A unique fleet will assemble this weekend in Hawthorne Cove, where the 37th annual Antique & Classic Boat Festival is being held.

From working vessels like the Swampscott dory to pleasure craft, some of which look like they sailed to Salem straight from the Gilded Age, a range of beautiful old boats will be on display at Safe Harbor Hawthorne Cove Marina.

The 35 entries will include a 15-foot runabout, originally manufactured in 1954 by the White Canoe Company in Old Town, Maine, and restored by Ryan Flynn of Rockport.

“It was a Craigslist find, three years ago,” said Flynn, who works at Gloucester Marine Railways. “It was a junked boat somebody was trying to get rid of.”

What drew his eye was the steering wheel, positioned in the center of the boat, in the hindmost of two cockpits, which forces the driver to look between any passengers in front of him or her.

“It’s a rare design,” Flynn said. “I think they did it more as an experiment in the beginning, until they realized it needed an odd number of people to weigh out the boat.”

When he started working on the runabout last year, its mahogany hull needed a full set of repairs. Flynn also cut the transom off and moved it forward, to compensate for rot, and fixed up the interior.

The boat is propelled by a 25-horsepower Johnson outboard motor, and Flynn loves the way it handles.

“It’s a race car,” he said. “Being in the center driving is amazing, looking straight down the center of the boat. It turns wonderfully. I have to reach for the throttle, that’s the only shortcoming.”

This is the fourth time that Flynn has presented a boat at the festival, where last year he brought a Norwegian faering, which is similar to a Grand Banks dory. He restored the runabout in his boat shop on Rocky Neck in Gloucester and plans to sell it.   

“I’ll play on it until I find somebody else to buy it, then I’ll go to work on another boat,” Flynn said.

The festival was originally founded in Boston as a way to preserve maritime heritage, and it moved to Salem in 2001.

Along with Flynn’s runabout, the event will include a visit from Rowley residents Kathleen and Ray Anderson, who own a U.S. Navy 26-foot motor whaleboat from 1942, and from William Pratt of Methuen, with his Sturdee open fishing boat.  

The jolly boat — designed to ferry passengers to and from shore — from the Friendship of Salem will be at Hawthorne Cove this weekend, and so will a Buzzard’s Bay daysailer owned by Jonathan Margolis of Brookline. 

There will also be plenty of music throughout both days, from the likes of The Mood Elevators and the Toby Tobas Steel Pans, along with exhibits and a crafts market. A panel of judges will bestow awards, and spectators will also choose their favorites, before the festival ends with a blessing of the fleet on Sunday at 3 p.m.

The opening ceremonies of each Antique & Classic Boat Festival also include the presentation of the Edgar B. Caffrey Award, which acknowledges a career dedicated to maritime heritage.

The recipient this year is Erik Ronnberg Jr., a highly recognized model ship maker who has worked as a maritime curator at the Cape Ann Museum since 2014. 

His models are included in the collection at the Cape Ann Museum and also at the Smithsonian Institution, MIT Museum, Mystic Seaport Museum and New Bedford Whaling Museum, as well as in many private collections.

“We applaud Erik for this award in recognition of his lifelong passion and deep maritime knowledge,” said Oliver Barker, director of Cape Ann Museum. 


If you go

What: Antique & Classic Boat Festival

When: Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Safe Harbor Hawthorne Cove Marina, 10 White St., Salem. The visitors entrance is on Turner Street opposite The House of the Seven Gables. Parking options include Salem South Harbor Parking Garage, 10 Congress St., and Bentley School, 25 Memorial Drive. There is no public parking at the marina, and on-street parking is limited.

How much: $5 for adults and free for children under 12

More information: 978-448-6757 or www.boatfestival.org

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