Racing History and Owners of Curlew

Curlew has had a long history of racing at Erie Yacht Club.

Owners and boat names by year:
1939 – C.A. “Pappy” Bens “BESSIE B”
1946 – D. Braggins “SCUD”
1947 – Jack Clemens “ALCORE”
1949 – Burt & Chuck Blakley “CURLEW”
1999 – John McGrane “CURLEW”
2004 – John Kuder “CURLEW”
2009 – Bob Arlet “CURLEW”
2013 – Phil Stein “CURLEW”
2021 – Kyle Leonard “CURLEW”

1967 CURLEW – Chuck Blakley

Below are the racing flags that have remained with Curlew to this day.
Continue reading

G. J. Kamman’s Donzi at Oak Orchard River

Allen Moore’s nephew, Gerald J. Kamman recalls many fond memories of being at Oak Orchard when he was young. He remembers the old wooden boats that the locals had. When he was older he brought his 1974 Donzi to Oak Orchard to give us thrilling rides aboard his modern classic.

Gerald J. Kamman writes:
This photo of my boat and your grandfather, Al Moore taken at Oak Orchard in the summer of 1980. The boat is a 1974 Donzi Doral 24′ with a below deck cutty. She had 600 total HP grow two 357 cubic inch Corvette engines – turning a pair of 270 Volvo outdrives. She was re-engined in the mid 80s. Home ports for her were: Annapolis, MD – Louisville, KY – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Marble Falls, TX – Point Breeze, NY – and Catawba Island, OH. After 16 years of great times, I turned over the keys in Williston, SC. Allen Moore on Donzi

1958 Knarr “Arbor Love” at Oak Orchard

Special note – Arbor Love is an American Knarr sold in 2020 and hauled overland to Louisiana. She is being completely restored.

This 1st video is of the hull and deck outside and inside:

This next video shows sails, mast, rigging, cushions, some extra hull footage:

Arbor Loves, as an American Knarr she is a bit unusual. Around the mid 1950s a few yacht clubs on lake Ontario were looking for an inexpensive one design that centerboard sailors could move up to. The Norwegian yacht designer, Erling Kristofersen had designed the Knarr in 1943 during the height of WWII. A few specialized American Knarrs were produced for Lake Ontario. The exact production numbers are unknown, but it is safe to say that only a handful survive to this day. To read the history of the Knarr link:   The American Knarr has a larger cabin and rig carrying a bit more sail than her sisters that currently sail in San Fransisco Bay. Continue reading

Oak Orchard Harbor – 1960s

The aerial photo of Oak Orchard was taken by Ed Archbald from a helicopter in the fall of 1964. The picture is part of Bill Vosteen’s collection, and he notes that the water level at that time was about a foot below normal.

The picture above is of my grandfather Allen Moore at the helm along with his brother-in-law John Hanna in about 1961. The Point is in the background. They are just in front of Ed Archbald’s white boathouse. Another outboard engine can be seen at the lower left of the picture.

Cottages of Oak Orchard on the Lake

(Click on the image for a bigger look)

The Lake has take back quite a bit of land from the days when this map was recorded. My grandparents would talk of the time when the road “Lake Ave.” ran in front of the cottages.

The picture below of Burdett’s cottage in about 1934 shows the significant erosion that has taken place. The cottage is owned today by the Muscarella family. On the old map above, it was likely the Thompson lot.

Check back from time to time as I will be adding more pictures to this post and other posts on this blog.

Dwight Bliss Recordings

In March 2008, I sat down with Dwight Bliss at his home in Hamlin, N.Y. and recorded his memories of growing up in Charlotte, N.Y. Dwight recounts how he was able to enter WWII at the age of fifteen as a Merchant Mariner; Dwight assumed the identity of Ronald B. Coyle (the B. was for Bliss) with forged paperwork. The real Ronald Coyle was a friend of Dwight’s that crewed on the 126′ Coast Guard Cutter “Jackson” built in Wisconsin. Dwight’s friend Ronald Coyle went down with the “Jackson” during a hurricane off of Hatteras in 1943 with all the crew lost. Dwight stated that at the age of fifteen he knew that he did not want to” sit this one out.” Eventually this recording will be added to images from Dwight’s collection to make a video archive. Until the second half of Dwight’s life is recorded this spring, I’ll post the audio here for anyone interested.

