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The Launching of the Ranger

By Mirror Staff

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

With its exterior completely redesigned and its interior remodeled, what once had been a Navy PT boat was launched on Lake George on Saturday, May 31, 1947. She was christened the Ranger by Beverly Burton, the 16-year-old daughter of H.T. Burton, the treasurer of Marine Industries of Lake George. Miss Burton broke the traditional bottle of champagne over the Ranger’s bow, as it started to slide down the D&H marine railroad spur in front of Fort George Park at the head of the lake.

The Ranger was the first large boat to be launched on Lake George in 35 years.

After the purchase of the surplus PT boat in 1946, Marine Industries could find no one to move it from the Elco Boat Company in Bayonne, New Jersey to Lake George. The owners realized that there was nothing to do but move it themselves, so they had it dropped overboard at Bayonne with its steel cradle attached. Then they towed it up the Hudson River and the Champlain Barge Canal to Fort Ann, where it was hauled overland. Upon arrival at the lake, it was housed in a Quonset hut where workmen labored to have it ready for the summer. A cabin 40 feet long was built and a permanent canopy was constructed, allowing passengers to ride inside or out in the open. The mahogany of the original was replicated in the new cabin’s planking and trim.

The Ranger was 80 feet long and could carry 150 passengers. Until the mid-1950s, when the Ranger was retired and destroyed, it made two daily trips from Lake George Village, one of which was a run down the length of the lake and back. The other was a 1 1/2 hour evening cruise.

(Photo from Art Knight, Lake George Mirror collection, Lake George Historical Association. Most of the information about the Ranger comes from a June, 1947 issue of the Lake George Mirror.)

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Your Prop: the Most Important Aspect of Boat Performance

By Buzz Lamb

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

In spring, a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of … propellers? With apologies to Tennyson, more Lake George boaters think of their propellers than they do of love – at least when it comes to getting ready for the season. And what better time to order a new prop, or at least confirm that your present one is just right, than now, when your boat’s out of the water and you can get to her running gear without holding your breath?

Finding the right match between the propeller, engine type and boat size will optimize the following performance factors;  improved low-end punch and load carrying capability, getting on plane faster, and increased top end speed.

For safety and efficient performance, it is critical that your engine operates within the RPM range recommended by the manufacturer.  Matching the right prop for the load is the most significant factor when choosing a new propeller.  If you want to modify your boat’s performance, consider the following information before making your selection.

Diameter is two times the distance from the center of the hub to the tip of the blade.  It can also be looked at as the distance across the circle that the propeller would make while rotating.  It is the first number listed when describing a propeller.

Pitch is defined as the theoretical forward movement of a propeller during one revolution, assuming there is no “slippage” between the propeller blade and the water.  Slip is the difference between actual and theoretical travel of the propeller blades through the water.        For most boats, there is slippage and therefore the distance advanced is less than the design pitch.  A properly matched prop will actually move forward about 80 to 90 percent of the theoretical pitch.  The amount of slippage varies from boat to boat.  Pitch is the second number listed in the propeller description.

Rake is the degree that the blades slant forward or backwards in relation to the hub.  Rake can affect the flow of water through the propeller and has implications with respect to boat performance.  Aft rake helps to trim the bow of the boat upwards which often results in less wetted surface area and therefore higher top end speed.  Aft rake props also typically “bite” better on ventilating-type applications.  Forward (or negative) rake helps hold the bow of the boat down.  This is more common in workboat applications.

A cupped propeller also works very well where the motor can be trimmed so that the propeller is near the surface of the water. Many of today’s propellers incorporate a cup at the trailing edge of the propeller blade.  This curved lip on the propeller allows it to get a better bite on the water.  This results in reduced ventilation, slipping and allows for a better “hole shot” in many cases.  The cup will typically result in higher top end speed on one of these applications.

Ventilation is a situation where surface air or exhaust gasses are drawn into the propeller blades.  When this situation occurs, boat speed is lost and engine RPM climbs rapidly.  This can result from excessively tight cornering, a motor that is mounted very high on the transom or by over-trimming the engine (or drive unit).

Cavitation (which is often confused with ventilation) is a phenomenon of water vaporizing or “boiling” due to the extreme reduction of pressure on the back of the propeller blade.  Many propellers partially cavitate during normal operation but excessive cavitation can result in physical damage to the propeller’s blade surface due to the collapse of microscopic bubbles on the blade.

