Two lake residents are currently putting the finishing touches on the restoration of a 70-year-old boat once used for sport fishing in Canada. The vessel will be one of the new entries at the Antique and Classic Boat Show and Festival this weekend at Mariners Landing in Huddleston.
Art Cournoyer and Karl Hellinger, members of the Smith Mountain Lake Antique and Classic Boat Society, have spent seven years working on the 1949 Peterborough Admiral boat purchased for $500. It had sat unused for years in a barn near Lake Pythonga, located deep in the La Verendrye Wildlife Reserve in Canada, before it was discovered by Hellinger.
Hellinger is a longtime member of a hunting and fishing club located on Lake Pythonga. He discovered the abandoned boat during a visit to the club several years ago and recruited Cournoyer to help him transport it back to the lake to restore it.
Cournoyer and Hellinger have a long history of working together to fix up old boats. The two previously restored two other boats before this most recent challenge. The Peterborough Admiral boat spent time at both Cournoyer’s home in Union Hall and Hellinger’s home in Penhook throughout the restoration process.
The work done on the Peterborough Admiral boat was more of a renovation instead of a restoration, Cournoyer said. They decided to make a few changes to the boat during the process that prevents it from being a restoration to what it originally was.
Cournoyer said he handled the technical aspects of the restoration, while Hellinger spent countless hours sanding the boat down to the original wood and then applying coats of varnish and paint.
When it was purchased, both Cournoyer and Hellinger admitted they were unsure if the vessel was even salvageable. Years of neglect had led to the boat’s wooden boards rotting, in addition to years of wear and tear.
“The stem was totally destroyed,” Cournoyer said of the critical board at the front of the boat. It was one of many that were replaced.
The boat hung from a rig in Cournoyer’s shop for years while they sanded the wood and replaced the rotten boards.
“There was lots of sanding,” said Hellinger said, who would often have to lay down in the boat to reach the boards.
Cournoyer found a piece of oak from a local lumberyard that he meticulously bent and cut into the shape of the new stem. He also used local wood to replace other boards. Overall, he said close to 98% of the original boards still remain.
Once the sanding was completed and the new boards were in place, they added stain, sealer and between eight and 10 coats of varnish inside and out.
“It’s a pretty looking boat,” Cournoyer said of the finished product.
Since it does not have a motor, the boat will be entered into the Antique and Classic Boat Show and Festival as a non-powered boat. It will be one of more than 30 boats featured at this year’s show that will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
While the event is free and open to the public, donations will be accepted. For further information, visit www.woodenboats.net or contact Alan Frederick at 352-8653.