Link to mp3

Scram II – 1939 Chris Craft 15 1/2′ Runabout – Video Updates

On July 10, 1980, my dad bought the 15 1/2 foot Chris Craft that we named Scram II. My grandfather Allen Moore had the original Scram at Oak Orchard back in the late 30’s, and enjoyed the little runabout. The boat was in pretty good shape, and my dad stripped and refinished the topsides, along with removing the engine to replace bearings and rings.  In the summer of ’80 I had just finished my Junior year of high school and remember motoring up and down the creek and out into the lake for some very fun rides. The day these black and white pictures were taken, I was taking my friend Scott Brown out for his first ride on Scram II. I decided to cruise down to Johnson’s Creek to check-out the little inlet. I lined up on the opening of Johnson’s Creek and was thinking I was in some good water, but the sound of a bronze propeller hitting large lake stones is a sound and feeling one never forgets. I remember putting the engine in neutral and Scott and I jumping over the side of Scram II to push her back into deeper water. The ride back to Oak Orchard was not fun because there was no hiding the fact that I had rounded-over the tips of the three-bladed prop; the vibration was not good. Kids…

Dad hangs the track for the new door.

Well, that was over thirty years ago so hopefully I’m smarter today. I was looking at old pictures of boats at Oak orchard at the end of Summer 2010, and started thinking about how much fun it would be to get Scram back in the water. Our family friend, George Irvine has invited us up to Clayton, and that triggered the call to my dad to see if he wanted to take Scram II up to the 2011 boat show. He was excited, but reminded me that Scram was in the back corner of his sixty foot pole-barn at Oak Orchard with a number of other beautiful wooden boats packed in front. He thought we would have to wait until the ground froze hard enough to move things around – not the easiest thing to do. The next day he called me up and said he was going to cut a new door in the back corner and pull Scram out.

My brother-in-law Brian standing by Scram II.

A couple weeks before Christmas 2010, my dad and I cut the back out of the pole-barn and removed Scram II. All went pretty smoothly and we were done in about three hours. I think we were both more than a little surprised by how nice Scram looked after over thirty years tucked away in a barn. The squirrels had filled the bilge full of walnuts, but other than that she looked pretty good. The license plate on the trailer showed that it was registered in 1981 – the old blue and yellow plate has been reissued, so the plate looked like brand new. The boat made the hour-long trip back to Mom and dad’s home were the restoration has begun. Our goal: Have Scram II ready for the 2011 Clayton, N.Y. Antique Boat Show.

Robert E. Waters – Point Breeze Snipe No. 3458

Bob shaving aboard a friend's Star on one of his many trips up the lake.

Bob Waters:   My own affection for “The Point” came in the 1950s when my doughty 1 6 – foot sailboat was part of Snipe Fleet No. 100 at Oak Orchard Yacht Club. I could say, “Those were the days! Some of my life’s best.”
Every weekend a dozen or more of those nimble sloops would unfurl their canvas and race offshore with Ontario’s surface sparkling in the wonderful sunshine. Competition was keen and the social spirit was lively at the old Lakeland Hotel. After the racing came food, drink, bragging, trophy awards, softball games and sometimes late night song fests around the piano. Arthur “Dick” Eddy of Albion still joins me in warm reflections……just two octogenarians re-living carefree days. Names like Skip and Don Landauer, Bill Hudson, Francis Blake, Bob Christy, Barney Miller, Allen “Ham”  Moore, the Vicks, the Hoots, and Ted Richmond (always the unofficial mayor of Oak Orchard on the Lake) —-they all pop up in retrospect.

Photo of Snipe race at Oak Orchard from Bob Waters' colection.