There may be numerous causes of cavitation such as incorrect matching of propeller style to application, incorrect pitch, physical damage to the blades, etc.  Be advised that disturbances in the water flow forward of the propeller (such as a thru-hull transducer) can result in blade damage which appears to be cavitation but is actually due to non-favorable water flow into the propeller.

Thru-hub exhaust and over-hub exhaust propellers are used on boats where exhaust passes out through the rear of the “torpedo” on the lower unit around the propeller shaft.  Most outboards and I/Os utilize this type of exhaust.

Thru-hub exhaust propellers consist of a round barrel to which the blades are attached.  The exhaust gasses pass through this barrel and out the back without making contact with the blades.  This provides a good clean water flow for the blades usually resulting in good acceleration and hole shot.

Over-hub exhaust propellers have the blades attached directly to a smaller tube which fits over the propeller shaft eliminating the larger exhaust barrel.  These props are often used for attaining maximum top speeds. On some boats the hole shot can often suffer due to the extreme exhaust flooding that occurs around the prop blades during acceleration.

Non-thru-hub exhaust propellers are used for inboards using shaft driven propellers, sterndrives using thru-hull exhaust and on some outboards that don’t route the exhaust through the lower unit torpedo.

Two propellers spinning the same direction on twin engine boats will also create steering torque.  In other words, two right-hand propellers pull the stern hard to the right and the bow to the left.  Two opposite-spinning propellers on twin engines eliminate this steering torque because the left-hand propeller balances out the right-hand propeller.  This results in better straight-line tracking and helm control at high speed.

Most pleasure boats are factory equipped with aluminum propellers.  Aluminum props are relatively inexpensive, easy to repair and under normal conditions can last for years.  Stainless steel is more expensive but much stronger and durable than aluminum.  If you are looking for better performance than can be provided by your aluminum prop, such as ultimate top speed or better acceleration, a stainless steel prop might be required.

I personally recommend 3-blade propellers for recreational boats with 2, 3, 4, and 6-cylinder outboards and I/O engines.  These propellers provide good hole shot and top-speed performance.  I recommend 4-blade propellers for bass boats and boats with high-performance hulls running high horsepower engines.  Compared to 3-blades, they provide better hole shot performance with less steering torque and less vibration at high speeds.

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Modern and antique Elcos on Lake George

Modern and antique Elcos on Lake George

Making a Quiet Splash: Elco Wins National Acclaim by Building upon the Traditions of Clean, Quiet Boating

By Anthony F. Hall

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Nearly 125 years after the Electric Launch Company was established to ferry passengers through the lagoons, canals and lakes of the Chicago World’s Fair, Elco is again the nation’s premier builder of electric drive systems for boats.

That’s due in part to Joe Fleming, the former summer resident of Glenburnie who revived the Elco electric boat company in 1987, and who has rejoined the company as a design engineer.

According to Elco owner Steve Lamando, Fleming has made significant contributions to the company’s new electric drive system, which is geared primarily toward sailboat owners.

The system uses a 3-phase AC electric motor, the equivalent of a 14 hp diesel engine and produces no noise, vibration, heat or fumes. It’s powered by batteries that can be recharged by hooking to shore power or by onboard solar panels and a wind generator. Fully charged, the batteries will provide 6-8 hours of propulsion.

Equipped with Elco’s powerplant, the Hunter 27E sailboat was nominated for Boat of the Year honors in the 30’ and Under classification by Cruising World and was awarded the prestigious Green Award by Sail magazine.

“What’s really exciting about owning Elco is the opportunity to be a leader in green, fossil fuel- free technologies,” said Lamando. “The automobile industry has adopted electric propulsion, and so should the marine industry. Joe Fleming says timing is everything, and we’re in a situation now where people appreciate the virtues of electric boats now more than they did 20 years ago. In the United States, but even more so in Europe, the company is blossoming.”

Lamando, Fleming and Peter Houghton were at Hall’s Boat Corporation in Lake George on May 12 to discuss the company’s new electric drive systems, its modern launches and the Wenona, an 1899 Elco owned by Lamando.

The restoration of the Wenona, a 36-foot launch once owned by Bishop Ernest M. Stires, is nearly complete, and the boat will be re-launched on Lake George next month.

When the Wenona was built, Fleming said, “the technology was new, and Elco was at the forefront of that technology.”

But, said Fleming, it was not as efficient as the new system.

“What we’re producing today could hardly be improved upon,” said Fleming. “It’s Elco’s most efficient and environmentally sensitive system yet.” An electrical engineer, Fleming revived the brand in the 1980s after he sold a company he had founded.

