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Newport a boon for WoodenBoat Show

With 2005 attendance at 6,500, organizers are already planning next year’s show for the same location

With 2005 attendance at 6,500, organizers are already planning next year’s show for the same location

Droves of wooden-boat enthusiasts from all over New England gathered in August at the Newport Yachting Center in downtown Newport, R.I., for the 14th annual WoodenBoat Show. So many people showed up (an estimated 6,500), show producers say the turnout more than doubled the attendance for the previous year.

“The show was fabulous,” says Carl Cramer, show manager and publisher of WoodenBoat magazine. “We had about 60 boats on display in the water and about 40 on land. I think everyone involved had a really good time. All the responses we received about the show were positive.”

Al Garcia, of Attleboro, Mass., drove nearly 50 miles to Newport with his wife and child to make it to the show. “I’ve always been into boats, and carpentry is a big hobby of mine. I figured why not combine the two and go to the WoodenBoat show,” Garcia explains. “I was able to get information on everything I was interested in, and had a good time, too.”

Tiverton, R.I., native Tim Byrne’s favorite part of the show was seeing the old wooden boats. “Getting to see a sailboat is great but the wooden ones are the best,” he says. “It’s nice to see all the old boats kept in such great condition.”

On display were boats like Goshawk, a 76-foot Spirit of Tradition sloop built by Rockport Marine and the Brooklin Boat Yard; Elsie, Covey Island Boatworks’ 57-foot Herreshoff Tioga/Bounty design ketch; and YNOT, a power yacht built by the LeDonne family of Pittsburgh, Pa.

In addition to perusing the collection of wooden boats, visitors checked out more than 150 marine vendors hawking their nautical wares, and participated in numerous free demonstrations. One was the Block Island Maritime Institute’s Family BoatBuilding program. Instructors guided participants, who used pre-cut parts, through the process of building a wooden skiff. The participants then set off in their new wooden boat on its maiden voyage.

Other demonstrations included students of the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport teaching onlookers how to bend planks with steam, and a Massachusetts boatbuilder who demonstrated how to make a half-model.

The WoodenBoat Show was first held at the Newport Yachting Center in 1992. Since then the show has been held in various locations including the Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Conn.; in Southwest Harbor, Maine; and in St. Michael’s, Md.

This year’s WoodenBoat show was such a success, organizers say, they expect to keep the show at the Newport Yachting Center next year, too. “In our 14 years of producing the WoodenBoat Show, this year’s event ranks right up with the top three, delivering everything a wooden boat fan could wish for: great boats, terrific exhibitors, informative demonstrations, perfect weather and a beautiful venue,” Cramer says.