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2011 Gathering of Boat Builders

On September 23, 2011, in News From Gayle, by Gayle Brantuk


Last weekend John and I, along with our friends Richard and Karen, left California for our favorite event of the year, the Gathering of Boatbuilders at Nickajack Lake in Tennessee.


Richard & Karen

This is the fifth year the Gathering (veterans call it “G5”) has been held and each time we walk away even more amazed. This event was conceived of and completely organized by the members of the Glen-L Boatbuilder Forum, which has become a boat building community that is second to none.

We are amazed at the distance people will pull their boats on a trailer to get to this event. Folks come from Oregon, Canada, Minnesota and this year one builder even came from Australia. No, he didn’t tow his boat!

In attendance this year were over 100 people and at least 33 different boats. Most boats were Glen-L designs, there was one Stevenson Weekender, a few were manufactured boats, and a few that the builders designed themselves.

One couple, Ken and Margaret Thomas, brought their Sherwood Queen named “Thomas the Tug” and launched it for the first time. Their story was particularly touching…

Here’s their story as Margaret posted on our Forum: “I gave Kenneth the Sherwood Queen plans about 4-5 years ago for Christmas. He started building the boat, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2008 and was given 5-6 weeks to live.”

“God’s grace brought him through only to face a stroke in 2009. Again, he wasn’t supposed to make it on the airlifted flight to Nashville, Tennessee. Praise God, he is a walking miracle twice over, and on Saturday at the gathering in Guild, Tennessee….only 25 miles from our home…we were able to finally launch Thomas the Tug!”


Thomas the Tug

“What a happy day. I want to say thank you to Gayle and all of the happy sailors who were around to offer us a word of praise and lend a hand…quite literally to pull us along the dock…you see we were too green to even have any ropes attached. Oh, the joy of learning a new way of life! Thank you everyone for all of your help.”

The neat thing is that Margaret rarely looks at her email, but decided to take a look at it about a day before the start of this year’s Gathering when she discovered our email reminding everyone of it. And, since they were just ½ hour from the Gathering location, it was perfect timing!

Before reading the serendipitous email, they had actually taken the boat out of the garage and cleaned it all up and were wondering how they were going to launch it. Wonderful how things work out, isn’t it?

Another neat story is Rory Hamilton, who we interviewed at last year’s Gathering—you can watch that interview here. Rory had just begun building his Sea Knight last year because he had such fond memories of his grandfather and uncle’s Glen-L boats when he was a kid.


Nomad & Sea Knight--Generational Glen-L Builders

At G5, Rory brought his “almost” completed (yet sea-worthy) Sea Knight and his uncle also brought his Nomad built in 1973. Rory duplicated the paint scheme of his uncle’s boat. This is a man who’s living his dream! The smile on Rory’s face was ear to ear all weekend!

Then there’s one of our Canadian builders, Paul Kane, who has an improved version of his engine each year in his Hot Rod. What a ride! Paul even brings his mechanic Colin who is super handy to have around and frequently has his head in someone’s engine! Colin has been responsible at the Gatherings for many boats operating at their best performance.

The event officially starts on Friday afternoon/evening, but many show up on Thursday or even earlier. A group of folks took a river run to Chattanoogaon Thursday while the rest of us rode in boats on the lake, had lunch with friends and enjoyed visiting.


Hot Rod built by Paul Kane

Friday evening, we had a wonderful spread of delicious food! Ken Schott’s low country boil is always a hit. This year we had other great treats as well and I’m not going to name them all because I’m bound to leave someone out.

After food and libations, we enjoy meeting new friends and catching up with the “old” ones. Some sang and played guitar–our Australian friend Skip had his computer out with all the words to popular songs available. It was so much fun.

Saturday is the main day when all the boats are out on the water. After a delicious breakfast prepared by volunteers, the fun begins! Our videographer, Chris, does interviews of builders that we’ll post on our blog throughout the year. We tried to organize our boats on the water this year so that the smaller boats didn’t get beat up with all the waves from the power boats while Chris shot video.

It’s so much fun to have all those boats out on the water together—what a rush!

One of our frequent attendees, Ray Turner, had an entire professional camera crew and production team there. They spent all Saturday shooting footage for a boat building special he’s hoping to have picked up by a major network. Keep your fingers crossed.


Tornado built by Paul Miller

All Saturday we rode in boats and that’s the best part! Riding in Paul’s Hot Rod is always a highlight for me. This year I also took a ride in Paul Miller’s Tornado and realized while flying over the water at about 75mph that I could actually die. Seriously fast, but really exhilarating.

I even got to drive Dave Lott’s Riviera, and Ken Shott’s Double Eagle. A true honor.

Saturday night there was more awesome food, gin & tonics, more beer and wine AND genuine local moonshine and lots of fun! As usual, many stayed up into the wee hours of the morning and paid the price the next day!

Sunday, our Canadian friends prepared breakfast of pancakes, bacon and coffee. Then most of the attendees packed up and left until next year. And, there will be a next year!


We’ll let you know the plans for next year’s event (G6!) soon so you can start planning to join us. It really is a blast! To see more photos of G5, click here for the complete photo album.

Thank you so much to everyone who helped plan G5, prepare food, clean up, and just lend a hand when needed. You are all fantastic and we consider you family!

Your Thoughts?

One Response to 2011 Gathering of Boat Builders

  1. George Spano says:

    I love looking a beautiful old wooden boats, but have no desire to build one and maintain one at this stage of my life. For my next project I am looking to build a high performance boat (say 19′ to 25′, perhaps a true tunnel hull design) that has modern engineering behind it and doesn’t look like a 1950’s boat. There is nothing wrong with the 1950’s look, but there is not the engineering behind those designs that would allow it to be stable at speeds of 70+ MPH. Ideally this new design would be stitch and glue construction. If Glen-L could add this to their catalog, I would buy it.

    I enjoy your newletters and reading about other people’s projects. I especially like looking at the pictures of the boats underconstuction and the finished boat.

    Thank you,

    George Spano

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