," was launched in 1909 to cut a 20-knot swath.
Turn-of-the-century craftsmanship shines in "Bonanza's" saloon, at
left. Above, wheels and binnacles, power and planking of a past age gleam with
the luster of restoration.
BOOM IN MAHOGANY
Sometimes it seems
that modern boats hate the water. They slam into waves, plunge into troughs,
leap from crest to crest and throw spray sky high. Their glass and metal hulls
boom and ping in response to the sea's punches. After a run the hardest work to
be done is cleating the mooring lines. Out of date are boats that were kin to
the water. Instead of punishing the waves they slit them with grace and
subtlety. Their hulls were planked of mahogany and covered with coat after
glistening coat of varnish. Fittings were of burnished brass, and it took a
paid hand rising with the dew and bedding with the sun to keep everything
Those good old
days are not altogether gone. To preserve what remains of a time when boating
meant "yachting," a few hundred diehards around the country have poured
love and care and time, to say nothing of lashings of money, into hulls that
are overdue at the boneyard.
One such that
still has many siblings is Kuskinook, the Canadian commuter shown on the
preceding spread of pictures. Squadrons of these 32-footers dashed between the
islands on Lake Muskoka in the days when the Mel-Ions summered there with the
Pittsburgh rich. The Mellons are gone from the lake, but today 30 to 40 of the
launches they knew so well are still in condition to crisscross it.
When Paul Snyder
of Los Angeles discovered Kuskinook she looked as rotten as her bottom planking
felt after years of neglect. Snyder found her in a boat-house where she had
lain for a decade. She had been clumsily refurbished. The damage was not so
severe, however, that Duke's boatyard in Port Carling, Ont. could not smooth
By the time her
bottom had been re-planked, the ripples ironed out of her topside planking,
numerous coats of varnish laid and hand-rubbed and her fittings refinished,
Kuskinook was just about as good as new and Paul Snyder as happy as if he
owned, say, a Chinese scroll from the 10th century.
But Snyder glums
up at mention of the 1969 Chrysler iron Kuskinook conceals beneath the engine
hatches like a family skeleton. "I'm very embarrassed about it," he
says. "I do have a 1921 Series E Scripps, but what I really need for
authenticity is a 1915-1917 Series D."