Text by RAY BALOGH
Photos by DEB PATTERSON
Wooden boat enthusiasts gathered on and near Lake Wawasee Saturday, June 24, for a “classic boat gathering.”
About two dozen wooden boats bobbed with the waves at the Oakwood Resort piers and another 10 or so were proudly displayed on resort grounds.
“It’s really more like a rally than a boat show,” said organizer Jeanne Knecht.
“There are no awards and no judging,” said her husband, Luke. “It’s just a gathering of people who like wooden boats.”
The attendance was “pretty decent,” according to Jeff Guyas, owner of Wawasee Slip, formerly Macy’s Marina. Guyas has worked on many of the “80 or so” wooden boats moored on Lake Wawasee.
The event evolved from the Sunday morning Thunder Run, launched in 2013 by local boat owner Bill Coon and Guyas.
“Nobody wanted to go out and use their wooden boats very often,” said Coon. “So we came up with an event where they would actually use them.” The Thunder Run commences at 10 a.m. every Sunday between the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.
The circuit around Lake Wawasee takes about 35 minutes; the pace is held at 2,000 rpm. “Not too many of the boats have speedometers,” said Coon.
Jeanne took “a lot” of photos each week, opened a Facebook page, “Wawasee Wooden Boats,” and posted the pictures with commentary.
“The page has over 800 likes,” she said. “We’ve gotten comments from Europe, Japan, South America, all over the world,” said Luke.
Chuck and Diane Rice arrived for their third appearance at the gathering in their 1964 Century Coronado, number of 19 of 51 made that year.
They have also attended boat shows in Manistee, Mich.; Angola; and Fox Lake west of Chicago.
“This is our toy,” they said, citing the informational plaque they displayed, “she loves to run and we try to indulge her often.”
“I kind of grew up on the water and fell in love with wood boats when I was a little boy,” said Chuck. “There is nothing that sounds like them and nothing that rides like them.”
Diane’s uncle had a wooden boat “but I’d never been in one.” She wanted to invest the money in a swimming pool, “but I absolutely do not regret this choice.”
Friz Kreutzinger from Fishers brought half a dozen of his boats. “The fun of it is everyone comes up and says, ‘I remember when. This reminds me of my childhood.’”
Boat names included:
- Agitator, owned by a Maytag repairman
- Dark and Stormy, named after the rum and ginger beer cocktail
- Sweet Pea, christened for Jeanne Knecht’s pet name. “That was a surprise,” she said.
- Chief, after Miami chief Wawasee
- Miracle, “because it was a miracle I got it,” said Bill Coon.
Two boats sported names after the corporations their owners worked for. Be Sharp and Havin’ a Ball were dubbed, respectively, by executives for Sharpie, maker of permanent ink pens, and Ball Corporation, the Muncie-based jar manufacturer. Both names are emblazoned in trademark font.
Beginning last weekend, wooden boat owners are offering Oakwood Resort guests rides around the lake for a charitable contribution of $25.
The donations will go to designated local charities, such as Teen Parents Succeeding, at the discretion of the boat owner.