Ocean Reef Club’s 20th Annual Vintage Weekend
December 4-7, 2014
The highly varnished mahogany of a fully restored Trumpy gleams under the South Florida sun; a couple hundred feet away an owner runs a clean rag across the already spotless hood of his 1950 Chevrolet pickup, all while a 1950s-vintage military turboprop plane rips across the sky overhead—a Grumman OV-1 Mohawk. For a lover of antique vessels, the 20th annual Vintage Weekend at Key Largo’s Ocean Reef Club was simply this: heaven.
The four-day event, which began as a way of attracting tourists to the resort during a slow season, now draws yachts and enthusiasts from around the country. Among the yachts in attendance were an 87-foot Feadship that recently saw a $15 million restoration, an impeccable 1947 Trumpy called Aurora II (above), 1974 and 1934 Burgers, as well as a 1978 L. Francis Herreshoff-designed launch that was presented by his son Halsey Herreshoff.
A 2008 Huckins, hot off the presses compared to her dockmates, stealthily blends into the crowd thanks to her swooping lines, sweet reminders of a bygone era. Car, plane, and yacht enthusiasts who eagerly climbed aboard were greeted and offered tours from Huckins owner Cindy Purcell and her husband Buddy (right).
“The greatest thing about this show is that everyone’s here to have fun. You’re seeing the finest cars in the world but there’s no competition between owners,” explains Purcell when asked why she attends this show every year. “I love coming down and supporting a venue like this, which is solely for everyone’s enjoyment.”
Besides the various vessels that were on display, Vintage weekend features a host of different presentations. One of the more well-attended talks focused on the salvage and restoration of Glacier Girl, a P-38 Lightning fighter plane that crash-landed and sat buried under 260 feet of snow and ice for more than 50 years. After nearly a decade of backbreaking work and millions of dollars, the plane has been restored to flying condition. A group of boaters sitting in the back of the auditorium, while impressed with the feat, shook their heads slightly and whispered, “that’s just crazy.”
Another presentation told the story of the 1937 Purdy commuter yacht Aphrodite, which was saved from certain destruction by the Brooklyn Boat Yard. The highly respected yard replaced 80 percent of the boat in order to complete her restoration. Though they didn’t verbalize it, you could tell the group of pilots in attendance were thinking, that’s just crazy.
“We always thought that people who liked old cars would like old boats and like old planes and thought maybe they’d enjoy learning more about one another,” explains Vintage Weekend founder, Vicki Goldstein. “In the early years the boat people hung out with the boat people and the car people hung out with the car people, but now we see a lot more mixing. Now they’re all just old friends.”