COEUR d'ALENE - Classy, they say. Elegant, sleek.
Ask any wooden boat owner what drew them to handcrafted, wooden vessels over their fiberglass counterparts and the answer is usually the same.
There's just something about the look, they say.
Dr. Paul Berger isn't any different.
"I always thought wooden boats were classy; really, really nice," said Berger, who's been an avid boater for more than a decade but just recently made the plunge to the wooden club. "And it just seemed like a good time."
Berger's 29-foot custom made boat, NightHawk, is one of 50 antique rides headlining the 27th annual Coeur d'Alene Wooden Boat Show Aug. 17-19 at The Coeur d'Alene Resort Boardwalk. After moving to North Idaho in the mid-1990s, the founder of Nighthawk Radiology always knew he wanted a wooden boat to call his own, but never got around to making it happen.
"It was something I always wanted," he said, finally placing the custom order with Hagadone Marine Group more than six months ago. "You do things sometimes - just because."
And when he placed the order, the doctor followed his own lifelong advice: Hand the steering wheel to an expert and let them navigate through.
"I always said, when you need help, find a good doctor and follow his advice," Berger said.
Same holds true for landing a good architect for a grand house, and yes, boat building masters for a one-of-a-kind wooden ship.
"I didn't try and tell them what to do," Berger said.
The annual August tradition converges on the downtown docks for a weekend's worth of show. Boats from around the Northwest are scheduled to participate, and boats will be on display from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18 and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19.
Sponsors for the event include Hagadone Marine Group, Hagadone Directories, Lake City Ford, Officetech, The Spokane Airport, StanCraft and Time Warner Cable. Anyone still interested in registering their own boats has until Monday, Aug. 13, to call 292-1635.
For Berger, becoming a proud wooden boat owner has been worth the wait.
After all, it was that look, that craftsmanship, that drew him there in the first place.
"Mind blowing," he said, of watching his vessel construction - with its deep brown hue and named after his old business - go up piece by piece. "True artists."
SIDEBAR: In regatta, it's whatever floats your cardboard boat
COEUR d'ALENE - You don't need a wooden antique to pilot the waters Aug. 17-19 during the 27th annual Coeur d'Alene Wooden Boat Show.
You just need a little creativity, and a decent understanding of engineering.
Skippers, prepare to build, duct tape and navigate your vessels - it's the inaugural Lake Coeur d'Alene Cardboard Regatta.
Yep, the name says it all.
Teams of three will build their boats out of cardboard and float them on the lake - for prizes, of course.
"You'd be surprised," said Diane Higdem, Coeur d'Alene Chamber of Commerce events coordinator, on the fact that cardboard boats actually do float, even with humans in them. "There are definitely some inside secrets to making it work, but yeah, they will float and go some distances."
The inaugural paper run begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 18 near The Coeur d'Alene Resort Boardwalk.
Participants can join one of three groups - youth, adult or corporate/business in teams of three. Rules are pretty straight forward. Grab cardboard, duct tape something masterful together within an hour, and then race on the water.
Entry for a team of three costs $25, or $50 for the corporate division. Only two people are allowed in the vessel during the race, so someone has to stay on shore to cheer.
Prizes will be awarded for: The Titanic for the most fantastic looking sink; Judge's Choice for the best overall presentation; and, of course, one for the race's winner.
Boats will have an empty milk carton attached to them on string so they'll be easy to retrieve if (when) they go under. Contestants should line up at the east end of the smaller city beach between the boardwalk and the Independence Point dock, and should provide their own oars and life jackets.
Registration deadline is Wednesday, Aug. 15.
- Tom Hasslinger