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A “vintage ” wooden boater tells his Gar Wood story.

January 15, 2020 in Uncategorized

Garfield Wood in action!

Many thanks to Neil T. Kuopas, for submitting his recollections of Gar Wood of boat racing and building fame. Unfortunately, Neil lost his home and personal artifacts in the Nov. 8, 2018 Camp 🔥 Fire, lived in Butte Creek Canyon one mile north of Paradise, California. However, now in his eighties, Neil still has very vivid recall.
“My young dreams were centered around boats and engines. Had many boats and engines until college. After college I came across a 1931, 28-ft Garwood double-plank mahogany runabout Garwood ( Ed. reportedly) lent to his mistress to watch the Detroit Garwood Gold Cup Trophy Unlimited hydroplane races in the infield of the river course. The Black River Marina owner, in Marysville, MI, had stripped down the finish and painted the boat black with gold waterline so Garwood’s wife would not recognizing it. It was ‘old man’ Baker’s first job as an 18-year old apprentice and he taught me the same methods at 85-years old to me in 1973. The Chris Craft straight-six (in the Garwood) had been replaced by a Packard straight-8, 356 cu.in., crowned pistons, separate sea and fresh water cooling systems, etc.
No one else knows what I am talking about! However, at the North Shore of Lake Tahoe there is a classic wooden boat shop which sponsors an annual gathering and parade of the classics. They don’t believe my story! Canadians get it and thought you might enjoy this. (A Garwood similar to mine is seen near the beginning of the video)

My own Garwood
I bought my Gar Wood 28-ft. runabout after it was taken out of storage and the transom was weathered to Bare Wood.
Also, the previous owner had docked it on two slings and the Chine-board and adjacent structure was dry-rotted!! If Old Man Baker hadn’t offered to show me how to fix it I would never have bought the boat.
Needless to say, three-months of hard and sometimes meticulous labor was required to make the repairs and start the process of staining and varnishing, and Baker still had enough of the original stain and varnish!!! What are those odds?
One more tidbit…the boat had a false deck below the inside deck  – just the right amount of space for fifths of liquor, as the boat was used as a “RUM-RUNNER” during the Prohibition Era!!

I have many more stories and should write an article to preserve the history.
Garwood was quite the character. He raced Dick Bertram of the deep-V hull-concept from Long Beach California to Catalina Island and back for a large amount of money in the mid-60’s with his Garwood Express Cruiser vs. Bertram’s deep-V race boat. The bet and time/day were finalized.
Garwood modified his Cruiser with hydrofoils and twin-Supercharged 440 V-8 engines, as I was told. Needless to say he won the race going away. Ha!! These are the stories you don’t read about. There are more to share with anyone who appreciates the classics.
I wrote to you last week hoping to contact Alan Empringham or his sons before I pass away, love Canada and many fine people across the Dominion.”
Respectfully,
Neal T. Kuopus

In one of Garfield Wood’s races, he broke the World speed record at 102 m.p.h

 

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