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Vintage Nautical Collector

Susan Gibbons 2016-06-03 00:22:17

NORTHERN BOATER Cedar’s Nautical Antiques & Collectibles Shop Walking out onto a weathered dock and smelling the fuel from powered-up boat motors brings back some of my favorite childhood memories of waiting to climb in grandpa’s boat and motor across the lake to his island home. Living amidst numerous lakes and opportunities for all sorts of water fun, many of us have similar childhood experiences and memories. Doug Hart, shop owner of Northern Boater, is one such water enthusiast. He not only retains reminiscences of childhood, but the love of the lakes has splashed across all the years of his life flowing into today. Northern Boater is a one of a kind specialty shop located in Cedar and a destination for people who love nautical antiques and collectibles, a treasure trove for both locals and visitors to the area. It’s a place to visit for boat enthusiasts, antique collectors, interior designers, and outdoor decorators. The shop includes all kinds of finds to decorate a cottage. For instance, one can design a room around an antique model boat. Hart relates that all his offerings are authentic vintage, all collectible, all original nautical artifacts and many are antique. Growing up on Silver Lake, Hart says he always loved boats. “Dad and I spent a lot of time on boats,” he smiles, remembering. “We often took boats on the chain of lakes cruise and we had a lot of family outings, taking advantage of all the water around here.” Hart’s father passed away two years ago. He recounts the moment when the idea for a nautical collectible shop was born: “I was at my mom’s home shortly after cleaning things out. I saw wooden dowels sticking out above insulation. I brushed the insulation aside and found two wooden boats that I built with my dad when I was eight years old. This was my inspiration for the business. Northern Boater was opened in order to keep that warm, familiar feeling alive.” Always being passionate about nautical items and collecting, Hart now travels around the country, like a nautical American Picker, to unearth finds for his shop. Northern Boater shares building space with the Duck to Swan Gallery, owned by artist (and Hart’s wife) Michelle Hart Jahraus. Each year Doug and Michelle travel to North Carolina. They take a leisurely drive down the eastern seaboard, stopping wherever the quest for collectibles takes them. Hart also travels the Mississippi, the Upper Peninsula, and his own back yard, like Fishtown and Long Lake. He visits boat shows, boat yards, and marine salvage yards, and is often invited to estate sales. “I brought in a few things to [Michelle’s] store and they sold, so I brought in a few more… then a few more. It just grew,” says Hart, who’s now been in business over a year. “It’s been really fun; it’s a passion of mine. I love anything to do with water!” In fact Hart still has his first pair of water skis that he learned on as a kid. Combining the gallery where beautiful lakescapes adorn the walls with the nautical collectible shop has been an added bonus as the two complement each other. Another bonus, Hart says, is “I get to work with my wife, too!” One can purchase a pond boat, a piece of jewelry, and a painting all in the same spot. The shop includes a huge variety from the small to the very large, like a mahogany canoe or a classic 1938 Lyman boat displayed out front along with the shops’ landmark dory boat and huge anchor. However, Northern Boater specializes in small collectible model boats, toy boats, and pond boats. “We also have new old stock,” says Hart, explaining this is never-bought merchandise from decades ago. Northern Boater offerings include brass and bronze pieces like a brass porthole from 1940. Hart discloses that the names he looks for are Perko and Wilcox Crittenden. “They were the Chevrolet of nautical parts back in the day.” Lanterns are very popular items. Some have the original kerosene burners and tanks while others have been electrified, but both are fun to decorate with. Northern Boater has over 750 nautical charts in stock from around the globe, a very popular seller on the website. A customer can request a coastal region from a specific part of the world and chances are Northern Boater carries a nautical chart from that area. Visitors to the area love to acquire a nautical collectible to remember their vacation by. “Anything local does not stick around,” says Hart, like old net floats from Fishtown. People also love the old compasses, like one from the early 1900s. They often give them as wedding or graduation gifts, symbolic of charting one’s new course. Northern Boater offerings include a collection of old outboard motors, like classic Evinrudes. There are also ship’s clocks, brass propellers, vintage post cards, and classic Yachting Magazines. “People find something that brings back great memories, especially for those who love the water,” notes Hart, like the working transistor radio from the 1950’s. The selection also includes a WWII collection of war ships, considered trench art, but instead of being built in a trench, the 50 piece collection was carved by a sailor while he served on one of the ships. Repurposing is trendy and Northern Boater offers lots of opportunities and inspirations. A buoy can be made into a vase. Classic water skis from the 50s can be mounted on a wall upside down to create shelves. Michelle turned a nautical chart into a serving tray, while Hart cut down classic water skis to use as slots for a baby gate to match the cottage theme of their home. Hart says it’s fun to hear the creative ideas customers discuss about a find. He looks forward to hearing what someone will do with floor boards from an old fishing boat. “All boats appeal to me,” shares Hart. “What catches my eye is if they are handmade and carved. Someone had a vision, sat down and brought it to life from the wood.” Hart built models as a kid and with Northern Boater continues honing the skill by doing reworking on some of the finds. For example, Hart discovered a 1930 model sailboat and restrung the sails using the original string. Northern Boater is located in downtown Cedar. For more information check out the website at www.northernboater.net (.net like a fishing net) or call 231-944-2944. You can also shop online at www.NorthernBoater.Etsy. com, or visit their facebook page: facebook.Com/Northern-Boater Susan Gibbons has been a local freelance writer since 1998 and a regular contributor to Families First Monthly for over fifteen years. Susan, too, has a passion for being on the lakes and spent summers on Bois Blanc Island, where lots of fond memories were made.

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