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Chesapeake classics

Forget the tie and the socks. On Father’s Day weekend this year a lot of dads got to hang around lovingly restored wooden boats in breezy, picture-perfect weather and dine with their families on mouth-watering Chesapeake Bay blue crabs at the Antique & Classic Boat Festival in St. Michaels, Md.It was the festival’s silver anniversary, so five limited-edition Chris-Craft Silver Arrows were among more than 100 beauties on display at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.

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The 19-foot Silver Arrow has a spruce-planked hull with a fiberglass overlay, a molded fiberglass deck and fins in the art deco style of the automobiles of its era. “The Arrows are unique,” says Chuck Warner, of Annapolis, Md., the show’s dockmaster and a founder of the Chesapeake Bay chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society. Chris-Craft built only 92 Arrows, in 1958 and 1959, and the ones at the show were a hit.

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Another head-turner: Sunburn, a pennant-red 1960 fiberglass mini-cruiser powered by a 90-hp Johnson. The 16-foot, 8-inch Dorsett Catalina won two awards: the Competitor’s Choice Award for best outboard boat and the Chesapeake Bay chapter’s award for best fiberglass classic. With sleeping accommodations for two, Sunburn has windows trimmed in red curtains with white polka dots and carries an authentic cooler with the Coppertone girl and her dog on it. This boat also was designed in art deco style, by Raymond Loewy, who designed a few of the early 1950s Studebakers, as well as some notable cultural icons: the Coca-Cola bottle, the Coast Guard logo and the paint scheme for early versions of Air Force One.

Best of show was Sly Fox, a restored 1938 Chris-Craft Deluxe 16-footer originally built for Christopher Columbus Smith, founder of Chris-Craft. A true mahogany speedboat, Sly Fox is built of natural and walnut-stained wood that Chris-Craft imported exclusively for use in its boats. The Deluxe was one of 105 models that Chris-Craft built in a burgeoning pre-World War II market.

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More than 5,000 people attended the St. Michaels festival — one of the best turnouts of the 25-year-old event, Warner says. 

Photos by Bob Grieser

December 2012 issue