It was understandably a quieter, more leisurely time in the post-war Fifties. Lonely yachts bobbed at anchor in mid-stream. Marina facilities and dockage were sparse. But new pages in history were coming and in the past half century a ton of effort has gone forth from tourism people, from local businesses, from boat and fishing operators, the yacht club, politicians, the Seaway Trail originators and others. The years ahead will bring special excitement to Point Breeze as the lighthouse reaches skyward. Over two centuries of history will be re-visited.

Sometimes dreams do come true. That’s how it looks to one out-of-towner.

Excerpt from a Lighthouse newsletter by Bob Waters (Trustee, Oak Orchard Lighthouse Museum Board) Full version is available at

Bob with his mother and foster-sister Joyce on the creek.

Bob coming up along the Point with Arcbald's in background on the other side.

My snipe was number 3458, and I went to a great deal of trouble to get a light blue paint formula from Charlie Harrison of Olcott Yacht Club. His gorgeous yacht, the Stormy Petrel, used it and I was jealous. He kindly furnished it to me and I very carefully put together all the color ingredients. “Those were the days!”

Bob Waters is a retired newspaper man from Medina, N.Y.

Bob's vintage storm jacket from his racing days in the 50s.

Snipes at Ed Archbald's on Oak Orchard Creek with sandbar and dredging equipment in background. Bob Waters' collection.

The Snipe “Venture” No. 3223 Update Dec. 5, 2010

The snipe “Venture” was built in 1939 at Point Breeze, N.Y. by Winfield Scott Hoot in a barn that is now owned by Gene Christopher. Gene told me that when he purchased the barn he did find a set of snipe plans but had no idea of there significance and let them go. Winfield’s grandson, Bob Hoot of Albion, recounts that the boat was built in the second story of the barn. Bob was not sure how the boat was taken out when completed. He does remember that in that barn was the original Lighthouse sign.

Hoot's Barn Today

Winfield’s son Alvara Hoot had returned from service in WWII and became a member of OOYC. He sailed Venture with much success winning the Burrow’s and Walter Dayton awards. Sadly, he died in a car accident at age 24. The Venture would go on for many years after capturing many more trophies with other skippers. (see Snipes at Oak Orchard).

The snipe, Venture has had a long and prestigious history. Today she is the only surviving snipe from the golden-days of Oak Orchard Yacht Club’s small sailboat racing. Much of Venture’s history is well documented in the racing records. Thanks to the folks at the Oak Orchard Lighthouse Association her memory will be kept alive for generations to come. See Snipes at OOYC for more information.

Alvara Hoot holding, possibly the Burrow’s, or Walter Dayton award.

Euchume – Bridge Deck Cruiser

Above is Allen Moore’s small cruiser as she is trucked from Oak Orchard to his South Main St. home in Albion.

Here she is sitting on the beach – most likely to the west of the Oak Orchard Creek in front of the Moore cottage.













My guess would be that she has been loaded-up in this picture and ready to go.







his is a familiar location to people familiar with the Oak Orchard area. We are looking north on the short section of highway that combine route 98 an 18. We see here where 18 splits away down to the left and crosses the big bridge over Oak Orchard Creek.












This picture is probably at the end of the trip on South Main St. in Albion.

Static – 1927 Rochester Boatworks Runabout

This is “STATIC” a 1927, 28 foot, triple cockpit runabout made by the Rochester Boat Works in Rochester, NY. The boat survives today and is one of only three in existence. One of the other boats, CHUCKLES, possibly owned today by Marty Smith, was found in 85 feet of water in the Saint Lawrence river where she sank in 1928, she is the only deluxe Rochester Runabout in existence, and having been underwater for over fifty years, she has all new wood. CHUCKLES is the only boat with right engine, and exact hardware. While another, MR. BENNY was found in a field in Gasport, N.Y. with a tree growing up through her, by Jack Fraunheim.  MR. BENNY was a total wreck with many pieces missing, Wayne Mocksfield bought her from Fraunheim and was able to take liberties with Mr. Benny’s restoration, because at that time he thought he had the only one. STATIC, the only survivor with basically 90% original wood, was later used to help restore missing parts for MR. BENNY.
— George Irvine

Below is a 2010 picture of “MR. BENNY” taken by Kent O. Smith, Jr. at Lake George, NY.

