Gary Scherb's Story, the birth of the Old Time Boat Company, and the Beginning of the Sunnyland Chapter

Reprinted from The Winter 2009 Sheerline

   Gary grew up on Lake Hopatcong which Is located in the mountains of western New Jersey 65 miles west of New York City and a popular resort town, especially in the summertime. During the summers of the mid 1950's, wooden Chris Crafts, Gar Woods, and Hackers plied the clear waters of the lake.

   He grew up with wood boats, both outboard and inboard, and sail. His first boat was a Sears kit pram; 8 feet long, powered by a 1hp Elgin outboard that Gary got for his eighth birthday. The next summer the Elgin was traded for a 7hp Champion which made the pram fly but the motor was cantankerous and the boat overpowered so it began to come apart. Gary's dad showed him how to fix the problems in order to keep it running through the summer.   This was the beginning of a fleet of many boats through the years and a life-long love of running, racing and repairing wood boats.

   As a teenager the cost of keeping enough gas in the boat to ski and race was a major problem so Gary began summer work as a gas boy at one of the marinas on the lake. By the next summer he was the shop "helper" working next to the tradesmen at the boat yard learning varnishing, wood work and engine repair. This went on for three years culminating with his own shop behind a Texaco station which the owner let him have rent free in return for closing the station weekday nights. By this time, Gary had owned a 14' Wolverine, 14' Whirlwind, 15' Lyman, 14' ANA and a Barbour 12' Class C race boat powered by a 25' Evinrude big twin which was raced on Lake Hopatcong, Greenwood Lake and the Hudson River. At sixteen Gary traded the Whirlwind for a 16' CC "Blue" Rocket with a Chrysler Ace which he restored to original and used through his college years.

   While attending college he worked nights and weekend at a large boat dealership in Paramus, New Jersey selling Bertram Moppies, Owen Yachts, MFG;s and Evinrude outboards. This life style worked well until 1963 when Gary met Ingrid who was a college friend of an old friend of Gary's. The relationship progressed well and by 1965 a wedding was in the plans! Both fathers thought that selling boats was not the most reliable means of supporting a wife. Gary then got a job working for 3M where he married Ingrid in 1966 and had to sell his 17' Chris Craft to purchase her engagement ring. After marriage they purchased an 18' Chris Craft Sea Skiff and spent a lot of time going up and down the Hudson River. Their daughter, Chris, was born in 1968 and they purchased a 23' Trojan cruiser and then on to a 28' Chris Craft Sea Skiff Express after their son, Doug, was born in 1970.

   In 1975 Gary moved his family to Florida to have a lifestyle like he had growing up on Lake Hopatcong. Gary wanted his children to have the same "family and boating experience" that he had in his youth. While working to develop a new recruiting franchise for Snelling Personnel, Gary's job took him to many states from coast to coast. The first franchise was opened in California where he met Al Schinnerer as a result of a conversation he had with a mutual acquaintance. They talked about an article that appeared in an airlines magazine about Lake Winnipesaukee, NH as it had references to two new boat clubs - the Antique and Classic Boat Society {ACBS) and The Chris Craft Antique Boat Club. Gary and Ingrid joined both. That summer , on a trip to New Hampshire to visit Ingrid's sister, Gary went to the Winnipesaukee Boat Show where he met George Johnson. They became friends and George became Gary's mentor and a source of many of their boats and motors. George introduced Gary to Pete Henkel who also became a friend and source of many boats. Following the show Gary and Ingrid headed for New Jersey and Lake Hopatcong to see Wayne Mocksfield, a friend who now owned one of the boat yards on the lake. Wayne had accumulated 30 or 40 boats and they were all for sale. Gary bought a 17' 1941 barrel back and shipped it south to restore.   Shortly after that they purchased a U22 and red and white racer from Pete Henkel.

   In 1980, Chris Craft had moved its operations to Sarasota, Florida . Gordon Hauser and Howard Halas had formed the Chris Craft Antique Boat Club and they had all of the original engineering drawings of the boats that Gary began to restore. Howard encouraged Gary to meet with Dale Tassell, who was also interested in boat restoration while running an auto parts store on Florida's east coast.  Dale and Gary met and decided to initiate a wooden "boating get-together" on Lake Monroe in 1981. This eventually turned into the Lake Monroe Antique Boat Show. John and Lois De Sousa were also instrumental in the development of the show.

   In 1983, Gary, Dale and John made a presentation about ACBS to the group that participated in the boat show and decided to request chapter status in 1984/85. Thus "Sunnyland" as we now know it was born! Gary became the first president of the newly formed chapter. At that time, Gary and Ingrid started the first chapter newsletter which was called "The Waterline" and after a few issues was changed to "The Sheerline". They produced "The Sheerline" until 1995 when Gordon Millar took over, with a few years of John de Sousa and Lowell Ford editing it in between.  Gary went to Cypress Gardens in 1983 to propose another boat show-this one to occur in November and was targeted for the boat owners so that they could run their boats and just have fun. Gary and Ingrid ran this boat show for six years and then gave it to Sunnyland to operate as part of their chapter activities. The show continued until Cypress Gardens went out of business.

   The Old Time Boat Company was founded in 1976 as a second business. In 1986, Gary was restoring one to two boats per year and got tired of the corporate world of traveling. He also had two customers that wanted extensive work done on their boats. He decided to quit his job and work full time for Old Time Boat Co. Over the years he has restored around 125 boats including two gold cup race boats, two 38' Chris Craft Commuters, a 42' Chris Craft, restored a special boat for the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, NY, and produced a 38' Custom Commuter for Bill Marriott of the Marriott Corporation along with several Chris Craft Cobras and many woodies from 12' to 26'.

   A year after the Old Time Boat Company was a full time business Ingrid came to work as well as Doug who was in high school. In 1988 Doug was going to college and working part time for Old Time Boat Co. but decided that college was not quite for him. He then decided to go to The Landing School of Boatbuilding & Design in Kennebunkport, Maine in order to learn how to fully construct a craft from the very beginning to ending along with all of the techniques that must be used to construct or restore fine wooden craft. After graduation he returned as a full-fledged boat builder and knew every facet of boat building. He has been working in boat restoration from the age of thirteen and now owns Old Time Boat Company.

   Gary's big break in business came when he was encouraged to advertise in Hemming’s Motor News, which was considered the "bible" in automobile restoration. Many people restoring old autos were also interested in boats and there was a seamless transition. In addition, an article appeared in a 1988 issue of Time Magazine entitled "Just Wild about Woodies" illustrating antique and classic boating and highlighting the Old Time Boat Company. This attracted world-wide attention and also business.

   Gary has accomplished his goal and certainly has served Sunnyland and our community well; first as an organizer; secondly as an officer at the local and national level and thirdly as a friend who always gives great advice to anyone interested in antique and classic boating.


The presentation of the Chapter Charter at Clayton, NY – 1984.  Photo from left – Wilson Wright, Doug and Gary Scherb, ACBS President James Higgins, and Riley Richardson.  Photo courtesy of the Gary Scherb Photography collection.