Author, boat modeler meet in Clayton after having emailed for two years about legendary boat

·3 min read

Aug. 6—CLAYTON — Author David Kunz walked up to a tent at the antique boat show on Saturday with a beer for the man working behind the table, meeting him for the first time after having emailed back and forth for two years.

"I handed him a beer and he was like 'Why are you giving me this?'" Mr. Kunz said. "I told you I'd bring you a beer."

The boat "Pardon Me," a cutting-edge vessel for the time it was built in Alexandria Bay in 1947 , is known as the world's largest runabout. Runabout describes the style of the boat, which has enclosed cockpits. Pardon Me has been owned by the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton since 1986, and it was giving rides to the show's attendees all weekend.

Mr. Kunz, a two-time author who has written a book about boat-life in the Thousand Islands and then a second all about Pardon Me, is the great grandson of Charlie Lyon, who it was built for originally. Greg Rice was the man behind the table on Saturday, set up at the antique boat show with a precise model of Pardon Me. It took him around three years and 2,000 hours to build. The two met virtually a few years ago as Mr. Rice was researching the history of Pardon Me as he worked on the model. Mr. Kunz was finishing his book on the boat, and he has a long history of boat knowledge and even worked at the museum in Clayton.

As a result, Mr. Rice and Mr. Kunz started emailing each other. Mr. Rice wanted to get the exact details right of his model, from how the dash was configured to where every seat was. The two went back and forth a lot, and Saturday was the culmination of their communication. Mr. Kunz met Mr. Rice for the first time, and he saw the model for the first time as well.

"It's amazing," Mr. Kunz said. "It's actually perfectly correct."

The boat that is in the fabric of his family was perfectly modeled, Mr. Kunz said, adding that it highlighted what it was built for — horsepower and high speed. That's why it's called Pardon Me.

"The line was 'Pardon me as I pass by,'" Mr. Kunz said.

And Mr. Kunz got to watch people enjoy Pardon Me by taking trips along the St. Lawrence River on Saturday.

"It's very weird in a good way," he said. "We were out there when they started it up and everyone was really drooling over it. That's what it was meant for."

Mr. Rice said he picks boats to model based of how unique they are, and "Pardon Me" certainly fit the bill.

"There's only one," Mr. Rice said. "They have a really colorful history with different owners. Each one of these boats, I could literally stand for four hours and talk about the unique elements of the owners and the crazy things that have happened. And 'Pardon Me' is just another one."

The Antique Boat Museum's annual show wraps up Sunday with the parade of boats along the Clayton waterfront at noon.

More information and a full schedule of events can be found on the Antique Boat Museum website, abm.org.