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You are browsing the archive for Uncategorized | Port Carling Boats - Antique & Classic Wooden Boats for Sale - Part 2.

by Don

Who Was A. P. Cockburn?

April 28, 2022 in Uncategorized


The origins of Muskoka, of course, date well before the arrival of Europeans, the time before shoreline developments, hotels and steamships. Much has been written about the history of Muskoka and the stories typically involve commerce, transportation and recreation. The Steamships are a major part of that story as has been told before, especially by Richard Tatley, the author of many books on the subject.

Richard Tatley has been on a never ending mission to learn all he can about the steamships and A. P. Cockburn.  Richard’s current focus is a new book that tells the story of Cockburn. Richard believes “Alex Peter Cockburn did far more that anyone to get Muskoka on its feet.” But Richard was uncertain if there would be enough information about him to write a biography. Through tireless research, made possible by new discoveries at the Gravenhurst archives, Richard feels he has made great progress in his quest to write the biography.

Richard has just finished a 100-page manuscript and hopes to have it published locally, perhaps with the help of Patrick Boyer and Muskoka Books. Richard notes that Patrick was a politician and so was Cockburn!  Among Richard’s discoveries was the fact that Cockburn lived in Toronto for a while when he was an MPP and going to the Legislature. So his children were born in Toronto, rather than Muskoka.  This may also have been because the steamship business was very seasonal and Richard got the impression that Mrs. Cockburn wasn’t as keen about roughing it in the wilds of Muskoka. Richard also learned that the family lived in a building called Phoenix Village in Gravenhurst. The book should become a wonderful addition to the Tatley collection of Muskoka histories.

By Tim Du Vernet

by Don

What’s in a Name

April 26, 2022 in Uncategorized


Whether it be letters, a place or a family name, the name given to a boat, especially a wooden boat, connects it with a story and history. In previous blogs, we learned about the history of the name of the Wenonah, meaning first born.

How do you choose the name of a boat? Is it to be a reference to a family member, a characteristic of the boat, a reference to an historic element or to make a statement about your ownership of the boat?

Circles, MAB, Black Prince, Black Knight, Black Beauty II, Jolly Roger, SCUD II, Glenavy and Flying Lady all have something in common… they are Minett-Shields sporty runabouts. With connections to the Olympics, to a Lieutenant-Governor, a US sports channel and more, these boats carry their owners’ passions from one generation to the next. Does a boat ever create its own history?

Black Beauty was at one time owned by Lt.-Gov John Aird. I remember seeing her at boat shows and during visits to the CNIB camp on Lake Joseph. Mr. Aird was very generous with his boats. He also had a rather unusual, at least for Muskoka, sea-trawler-like boat called Yosemite Sam, if I remember correctly.  Black Beauty certainly is a striking boat. With her hull all in black, the chrome gleams especially brightly.  Many of the boats from Minett-Shields owe their hull design to John Hacker, especially the sport runabouts.

By Tim Du Vernet

by Don

Stringers for Nika  – Made With Fir

April 21, 2022 in Uncategorized


Stringers are long sections of wood. They run nearly the entire length of a wooden boat, so they have to be stable and strong. In some cases there will be laminated sections to reduce the effects of natural twist or bends. For Nika, the stringers are more than 26’ long.

In preparation for installing these long beams of wood, which come from British Columbia, the wood is first let to dry thoroughly. As the moisture leaves the wood, some cracks are expected to appear. Jon Lidstone takes a careful eye over the beam to look and mark the cracks in preparation for filling with epoxy. Another element in the preparation is smoothing the knots with a planer and then filling those with epoxy as well.

The huge beams also need to be shaped to fit the taper of the hull where they will be installed. With the decks on and the planking still in place, Nika isn’t quite primed to receive her new stringers because there isn’t access to the whole length of the hull yet.

Rob Gerigs explained that Nika, which is currently sitting upright, will be rotated so she will be sitting upside down. The planks below the water line will be replaced now that the new ribs have also been installed. Once access to the inner hull occurs, then the stringers can be nestled into position. Jon noted that turning such a massive boat over is a complicated process and requiring all hands on deck, so to speak!

By Tim Du Vernet

by Don

Watch for Spring Tours

April 19, 2022 in Uncategorized

It’s been two years since boaters were able to enjoy each other’s enthusiasm for vintage boats. This spring will be the beginning of the renewal of that passion. The virtual spring tour is just around the corner and dates for the summer’s boat shows are being stamped on the calendar.

The virtual ACBS-Toronto spring tour is in development and likely set for the week after Easter. Video captured at the different boat shops within the umbrella of the ACBS-Toronto will be represented through the ACBS-Toronto website.  Muskoka boat builders will be especially well documented in the event. From Gravenhurst to Huntsville,  at least 7 boat shops will be filmed. Paul Brackley, Mike Windsor are the main shops in Gravenhurst. Mike Windsor has a particular touch with Dispros. Stan Hunter operates Milford Bay, located between Bracebridge and Port Carling. In Port Carling, he has experimented with electrifying different boats. James Osler and the Boat Builder shop (Rob Gerigs) are busy restoring and building wooden boats.  The big project in Rob Gerigs’ shop is the Nika. A nearly 37’ launch. She will be a spectacular boat to be launched this spring

There are a few other smaller shops around Muskoka that have been on tours in the past. Check out the ACBS-Toronto website to see the full variety.  An advantage to the virtual tour concept is that it will be accessible to viewers for an extended period and go into record for all time. If only we had such video of Duke’s and other shops from the past.

By Tim Du Vernet

by Don

Spring Cleaning Of The Wooden Boats

April 12, 2022 in Uncategorized


Warmer and longer days ahead stir the hand and heart to getting our boats ready for the water.  All the efforts in the fall winterizing a wooden boat are rewarded in the spring.  The winter’s accumulation of dust and possible vermin intrusions need to be cleaned out. Chrome is easily the victim of oxidation and pitting without being covered in a protective coating such as petroleum jelly. Removing the film will take some work and the proper cleaners that won’t also damage varnish.

One of the most annoying aspects of getting ready for spring is remembering where you put all the all the bits and pieces from the fall. The seat cushions are easy to find and may need a good cleaning as well. The flag staffs need to be looked after too.

Sometimes in the rush to get a boat out of the water in the fall, the engine bay and bilge may still bear oil and muck residues that may have yet to be cleaned out. The bilge should be washed and cleaned out to avoid build up and promoting rot or mold.

A mild dish soap is a pretty good start for most of the boat, including cleaning the chrome and varnish. When you are finished with the soap, a good polishing with chrome cleaner will make the chrome shine. Wiping and buffing varnish can create small scratches that dull the finish. Beyond a serious sanding and new coat, some recommend mineral oil in small amounts buffed with a soft cloth can help to return the gleam of a finish. There is a huge variety of styles and build in wooden boats, so one solution may not apply. But one consistency is that brass, chrome, aluminum and bare iron are all found on wooden boats.

By Tim Du Vernet

Port Carling Boats – Antique & Classic Wooden Boats for Sale