By: Kristin Dunker – originally published in The Current | www.thecurrentsml.com
On a tranquil late-summer evening, my husband and I boarded a magical wooden vessel…a relic from a gentler time…sunset bound. The engine of the 1948 22ft Chris-Craft Custom Sedan roared to life (directly in front of us no less as we settled in on the backseat bench), and a hint of a breeze caught the flag on the stern as we slowly motored out of the slip. We were off. It felt as if we were cruising along in the scene of a black and white movie – or perhaps that we were headed to a party being held on somebody’s perfectly manicured croquet court where all the guests were to be wearing white and argyle.
Though we had the Witcher’s Creek cove largely to ourselves, the few fishing boats and hyrdofoil that we passed seemed strangely out of place. Like the time we had stepped back into was the right time, and present-day was somehow out of sync. As lovers of all things vintage, we immediately connected to the rich nostalgia of the experience and the realization that modern boating somehow feels rather – one dimensional in comparison.
Doesn’t it just feel like something that was “born” in a different era (be it a house, a car, a boat, etc.) carries with it the soul of all the memories that it has seen, the love of the many hands that have tended to its upkeep, the quality of craftsmanship and certain materials and skills that are no longer commonplace? I felt the same way about our 100-year-old home, and 50-year-old canned-ham camper we once had. We didn’t own them; we were simply lucky caretakers along the timeline of their lives which extended far beyond either direction of our own.
The appreciation of these floating pieces of art is something (like many hobbies) that is best served with a side of other folks who get that same spark when they’re around a fleet of vintage charmers. Whether they own them, work on them, collect them, use them, or simply love them, you’ll find the Smith Mountain Lake Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society full of kindred spirits with a wide variety of fascinating backgrounds. All are welcome.
SMLACBS President, John Coffman, was so gracious to share with us the two beautiful, storied vessels that he keeps in the water here at SML and we could see how easily one could get bitten by the bug. In fact, he and his wife are relatively new to the world of vintage watercraft and now, they can’t imagine going back.
If you’re interested in dipping your toe into this fascinating branch of boating, the club meets on the second Wednesday of every month at the Moneta Branch Library – except for December and February when they hold special seasonal events.