Memories Are Made of This...

"The vision of the Antique and Classic Boat Society is to provide an organization wherein people of a common interest in and love of historic, antique and classic boats can come togetherin a spirit of fellowship and fun to share dreams, adventures, knowledge and experiences." ACBS Membership Directory

Navy Point,
at the 18-acre Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael's, is the setting for the 16th annual Antique and Classic Boat Festival sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society (ACBS), June 13 - 15. More than 100 motor and sailing craft are entered in the event that this year will honor the memory of well-known Annapolitan Herb Zorn, who died last year at the age of 76. An ACBS member since 1975, he was a co-founder with Paul Warner of the Chesapeake Bay Chapter in 1982. "Herb started the Chesapeake chapter ACBS boat show at the Annapolis City Dock in 1982 with about five entries," recalls Bob Pelrine, former owner of a 1942 22-foot Chris-Craft. "The fact that the show has grown tremendously is testimony to his love and dedication."

The owner of 18 boats over the years, Herb's favorite was Class of 1931, a restored 22-foot triple cockpit Chris-Craft runabout. Linda Zorn describes her late husband as "a perfectionist," whose love of mahogany boats began at his family's summer home on the Magothy River. Although he was a man of many interests (an astute businessman as well as founder of the 1,500-member Crabtowne Ski Club and member of the Annapolis Yacht Club and the Eastport Yacht Club), his first love was boating---and the ACBS.

"Herb was a meticulous man, with a special appreciation for the craftsmanship involved in the design and construction of old wooden boats," says Capt. Jim Shotwell, a well-known boat builder/restorer and chief judge at this year's festival. Capt. Shotwell and his colleagues will present the first memorial ACBS/CBC Herbert L. Zorn Memorial Craftsmanship Award at the festival. "Herb had a true passion for boats and wanted to share it with others. Everyone who met Herb loved him," he says.

Herb's passion is shared by the 6,628 members of ACBS which has 45 chapters in the U.S. and Canada. Many members trace their love of wooden boats to childhood and to vivid memories of their first experiences on the water. Shotwell, 56, remembers fishing with his grandfather on the Susquehanna River and learning from him how to care for and repair boats. He and many others are spearheading ACBS efforts to interest youth in antique and classic boats.

According to ACBS standards, boats built up to 1918 are historic; between 1919 and 1942, they are considered antique; and from 1943 to 1968, categorized as classic. Additional categories include production wooden boats built since 1969, custom-made, modified "single edition" wooden boats produced since 1969, and replica, non-production exact copy of duplicate of a previously built wooden boat. Judging within these categories considers authenticity, workmanship and maintenance. "The basic premise is to judge a boat in its present condition against what it was like when it was originally delivered to the first owner," says Shotwell.

Both motor and sailing craft will be the focus of the upcoming ACBS festival. Programs chaired by Diana Shotwell will include a youth development area where experts will give hands-on instruction in kayak building and teach kids the rudiments of sailboat construction. Vendors representing the nautical arts and boat services/products will offer items for sale. Exhibitors include sculptor Paul Lockhart, scrimshander Jane Tukarsi, and John Into and Nancy Price, creators of "scratch-built model boats."

Chairperson of the event Mary Ann Fiaschetti expects a big turnout this year given the national trend towards the "the good old days" that accompanies a world driven by technology and engulfed in turmoil. There is something immutable about wooden boats which, when carefully restored and maintained, are beautiful works of art. The physical work can be therapeutic, a welcome change from the dehumanizing, computer-oriented workplace.

Baltimore architect Jacqui Collins, 34, estimates she has spent more than 500 hours restoring her grandfather's 1941 Gar Wood, an all-mahogany 20-foot-6-inch utility craft named Ace. As a child, Collins grew to love the boat during many family excursions on Lake George in upstate New York. Three years ago she moved to Maryland and brought the boat to Dockside Boat Works in Cordova on the Eastern Shore, where she and friend Rob Rottman replaced rotted wood and took the boat down to its original mahogany, applying 10 coats of varnish as part of the painstaking restoration.

Antique and Classic Boat Charters, Inc., of Annapolis will offer sponsored free rides on a refurbished 18-passenger, 1966 Ipswich Yacht Club launch. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is the boat's long-winded name, imprinted on her custom-made transom board as well as on each of the 18 life jackets for the boat. Other boat owners displaying their "babies" at the festival include Julie and W. Scott Tompkins and their 1946 25-foot Chris-Craft Sportsman (Ol' Smoothie); and Marcia and Tom Auth, who lovingly stripped their 1938 17-foot Chris-Craft runabout (Second Date) and had Jerry Le Compte of Dockside Boat Works do the fine carpentry work. "It's all about the beauty of wood and the craftsmanship involved in creating these beautiful boats," says Marcia.

Bill Thompson of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum agrees. "Long before fiberglass, there was wood. It makes a boat special. Wood is associated with living things-it puts life in a boat," says Thompson. "There is nothing like the sound of the throaty roar of those inboards."

Festival hours are Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; daily admission $10, seniors $8, children $5 (free under 5). For more information, call 410-437-9066 or 410-745-2916 or visit or

Mary Lou Baker is a veteran freelance writer who has lived in Annapolis since 1968.


What event in the Annapolis area are you most looking forward to in 2006?

Powerboat Show
Sailboat Show
Renaissance Festival
Seafood Festival
County Fair

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