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Rare 1917 boat to appear at Boats on the Canal

MILLERSPORT – There’s a special treat in store for antique boat lovers at Saturday’s Boats on the Canal.

The free 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. show along and on Canal Drive in Millersport features antique and classic boats as well as the Millersport Lions Club’s Crusin’ on the Commons show for June.

The star of the boat show is Jack Beatley’s 1917 30-foot Hickman Sea Sled. Only a handful were built by the Mystic Seaport, CT shipbuilder. The “Meralco” is the only twin-engine version left.

It was built for Charles May Swift, a wealthy entrepreneur, with a 1,000 acre estate in Vermont with frontage on Lake Champlain. Swift specified a 30 foot hull with a seven foot beam (width) and two 150-HP engines. It had a design speed of 40 mph. Swift wanted the fastest boat on the lake.

The hull cost $8,000 in 1917, Beatley said, compared to $500 for the typical hull at that time. The open utility style boat seats five up front and three in the back.

Meralco was found in disrepair in the 1970’s at Lake Champlain. Restoration took 10 years

Beatley found it in Buffalo, New York, last year where it had been in storage for more than a decade after plans to use it as a centerpiece for a classic boat museum failed to materialize. This is it’s first appearance at a boat show since he purchased it. Meralco will not be in the water Saturday, but it’s expected to get a run on Buckeye Lake later this season.

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