Thursday, March 31, 2011

The 2011 Tavares Classic Boat Show

Last weekend the Tavares boat landing was the site of the annual Antique and Classic Boat show which is spectacular to say the least. There were many (over 100?) magnificent classic boats of almost every description on land, and as you can see, in the water!

This boat is the Miss America IX -- built in 1930 and raced by the famous Gar Wood.

The Miss America IX was the first boat to exceed 100 mph and was highly successful in unlimited racing. It was amazing to see this fabulous craft up close. I could only imagine the effort it takes to restore this boat and to bring it to shows.

Here is another Gar Wood classic - dating from around the 1930 era, this was a fast boat, but obviously smaller -- and less costly -- than the Miss America.

It was remarkable to see boat after boat in the water that are fully restored and in use. Several of these boats were touring around throughout the day. While a number of these were true classics, many more were recent recreations of the classic boat concepts.

You can buy boats like this ready to go, or build one from a kit. I can only imagine what is involved from a wood working perspective to build a beautiful boat like this. The finish is mirror smooth and looks like a work or art.

This is the Au Revoir, K12, a 1929 Hacker 24’ Gentlemen's Race Boat that has been fully restored. This was just beautiful and is a great example of a true classic. I would have loved to have been the "gentleman" who went out on this.

Of course, not every classic boat is a wooden hulled beauty. This is more Rick's speed and is similar to boats he had as a kid. Actually, this is a reasonable cost approach to boating in general and still allows you to join the classic boat set. Pretty cool!

Here is one of my favorites -- the aquacar! There were several of these at the meet and occasionally, one would start up, drive down the ramp and swim into the water. Look closely and you can just see the two props under the rear of the car. Not fast, but pretty slick!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Classic Race Boat meet in Tavares -- VERY cool

The Classic Race Boat Association held their annual meet at the Tavares, FL boat ramp facility and we took the pontoon boat over to see what we could see. Of course, Photo Dog, Cody, was planning to lead this operation!

We traveled through the Dora Canal to get to Lake Dora and on the way, saw this great STEAM powered launch traveling through the canal. The canal is a beautiful waterway and full of wildlife -- and on this day, other boats.

We reached Lake Dora and found a race course laid out in the water with spectator areas also designated by buoys. This photo shows the Tavares ramp facility which was using a large crane to place these classic boats in the water. The ramp also services seaplanes, so it is a great place to come watch the action.

And the action was fast and furious! There were several classes of antique boats racing flat out. These boats could really move! This was an inboard powered class with a driver and mechanic aboard and as you can see, racing was a serious business.

There was a wide variety of boats and this sleek entry was perhaps one of the fastest. It almost flew around the course -- and in the background, you can see a seaplane that had just landed. This was a great chance to see some very unique craft.

I was not surprised to see these classic hydroplanes racing, but was amazed at the fast speeds they attained. These are inboard powered boats and there were about 5 in this race.

This was a great shot of a more modern outboard powered hydro that cruised past and was also watching the races.

We had a great time at the races and look forward to the upcoming Classic boat show that will feature even more old boats. Rick thinks this is just great!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Antique Motorcycle meet here at the RV Park

We were surprised to find a number of RVs towing motorcycles entering the Southern Palms RV park where we are spending the winter. Rick looked again and said these are not normal bikes -- they are REALLY old! Naturally, Rick wanted to check these out! It turned out that the Antique Motorcycle Club of America was having a meet in the Eustis area and several competitors were staying in our area of the RV Park.

This was an interesting group-- led by a vintage BMW motorcycle. Makes quite a comparison with the cute little red Honda light motorcycle!

Around the corner was a rig with 3 old bikes. We got to speak with the guys working on these and were amazed at the condition of the motorcycles. This one is a Rudge Multi and we could tell it was old -- we guessed about 1925 and were high! This is actually a 1913 motorcycle -- 98 years old! Unbelievable! What was really remarkable was that these all ran flawlessly. It was very cool to see the guys riding around the park on a 1913 motorcycle.

This is a 1939 BSA bike that apparently is very rare and was immaculate. Notice the difference between these bikes - the 26 year gap provided a real maturing effect on the technology. These machines are a real effort to keep running and shining as new - imagine trying to find a part for a 1913 machine!

You can readily see the concept of the early motorcycle as a powered bicycle which this rig really is. Power was transferred by a rubber belt that was stapled together -- just like it was 98 years ago. It was very quiet when running and started by pedaling much like a moped.

Lots of fun to see these cycles and talk with the collectors who keep them running.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Surprises in Leesburg, FL

Rick has been playing golf a couple times a week and last week, as he and his group approached the first green, found a group of sandhill cranes on the green.

It was pretty clear that these guys thought they were in charge and were not shy at all. In fact, they did not want to move so that we could putt the ball toward the hole! Slowly, they decided to ease along, making very load squawks to show their displeasure! We enjoyed seeing these large, beautiful birds.

We were shopping the other day and as we went out to the car, Rick heard a great sound as a four engined plane cruised overhead. Wow -- a B-24 on approach to the local Leesburg airport. We quickly traveled to the nearby airport and found that the Collins Foundation was in town with their flying collection of WWII aircraft! This B-24 was perfect and really was incredible to see.

Collins brought three aircraft, including this perfect P-51 Mustang fighter. This plane was a remarkable sound in the air and can exceed 400 mph. This plane protected bombers as they flew from England to Berlin and back -- imagine sitting in this small cockpit for hours -- and then having air to air combat with German fighters. Gives us pause to consider that.

Here is Rick's favorite -- the B-17. Imagine seeing these great aircraft on approach to the airport. Collins keeps these aircraft in perfect condition and tours the country to acquaint folks with the history of aviation in WWII.

While these planes were huge in the WWII era, they are very cramped and small inside. Rick has toured inside them and was amazed at how tight they are; of course, they were designed to carry a heavy bomb load and not provide luxury accommodations!