Former Mailboat Makes Triumphant Return
Before there was the Barbara S. Wiles delivering mail to summer residents along Skaneateles Lake, there was the Pat II, which plied the lake’s waters from 1956 to 1991. Now, 30 years since its last appearance, the newly renovated Pat II—one of the few all-electric passenger vessels in the country—returns to Skaneateles for the 43rd Annual Antique and Classic Boat Show.
The show, hosted by the Finger Lakes Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society and the Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation, runs July 23-25 in Clift Park, Hours are 3 p.m. to dusk Friday, 9 a.m. to dusk Saturday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.
The Pat II, a 39-foot launch, delivered mail for Stinson Boat Lines and later for Mid-Lakes Navigation, where it also served as a tour and dinner boat. In 2014 it was acquired by the Finger Lakes Boating Museum; there, it has undergone a painstaking seven-year restoration and is now used as a cruise vessel and teaching tool. During the show, rides will be offered to the public.
Among the dozens of other boats on display will be mahogany runabouts from such legendary manufacturers as Chris-Craft, Hacker and Gar Wood, as well as launches, sailboats, canoes, rowing craft and race boats, many restored to their original condition.
Due to the pandemic, last year’s show was held virtually. “This year, we’re delighted to be able to bring it back in person, with just a few modifications,” says Hilary Fenner, executive director of the Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce. “With the show’s boat parade, concerts and other activities—all set against the backdrop of Skaneateles’ fine boutiques, galleries and restaurants—we offer a warm welcome to everyone.”
Judging of the boats, in 35 categories, takes place Saturday morning. Throughout the weekend, visitors will cast their votes for the highly coveted People’s Choice Award, sponsored by Doug’s Fish Fry, which will be presented at 1:45 p.m. Sunday.
Highlights of the weekend include:
- A boat parade and fly-by, led by the Skaneateles Fire Department and the Pat II, starting at 3:15 p.m. Saturday.
- Performances by the Diana Jacobs Band, noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, and the Soda Ash Six, noon to 2 p.m. Sunday.
- A display of antique model boats by the Syracuse Model Boat Club, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
- A youth judging competition, sponsored by Hagerty Classic Marine Insurance to “spark kids’ passion for wooden boats,” 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
- A knot-tying demonstration, 11 a.m. Saturday.
- A photo-shoot and spectator cruise aboard the Judge Ben Wiles, 10 a.m. Sunday. The Judge will leave from the Mid-Lakes Navigation dock in Clift Park and make a slow tour of the north end of Skaneateles Lake, while exhibiting boats make random passes and provide opportunities for action shots. Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for children under 13 accompanied by an adult. For reservations, go to midlakesnav.com or call 315-685-8500.
- Raffle drawings, 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
Although the children’s boat painting activity will not be held this year, boat painting kits will be sold at the Registration Tent and coloring pages featuring the Pat II will be given away. The show is handicapped-accessible. All COVID-related guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and New York State will be followed.
For more information, go to http://www.skaneateles.com or call the Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce at 315-685-0552.