The best place to store a boat is in a spot like the lower level of a barn which has slow-changing humidity and relatively level temperatures. Mystic Seaport has an old manufacturing building which meets the standards. In our boat area, we maintain 50 to 60 percent relative humidity and 68 to 70 degrees. The old part of the creamery building also approaches these conditions.
We have just received a new boat that has had a total restoration, as it was close to collapse. A gentleman from Cambridge, N.Y., undertook the renewal of this boat and did a super job. The boat is an 18-foot sailing boat built in Skaneateles by the Boat and Canoe Company in 1924. It is on a trailer in the annex and fills up the space. It is intended for display in the connector building when we get it organized.
In addition, we have a 14-foot double-ended rowboat built in 1904 and used originally on Otisco Lake. The folks would come out to Otisco on the train and row across to their properties on the west side of the lake.
The last member of the family took the boat to Michigan when he retired from Cornell where he was a professor. He got interested in the boat and, with the help of friends, “the lines of the boat” were taken off and an article was written and published in the Wooden Boat Magazine.
This boat needed help before being displayed, as it had been lying up on the tie beams and under the rafters of a farm building. A very creditable job of cleanup and repair, including fashioning a new stem and pulling the loose planks back to where they belong, was accomplished by John “Mickey” Barnes.
It was noted that the seat straps and rub strips on the keel are galvanized steel rather than brass. I suspect this boat was a livery model and not to be confused with some of the fancier rowboats of its time which had brass strips.
Please come to the museum and see these new additions. The placards are a long way from being finished, but the docents will direct you to the annex and show you some of the features of these three boats.
Joseph Spalding is a long-time Skaneateles resident who enjoys sharing his observations about the Skaneateles lakeshore and community. He can be reached at 685-6937.