The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Wooden boat show expands to the classics


August 10, 2017

Genie Carey

The Cathlamet Wooden and Classic Boat Show took place last weekened at the Elochoman Slough Marina. Greg and Muriel Prestegard won best in show for their sailing commercial fishing boat, the Island Butterfly, which was also voted the favorite sailboat.

Julius Dalzell, one of the 2017 Cathlamet Wooden and Classic Boat Show organizers, was a little worried about the turnout when the event opened on a beautiful Saturday morning, but he shouldn't have been. He'd printed 40 more ballots than the year before, and they were gone by noon.

"It's a blast," Allen Bennett, another volunteer organizer said. "It's just a labor of love. We just love boats. We've got more diversity than we had last year. We expanded to all types of boats and we've got some really good examples of fiberglass boats built in the northwest. All in all, it's been really good."

One of this year's participants, Glen Cathers of Goldendale, brought his 36 foot US Coast Guard motor lifeboat.

"About 10 years ago, my partner, she says, 'Is there anything you want in your life, is there anything in the world you want?'" Cathers said.

He told her he wanted a motor lifeboat. His father had been in the Coast Guard, and Cathers had grown up on and around boats like them. Thirty days later he was wandering the docks in Astoria when he came across one, "looking like a cabin cruiser, derelict, basically a houseboat with a hippie couple living in it." He bought it and they spent the next six years rebuilding it.

While stripping the paint, he discovered that it was a boat he had been on as a child. His father had gone out on missions in it.

"We've been cruising the northwest ever since," Cathers said. "We've been to every Coast Guard station in the northwest showing it off. We've met thousands of people with amazing stories. We could be out by a corn field in Idaho and somebody will come up and say 'It's a Woody!' and it will turn out to be some guy that was in the Coast Guard 40 years ago, and suddenly I've got a new friend. Some old lady will come up with a walker, with tears in her eyes, and tell about how their boat, or her husband or her brother's life had been saved."

"It's been way bigger than we expected it to be," Cathers said. "Thanks to my wife, she had the vision, I really didn't. I was just going to spend the rest of my life tinkering with this."

According to Cathers, the 36 foot motor lifeboats were first built in 1929, and the last one went out of service in 1986. Most were burned. In two years, his boat, the The Point Adams, will be donated to a Coast Guard museum in Connecticut.

"I'm going to miss it, but I'll be 78," he said. "These boats were built for 20 year-olds. They are very tough boats to be on for any length of time."

He remembered seeing hypothermic crews being taken off the boat by townspeople when he was young.

Diana Zimmerman

The US Coast Guard demonstrated a rescue for people who attended the boat festival on Saturday.

"They'd be out for 12-14 hours overnight, in the middle of winter," Cather said. "All they had were dungarees and a foul weather jacket. I'd see them carried home, wrapped in hot water bottles and blankets and the next day, they'd go out and do it again. They were just awesome men. A lot of them didn't come back."

After the ballots were counted, John Gillon's boat, the Salty Lady, an admiral's barge, won the power category. Julius Dalzell's boat, the Doineann, won in the rowing category, Gillian Vik's traditional skin kayak won best paddle boat, and Greg and Muriel Prestegard's entry, the Island Butterfly, won best sail boat and Best in Show.

Naomi Fisher took half the pot in the Duckie Derby. Second place winner Olivia Gill won a Mule wind chime donated by Bob Ward. Third place winner Liz Gray won a manicure from Scribbles, and fourth place winner Pat Kehrli picked up gift certificates from Vanwinkle Espresso and Julie's Java.


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