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A collection of beautiful boats

Mystic Seaport’s Antique & Classic Boat Rendezvous will welcome a restored commuter yacht

Mystic Seaport’s Antique & Classic Boat Rendezvous will welcome a restored commuter yacht

Vintage boat enthusiasts from Maine to New Jersey will converge on the Mystic Seaport July 22 to 23 for the museum’s 31st annual Antique & Classic Boat Rendezvous. The show will feature more than 40 classic yachts — both power- and sailboats, and converted workboats — tied up at the museum’s waterfront.

“It’s one of our largest events,” says Dick Lotz, the museum’s director of special waterfront operations. “Each year we get about 3,000 people through the gate. With the mix of boats and the group of people that come here year after year it really is a great community event.”

The featured boat at this year’s rendezvous will be the newly restored 74-foot commuter Aphrodite III. The classic boat was built in 1937 for New York financier John “Jock” Hay Whitney.

The 2006 rendezvous, according to Lotz, will be the first time a classic boat made of fiberglass, an early 1960s Pearson Triton, will be on display. “We’re making the giant leap into 1960s fiberglass,” he says. “Fiberglass has been around long enough for there to be classics.” Many of the boats on display will be adorned with festive decorations and crews in period garb.

The highlight of the two-day celebration is the three-mile parade on Sunday down the Mystic River and under the Bascule Bridge. The parade is led by Lotz aboard Sabino, Mystic Seaport’s 57-foot 1908 coal-fired wooden steamboat.

“Thousands and thousands of people from the town and the area come to see the parade,” Lotz says. “There are some great spots for people to camp out along the river to watch the boats. As each one goes by, its name is announced. It’s fun.

“You get to see a lot of familiar faces and a lot of new ones at the rendezvous,” he adds. “There’s a camaraderie about it. People get to meet up, see the boats, share stories and technical advice. We all have developed a group of friends we look forward to seeing here every year.”