Boats centerpiece to show in Pentwater
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Boats centerpiece to show in Pentwater

Oct 09, 2023

PENTWATER — Such masterful artwork is typically reserved for museums.

On Saturday, however, dozens of masterpieces were found at the 26th Annual Wooden and Classic Boat Show, hosted by the Pentwater Yacht Club.

“It’s becoming very popular,” event co-chairperson Dave Peterhans said of the annual show that draws participants, and onlookers, from around the state. “This is not just a club event, it’s a community event. We get a lot of support from our community and the village and we couldn’t do events like this without their support. Thank goodness we get that support.”

Peterhans estimated about three dozen owners of the creatively-created boats — perhaps more — took part in the gathering.

“Some of them bring more than one (boat),” he said.

Richard Austin of Ludington was one of those who showed more than one boat — he showed four, all known for their speed and sleekness. The 80-year-old nautical craftsman grew up near Lansing, but he and his family would spend their summers on Chippewa Lake in Mecosta County, which is located near the center of the state.

“We spent a lot of time with our boats,” he said. “I even remember my first boat, it was pretty much just a sheet of plywood that was powered by a 8 horsepower motor. But that got me started and here I am today, still doing it.

“My dad was a boat builder, I got my love for boats from him — we just had boats. ”

Austin said he “used to run ‘em” — race them — back in the ‘60s. And though he doesn’t race his boats anymore, he will, from time to time, still drive today.

As Austin answered questions about his boats posed by passers-by, his son’s husky-wolf-golden retriever, Thunder, sat quietly just a few yards away, wearing his trademark sunglasses.

Thunder, who is owned by Austin’s son, Mike, “… is very, very passive, very friendly.”

However, the elder Austin explained, Thunder was and is camera shy — if he sees you trying to take his picture, he’ll turn his head away.

“And he’ll get more attention than the boats,” said Austin. “Everybody likes him.”

The annual boat show was an “… idea hatched in 1997 by Jack Patterson and Marilyn Steiner,” reads the welcoming page of the Pentwater Yacht Club’s 2023 Show Directory.

“The first show attracted 12 boats. Over the years the show has grown to its current size of 40 to 50 boats of great variety, some of which are in the water and the remainder on the Village Green.

“While the show was originally for wooden only in the mid-teens it became the Wooden and Classic Boat Show to reflect the rising interest in the restoration, there are many examples of early fiberglass boats,” it continued.

“Over the years, the show has become one of the largest and best attended shows in West Michigan due in part to the support of the Pentwater Yacht Club and its members, its venue, its casual ambiance, and is embraced of the Village of Pentwater.”

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