Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rowing boats

My Grandmother Flint in Winona on Lake George ca. 1965
I like boats. I like the sound of the water slapping the hull. I like the sensation of floating. I like handling boats. I like old boats, too. I like lots of old things. One of the old boats I like is Winona. Winona now resides in the Mystic Seaport Museum but whether she's on display or simply whiling away her days in storage I don't know. Built by Jared Bartlett of Sabbath Day Point on Lake George in New York about 1900 or so, she's been rowed, sailed, and motored all around Lake George and on Barnegat Bay. I started my relationship with the boat in 1960 but she'd been with the family since she was built. Originally she was one of a pair, but where the other went I've not a clue.

On Barnegat Bay, summer 1960
My Grandmother, her sisters, their children and grandchildren (including yours truly) spent many hours learning about boats, themselves and life in general aboard this small wooden boat.  For years and years she was kept not one-half mile from where she was built.

It is now many years ago that my Grandmother and I shared rowing duties on Barnegat Bay but I still have some memories of the event.  I remember being placed in Winona and told where to sit, I remember Grandpa pushing us out into the bay for the photo (Mom took this picture) and I remember Grandmother Flint telling me that this was important.  I was the fifth generation to ride in Winona.  It was clear to me then that I was responsible for something, for preserving this whether it was the traditions or the boat itself but I knew that this was a big deal.  That I took my first rowing lesson was a rite of passage and it was so important that the whole thing was planned and recorded.  It was so important that I remember.

Winona was very adaptable.  One could take the stern seat back out and mount a rudder.  With my sister and I providing the motive force Grandmother could take a comfortable cruise just exactly where she wanted to.  Add the lee-boards and sail rig and one could sail Winona but I never got to do that.  Larry and Mike (cousins) did.  I heard they had some adventures!  (and I have a photo of Winona under sail somewhere...) There were still marks on Winona's transom from the early 3-horse Evinrude she'd had back in the 1930s-1940s.  I had her out in some rough water and once was able to keep up with a rather large sailboat cruising down the lake towards Ticonderoga.  I was disappointed when I was told that Winona was going to Mystic, but, it was the sensible thing to do.

This is Mom standing on the haul-out with Winona about 1935 or 1936.

There are more photos of Winona which follow...

Is Winona in this mass of boats at the 1927 Lake George Marathon?

Not a great photo, this is Winona out of the water at Lake George.  The water level may have been down a bit that year.  I think the year is 1948 and that is Mom's friend Joyce...

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