SALEM— Boat enthusiasts congregated at the Brewer Hawthorne Cove Marina for this weekend's Antique and Classic Boat Festival as captains excitedly shared the histories behind their beloved vessels with admirers and locals.
Visitors peered at watercraft built for both work and pleasure, many with unique places in the heart of New England's coastal past.
Around 40 boats were on display at the festival, which was held Saturday and Sunday. Seven boats were parked on trailers and the rest were docked at the marina.
"The festival was first created to preserve the history of antique and classic boats and to try to bring an effort forward to prevent boats from being scrapped and destroyed, to preserved and restored," explained Chris Ward, a member of the Antique and Classic Boat Festival committee.
Many of the boats at the festival were wood and some were early fiber glass vessels built in the 1950s and 1960s, Ward said. Around half of the boats were sail boats including vintage cat boats, yawls, and schooners, and the other half included power boats from 16 foot outboards to 40 foot cabin cruisers, he added.
James Thoen of Ipswich brought his boat, a 1993 Friendship Sloop he restored over two and a half years named "Adagio," to the festival. According to Thoen, friendship sloops were designed in the late 1800s and early 1900s to be lobster boats before there was power. The boat is 31 feet long, ten feet wide, and would have given lobstermen room to pull lobster traps up onto the boat, toss their catch into the hull, and move on.
"It's rare you get to see so many boats in one place so well kept up," Thoen said of the festival. "If you like boats, there's a lot of eye candy here."
Todd and Jessica Fitzpatrick of Cohasset brought their boat, "Ghost," a 1934 William Frost style power cruiser built by Herbert and Everett Williams in Isleboro, Maine, to the festival. The Ghost was formerly used as a ferry and mail carrier in Maine, and was commissioned in World War II.
"Certainly looking at the boats and the camaraderie, it's interesting to get together and show off what we like and to walk around and check out the other boats," Todd Fitzpatrick said. The couple said they've been teaching their son, Jack, 16, to care for the boat and that he helped prepare it for the festival.
According to Jean Fisher, also a member of the Antique and Classic Boat Festival committee, the event is a great opportunity for boat owners to network and find inspiration as well.
"You can always find great ideas and network. It's a great group of people," she said. "There's a real camaraderie with festival participants."
In addition to the boats on display, people at the festival could take a free cruise around the harbor on a Mahi Mahi Harbor Cruise boat named the "Finback." There were also vendors, food stands, and games for children at the festival.
"It's pretty unique," said Kristin Davidson of Los Angeles, a boat enthusiast came to the festival while visiting family nearby. "You can probably equate it to classic cars. To people who enjoy being on the water, this is probably the equivalent."
Follow Kelsey Bode on Twitter @Kelsey_Bode.