On MR. BENNY – a sister to STATIC:
Info and photo are found at forum

Mr. Benny is a 1926 28’9” Rochester standard  runabout. It is powered by a Scripps model 302 Ho. 900 v12 twin plug engine. It is one of two known. Rochester. 28′ and 30′ were the only models built. The boat was located by Wayne Mocksfield in 1980 in the Thousand Islands, New York. It under went an extensive three year restoration and has since been a multiple award winner.  The boat was designed by A.W. “Bill” MacKerer during a brief tenure at Rochester Boat Works, Rochester New York from 1926 to 1928. He later went to Chris Craft and became their lead design engineer until he retired. Two books worth reading about Bill and the Rochester are; “A View from the Bilge” and “Building Chris Craft, Inside the Factories.” Mr. Benny summers on Mousam Lake in Acton, Maine or is resting comfortably at his home. It is a stunning piece of boating history and is regarded by most in the wood boat community as [one of the finest] if not the finest, one of less than a handful. See you on the lake.

John R. Perkins
– owner

1926 Rochester 28’, Scripps V-12, owned by John Perkins. “Mr. Benny”. Restored and previously owned by Wayne Mocksfield.


The story of Static is kept alive by George Irvine who is captured in the color photo above driving the Ford tractor that pulled Static from the dark recesses of my grandfather’s barn around 1969-70; but that is jumping ahead a bit.

As the story goes…

Ed and Sally Archbald along with friends on trip to Trent. My grandfather, Allen Moore is pictured in the runabout just aft of STATIC.

The Static name, as told to my mother Sally Moore Leonard by Ed Archbald, came from the buzz of the Rochester Boat Show crowd of 1927 as large numbers of people surrounded the boat. Someone came up to Ed as he was standing in the crowd and asked him, “What’s all the static?”.  Ed described the 27 foot triple-cockpit as being quite impressive sitting on sawhorses draped by red velvet. Judson C. Curtis, the president of the Citizens Bank in Albion, NY was with Ed at the Rochester Boat Show and was keen on having the fastest boat on the Oak Orchard River. He aked Ed Archbald, son of Buffalo, NY “Bond Bread” magnet, to be partners in buying the boat they would name Static.

Static was bought to the Oak Orchard River. The boat only being five feet wide and twenty-eight feet long was found to be a bit hard to handle. The narrowness of the boat was compounded by a Hall-Scott engine that was very tall. The engine was the product of their Liberty V12 engine cut in half to produce the Hall-Scott LM-6 engine. When rotated up the engine cylinders required notches in the doghouse top to allow it room. The engine reached a height that was higher than the seat-backs. When the boat was turned hard to port and given enough throttle, Ed Archbald stated that “the boat will kill you – Jud Curtis was afraid of the boat.”. It is very clear by all accounts that the boat would rollover. Jud Curtis was born in 1874, so he was a lot older than Ed who was born in 1898. They bought the boat as equal partners, but Ed soon bought Curtis out in about 1928.

George Irvine relates one reason Ed was able to buy Jud out, “A factory tech came out from Buffalo to service the Hall Scott. Ed claimed that the Guy tightened a main bearing too tight breaking the crank shaft. Ed got a good deal on the boat because the engine was shot. I am sure that the hard times in the banking industry also played a part in Curtis not wanting to put any more money into the boat. There was no such thing as warranty in those days. Ed traded the Hall Scott for a Sterling Petrel. Ed, always a Buffalonian at heart, was fond of the Buffalo Sterling. The Sterling proved to be a great engine with a much lower profile which added much needed stability.” This re-powering would allow Ed to take well-known trips to Canada – forty miles across the lake – to buy alcohol during the dry years of the Prohibition .

