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A Marina Full of Unique Stories

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Photo of Skeeto by Lorena Keenan Photo of Skeeto by Lorena Keenan

Wooden Boat Show a touch of craftsmanship in these days of fiberglass

A cool breeze lightens the load of an almost sweltering, sunny day in Sandpoint. Along the marina, two toddlers squat, staring intently at a pool of tadpoles. Their parents, caught between acts, shift their gazes from one side of the dock to the other - toddlers or wooden boats? On this bright afternoon, it’s easy to take it all in. Finally, the children have their fill of the tadpoles, shift their weight and stand upright.

“Mommy,” says one, “can we go paint a boat?”

Smiles, grins, and yes, plenty of wooden boats attended the sixth annual Inland Empire ACBS Wooden Boat Show. Along the walk, vendors sold food, raffle tickets, merchandise, crafts, and children could paint their own toy wooden boat.

Each and every wooden boat has its own unique story. This year, the famous Sea Dart, built in England in 1960, found its way to Sandpoint. Adventurer Tristan Jones purchased the boat in 1973, and sailed this small vessel around the world. He wrote about his record-setting journey in his book, “The Incredible Voyage.” Tristan was a double leg amputee, and when he finished sailing, he dedicated his time to helping handicapped children.

“Alice’s Cotton Top,” was built in Friday Harbor in 1984 and it was an island hopper. Diesel powered, it cruised the San Jeans before finding its way to Larry and Alice Danzig of Coeur d’Alene.

Larry Danzig, 76, said it was his wife’s first boat.

“All my married life,” Danzig said, “this is the first boat my wife said she wanted. She doesn’t know I put her name on it. Terry snuck over a sign painter and added it this morning.”

Alice got a triple surprise. Not only did she have a boat named for her, “Alice’s Cotton Top” received the people’s choice award and best of show.

Mark and Lorena Keenan’s boat, “For Sale” was built in 2006. Mark said he has always loved boating and decided to use his carpenter skills to craft his own machine. Mark studied boat building on the Internet, and started building the boat from scratch in November. He said he spent all winter constructing it. Made from mahogany and 20 feet long, it has a Chevy 350 engine. Originally, he hoped to sell his craft and use the money to build another boat. Now, he’s hoping someone will hire him to build him or her a boat.

“I’m kind of partial to this one,” Mark said.

Last year, “For Sale” won an award for most original name.

Glen Johnston of McCall said that his boat, “Bandido,” was a gift.

“Loving life I live my winters in Mexico and my summers in Idaho,” Glen said. “I was fortunate enough to have a gentleman give me this boat on the condition that I restore it.”

Glen said he had the woodwork restored last winter, and when he returned to McCall on a below freezing day in March, he began repairing the engine and trailer. Glen wanted to carry his Mexican experience over to his boat, so he christened it with a Hispanic name.

“I looked Bandito up in the ACS directory,” Glen said, “and there were three boats already named Bandito with a ‘T’. So I looked up Bandido with a ‘D’ in the dictionary and found it was a correct slang word that came out of Los Angeles in the late 1800s.”

“Skeeto,” a small wooden boat out of Laclede, won an award for going the longest distance. The owners brought it to the show via the Ponderay River, which took them three hours.

The lure of wooden craft, from Huck’s rough-hewn raft to the hand-rubbed beauty of mahogany and teak, beckons us to come out and admire the wooden boats in these days of fiberglass. As the day comes to an end, the boats dance on sparkling waters, summoning us to set sail into the sunset.

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Desire Aguirre Desire Aguirre lives in Sandpoint with her daughter, DaNae, and numerous pets. An LCSC student, she plans on graduating May, 2009, with a bachelors in communication. Her favorite sport is riding her horse, Splash-of-Paint, into the wilderness with Cholo, her son's faithful dog.

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