I parked my truck at the side of Island Road to attend the TSACBA Spring Workshop hosted by Wayne Robinson at “Wayne’s World”, a property that can simply be described as Canada’s only free-standing nautically-themed man cave. Sited on the east shore of the south end of Lake Scugog, the “exclusive” event was centered on a large, two-storied building surrounded by boats, engines and a pizza oven. This annual occasion is produced by the TSACBA to bring up-to-date information to those who are passionate about old boats and is open to members and non-members alike.
After registering in the rain at the entrance, the main building looked inviting even without the temptation of coffee and doughnuts. Before the presentations, there was an opportunity to overview the boats, the flea market and Wayne’s personal museum on the second floor. Wayne has surrounded himself with an eclectic collection of nautical memorabilia to the extent that his work space looks like the curator’s office in a well-founded marine museum. The envy was abruptly terminated with the call to inspect the outdoor “oddballs” assembled in the yard.
It is interesting to note that all of the “oddballs” were fiberglass. Beginning in the ‘50s the industry shift to this new material freed a lot of pent-up design ideas which could not be executed in wood and the resulting range of boat shapes and sizes enabled today’s show. Only a few of the many interesting presentations are highlighted here as the list is limited by the length of the article and the ability to remember all the pertinent details. It would be a mistake to forget to thank all the fellow enthusiasts who brought quirky engines and envelope-pushing boats to entertain us and expand our knowledge. Everyone was deserving of recognition.
In presenting his 1959, 15 foot, Larson, Falls Flyer, “Aqua Bat” an interesting story unfolded of how Gary Judges came to the antique boat hobby. A passionate car restorer, he decided that a boat would go well with his current project. He discovered the Larson, bought it and began to take a few parts off the hull. One thing lead to another until he found himself with a completely restored Larson, painted black to match the car. Oh, did I mention that the car project has not yet been finished?
“Ship Disturber”, an 8-1/2 foot, 1986 Addictor-190 was a veteran of the 2016 Sportsman’s show in Toronto where it attracted the attention of a myriad of boys and girls. Murray Parnell, its owner reported that he was surprised to find that, small as it is, it is big water capable. The manufacturer claims that its small size allows it to ride the seas, even the large ones, like a cork. Murray maintains that despite extensive research he has yet to find a single picture of the boat being driven by a young boy or girl.
This mystery boat came to Wayne Robinson’s attention through Ebay’s Kijiji service. Its appeal is undeniable and although most of our boats have some provenance this one does not. At first it was thought that the craft might have been a home-made creation but closer examination found evidence of design and the use of production molds. An example of which are the engine stringers which were molded with recesses for the engine mounts. If anyone reading this has any information relating to this boat’s origins please contact Wayne through the TSACBA website.
The workshop was rolling along well until this little guy arrived on the scene. Finnegan, a Lakeland terrier, strutted his stuff getting a reaction from both engaged attendee and dog lover alike. In the days of wood hulls and canvas engines he would likely have been pressed as ship’s rat catcher as Terriers had a fearsome reputation for the job. But his appearance says that his owners make far less arduous demands on him.
Wayne, our host for the day, is a lifelong entrepreneur who has built and sold a number of successful businesses. For the last seven years he has been involved in the distribution of outdoor, wood fired ovens to the point where he now has the exclusive North American distribution rights for his Tuscan Chef line of pizza ovens. He kindly offered to fire one up for the lunch and the pizzas started to roll off the assembly line. The TSACBA board, in its wisdom, decided to order some sub sandwiches as an alternative (after all, not everybody loves pizza, right - even hand-made, wood fired Tuscan Chef specials). It turns out that Wayne and his family will be choking down sub sandwiches for the next few days. The pizzas were an overwhelming success!
Ken Kirk was kind enough to display three rare outboard engines from the 1930s; rare because each had an electric start feature. They all used an electric motor to provide the turning power but there were some innovative differences in that one starter motor acted as a generator after it had started the engine and another would continue to turn the motor if it did not start, providing “get home” emergency power for at least an hour. The engines are also rare because they failed to gain traction in the market due to the depression and the existing technology. The concept was reintroduced in 1954, however, with great success.
The final event was a description of two different-looking boats owned by Wayne himself. When Murray Parnell introduced him to the gathering, Wayne was nowhere to be found. As the search ensued, Murray entertained us with stories, flogged TSACBA boat whistles and was about to break into a soft-shoe dance to fill in the time. Many speculated that one of the two guys climbing the rigging might fall on him but it was not to be as a chastened Wayne took over the microphone.
The workshop ended under an overcast sky, plunging temperatures, high winds and occasional rain none of which could dampen the enthusiasm of the members and the enjoyment of the day. See you next year!