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Thousands come out for classic boats

About 45 wooden boats were the highlight of the Mahogany Memories show in Essex, Conn.

About 45 wooden boats were the highlight of the Mahogany Memories show in Essex, Conn.

The 20th annual Antique and Classic Boat Show took place on a sunny Saturday in Essex, Conn., July 10. The daylong event drew thousands of visitors and about 45 wooden boats from legendary builders like Chris-Craft, Gar Wood, Century, Lyman, Elco and Penn Yan.

The relaxed, family atmosphere event at the Connecticut River Museum, five miles upriver from Long Island Sound, had free admission and was titled Mahogany Memories again this year. The show is hosted by the Southern New England Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society.

“This isn’t the biggest show in the world, but it’s diverse,” says Don Groeschner, a director with SNEC/ ACBS.

“We try hard as a club to bring a variety of boats,” adds chapter president Jeff Gordon. This includes some of the rarest boats out there as well as some of the most popular boats, he says.

Among the boats at this year’s show:

• Dee Wite Series No. 1, a rare 16-foot runabout built by the Dwight Lumber Co. in Detroit in 1929 or 1930. The company entered the boatbuilding business just prior to the stock market crash of 1929 and stopped production by about 1933, according to the boat’s owner Lee Heinzman. He says his is one of only three known to exist in the series — and the only outboard-powered Dee Wite ever built.

• A 1966 Century Coronado, the newest classic at the event. Century built the Coronado through 1968, when it switched completely to fiberglass production, according to boat owner David McFarlin. His 21-footer is powered by a 280-hp Interceptor engine.

• Nifty III, the largest boat in the show at 39 feet, 10 inches. This Elco Cruisette was built in Bayonne, N.J., in November 1939 and spent her first 50 years in the waters of Florida, South Carolina and Georgia.

• Lightning, a sleek red-and-white Chris-Craft Racing Runabout built of cedar. The 1947 model is Hull No. 1 in its series — the first postwar 19-foot Racing Runabout — and one of a number of hulls to be painted due to the shortage of available mahogany after the war.