Blurry picture of Static 1946

Ed Archbald 1946 age 48

George Irvine told me that when he purchased Static in 1970 she had a Grey Marine engine, but  he found the doghouse had large-mysterious notches on the inside that he later found out were there to accommodate the tall Hall-Scott.

George Irvine

Static's Gray Marine engine that Ed Archbald had installed in the 50's.

George Irvine recounts the history of Static as told to him by Ed Archbald:
“The Sterling engine was replace by a Gray Marine Super Six 330 about 1951 or 1952. Ed said the fly wheel on the Sterling would loosen and Ed was afraid that Jose (adopted son) who was using the boat would get hurt. The Gray was an inferior engine for Static being too light and underpowered. I still have the Gray. I reinstalled a 1926 Hall Scott in 1989. Static Still has that Hall Scott. I sold the boat to Lou Smith a friend from California. Lou also bought Chuckles. Chuckles is a Deluxe Rochester Runabout. Lou sold Static because Chuckles was a much better find. Lou Smith’s son Marty has Chuckles, and she is their boat house on Washington Island. Sterlings were made in Buffalo, which was a big plus for Ed who considered himself a Buffalonian till he died. Phil Gatz, a mechanic who had a shop was given the Sterling about 1960, and used to start it in his shop to entertain customers. When I bough the boat Allen (my grandfather who bought Static from Ed) gave me a registration to a 28 foot Chris Craft. Allen also removed the manufacturer’s plate from the mother-in-law-seat floor board. I knew the boat was not a Chris and Ed Archbald gave me the info that I needed to registered the boat. I have an Old Town Club film taken by Lynn Burrows with Static under way some time in the mid 1930s.”

George stated that my grandfather Allen Moore, rescued the boat as it was being neglected by Ed’s son. My father, Ray Leonard, recalls a visit his brother Bill and his parents made up to Oak Orchard. “Allen was soaking the boat so he could launch it and my family came along for the event. I remembers saying, “Al, we’ve got a lot of water running through the bilge”. Allen reply was that she was just evening-out. Soon we all realized she was leaking badly from the bow that hadn’t gotten any water from the soaking. We pulled static back out.”

George Irvine recounted a similar event when he first launched static. He also found that she would take on so much water that a pump was required immediately to keep her afloat.

George Irvine:
Static is on Lake Tahoe living the good life. In 1989 I contracted with Saint Lawrence Restoration to restore Static. When I sold the boat all the carpentry was complete. Lou Smith took the boat the Los Angeles and had the engine and the boat finished. I am sure he spent a hundred thousand dollars on the project. Lou had a homes in San Diego, Hawaii, and Washington Island, NY. Citizens Bank was closed by federal Regulators in 1933, it is now the Albion Visitors Center. In the early 1980s I was given a Rochester Boat Works Brochure from 1925 featuring all of their boats. I passed it along when I sold the boat. I think Craig Bryce has one of the brochures. Rochester Boat Works closed in about 1942 after the death of Volney Lacy who ran the company. A woman named Julia Webb worked in the office and had records from the company. I failed to follow through or I could have had this stuff.

Ed and Jean Archbald at my parents cottage in the summer of 1981. Ed's 83rd birthday.

George Irvine at the helm of Static about 1980.

Morin Boats web page contains the following pictures of STATIC prior to her sale in July 2011. Doug Morin helped fill in the missing timeline, “After Lou Smith we believe Static was sold to Dave Olsen from out west and then Tom Mittler and we have recently sold it from his estate to Lee Anderson.”
Lee Anderson’s article about his love for fine wooden boats and fine homes in Lake and Home magazine.

Static sold by Doug Morin of in June 2011

John Hart and the Hart Cottage

At the Yacht Races ’34
Front Row: John Hart, Henderson Dickson
Center Row: Stan Landauer, Earl Leigh, Harrison Bartlett, “Babe” Hunt
Back Row: Dorthy Burdette – now Mrs. Stan Landauer, Katheryn Blewer, Jane Leigh, Kiddo Cole Crandall

The picture shows the group most likely aboard the Abiona, John Hart’s boat.