While he had intended to focus on building electric drive systems, his passion for antique boats (he’s a founder of the Antique and Classic Boat Society) led him to direct his energies toward building launches.

While Elco concentrates today on electric power systems, the company is still building the launches, said Peter Houghton.

A contemporary electric boat can travel fast enough “to knock you out of your wicker chair,” said Houghton.

But, he added, getting somewhere fast is hardly the mission of an electric boat.

“It’s not the destination, it’s the experience; that’s the saying in my family,” said Houghton, whose great grandfather, W.K. Bixby, brought a 36-foot Elco, the St. Louis, to Lake George in 1903.

“There’s every type of boat imaginable in my family’s boat house, but it’s the St. Louis that’s always in use,” said Houghton.

“People slow down, and because there’s no noise, they’re able to listen to one another,” Houghton said. “There’s nothing quite like a cruise on the St. Louis.”

The attributes of the St. Louis are shared by contemporary Elcos, said Houghton.

“What’s the best way to sell a boat? You put people on the water, and they get it,” said Houghton.

Elco makes 19, 24, 30 and 36 ft launches, which range in price from $40,000 to $125,000 depending upon size and customers’ preferences.

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Over the Transom: Mercury Outboards – One of the Big 3

By Buzz Lamb

Monday, March 19, 2012

Over the last six years we have taken a look at Evinrude and Johnson outboard motors.  Now it’s Mercury’s turn.  I can hear Bolton resident Craig Hannon exclaiming, “Finally!”  Before we take a look at the different models produced over the years, let’s venture back in history to the beginning of this ubiquitous outboard brand.

The company began in 1939 when engineer Elmer Carl Kiekhaefer purchased a small outboard company (Thor) in Cedarburg, Wis.  His original intention for the Kiekhaefer Corporation was to make magnetic separators for the dairy industry.  The purchase included 300 defective outboard motors.

Kiekhaefer and his staff re-built the motors and he sold them to Montgomery Ward, then a mail-order company.  The motors were so well received that the buyer wanted to purchase more. That prompted Kiekhaefer to concentrate on outboards rather than the separators.

Kiekhaefer designed outboard motors that withstood the elements better than his competition and he called the motor Mercury after the Roman god with the winged helmet.  He took orders for 16,000 motors at the New York Boat Show in 1940.

World War II changed the corporate environment and Kiekhaefer sought a government contract to design two-man, air-cooled chainsaws.  Army engineers were unable to design a lightweight chainsaw yet Kiekhaefer designed one in less than two months.

The Kiekhaefer powered chainsaw was able to cut through a 2-foot thick green log in 17 seconds, while it took the nearest competitor 52 seconds.  Mercury was awarded the contract and became the world’s largest chainsaw manufacturer by the end of the war.

Mercury foresaw that the average American’s interest in boating would swell after the war.  Kiekhaefer introduced a 2-cylinder, alternate firing 19.8 cubic inch 10-horsepower motor at the 1947 New York Boat Show called the “Lightning” (or KE-7).

Among the more distinctive features of the vivid green engine was an oversized letter K that doubled as the throttle lever handle.  The 10 horsepower engine was blasting the dynamometer past the 16 hp mark but Kiekhaefer insisted on calling it a 10-horse so that no other 10-horse in the water could possibly touch it.

By the mid-1950s Kiekhaefer decided to promote his company by owning a NASCAR racing team.  His team dominated NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup) at one point winning 16 straight races even though it competed for only two years.  The team won the 1955 and 1956 NASCAR championships with drivers Tim Flock and Buck Baker.  Kiekhaefer’s obsession with car racing nearly financially decimated his outboard business.

In 1957 Mercury started testing at a Florida lake Kiekhaefer dubbed “Lake X” in order to keep the location a secret.  Later that year the company designed a new 60 hp motor named “Mark 75”.  It was the industry’s first 6-cylinder outboard.  The closest thing any other manufacturer had was a 2-cylinder Scott-Atwater 40-horsepower.  Evinrude and Johnson only had 35s.

Two “Mark 75” motors set an endurance record by running non-stop for a total of 68 hours and 45 minutes (approximately 50,000 miles) on Lake X.  The motors were re-fueled as they ran and averaged 30.3 mph.

According Jeffrey L. Rodengen, author of “The Legend of Mercury Marine”, on the morning of September 30, 1961 Carl Kiekhaefer was crying in his bedroom, with his longtime secretary Rose Smiljanic consoling him.  “I won’t sign,” he wept, “I’m not going through with it.”

