Mystic – More than 20 vintage and classic boats floated in the sunshine on Mystic River on Saturday for the annual get-together of antique and classic boats.
The event, which usually takes place over an entire weekend each summer, took place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Mystic Seaport Museum, where a colorful collection of boats lined up along the banks of the river before setting off in a parade under the Mystic drawbridge in the afternoon.
The now one-day event was smaller this year than in previous years, with around 20 boats taking part. The smaller size and shorter duration are a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced event hosts to move to a smaller, virtual version since 2020, the Mystic Seaport spokesperson said. , Dan McFadden.
The event attracted boat captains young and old, showing and teaching people their mostly old and antique boats, with a few newer boats even featured.
Sean Melanson, 21, was one of the youngest boat owners to participate. But even for a young boat captain, the show has already become an important and recurring event.
A Penn State student studying meteorology, Melanson received his 1957-built, 13-foot-6 boat, the Whirl Away, as a gift from his uncle when he was just 15 years old. In just over a year, he restored the wooden boat. with only one goal in mind: to participate in the Mystic Seaport show. He has returned every year since.
“It has become a tradition to come here every summer. I look forward to it every year,” Melanson said. “You learn a lot when you do that, it’s not just the skills of restoring the boat and getting the job done, you learn a lot about commitment and I think it’s all had a big impact on who I am. today.”
For other boat owners, like Thomas Knight, the event has been a summertime tradition for years. Although he missed last year, he said he and his family try to be successful every year with their boat Sea Lark.
The boat entered Knight’s family in 1980, when it was purchased by his deceased in-laws, Sam and Carolyn Crowley – it is now owned by his wife, Jennifer Knight.
The Knights use their 32-foot boat, built in 1941, primarily for family day trips to places like the Chesapeake Bay and Bar Harbor. They keep the boat in Noank, where it was built and purchased.
As a regular attendee of the show and the parade, Knight said his favorite part has always been “seeing all the other beautiful boats” and all the people he knows along the parade route. “We’re local, so we get a lot of cheers,” he said.
Moored a few feet from the Sea Lark was the Dragonet, a 38-foot all-wooden boat designed for the Chesapeake Bay. Brian, Martha, Casey and Caitlin Gilmore from Noank were picnicking on board.
“You look at its primary use,” Brian Gilmore said, pointing to his family as they ate lunch. “That’s really what we use it for and every hour of life we ride it, rub it or work on it.”
Although the boat looks old, it is actually a newer model – built in 2016. The Gilmores just bought the boat a few months ago and it was their first show in port.
Sarah Clement, seaside programs administrator for the Seaport, said newer boats in traditional styles are allowed to participate as part of the show’s “Spirit of Tradition” program.
The program, she said, aims to “broaden the scope of bait allowed at the event, so that new built boats that mimic older designs can enter. It’s a very fun addition to our boat collection and the Dragonet is a great example.
She said the program is also “a great way to encourage more people to get involved”, including new boat owners.
Clement, who helped organize the event and participated in the parade as an announcer, said the Seaport was delighted to see people enjoying its events and learning more about water and boating after having closed so many programs last year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
McFadden, who led this year’s boat parade in his Boston Whaler, said the museum is “recovering from a very slow year last year.”
“We’re just happy to have people here,” he said. “It’s been a great summer so far and it’s been really nice to see people here and to see happy people.”