Photo:  Gregor family collection

In 1976 my mother and father bought the Hart cottage that was owned and built by John Hart’s father Joseph around 1917 . The picture below of John Hart as a baby was found in the Hart cottage by my mother Sally Moore Leonard.

A picture of the Abeona was found in the Hart cottage by my mother Sally Moore Leonard. It was only an inch square in size but is shown here after scanning at high resolution:

John Hart was one of the founding members of the Oak Orchard Yacht Club that was created due to the growing interest in Snipe racing in 1938. John had one of the first Snipes named Sandra pictured here with him in the cockpit prior to WWII.
Venture lake background

Below is a group of John Hart’s friends watching the yacht races at Oak Orchard aboard Abeona in 1934. The picture is from the Gregor family album.

Pictured are:
Front corners – Elizabeth Sawyer “Libby”,  Royce Sawyer “Sunny Boy”
White hat: Mrs. Fredric Evans – Kansas City, Mo.
Aft corners – Margaret Kuhns “Maccie”, Marjorie Reed “Chuddy”
By flag – Dorothy Wage “Dossie”

Mount Albion Cemetery Family Records:


Emeraude Cal 2-27

Emeraude at OOYC Invitational Regatta – August 2010

These are pictures from the last mark during the last of three races. We had come from way back in the pack under spinnaker and charged up to the mark. We lucked out and caught a changing breeze coming off land. Everyone converged and we were caught up in what some veteran sailors describe as the biggest pile-up they had ever experienced. Our spinnaker became hooked on the down-wind boat and we rounded the mark with them along with the up-wind boat as a tight group.

Watch the slide show:

Emeraude Cal 2-27 OOYC Invitational 2010

This picture from the Medina paper from 1985 shows my dad Ray Leonard (looking aft), ahead is my brother Darren Leonard, and I am at the helm. By 1985 we were heavily into sailing as a sport.

Snipes at Oak Orchard Yacht Club: Updated 12-14-10

The Snipe class sailboat was a mainstay at OOYC from the late 1930s into the 1960s. Sailing at OOYC was founded by its Snipe sailors. The images in this post are from Joan “Joni” Richmond’s collection. Her family’s cottage is located where Archbald Rd. ends at the lake shore.

Joni and sailing friends at Oak Orchard 1945. (Joni top left)
Joan Richmond and friends 1945
The old clubhouse at Point Breeze
OOYC Old Club HouseIn a report entitled “Information Relating to Oak Orchard Harbor Entrance”, created in 1937 in an effort by Bernard Ryan and others to secure government funds for improving the waterway, a small section was devoted to information about the Oak Orchard Snipes:

Snipe Fleet Races:

In the summer of 1938 there was organized the Oak Orchard Snipe Fleet consisting at first of five boats and since has been augmented to twelve.

(Names listed: Queen Bee, Sandra, Dolbar, Kiwi, Zephyr, Venture, Falcon, Obsession, Hi-C, Brita, Shag, and Tagalong. Yearly cost to maintain each boat was estimated at $30.00)

Report continues:

During the past two summers the snipe fleet, as members of the International Snipe Racing Association, has held weekly and holiday races that have attracted a large gallery of spectators. On those days the harbor entrance has been in almost constant use with several large cabin cruisers, a number of smaller power boats and even rowboats and canoes putting out into the lake in the morning to watch the contests. These races have been held on a triangular course about a half mile or more from the mouth of the river.

Two annual prizes have been offered to the snipe fleet. One, the Burrows Trophy, passes each year to the skipper who has amassed the greatest number of points in the official season. It is a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Lynn M. Burrows of Albion and was initiated in 1938. The Ed Fitzpatrick Trophy, consisting of prizes to both skipper and crew winning the race designed as the Ed Fitzpatrick Trophy Race, is named for its donor and was given in 1939 for the first time.

The report goes on to state:

Also in the summer of 1938, The Oak Orchard Yacht Club was organized. This now numbers eighteen paid-up members and includes the owners of the snipe boats and the cabin cruisers which make Oak Orchard their home port. Headquarters for the Yacht Club have been fitted up in the old waterfront hotels at Point Breeze on the easterly side of the Harbor.