Kiekhaefer had worked his way through crisis after crisis without shedding a tear but what reduced him to tears was an impending deal to sell his company to a larger corporation.  That afternoon his company merged with Brunswick Corporation.

Later the same year, Kiekhaefer used his NASCAR and engineering skills to develop a 100-hp stern drive engine which he introduced at the 1961 Chicago Boat Show.  The motor, called MerCruiser, would later take over 80 percent of the market. During this time Mercury also produced snowmobiles, like many other companies in the late ‘60s.

Carl Kiekhaefer officially resigned as president of Kiekhaefer Mercury on January 31, 1970 and the name changed to Mercury Marine in November of 1971.  Since the 1972 models of outboards and sterndrives were already in production, “Mercury Marine” would not appear until the 1973 model line, breaking a 33-year tradition of having the Kiekhaefer name appear on its products.

From the early ‘70s it seemed Mercury could do no wrong.  According to Rodengen, sales in 1970 were a little over $150 million and they almost doubled to $300 million in 1972. Early in the decade Mercury developed bigger, better and more powerful engines for boating.

The crowning achievement in 1970 was the introduction of the two new six-cylinder outboard engines, the Merc 1150 and 1350, rated at 115 and 135 hp respectively, keeping Mercury at the top of the horsepower race..

In 1972 Mercury bought a minority interest in Yamaha manufacturing.  The plan was to diversify distribution in the U.S. by adding another brand of outboard engines.

At the time, Mercury and Outboard Marine Corporation (with Johnson and Evinrude products) each maintained about 30 percent of the market.  The second-brand tactic was to give Mercury another slice out of the same pie even though the new brand would compete with Mercury.  The first Mariner outboards were introduced to the Australian market in 1974 and to the U.S. and Europe in 1976.

Mercury Marine began its journey to the top of the marine industry as an afterthought.  Though Carl Kiekhaefer was hired as a draftsman at Evinrude Motors in 1927, he was fired three months later.  Twelve years would pass before Kiekhaefer began making outboards again.

In the next installment of Over the Transom we’ll take a look at those formative years and gain some insight to the man and his machine.  Until then…keep your ropes dry.

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It’s Time to Winterize Your Boat:

By Buzz Lamb

Thursday, October 20, 2011

It’s best to leave it to a pro. But if you don’t, here are a few tips

Unfortunately, the boating season is winding down here in the Lake George area and it is time to think about protecting a valuable recreation asset.  Soon, many boat owners need to face the awful fact that it will be necessary to winterize their boats against the icy blasts of a long winter in the Adirondacks.

The best place for your boat for the winter is out of the water and under cover in a garage or a storage building.  Another option is to have the boat shrink-wrapped, which provides a very tight protective cover, or to make sure your boat is covered with a sturdy tarp or some other protective cover.

The decision to have your boat winterized by a professional or to “do-it-yourself” has always been a hot topic for debate. The discussion comes down to this question:  “Is the money you save this fall worth the risk of having major damage next spring if you didn’t do it properly?”  Unless a boat owner really knows what they are doing, the job should be left to the pros.

That said, for those who still want to do it themselves, here are a few reminders.

First, add fuel stabilizer to the tank.  Follow the directions on the label to ensure that enough is added for the amount of fuel in the tank.  The old school of thought was to top off the tank before putting the boat into storage but recently the recommendation has been to treat the fuel that is remaining at the end of the season and then top off the tank in the spring with fresh fuel.  The octane level in today’s gasoline is extended with oxygenates and the octane level tends to diminish with time as the oxygenates are dissipated from the fuel.

Next, change the engine oil and filter (not necessary on two-stroke outboards).  It doesn’t matter if the engine has five hours or 105 hours on it since the last change.  According to the American Petroleum Institute, today’s oils do not wear out but they do get contaminated with combustion residue, acid and dirt.  Run the engine to get the contaminants in suspension and then pump the oil out of the engine, remove the old oil filter and install a new one and then fill the engine with the required amount of fresh oil.

Fogging the engine is the third step in the winterization process.  If the engine is equipped with a carburetor(s) or throttle body injection then fogging can be accomplished by slowly pouring or spraying a rust preventative lubricant into the engine while it is running at about 1,200 to 1,500 rpm’s.  If the engine is multi-port fuel injected then fogging must be done by running the engine on a remote fuel tank containing a special “recipe” of rust preventative and fuel conditioner.  Check the owner’s manual for the amounts required by your engine’s manufacturer.

