Ford and Nancy Knight
met twenty years ago at the Antique and Classic Boat Show in Clayton, NY.
Throughout their courtship there were meetings of the Finger Lakes Chapter
of the ACBS, boat shows, along with many hours of stripping, varnishing,
and polishing Ford¹s 1954 Morehouse Utility. When Nancy didn¹t
get a diamond before they married in 1986, they decided to wait and find
just the right one.
Ford And Nancy Knight taking
a ride on Skaneateles Lake
After thirteen years, a set
of twins, three more wooden boats and even more hours of stripping and
varnishing, it was finally time to pick out that diamond. As they planned
for a trip to New York and were deciding where to look at rings, fate stepped
Down the road from the Knight¹s
home is a cottage owned by a widow, who just so happened to have a boat,
you might be interested in looking at. Was she ever right! In a storage
building laying on a trailer was an 1895 Dwight Grant guide boat, hull
#16. She had been used by that family for recreational rowing and by some
family friends for courting.
Courting, how appropriate.
The long awaited diamond became a boat not a ring, though Nancy does wear
a guideboat charm around her neck. I do get to wear My Diamond, Nancy mentions,
as she tells the story to those who ask about her charm.
The twins hard at work
replacing and bending ribs on a 12’ Morehouse row boat owned by Dennis.
The twins left Chuck
Knight, right Dennis Knight
After a major cleaning they
found that My Diamond had originally been painted dark blue on the outside,
with a green shade of paint under a coat of brown inside. Dark blue and
a dark green that part was easy, but there was more to making her sea worthy
than paint. Nancy made patterns from the deck pieces that needed to be
rebuilt, as Ford worked out how to replace the gunwales. Again, after the
many hours of this and that, she was finally water ready in the summer
of 2001. There was one piece still needed to completely outfit her. A seat
back for the stern.
Grant used a snowshoe maker
to make his seat backs, so the Knight¹s have learned to bend wood.
They (Ford and their twin fifteen year olds, Nancy was there for moral
support) began by bending replacement ribs for their son¹s Morehouse
rowboat. They learned there is a lot of waiting for the wood to soften
and then you have to move fast to get the rib in place. They got the ribs
done on a good day, now they were ready to try the seat back. A jig had
to made to bend the wood into shape on. They found that in The Adirondack
Guideboat by Durant, there¹s the pattern for Grant¹s seat back.
It¹s well and good
to have a pretty boat, but the Knights use the boats they have. Some for
riding around in, another for skiing or tubing behind, but "My Diamond"
gets rowed. Nancy explains, When we have company it¹s fun to show
off all the boats (most are in the water). They always ooh and aah at this
over one hundred year old boat, ... then we launch her. Most of the time
people can¹t believe we use it.
Recently another part of
the story has come out. In 1999 when the Knights found out about the boat,
Ford called his friend, Syd Marsden. Syd was the person to call when thinking
about buying an old boat. He knew about the guideboat and said it was a
great deal. What he didn¹t tell Ford was that he had been considering
the purchase of the Grant for his daughter, Wendy. Wendy¹s husband
is Ric Fetridge, <ric &wendy are part of the
web&design team for this publication.>