List of cruisers:

Vagabond 48′- value: $15,000
Luanne II 42’– value: $10,000
Abeona  36′- value: $2,500
Whos-Who 32′ – value: $2,500
Samoset (Mars?) 30′- value: $1,000
Idle Time 30′- value: $1,000
Hi-Ya 26’– value: $1,000
William Watson 25′ – value: $500
E-E-E-E 25′- value: $1,200
Alcor 28′- value: $250

Mr. and Mrs. Lynn M. Burrows' yacht "Luanne II" flying the burgee of OOYC about 1940

History of the Snipe Class
In March 1931, RUDDER magazine Editor and small boat designer William F. (“Bill”) Crosby from Pelham, New York, attended a meeting of the Florida West Coast Racing Association in Sarasota, Florida. To answer a need for a class of small racing sailboats suitable for trailering to regattas, Crosby promised to give the proposed class a send-off by designing and publishing plans for such a boat in his magazine. The name Snipe was chosen in accord with RUDDER’s custom of naming all its designs for sea birds. Snipe plans appeared in the July, 1931 issue of RUDDER, which quickly sold out.
Snipe Plans 1931 Rudder

This pamphlet was saved by Joni Richmond in her scrapbook of Snipe racing pictures.

Snipe Regatta Program1

Snipe Regatta Program2

In this beautiful Kodachrome picture one can look through the group of OOYC Snipes back across the river and see Ed Archbald’s two boathouses.
Snipes of OOYC 1949 2

Snipes OOYC 1949 1

Another amazing Kodachrome from the late 1940s showing lots of activity in the harbor looking out of the creek at the OOYC races taking place out on the lake.

OOYC Snipe Race 1949

Sailing up the creek looks about the same today along the area from the west pier to Archbald’s house.

Snipe 5627 Sailing up Harbor 1949

1949 Albion or Buffalo newspaper article  highlights Leo Laskowski and his boat Venture. Venture is the only known surviving boat from the OOYC glory days of Snipe racing. It was built by Averal Hoot (sp?) and possibly purchased by Leo. It was later sailed by Don Landauer very succesfuly through the 1950s. At some point in time the cedar hull was fiberglassed and during the late 70s thruough early 80s it sat in James Erdle’s garage in Avon, NY until it was passed along to me. Venture was taken to South Carolina during my time in the Air Force and was sailed by me at my wife’s family’s home on Lake Wateree. Today the boat sits only yards from the new Oak Orchard Yacht Club that has long forgotten the days when the Snipe races were popular and boats were wood.

Leo's Venture along with Joni and Ed (Joan Ricmond trophy is mentioned)

Leo working on Venture. Notice the extreamly clean and smooth hull.
Leo with Snipe2Leo with Snipe

Chris-Craft “Rocket” Update Dec. 5, 2010

As far back as I can remember, Rocket has been revered as a beautiful and fast boat. In the picture above, my grandfather Allen Moore is at the helm with his brother-in-law John Hanna next to him in the hat. Sitting up high with sunglasses on is Walter Head from Wanakah along with his children Marty and Sally up front. Sitting in the back of Rocket is the young nephew of Allen Moore Ronald C. Kamman.

Ronald C. Kamman remembers:

As a growing teenager inherently interested in anything mechanical and engine powered, I spent a number of high school vacations working with my uncle, Allen Moore, on various projects one or more of which was seemingly always “…on the front burner” and hot.

As a master mechanic and an innovator who enjoyed accomplishments stemming from challenges thought to be impossible in some cases Allen frequently and habitually transformed junk into treasure and the non-functional into the fully functional.

For example, at one point he obtained an old Ford tractor which previously was rendered useless when an engine connecting rod broke and put a sizable hole in the side of the engine block. Although such damage is usually considered impossible to repair without installing a new engine Allen carefully patched and repaired the damaged engine with astoundinging success. the repaired tractor remained in use for a number of years thereafter.