Next, the engine cooling system must be prepared for winter.  Outboard motors are self-draining as long as they are in an upright position.  In stern drive and inboard applications there are two types of cooling systems used today.  One is raw water (direct) cooling and the other is closed (indirect) cooling.  The process to drain the two different types varies and the manufacturer’s service manual should be consulted for the proper procedures.  After all of the water has been properly drained, environmentally-friendly antifreeze should be added to the risers, manifolds, coolers and engine block.

Stern drive and outboard gear cases should be drained and checked for excessive moisture in the oil.  This could indicate leaking seals or other serious problems that should be handled by a pro.  If all looks okay, then re-fill the housing with fresh fluid recommended by the manufacturer and be sure to replace the small gaskets or o-rings that are on the drain and fill screws.

If your stern drive has a rubber boot or bellows, check them all for cracks, pinholes and chafing.  Grease all of the fittings and check the fluid levels in the power steering reservoir and the trim pump reservoir.

Some vessels are equipped for overnight stays and contain porta-potties, heads (toilets) with holding tanks, sinks and showers with holding tanks and fresh water holding tanks.

Pump out the holding tanks at an approved facility, flush the system thoroughly and the add propylene glycol (pink) antifreeze to the system.  Completely drain the fresh water system (don’t forget the hot water heater, if equipped) and pump non-toxic antifreeze into the system with all the faucets open.  Continue to pump the antifreeze until it comes out of all of the faucets. (Note: Check your owner’s manual to make sure that alcohol-based antifreeze won’t damage your system.)

Once the water system has been winterized it is time to disconnect the battery(s).  If your boat is equipped with a battery switch it is still a good idea to remove the negative cable from the battery to ensure that the electrical system has been completely disabled.

Finally, to keep you boat dry and mildew-free, use some of the commercially available odor and moisture absorbers.

Do not neglect to consult your owner’s manual for manufacturer’s recommendations on winterizing your boat and other systems.  If any of the above seems to be confusing or over your head, that is probably the best clue that you need a pro to winterize your boat.  Just remember this; if a pro lays up your engine and next spring something is wrong…it’s his problem.  If you have done your own work, then you have the problem!

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Made in New York

By Lisa Miller

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Local Boatbuilders at the Antique Boat Show in Clayton proved that at least one sector of the economy is thriving

As we drove through the rural countryside surrounding Clayton, New York, the impact of our struggling economy was apparent. Many local businesses were shuttered, and nearby houses were so empty, you could see straight through them. My husband and I lamented the fact that so few things are made in the U.S. these days and the toll that lack of production has taken on the job market and communities. But our spirits lifted when we arrived in the thriving Clayton downtown, where the Antique Boat Museum has had a facelift and the spruced up main street offered trendy shops and appealing restaurants. The Saint Lawrence Seaway wound its way in and out of inlets and bays, its glistening blue water adding to the attraction.

Inside the Museum grounds, beautiful wooden boats lined the docks as people snapped photos and talked with owners and boat-builders. Suddenly it occurred to us that we were looking at American ingenuity and craftsmanship: Many of these reproduction boats are made in the U.S., and quite a few of them were made within 60 miles of Lake George.

Young Greg Turcotte stood proudly beside a newly minted 27-foot GarWood Gentleman’s Speedster as he told me about his family’s boat-building business, GarWood Custom Boats, run by Larry and Tom Turcotte. Greg (Larry’s son) said they used classic GarWood plans but added their own innovations and requested customizations. This particular boat’s bow had been customized with a hatch door that smoothly flipped up to reveal a hidden seat. The company’s Brant Lake shop employs four full-time and two part-time employees, mostly family members. Greg is one of the part-timers splitting his time as a student at SUNY Maritime College and a summer internship inspecting large ships in New York Harbor.

I was fortunate to grab a ride in Turcotte’s impressive 27-foot Speedster, the G37. With room for two in the stern, passengers gaze down a seemingly endless bow as the craft smoothly cuts through the water. With Tom Turcotte, Jr., as my driver, we raced through the Seaway at speeds approaching 60 mph. The G-force caused my lips and cheeks to jiggle, and I was thankful for the sunglasses that protected my eyes from the powerful force of the wind. A seatbelt and goggles would have been welcome! As Larry eased up on the throttle to make a turn, the boat glided over the water as if it were barely touching. This boat was pure thrill and all glamour for a price tag of $145,000.

