Keels and Wheels in Hartwell, Ga.

Antique Wooden Boats and Porsches

Bringing Together Engineering, Craftsmanship and Style

By: John Budinich
Carolinas Region

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As Porsche owners, we appreciate classic lines. So it was a natural fit for members of PCA to join members of the Blue Ridge Chapter of the Antique and Classic Wooden Boat Society for the 2nd annual combination antique wooden boat / Porsche show. The show took place on April 13 at Hartwell Marina in Hartwell, Ga. Lake Hartwell is a man-made lake, covering 56,000 acres with 962 miles of shoreline in South Carolina and Georgia. It is one of the biggest and most popular lakes in the Southeast. The boat show has been a major event on the antique and classic wooden boat show circuit since 1993, and this was the second year that members of PCA were invited to participate.

This three-day event began on Thursday afternoon with the arrival of boats from throughout the Eastern United States and Canada. The main event was held on Saturday, and started early as PCA members from across North and South Carolina gathered for breakfast in Anderson, South Carolina, prior to the event. We then drove along some interesting two-lane roads of western South Carolina and around the eastern edge of Lake Hartwell in Georgia. It was a great way to get the "Porsche" juices flowing for the big day ahead.

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We met other members of the Carolinas and Peachstate Regions of PCA in a shopping center parking lot, two miles from the marina. Members from as far away as Greensboro, Charlotte & Asheville North Carolina, Athens & Atlanta Georgia, and Columbia, Spartanburg and Greenville South Carolina made the drive to participate in the celebration. We even had one member drive down from Galax, Va.

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While the PCA group was gathering, Hartwell Marina became the home for 44 antique and classic boats from Chris Craft, Gar Wood, Arista Craft and other manufacturers. At 9:15 am, the Porsche group formed up for the drive to the marina. The show organizers arranged for a police escort down the main road in Hartwell, through the town square and into the marina. on the limited access road leading to the marina, our escort thought the Porsches needed to flex their muscles. It's not often you get to see and hear 30+ Porsches roaring down a two lane road with a police escort. Many thanks to the Hartwell Police for their assistance and their interest in the Porsches assembled for the event. At 10:00 am, the opening ceremonies took place and the show was opened to the public.

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The Porsches were arranged in front of the marina building for the "land" portion of the "land and sea" display. Boat owners, PCA members, and the public spent the day taking in the sights and sounds of the varied boats and cars. There were the antique and classic boats to view, Porsches of all years and models to check out and PCA members and boat owners to meet. Other activities included radio-controlled boats for kids of all ages to test their watercraft skills, food vendors to sample and boat rides on the lake. The marina operators provided two skippered pontoon boats for PCA members to enjoy cruising the lake. They took up to 10 people at a time for 40 minute rides on the water. There were also the "special rides". Any PCA member who wished was offered a ride on one of a number of the antique & classic boats in the show. The boat's owners showed members how well the boats performed and provided an opportunity to step back in time on boats from the teens through the 50's. There was even a boat cruising the lake that was built in 1903.

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When not on the water or on the docks answering questions, many of the boat owners were in the display area in front of the marina examining the Porsches and asking owners about their vehicles. While not quite as old as the boats in the show, Porsche was well represented with 36 examples of the marque ranging in years from 1958 to 2013. Almost all models of Porsches were represented and we heard lots of positive comments from the boat owners and show attendees, whether they were talking about the 356's, 911's, 944's, Cayman's, Boxster's or the two GT3s on display.

Now let's talk about the "Stars of the Show". From the boat side, once again the "Miss America IX" was on display and plying the waters of Lake Hartwell. This mahogany Gar Wood boat was built in 1930 and was the first boat to break the 100 mph barrier... in 1931. The boat was built and driven by Gar (Garfield) Wood himself, over a measured mile course in two directions. Current owner Charles Mistele, who has owned the boat for 43 years, explained how the record was set using two experimental twelve-cylinder Packard engines making a total of 2200 hp. The boat now sports two GM motors making a total of 1100 hp because the Packard engines were appropriated by the US Government and used as prototypes for the PT boats in World War II. Those motors were not returned after the war but the boat is still very fast to this day, capable of hitting triple-digit speeds. When Charles started it up and took it out on the lake, the sound could be heard and felt throughout the marina.

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Another beautiful example of fine craftsmanship was the Holiday 25 on display. This boat displayed exceptional woodwork, including the compound curves present in the roofline of the all-wood cabin. It also had multiple inlays of various colored woods in the main cabin area and on the table in the aft section of the boat. I cannot imagine the number of man-hours it took to assemble this stunning craft.

Al and Bonne Olsen displayed two boats, the "Norwegian Sun" and the "Undercover". Both boats were named Best in Show. It was the first year two boats tied for the honor.

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From the Porsche side, there was the 1958 356 Speedster of Jim and Barbara Phillips from the Upstate Area of the Carolinas Region. Jim uses his Speedster often and his was one of the oldest Porsches on hand for the show. Jim's Porsche was probably just rolling off of the assembly line when the newest of the boats on display was already in the water. John Brindle from Rock Hill, SC in the Metrolina Area, Carolinas Region, had his immaculate 1992 968 Cabriolet at the show. John spent a good deal of time being interviewed by Lauren Peeples of the Hartwell Sun newspaper. Lauren also spoke with Bill Suite out of Galax, Va, about his 911 Turbo.

The two GT3s of Claude Burke of Lavonia, Ga (Peachstate Region) and Curt Stodghill of Greenville, SC (Carolinas Region), along with the Caymans on hand, drew many comments for their sleek lines that mirrored some of the lines of the boats on-hand. Thanks to all of the Carolinas and Peachstate members for bringing the Porsches out to the show and answering all the questions the attendees had about the cars.

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All in all, the event was a great success from both the boat club and PCA perspective. The weather was perfect, sunny and mid-70s. Mother Nature even cooperated by providing enough rain in the weeks prior to the event to ensure lake levels would enable the boats to "strut their stuff". Before the show had even come to a close, Julie Moore and Dennis Moore, President and Vice President respectively of the Blue Ridge Chapter of the Antique & Classic Boat Society, asked us to continue this as an annual event on the PCA calendar. They said they received nothing but positive comments from participants and attendees alike about having Porsche as an integral part of the show. The Porsches and boats were a perfect combination and both appealed to the same basic tastes. Almost every PCA member in attendance said they would be returning for next year's event and they would be spreading the word to other members. Those that could not make it this year have already added this event to next year's calendar.

If you are in the area of Hartwell, Georgia next April, look for this multi-region event on the Zone 3 calendar. The combination of engineering excellence, graceful lines and timeless design applies equally well to the antique and classic boats and to our beloved Porsches. Additional photos from this event can be found on the Carolina's Region website at www.carolinas-pca.com. Until next year, keep the shiny side up and smooth sailing...