Cruising on Lake George in Glorious Living Color!

small_4125080290-1It’s that time of year, and it doesn’t last too long – the trees are turning glorious colors – and it is a fantastic time to go cruising on beautiful Lake George. No boat? No problem – you can rent some fantastic water craft right here in Bolton Landing, even some historic boats, and those come with a personal guide and chauffeur. One of the oldest and most interesting marinas on the lake is F. R. Smith and Sons Marina, Inc., now in its 93rd year (and fourth generation in the same SAM_2733(1)family) of great service on beautiful Lake George. In 1921, Fred Smith’s great-grandfather started building the famous Smith-Granger Guideboats at the same location on Sagamore Road in Bolton Landing. Yes, the business still has an original guide boat. At one time Smith’s owned a small fleet of guide boats that were eventually sold to the Sagamore Hotel and Resort. All the lake hotels had guide boats in the 1920’s. When Fred Smith passed away in 1999, his wife, Robin Smith, bought the business, and has continued the tradition of stocking high-end boats of all kinds. Smith’s boasts “the best rental boats on the lake, the best boats for sale, and the best top-rated certified mechanics and drivers.” Robin first came to Smith’s when she was 7 years old and her family bought their first boat. Robin has worked at keeping the family atmosphere, and explained that buying a boat is considered a long-term relationship – something the whole family can enjoy for years to come. Scott Anderson started as one of those certified mechanics 31 years ago, and is now the General Manager of the marina – and a really great guy, say those who work with him! All Smith employees are also Public Vessel (PV) certified drivers, a certification that requires a New York State course and test. Smith’s maintains a high level for safety, and keeps up on the latest information concerning environmental conservation. El Lacayo and Miss Sagamore 1980sAfter the guide boat building days, Smith’s moved into refinishing wooden boats, and in that process acquired some very interesting historic boats. The Miss Sagamore, a 28 foot inboard all-mahogany original Hacker Craft is one of the most beautiful. It is often leased out for weddings. There is also a 1929 28-foot Garwood  work boat. The Miss Sagamore’s sister boat, named the El Lacayo, was owned by George Rice, the famous boat racer who made Lake George his home. The Miss Sagamore and El Lacayo are shown outside the Sagamore Hotel and Resort. (Thank you, Robin, for the great vintage photos!) And the most famous boat was owned by Elsa Steinbeck and purchased from her estate. Ms. Steinbeck lived on the east side of Lake George and there was no easy access by car – it was water transport for the summer. And speaking of antiques – Smith’s still has the original boat house made of stone and locust posts, an original battery charger from General Electric (the electric boat Barbara is shown below), and its original ice cream vending machine – and it still works! Robin says they sell a ton of ice cream at the launch area in the summer. Smith’s has someone on the premisses year-round to answer phones and questions, handle boat sales and arrange boat shows (518-644-5181). Rentals are usually shut down before Thanksgiving, and resumed again in April. Speaking of boat sales, Smith’s holds an end-of-the-season sale every year, to rotate the stock so there is room for brand new boats in the coming year. Faithful Smith clients wait for the fall sale to stock up on extra boats for summer family use: outboards, inboards, kayaks, canoes, pontoons, paddle boards, tubes and other water toys – all in excellent condition, thanks to those wonderful mechanics who keep everything ship shape, and will even give you boating lessons before you go out. If you don’t want to drive yourself, Smith’s has a water taxi service (check out the May 2, 2013 “Water Taxis on Lake George” blog on this site for more information). Penelope JewellThe_Barbara  ]]>