With the wind in your hair and the shine of a smoothly polished boat deck beside you, the world’s troubles can fade for a time. In a summer devoid of boat shows, antique and classic boat lovers decided a socially distant day on the water was just what was called for. So chapters of the Antique and Classic Boat Society and the Muskoka Lakes Association organized a casual day of cruises for antique and classic boats, and declared August 8th National Vintage Boating Day. No registration was required. Just show up at any of the participating locations and follow the lead boat.
Clusters of classic boat enthusiasts gathered at Lake Rosseau, Lake of Bays, Lake Muskoka, and Gloucester Pool. On Lake Muskoka, where I joined the cruise, boats gathered in the Mirror Lake area near Port Carling and followed a 1912 launch through the Beaumaris region and out into the lake.
With passengers waving at each other, taking pictures and enjoying the general spectacle, the vintage boating spirit was as strong as ever. Word had gotten out to shoreline spectators too as crowds had gathered on docks to cheer on the parade. Almost as though the annual boat show had been brought to their dock.
An impressive range of wooden and classic boats was represented. The Traveller at Gloucester Pool, an early Swartman cabin launch, Skipjack, a 1903 Minet , and Kindling, the 1912 launch would have been among the oldest to take to the lakes. Long deck launches, Greavette, Duke and Port Carling utilities, and some high performance vintage fibreglass rounded out the collection. It was a special opportunity to see the unique character of each boat in motion.
It couldn’t have been a more perfect day for the cruises. With very calm winds and clear skies, it was summer at its best.