Pete Fish of Fish Brothers Marine Service was at the show with his Knottahaacker, a 23-foot replica of a 1940 Chris-Craft Custom. He and his two brothers Bill and Dan (aided by a part-time winter employee) can produce five or six boats a year in their Queensbury shop. Pete says finding customers in the tight economy is a challenge, but they are still making boats, putting 1,000 to 1,500 hours into each one.

George Badcock, chief executive officer of the Hacker Boat Company in Silver Bay, was there with a 22-foot Racer and a 28-foot Triple Cockpit Runabout. His company in Silver Bay has 62 employees working year-round to produce about 25 boats per annum. This company is marketing globally and has begun to export its products.

Last and maybe least was a Hacker reproduction from the one-man Reets Boatworks in Mayfield, New York. Adam Retersdorf, called “Reets” by his pals, is a full-time mechanical engineer at GE who grew up enjoying the Great Sacandaga Lake. “There aren’t many wooden boats on Sacandaga, so if you see one, it’s usually me,” he said. Adam has been restoring wooden boats for the past 15 years with the help of his school-teacher wife Jessica. This past year they built their own boat, “Retirement Plan,” using Hacker prints from the 1920s Gold Cup racer “Miss APBA.” Adam lengthened the boat’s v-shaped hull to help it glide through the water and added modern conveniences such as electronic fuel injection and a bow thruster. “She’s stronger and lighter, too,” he said. It took about six months to build the boat, which will eventually be sold to make room for his next model, which will be completely his own design and likely named “401k.”

Even if 401ks are dashed and retirement plans seem a long way off for the many of us affected by the lagging economy, it was heartening to see the products of local workmanship at the Antique Boat Show.

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Hacker's Sterling

Hacker Boat Company Has New Owner

By Mirror Staff

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

George Badcock, a summer resident of Lake George, is officially the new owner of Hacker Boat Company.

The Silver Bay-based manufacturer of mahogany boats announced earlier this week that former owner Lynn Wagemann has sold his interests in the company to Erin Investments, LLC, a holding company owned by Badcock.

Founded by legendary naval architect John L. Hacker in Detroit in 1908, the company was later bought and moved to Silver Bay by Lake George resident Bill Morgan. Wagemann, a former speedboat racer who lives in Diamond Point, purchased the company in 2004.

Erin Investments first became an investor in the company in 2009. Badcock acquired a majority interest in Hacker-Craft in 2008 and became the company’s chairman. He will now also serve as chief executive officer.

“Lynn’s contributions to the company have been significant and he will be missed. We wish him continued success in his future endeavors,” said Badcock.

Earlier this month, the company opened a newly renovated 4,800 square-foot showroom in Silver Bay.  New Hackers are displayed on two floors of the building, whose interior is decorated with company memorabilia, art and boat models.

“This new showroom is an example of the commitment I have to Hacker-Craft,” said Badcock.

George Badcock with sales manager Dan Gillman

“During Americade, bikers poured into the new digs and marveled at the boats on display,” said Ken Rawley, the company’s marketing director.

Built entirely by hand, the wood boats are crafted in Ticonderoga in a state of the art, 32,000 square foot production facility. Employing some 60 people, Hacker also has two storage facilities plus a full service marina as well as the new showroom in Silver Bay.

Badcock said he has assembled a team of professionals who will propel the company into international markets.  “Ken Rawley came on board about 14 months ago.  He is in charge of our marketing strategies.  Twenty-three percent of our sales are now via the Internet.  We’ve got a boat going to Finland, one to Canada, as well as several to the Long Island Sound,” he said.

“Not having a traditional dealer network is a challenge but, the traditional dealer agreements don’t work for us,” he explained.  “Over the next five years we will register our name in the overseas markets.  We have already had a visit from a boat dealer in mainland China,” he said.

According to Badcock, Kent O. Smith, Jr. now manages their production facility and 11,400 square-foot restoration shop.  “Our business model has been revamped and revitalized.  Our production process has been streamlined and, with the new Sterling and Sport series, we are poised to expand worldwide,” Badcock said.

Badcock said Hacker-Craft currently builds three models; the traditional Hacker-designed runabouts (including a sleek gentleman’s racer) and the newly designed Sterling and Sport boats.  The boats range in length from 22 feet to 35 feet.   “We’re working on ideas for new ‘green’ 22-foot and 24-foot planing hulls that will be powered by an electric motor,” Badcock said.

