Wooden Boats: Floating Works of Art

Article excerpt

Byline: Harry Swieca

Next time you are at your marina, take a step back and looked at all the different designs, sizes and colors of boats. Some are colorful with lots of bling. Others are bulbous or look like a floating Jolly Green Giant's shoe.

Last week I had the opportunity to just sit and look at the boats in our marina. I was there for about an hour, and I was impressed with what I saw. But one thing was missing in this sea of fiberglass and canvas: wood-hulled boats.

Yes, I said it: Where are the wooden boats? You know, those one- of-a-kind slickly varnished floating works of art. Just looking at one of these can wake up the true sailor deep inside you.

Most of us remember wooden boats from the movies, like the ones used in "On Golden Pond" and "The African Queen." But there are many more out there just waiting to be rediscovered.

Last week, I had the chance to meet the Streblow family that has been building handcrafted wooden boats for the past five decades. They have created a devoted following just a little north and west of Chicago in Lake Geneva, Wis.

I was there to investigate a collision incident, although I could not understand why the owners were so upset and why they wanted Mr. Streblow himself to be there until they pulled the cover off the damaged boat. There sat one of the prettiest, well-crafted wood boats I have ever seen. …