Classic crafts cruise on at Minneapolis Boat Show

With U.S. boat sales hot for the second year in a row and with Minnesota ranked fourth among all states as a leading market for new powerboats, engines, trailers and accessories, the 2018 Minneapolis Boat Show expects a major splash in attendance starting Thursday.

There, in front of Hall D near the main entrance, some 36,000 visitors will be greeted by boating’s past. Surrounded by magnificent wooden creations and a few old fiberglass gems, members of the Bob Speltz Land-O-Lakes Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society will be serving up nostalgia for at least the 15th year in a row.

Like the rest of the boating community right now, the club is in a period of prosperity. Membership is up 20 percent over the past two years to about 360 people. This year’s boat show, running through Sunday at the Minneapolis Convention Center, provides another opportunity for expansion.

“We are growing and we have a reputation of being a very active chapter,” said Dave Bortner, the club’s president.

Bortner, who owns a boat service and restoration company in Mound, said there’s a full spectrum of boat styles represented in the club — from canoes to sailboats and specialty boats. What’s relevant to the club changes as various “new” watercraft become collectible. Finned fiberglass boats made by Herter’s Inc. in the 1950s have drawn attention for a number of years. Century Coronados, Boston Whalers and James Bond-style Glastron boats — also made from fiberglass — have come into vogue.

“What is cool to collect is getting newer,” Bortner said. “It’s not just wood boats.”

Surprise is a 1927 Hutchinson Launch 30-foot boat built in New York. It was commissioned by a wealthy woman as a birthday surprise for her husband. The boat will be on display Thursday through Sunday at the Minneapolis Boat Show.

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