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Following Kayaker’s Death on Lake George, Change in Law Sought to Protect Paddlers, Rowers. Photo: Getty Images

Following Kayaker’s Death on Lake George, Change in Law Sought to Protect Paddlers, Rowers. Photo: Getty Images

Clarifying the Rules of the Nautical Highway

By Anthony F. Hall

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Following Kayaker’s Death on Lake George, Change in Law Sought to Protect Paddlers, Rowers

Conventional wisdom holds that powerboats must yield to kayaks, canoes and rowboats.

Conventional wisdom, however, is wrong, at least as a matter of law.

According to Queensbury Town Judge Bob McNally (who also happens to be a partner in the Lake George law firm of Stafford, Carr, McNally), New York State’s navigation law does not grant the right of way to all smaller, non-motorized boats.

In a Town Court decision issued in March, McNally wrote that what the state law actually says is, “When a mechanically propelled vessel shall meet a sailing vessel proceeding in such direction as to involve risk of collision, the sailing vessel shall have the right of way.”

According to the navigation law, in other words, the right of way is given only to vessels powered by sails, a class of boats that that excludes kayaks, canoes and rowboats.

As a result, McNally essentially declared Donald Peletier, the 73-year-old Queensbury man whose powerboat collided with a kayaker in a 2010 accident that left a Troy man dead, not guilty of the only violation with which he had been charged, Failure to Yield Right of Way.

“The Court can do no more and no less than apply the language as it is written. The Court declines to impose an interpretation on the statute at variance with the plain language of Navigation Law, particularly in view of the express exclusion of kayaks from the provisions of the Navigation Law,” McNally wrote.

According to Saratoga County District Attorney Jim Murphy, the special prosecutor appointed by Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan to the case, the statute should be revised to include kayaks and other non-motorized craft.

“Our assumptions that these boats have the right of way are inconsistent with the law as it currently stands,” said Murphy.

Murphy has announced that he and other District Attorneys in New York State will ask the legislature to amend the law.

“The legislative committee of the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York is drafting legislation that will be submitted to legislators for their review,” said Murphy.

“We look forward to seeing the draft legislation from the District Attorneys and we will certainly take a close look at it,” said New York State Senator Betty Little.

“It’s a serious issue; we would definitely consider supporting legislation that will protect boaters,” said Neil Woodworth, the Adirondack Mountain Club’s executive director.

Ike Wolgin, the owner of the Lake George Kayak Company in Bolton Landing commented, “whether kayakers have the right of way or not, we advise people renting kayaks from our shop to stay out of the way of power boats. We tell them, ‘you may see the power boater, but that doesn’t mean he sees you.’ But it would be logical to revise the statute so that’s clear what the rules are for everyone.”

Following the collision between Peletier’s boat and the kayak paddled by 62-year-old Peter G. Snyder of Troy, Peletier was charged by the Warren County Sheriff’s Department with Speeding and Reckless Operation of a Vessel, a misdemeanor.

A Warren County Grand Jury reduced the charge to Failure to Yield Right of Way.

“The Grand Jury ultimately found after hearing all the evidence that neither “reckless operation” nor “speeding” were appropriate charges and modified the charge that the police originally lodged against Mr. Peltier,” Murphy said.

“There are no witnesses that indicate that Mr. Peltier’s boat was speeding or traveling in excess of between 5 to 10 miles per hour.  Further there are no witnesses that indicate that Mr. Peltier was operating his boat in a reckless or erratic manner,” said Murphy.

Snyder drowned after the boat’s propeller struck him in the head and spine. Snyder was kayaking with his wife, Bonita J. Hagan, when they saw the powerboater approaching and raised their paddles to alert him to their presence. Rough water and high waves may have obstructed Peletier’s vision, said Warren County Sheriff Bud York.

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Indian Pipes

Indian Pipes

Indian Pipes: Cruising Lake George Aboard a Private Charter Vessel

By Anthony F. Hall

Monday, June 27, 2011

“What’s a boy from the Bronx doing operating a charter boat on Lake George?”

That’s a question John Orlando is asked frequently, he says, as his wife and first mate Anita tosses Indian Pipes’ lines to the deck and the 36-ft. boat backs away from her berth on Green Island.

Actually, Orlando may have sailing in his blood. His uncles were Italian seamen who settled in New York; one operated an excursion boat in New York’s bays and harbors.

But that doesn’t really explain how a lacrosse coach from Rockland County became the owner of Lake George’s oldest and largest private charter vessel.

It was not entirely by accident, but almost, Orlando says.

“We had been vacationing on Lake George for a few years when I noticed a boat anchored in Red Rock Bay and I realized that with the right boat, we could spend the summer right there,” says Orlando.

