Wooden boats chugging into Cd’A this weekend

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COEUR d’ALENE — Murray Danzig is often asked why he owns so many classic boats.

For Danzig, who lives near Kidd Island Bay, the answer is simple.

“I love wooden boats,” the 87-year-old says.

He has six, all hand-crafted, all glistening and sleek, a mix of mahogany and white oak.

He plans to enter four of the boats in this weekend’s Coeur d’Alene Classic Boat Show on The Coeur d’Alene Resort’s floating boardwalk.

Imbued in them is the evocation of cold water and the roar of engines cutting through the kind of blue that reflects summer’s cloud-speckled skies.

One way to collect boats is to have a partner in the endeavor.

Danzig learned that early on, he said.

To ensure that his purchasing prowess wouldn’t be stymied, Danzig christened one of his boats for his sweetheart. The “Alice Opal,” named after his wife, is a 1929 ChrisCraft Cadet with a mahogany bow like a splitting maul.

“Before I showed her the boat, I put her name on it,” Danzig said.

It helped clear the way for the purchase of other boats, including a 1992 Hackercraft, a 29-foot StanCraft, the “Jefe,” a 34-foot Coeur d’Alene custom built boat with twin 400 hp Mercury engines that resembles a freshly honed knife with a mahogany handle and gold bolsters.

Its idling engines are the sound of water gurgling from an upturned jug.

This year’s show, scheduled Saturday from 10 to 5 and Sunday from 10 to 2, is organized by the Inland Empire chapter of the Antique & Classic Boat Society. Inland Empire was selected by the society as the chapter of the year, knocking out 56 competing chapters from as far away as Italy and Norway.

“That’s really an honor,” said former chapter president Daryl Reynolds of Post Falls, who anticipates more wooden and classic boats at the weekend event than idled into the docks in years past.

So far, 61 boats are registered compared to 29 last year, Reynolds said. Each will compete for three awards chosen by visitors, skippers and chapter administrators.

The show will surround the site of Coeur d’Alene’s historical boat-building enterprise that for more than a half century produced wooden boats on the shore of the lake, amidst a growing boat-savvy community. The Yandt Boat Works was once located where The Coeur d’Alene Resort is, and family members used white oak shipped from the East Coast and mahogany from Honduras, marrying the materials into a graceful cadre of vessels that were well known on the lake for 40 years.

Ron Yandt, the nephew of Yandt Boats founder Bob Yandt — who started building boats in 1915 and continued through 1967 after building around 75 boats — won’t attend this year’s Coeur d’Alene show.

He and his son, Wes, are in the process of restoring a Yandt boat in their Spokane Valley garage that they hoped to float in time for next year’s International show in Coeur d’Alene. That big show is expected to draw more than 200 boats.

Wes Yandt said the latest restoration project of the “Skippy Jr.,” a 1938 Yandt Triple wood boat, and one of eight known to exist, will not be completed in time for next year’s big event.

“It would have been a great debut,” Wes said. “It’s still upside down in the garage.”

It usually takes Wes and his dad about seven years to refurbish one of uncle Bob’s boats.

They have done it once before with the classic “Uncle Bob,” a 1963 Yandt utility boat.

Wes is aware of the historical significance not just of this week’s show of old and classic boats, but the show’s location, once the hub of North Idaho boat building.

The annual boat show is free and usually draws more 10,000 visitors from all over the U.S. and beyond, Reynolds said.

In addition to the boats, on display will be a smattering of vintage Woody Cars from car clubs in the Pacific Northwest.

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