Similarly, when Allen trucked onto his premises a 28-foot Chris-Craft runabout boat looking rather drab from having been sunk by a previous owner the neighbors’ reactions were anything but favorable. But after some extensive refurbishing this boat, subsequently named Rocket, became very popular in the Point Breeze area. Its large, powerful Chis-Craft V8 engine made the Rocket a performer as well as a picture to behold. The initial negative reactions of some observers turned positive when the finished product emerged.

At some point late in the refurbishing process it was the Fall season and time to take the Rocket out of the water for winter storage. It had been launched earlier on a trial basis for systems checking and general performance evaluation in spite of the fact that the hatch covers would not be ready to install until the following boating season.

Rocket with her engine hatches removed. Out for a spin on Lake Ontario.

On the day when the boat was to be removed from the water Allen decided to take the boat on “one last spin” along the Oak Orchard Creek to the bridges and back before loading the boat on the trailer.

As we proceded along the creek twards the bridges a snow storm began which was bad news for us because, as mentioned above, the hatch covers were not yet installed on the boat and the driving snow could potentially cause the engine to falter or even stall-out completely at a very inopportune time. My job was to shield the carburator and the air intake at the top of the V8 engine from the falling snow. Our effeorts to keep the engine from faltering or stalling-out completely as a result of possible snow ingeston were successful and, with the power provided by a Caterpillar Diesel Tractor, the boat was pulled out of the water on its trailer.

Subsequently, and finally, using a John Deere tractor belonging to Elmer West, I drove from Elmer’s home near Kent, NY, to the lake, hitched onto the boat trailer, and towed Rocket to Allen Moore’s home in Albion for winter storage.

George Irvine on Rocket:

Rocket’s Engine had Chris Smith and Son cast into the valve cover. I tried to buy the motor from Steve Tokotch who ruined the Rocket. He eventually broke it up with a hammer for scrap. A horrendous loss. Rocket was a 1919 Runabout produced with Chris Smith’s collaboration with Gar Wood. I would say the Engine alone today would be worth more than 100 thousand dollars complete in any condition. The Rocket was absolutely the most rare and valuable runabout anywhere.”

My father “Spike” Leonard remembers riding in the boat when Steve Tokotch owned it. He said the large engine turned over slowly and sounded like a tractor as they were flying along.

This is Rocket behind my grandparent’s home on Main St. and Allen Rd. These are the only two photos that show a windshield that is made of mahogany. This may have been something my grandfather added because the style of that era would have been a flat windscreen of glass on a Chris Craft. It looks to be styled much like Statics windshield which may have been the inspiration.

Rocket at Moore's in Albion

Rocket in Backyard

This may be Ed Arcbald’s wife Jean sitting in Rocket docked at Ed Archbald’s Green Boathouse. Across the creek is a view of Point Breeze about where the old Oak Orchard Yacht Club and Black North in would be located.

Rocket in the water next to the Green Boathouse where the State Launch is now located on the west side of the Oak Orchard River. Static may be the boathouse.

Rocket in Water

A closer scan of the photo reveals some more details. I believe that my mother Sally Moore Leonard can be seen standing on the dock in a light scarf along with my aunt Bea Moore Standhart – the shortest of the girls pictured.

The image bellow is a Rosenfeld available at the Mystic Seaport Museum site. The Chris Craft appears to be about the same design as Rocket. I’m not certain when Chis Smith and Gar Wood switched the stearing wheel to the right side, but it is clear that at this time the drivers sat on the left – as in Rocket.

This photo is possibly of Rocket, but the blur makes it uncertain. To my knowledge there were not many runabouts of this caliber on the creek in those days. This photo was in the Moore family collection and that is supporting evidence for it to be Rocket. In the background is the location of Three Bridges. Rocket appears to be climbing up on plane just as she heads towards “Fiddler’s Elbow” the last major turn in the creek as one heads north to the Lake.

Here is Rocket out on the lake. The engine bay doors are off and the seats have been removed probably because it is out for the opening run of the season.