That led to 16 years of summers on Red Rock Bay, where the same families returned year after year, their children learned to fish and handle boats, and their education in all things Lake George began.

Elsa Steinbach’s Sweet Peas and a White Bridge proved to be a valuable source of information, as did walks along the trails of the old Knapp Estate.

It was on one such walk one August afternoon that Anita came upon a wild flower she’d never seen before.

Identified as an Indian Pipe, it became a family emblem and when the time came to buy a new boat, the name of the boat.

According to John Orlando, he saw a trawler from the company that produced Indian Pipes and wanted one for his own family.

It would be a cruiser built in China by Albin of America, to Orlando’s own specifications, which included a swimming platform, wood decks, trim and interior, and room for six to sleep comfortably.

John Orlando aboard Indian Pipes

The boat also has a galley, two bathrooms and a living and dining area.

Orlando could justify the expense, he said, only if he turned the boat into a business, and that was how, in 1986, Indian Pipes Charters was born.

“Every cruise is different, because the people are always different and the lake is always changing,” said Anita Orlando.

They’ve carried rock stars and Nobel laureates; they’ve helped men ask their girlfriends to become their brides and families repair broken relationships.

Given John Orlando’s ebullient personality and Anita Orlando’s natural warmth, it’s not surprising that many of their passengers turn into life long friends.

A typical cruise, Orlando says, begins in Bolton Bay. The boat circles Dome Island and heads toward the Narrows and Paradise Bay.

On the way back to Green Island, the boat passes between the Dollar Islands and Tongue Mountain.

Unlike the larger excursion boats, though, Indian Pipes will anchor to allow its guests to swim or sunbathe.

Orlando offers a lively narrative, an original mixture of scholarship and mirth,  which he couldn’t suppress even if he wanted to.

If children get restless, they can go tubing behind the boat.“I tell the kids that the first part of the cruise is for the parents, the second part is for them,” says Anita.

As we cruise back to the Green Island docks, where a family is scheduled to be taken out for a picnic, John Orlando says, “Not bad for a boy from the Bronx.”

Indian Pipes is certified to carry 18 passengers, and can be charted at a cost of $225 per hour. For more information, contact John Orlando at 644-2979.

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Hornet Marine’s 17’ fully customizable sport runabout

Hornet Marine’s 17’ fully customizable sport runabout

Yankee Boating Center Welcomes Hornet, First New Boat Company to Come to Lake George in Decades

By Mirror Staff

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Once there was the Donzi classic. Now there’s the Hornet 17. Hornet Marine, a new company based in Bristol, Connecticut, is manufacturing the 1960s era-inspired speedboat, and Yankee Boating Center has been named its Lake George-area dealer.

With a showroom in Albany, Yankee Boating Center will also be displaying the boat in the Capital District.

Hornet Marine is the first new company to introduce a boat on Lake George in decades, said Yankee Boating Center’s Jon Brodie.

“The Hornet fills a void in our line-up of boats, as well as in the Lake George market,” said Brodie. “We were very impressed with its construction, style and performance, and we’re pleased to be its Lake George dealer.”

The Model One engine is fully customizable

“We’re bringing a fun, affordable performance boat back to the Lake George and Capital District regions,” says Yankee Boat’s David Abodeely.

According to Brodie, every Hornet is customized to fit the boater’s needs and taste and can be delivered in two to three weeks.

Brodie recommends a 4.3 litre, 220 hp engine, but said it can also carry a 150 hp engine. Hull colors come in white, red, black and blue, and interior colors can be ordered to complement the hull, Brodie said.

“It’s not a boat for everyone, but it is for the people who like the style, the performance and the speed of a sport runabout,” said Brodie.

But according to Katherine Rioux, a spokeswoman for Hornet Marine, the boat’s appeal is not gender-limited.

“It’s a speedboat, but it’s not intimidating,” she said. “As a woman, I like it, and I think other women will like it too.”

According to Brodie, Hornet began exhibiting its Hornet at 2010 boat shows around the country, including the annual spring show at the Dome in Queensbury.

“The boat attracted a great deal of interest and attention, and we were intrigued,” said Brodie.

With Yankee Boating Center’s assistance, Lake George became the site of more than fifty hours of sea trial testing for the Hornet 17, said David Hartmann, President of Hornet Marine.

“I grew up boating on Lake George and it was the ideal location to perform our sea trials,” said Hartmann. “I am confident that the Hornet 17 will be well received by the boating community of the Lake George region.”


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