Never come across them until I spent a wonderful ten days a few years ago in Florida. Not the ghastly east coast, but the Gulf Coast, where life is lead at a much slower pace amid swampy, manatee-infested creeks. Well, not quite. But there's an old world feel about this neck of the new world where they still call the Civil War the War of Northern Agression, and vow one day to secede.
That time I travelled up country to Cedar Quay, and into Georgia to meet the late, undoubtedly great, boat builder, naturalist and author Robb White (of whom more at some point) and on a second visit we motored lazily up the St John's River, visiting old Civil War sites, eating aligator burgers (not) and hanging out in waterside bars. The Mount Dora Antique Boat Festival was a highlight.
The festival is all about Gar Woods and ChrisCrafts, polished to perfection. But whilst there I met a fellow called Walt, who sailed alone in a sharpie he built, spending nights anchored in the shallows or creeks of the low-lying coast. He's sold it now, but he seemed to epitomise a uniquely American spirit of independence. And in contrast to the shiny sleek motor boats owned by the rich, the very rich. So, for a contrast in Americana, here are some photos.
That's a commuter boat. Nice thing to have if you live on Long Island Sound and worked in the City.
Apart from the sharpie, and Walt standing on the stern, who can identify the other boats? Some have clues in the photo. On a dreich, that's miserable, day in the Highlands, it does the soul good to see warm waters, blue skies and nice boats.