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Maritime museum open house sure to float your boat

Hidden Tahoe treasures will be revealed Saturday, July 2, without a single utterance of the words “open sesame.”

Six times a year the Tahoe Maritime Museum, located in Homewood, opens the glories of its annex to the public.

Contents in a Truckee warehouse, according to the TMM’s Executive Director, Jesse Siess Hadley, contain a majority of the museum’s objects.

Almost a century of boats from the late 19th century to the 1960s spend much of their time under wrap.

Among the stars is the one of a kind “C-Car.” Built by the Oakland- based Philbrick Boat Works the 20-foot runabout’s origins came from a land-based, not marine, accident. In 1957 after totaling his new Imperial Convertible Don Philbrick took two years to fit the car’s powder blue leather leather interior, including seats, dashboard and instrument panel. The car’s original eight cylinder, Chrysler Hemi engine also taken from the wreck still powers the boat.

The 19-foot Chris-Craft runabout “Bobcat” is still keeping her transom shape after six decades. That fact makes her a rarity as most barrel shaped wooden boats dry out as they age.

Another Chris Craft the 1922 “Godfather” represents the start of an era.

Chris Smith was long renowned for his race boats, built with the equally famed Gar Wood, during the second and third decade of the 20th century. After their partnership dissolved in 1922 Smith and his sons, Jay and Hamilton, began to produce the boats with some parts being World War I surplus and standardized the boat building business. With a hull number of six, out of 24, the “Godfather” is the earliest known production Chris-Craft.

A trio of Gar Woods, the Baby Gar runabout “Lemme Go First” from 1929, 1935’s oldest surviving Gar utility “Whiskey” and “Miss Tahoe” a 28-foot 1939 runabout demonstrate the glamorous age when they cruised atop the waves commandeered by the upper crust.

“They were all Depression era boats that were expensive to run, even back then,” Hadley said.

“Miss Tahoe” is currently in dry dock, after serving several seasons as the TMM’s Living History ride Boat. “White Smoke” will be replacing her for 2011.

The sophisticated styling of the 20th Century Limited train secured its place among the most famous in the world. In 1925 her reputation was slightly spoiled when “Teaser” a 30 feet Baby Gar speedboat, equipped with a 600-horsepower engine, beat her record time by 20 minutes between New York City and Albany, New York. “Teaser” sailed up the Hudson River while the train charged up the trails along the shoreline during a publicity stunt geared to launch a new Baby Gar line.

More than 80 years after her triumph the lines of “Teaser” can still transform the curious into a diehard aficionado of wooden boats.

Hadley, who assumed the TMM’s helm in January, noted beside the boats the museum’s extensive collection of outboard motors, catches the attention of most visitors.

“We have people bringing their kids and grandkids who will stop and say things like ‘my Dad used to have that exact same Johnson Seahorse motor.’ “

With the TMM’s annex’s open house the history of wooden boats is easy for anyone to understand – with or without water.