Thursday, June 20, 2024

Sandpoint Boat Show motoring into town

Staff Writer | July 2, 2023 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — There's something magical about wooden boats, Pierre Bordenave said.

Even the boat that he swears tried to sink him more than a half-dozen times.

Each captures the feeling of a past era, blending art and function.

"There's just a certain amount of craftsmanship that's part of the whole thing," he said of the difference between wooden boats and fiberglass or metal boats. "It's just great to have and the history of it like the one [his boat, the Aphrodite] that is still going strong after 83 years."

Area residents will have a chance to see classic beauties like the Aphrodite, up close as the annual Sandpoint Boat Show sails into town July 14-16. As in past years, dozens of wooden boats line the Sandpoint marina and Sandpoint Boardwalk. The boats will begin docking Friday, with a boat show and parade set for Saturday. Boaters will spend Sunday exploring the lake.

In addition, the boat show features a kids' boat-building program, giving young mariners all the materials needed to build their wooden boats — albeit using a wooden boat-shaped block. They can even test their craft's seaworthiness — once all of the construction and decorations are completed.

First held in Sandpoint in 2002, the boat show is as much a tradition on the lake as the wooden boats themselves.

Initially held in Coeur d'Alene, the show moved north after a few years, Inland Empire Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society officials said. Each year, anywhere between 20 to 40-plus boats turn out to showcase the classic rides.

Boats come from Washington, Montana, Oregon, California and, in the past, as far away as Florida.

As for the Sandpoint show, Inland Empire ACBS officials said it is the only show in the Pacific Northwest judged on a 100-point system. Under the system, every boat that is being judged on Saturday will start with 100 points and the judges mark them down from there.

The Inland Empire chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society got its start in 2000 when boaters who belonged to chapters elsewhere realized the boats — and the interest — existed in the region to start a chapter in the region. Shows are coordinated with other chapters — Columbia Willamette, Pacific Northwest, Big Sky and Okanagan — to ensure there are plenty of shows but that they don't overlap.

After light turnout in 2022 — the show's first year back after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic — Bordenave joined the group's efforts to spread the word and ensure all wooden boat enthusiasts knew about — and came to — the show.

There's something special — a certain camaraderie — about attending the show, whether as a boat owner or a wood boat fan, Bordenave said.

"Owning a boat is a lot of work, and owning a wooden boat is just different kind of a lot of work," Bordenave said. "But it's a special experience, and people can kind of have that experience without actually owning it by coming down to the show."

It's that laid-back life and the life-at-the-lake vibe that the show captures for all involved, he said.

He and his wife, Kathleen, love getting people on the Aphrodite, frequently inviting them to come onto the boat, walk around, sit down and enjoy the moment.

"It's fun to have a museum piece that's 83 years old and still be out there cruising around and enjoying it," Bordenave said. "We take the kids out and the grandkids out. And you know, it's not fast, but we throw it we throw a floaty toy out the back of it and tow kids around, and they love it."

With things bouncing back post-COVID, Bordenave said it's hard to tell who is more excited — the boat owners or the community — as the date of the show nears. (With the Fourth of July on a Tuesday, the date was pushed back a week to give everyone a bit of breathing room, Bordenave said.)

For the boat owners, it's a chance to share their passion for the boats and their craftsmanship, the quiet luxury the boats showcase.

"We love showing off the boats, and having people come and look at the boats," Bordenave said. "It's really that one opportunity that all that group of people that all kind of share the same, I would call it either pain or good fortune, to enjoy that boat ownership and the work involved.

"We all have had funny stories about you know, boats almost sinking or boats, you know, breaking down in the middle of the lake or breaking down at the shoreline or you know, just things like that … it's fun to share those."

Bordenave has had three boats, the first, a 1957 Century Resorter — the one he swears tried to sink him on multiple occasions. Yet, he admits, it is also the boat that hooked him.

He'd done work for the previous owner and the man, who told Bordenave that he had "more toys than he knew what to do with," asked if he wanted the boat in trade for the remainder of the money he owed him.

"He shows up with this boat on a trailer and everything and it's like, wow, okay, great, now I'm on boat owner and I had no clue," said Bordenave before chuckling.

Despite the near misses, the almost-sinkings, and getting stuck out in the middle of Lake Pend Oreille for some reason, Bordenave said he was hooked.

"I think that board tried to sink underneath me at least a half-dozen times, it tried real several times," Bordenave said, laughing. "And even when I broke down, I was caught because, you know what, it was really fun to do. I was really fun to drive the boat."

While he later sold the boat, Bordenave bought a second boat — a 30-foot Chris-Craft sea skiff — from someone he'd met at the show. The man was not doing well and the family wanted it to go to someone they knew loved wooden boats.

Bordenave found his third boat and current boat, the Aphrodite, when he noticed it for sale online. The previous owner was offering it for a good price but wanted it to go to someone who would keep it on Lake Pend Oreille. The boat has spent its 83 years on the mostly Bonner County lake and the man wanted to keep it that way.

Bordenave was happy to oblige.

He enjoys keeping the Aphrodite on her home waters, and the reaction he gets from residents who recognize the boat.

"We were cruising up the river one day and this person's waving at us over by Springy Point and we pull in and they have a little house back in there," Bordenave said. "And so we pull up and he goes, 'I just wanted to wave you down and and just see the boat because my wife got delivered to our wedding on this boat.' And then, you know, we've had more than a few people that said my parents and one person said my grandparents, my grandfather proposed to my grandmother on this boat."

He has delivered many a bride and wedding party to their destination on the boat as well witnessed a proposal or two.

Information: Inland Empire ACBS,


Event schedule

Friday, July 14

• Noon — launch and moorage, Sandpoint boardwalk

• 6 p.m. — welcome aboard event, McGoldrick Boat Board

Saturday, July 15

• 9 a.m. — Captains meeting

• 10 a.m.-5 p.m.. — Sandpoint Boat Show, Sandpoint marina and city boardwalk

• Noon — ladies luncheon, details tbd

• 3 p.m. — Wooden boat parade, Sand Creek

• 6:30 p.m. — award dinner, Hansen's 'Green Acres'

Sunday, July 16

• 9 a.m. — breakfast, Hansen's 'Green Acres'

• All day — boat and float


(Photo courtesy WES YANDT)

A quartet of wooden boat owners find a spot on Lake Pend Oreille to stop for a visit during a past Sandpoint Boat Show.


(Photo courtesy WES YANDT)

A quartet of wooden boat owners stop for a visit on Sand Creek during a past Sandpoint Boat Show.


(Photo courtesy WES YANDT)

Capt'n Dan Mimmack takes local youngsters for a ride on his pirate boat up Sand Creek during a past Sandpoint Boat Show.


(Photo courtesy WES YANDT)

People walk along the Sandpoint Boardwalk as they enjoy the classic wooden boats at a past Sandpoint Boat Show.


(Photo courtesy WES YANDT)

A youngster concentrates as she works to decorate the small wooden boat she was building as part of a Sandpoint Boat Show children's boat building event.