by Mike Garrigan member of the Blue Ridge chapter
In 1970, my dad purchased a lakefront home in Vermilion, Ohio on the beautiful Lake Erie coast. He purchased a boat for the family, a 1969 Boston Whaler (Eastport). He used the Whaler for one summer and then passed away the following winter leaving behind, my mother and 3 children under the age of 10. My mother kept the Whaler and five years later re-married. My step-father taught my siblings and I all we needed to know to enjoy and maintain the boat. We learned to drive, dock and pull waterskiers behind the Whaler. We also learned to waterski on a pair of 1975 Cypress Gardens waterskis. Throughout my childhood, the Whaler was used every summer creating many awesome memories with family and friends. Eventually, we grew up, graduated from college and found jobs in other parts of the country. After the summer of 1987 she would sit dry dock for over 25 years.
After my step-father passed away, my mother gave me the boat and transported it to my home in Atlanta, Georgia. The Whaler was in awful shape but I was determined to do all that I could to restore her to her original condition. I managed to completely restore the original Philippine mahogany wooden center console and seats.
I carefully removed the antifouling paint and restored the outter hull and buffed the interior blue hull like new, removed rust marks, replaced rub rails, wiring, cables and the engine. All other pieces and parts were restored as original. It was a very difficult task because I had become legally blind and was continuing to lose my vision due to a debilitating disease called Usher Syndrome Type II.
Restoration now completed she re-entered the water in 2014 where I taught my wife and daughters all the same things that my step-father had once taught me to enjoy and maintain the Whaler. My daughters learned to waterski on the old pair of restored 1975 Cypress Gardens skis. In 2019 on her 50th Birthday, in honor of my father, mother and step-father, the Whaler was entered in the Lake Hartwell Antique Boat Festival in Georgia.
Today, the Whaler is enjoyed at our lakefront home in Anderson, South Carolina on Lake Hartwell. We recently added a new crewmember, my guide dog, Fuzz from Leader Dogs for the Blind. We plan to continue to build memories with family and friends and keep the Whaler in the family for many generations to come.