2016 WoodenBoat Show: From a Polynesian Canoe to Bogart’s Boat

The article writer’s favourite boat at the 2016 WoodenBoat Show at Mystic Seaport is film star Humphrey Bogart’s old boat, Santana. Here a close-up on her steering wheel.

25 June 2016

Celebrating 25 years, it is time for the 2016 WoodenBoat Show, held at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut. Göran R Buckhorn gives a report:

The 25th Annual WoodenBoat Show offers all the usual things – more than 100 traditional and classic wooden vessels are on display, everything from small canoes and row boats to cruising yachts, workshops and demonstrations, more than 140 vendors selling everything you need – and maritime stuff that you were not aware that you needed – books, paintings, tools, boating shoes, and much more – and of course, you and your family can build your own little dinghy at the “Family Boat Building” tent, “I built It Myself”, where building kits are for sale.

The festival, which is produced by WoodenBoat Publications, Inc., and held at the 19 acres of Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut, between 24 and 26 June, has been described by Yankee Magazine’s Travel Guide as ‘one of Connecticut’s Top 20 Events for the Summer’.

One of the highlights at this year’s show is the Polynesian voyaging canoe from Hawaii, Hōkūle‘a. This 62-foot catamaran is in the midst of a multi-year circumnavigation of the globe to raise awareness of Polynesian maritime culture and ocean conservation, and will be docked at Mystic Seaport until 28 June. Hōkūle‘a, which arrived at the museum on Thursday morning, was escorted up the Mystic River by several vessels, among them a canoe from the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. Upon tying up, there was a traditional welcoming ceremony involving Hōkūle‘a’s crew and representatives of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation on the museum’s north lawn. Songs, prayers, speeches, chants, dances, remarks and presentations made it a wonderful celebration seldom seen at Mystic Seaport. During Hōkūle‘a’s stay at the museum, she will be open for visitors to board through Sunday, 26 June from 1 to 5 p.m. and crew members will be available to answer questions and discuss the voyage.

Hōkūle‘a with escort from the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.
Hōkūle‘a approaching the dock at Mystic Seaport.
Members of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, who meet Hōkūle‘a down river and escorted the vessel to Mystic Seaport.
Now, that is what I call a steering oar.
Members of Hōkūle‘a’s crew and members of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation dancing their way to the welcoming ceremony.
Welcoming ceremony: Hōkūle‘a’s Captain Bruce Blankenfeld in blue shirt with gifts in hand.
A young member of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.
A couple from the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. The man was in the canoe that escorted Hōkūle‘a up the Mystic River.

Scouting around the WoodenBoat Show, I especially look for rowing related subjects, but at this year’s show there seems to be fewer ‘rowing boats’ than usual. So the following cavalcade of photographs from the festival is a mix of all kind of different boats.

In this ‘row boat’, you do not have to use your arms, as you can pedal it with your feet. Maybe good for exercising, but I personally prefer to row with my arms (and legs).
This looks like a work boat, and not a pleasure boat.
This weekend, Mystic Seaport offers not only the WoodenBoat Show, but held in conjunction with the festival is also the “Small Craft Workshop” where participants can bring their own small boats and try out other boats brought by other participants. Their motto is “Get out on the water”.
One boat had its outboard engine hidden in a fancy little ‘hut’.


Here is a building kit boat – a ‘tub’ with oars and sails.

The museum’s own Aida is a 33-foot centerboard yawl designed and built by the famous Herreshoff Manufacturing Co. in Bristol, Rhode Island, in 1926. She is available for day charters in Fishers Island Sound.
Not all boats at the WoodenBoat Show can be rowed or sailed.
Booom! Of course, you need a cannon to start your regatta’s races – or just to scare off the Canadian geese messing up your front lawn.
A young man sanding a part of the boat he is building with his father and sister.

While the WoodenBoat Show is going on, the staff of Mystic Seaport continues to give the museum visitors demonstrations throughout the day. Parts of the demonstration squad are informing how a whale boat was used. The museum’s website gives the following information about a whale boat crew who approached a whale:

When the forward oarsman, usually called the boatsteerer, got the call, he stood, braced his leg in the “clumsy cleat” notch near the bow, and darted his irons into the whale. This anchored the boat to the whale. He then made his way aft to take the steering oar, and the officer came forward to kill the whale once it grew tired from pulling the boat in a “Nantucket sleighride” or diving–“sounding”– to escape. The officer used a long-shanked lance to pierce the whale’s lungs and cause it to bleed to death. Once the whale rolled over, “fin out,” in death, the boat towed the whale to the mother ship to be processed.

A whale boat crew at Mystic Seaport.
In the stern of the whale boat is the officer, who comes forward in the boat to kill the whale.
Boating shoes, anyone?
Another one of those beautiful boats that is gracing Mystic Seaport this weekend.

One of my favourite boats at the festival this year is Santana, which was once owned by movie star Humphrey Bogart.

Bogey-Bacall onboard Santana
Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall aboard Santana in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island. Bacall looks a little worried being aboard the ‘boys’ boat’.

The 55-foot schooner, built in 1935, has recently been restored by Loughborough Marine Interests LLC in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. The restoration work took about 18 months at a cost of $1.5 million.

According to an article in The Newport Daily News in 2014, Bogart bought the boat in 1945 and loved it. Bogart’s son, Stephen, even claims that Santana was his father’s ‘great love affair’, despite being married to actress Lauren Bacall.

‘Apparently Lauren Bacall wasn’t very fond of the boat,’ Joseph Loughborough, owner of the Loughborough Marine Interests LLC, told The Newport Daily News, ‘This was the boys’ boat.’

The newspaper is quoting Bogart saying: ‘The trouble with having dames on board is you can’t pee over the side.’ After Bogart’s death in January 1957, the Santana changed hands several times.

The beautifully restored Santana.

More information about the WoodenBoat Show this weekend at Mystic Seaport you will find here.

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