F.R. Smith Pulls Antique Boats Back into Service for Weddings and Chartered Tours
As the economy recovers, some of Lake George’s small luxuries are returning. Among them: antique boat rides.
F.R. Smith and Sons, the venerable marina in Bolton Landing, returned its Hackers and its Gar Wood to its livery fleet about ten years ago, but then placed the service on hiatus until recently, when its owners noticed there was a renewed demand for the classic Lake George experience.
“The antique boat charters ebb and flow with the economy. As the economy began to revive, we noticed that we were receiving more inquiries from the Sagamore about our antique boats. We now offer rides and tours upon request,” said owner Robin Smith DeRossi.
F.R. Smith’s drivers use El Lacayo, a Gar Wood pleasure boat once owned by Gold Cup racer George Reis, the Mickie, a Hacker that belonged to the artist and writer Elsa Steinback and another Hacker, the Miss Sagamore.
“We get calls from people who want to see the lake but who don’t want to get on a tour boat or rent a boat themselves,” said DeRossi. “They may just want to circle Green Island and see the Sagamore from the water or circle through the Narrows. Sometimes the requests are more specific, such as a wish to see a house owned by their grandparents or a place their families rented when they were children.”
Scott Andersen, F.R. Smith’s general manager and a co-owner, added that he and the other drivers “can you take places where no other charter boats go. And we can tell you a lot about what we’re showing you.”
The boats and drivers are also in demand for weddings, used to ferry bridal parties or the couple themselves to and from the reception or even just for photographs.
DeRossi knows first hand the boats’ appeal for that type of occasion. Pictured here are her stepdaughter, Laura DeRossi and her husband, Jack Sousa, in Miss Sagamore. They were married in 2010 at the Lake George Club.
F.R. Smith’s provides boats for approximately ten weddings a year, said DeRossi.
“The antique boat service is unique to us,” said Scott Andersen. “It’s the kind of service we provide because we like to do it, because it makes our business even more visible and because it increases our contacts. Because we treat people well, we know they’ll be back to see us about everything else we offer – from water taxis to rental boats, to boat sales and service.”