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by Simon Lew - St Petersburg, Florida - USA

My wife, Kristi, and I were on the fence whether to take "Goat," our Goat Island Skiff (GIS), to the first annual Port Aransas plyWooden Boat Show. It is, after all, a 1,200 mile haul from our home port in St. Petersburg, FL. Then we found out that Michael Storer, the designer of the GIS, had flown from the Philippines for Sail Oklahoma and the Port Aransas show. What's a mere 1,200 miles in comparison? Decision made, we hitched "Goat" up to the Fit and made the trek. We're really glad we did.

The show was a resounding success. Ninety-two boats showed up, which has to be some kind of record for a brand new event. The folks at Farley Boat Works did a great job of making everyone feel welcome. They sponsored a family boat building workshop during the show and I've families built rowing skiffs. The boat building tent was a beehive of activity!

After a very long drive, we came to the end of the road at the Port Aransas Ferry Terminal. The Fit, even with "Goat" in tow, felt tiny next to the SUVs and pickup trucks that surrounded her. One short (free) ferry hop and we were deposited in Port Aransas.

We were immediately welcomed by Michael Storer and John Goodman. John invited "Goat" to park between the world-famous GIS "GIR" and the colorful Hapscut "GAZ".

Sails, sails, everywhere! In the foreground, a beautiful 12' cedar strip "Wee Rob" canoe sits in her cradle. Behind her, the sails of a 31' Bolger Folding Schooner loom large.

A Melonseed squeezes between two really neat mini-cruisers. The one with the red hull is a 15' CLC PocketShip. The white one is a 13' Polish design, called Sztrandus. Bob and Virgene Trygg did a fantastic job on this beautifully built Sztrandus, named "Bijou." This boat packs a remarkable amount of room for its size.

This Skiff America was another one of our favorites. Beautiful lines!

A pair of GIS lug rigs - one on "Goat," the other on "GIR."

Look at the wood shine on this very pretty Faering! Yet another favorite.

Here's the 31' Bolger folding schooner from another angle. Note the abundance of sails. The teal-hulled Scamp aft of her is an Everglades Challenge Finisher named "Fat Bottom Girl." Beyond "Fat Bottom Girl" is "Dianne's Rose" a wooden cruising houseboat that the owner/designer/builder, Roy Schreyer, trailered down from Ontario, Canada. And I thought we had a long drive!

Balanced lugs to the left. Balanced lugs to the right. From left to right, John Goodman's Hapscut "GAZ"; our GIS, "Goat"; John's GIS, "GIR"; and his highly-customized OZ Racer RV, "Chevy Duck."

See what I mean by highly-customized? Saturday night featured a dinner and awards ceremony sponsored by Farley Boat Works. John Goodman snagged the well deserved "most unique" with "Chevy Duck."

Who could resist "Chevy Duck's" pirate-duck hood ornament? Not I.

As the show wound down on Sunday afternoon, we were waiting about taking "Goat" out for a spin. Then Richard Woods, who had never sailed a GIS before, said he'd be game for a short sail. That sealed the deal!

Richard Woods took the helm of "Goat" and off we went. We were the only sailboat out at that time.

Not quite enough wind to get on plane but we were moving well.

Richard Woods and I out on the rail with "Goat" fully powered up. Photo taken by Steve aboard "Termite's Delite," possibly the best wooden boat name ever.

"Coast Rider" was the biggest boat at the show. It's a great cruiser and we added another fantastic boat name to our favorites.

The helm station inside "Coast Rider."

"Coast Rider" wasn't the only boat in the water. This Welsford Pathinder, named "The Flying M," was one of the sailboats that got her bottom wet.

Some serious ship traffic comes into and out of Aransas Pass. Here's one of the big guys as seen over the bow of a very nicely built Nancy's China designed by Sam Devlin and built by Aaron Ward.

Alas, the show is over and everyone must pack up and go home. Let's just say, some have more to pack than others. The Goodmans managed to fit "Chevy Duck" on top of "GIR" inside the U-Haul while they towed "Hapscut" behind on its trailer. Bringing one boat is enough work. Bringing three? Now that shows true dedication! The beautiful boats, talented designers, and an all around delightful group of imaginative boat people made every bit of that 2,400 mile round-trip worthwhile. We'll see you next year!

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