Housed in the historic Taylor Wine Company complex, the Finger Lakes Boating Museum (FLBM) will be celebrating its fifth anniversary this year here in Hammondsport, NY. Even though the physical museum is just five years old, the considerable efforts of its founders, a group of dedicated antique boating enthusiasts, have been going on for over 20 years. Begun as an intention to preserve the significant boating heritage here in the Finger Lakes Region, the museum focuses on the impact that recreational and commercial boating had on the development of the lakes and tourism in the area. Open to the public seven days a week, the museum’s collection has grown to more than 200 boats built by many of the 40+ commercial builders identified as having built boats throughout the Finger Lakes during the last century.
An essential component in the museum’s mission is the focus on education, and through its Finger Lakes Boating Academy, the museum offers a sizable array of educational opportunities. These activities, including courses, lectures, demonstrations, workshops, youth programs, on water programs, and special events, have helped make FLBM the primary source for Finger Lakes boating education. The staff and volunteers are as passionate about educating as they are about Finger Lakes boats!
Another of the important tenets of the FLBM is their commitment to restoration, and this cannot be better represented by the ongoing efforts to restore the Pat II, a 39’ launch built in 1924. First serving as a tour boat in the Thousand Islands region of New York until 1955, the Pat II was moved to Skaneateles Lake in 1956 to continue its life as a tour boat, but also as a U.S. Postal Service delivery boat until 1991, at which time she was taken out of service. Named after boat builder George M. “Pat” Comstock, the Pat II arrived at the Finger Lakes Boating Museum in 2013 from the Skaneateles Historical Society.
Fast-forward to 2019, and the passage of untold volunteer hours spent rehabilitating the Pat II from stem to stern, and she is getting closer to completion every day. With a homeport in Hammondsport, the Pat II will be the on-the-water ambassador for the FLBM, both as a teaching tool and a cruise boat. For all involved, it will be an emotional and gratifying event when, later this summer, the Pat II finally returns to the waters of the Finger Lakes after a long hiatus and rehabilitation.
Located just down the street from the Black Sheep Inn and Spa, the Finger Lakes Boating Museum represents two of the most important historical categories here in the region, Wine and Boating. A visit to the museum affords you the chance to take in the amazing collection of regionally made boats, local boat history, and of course, the occasion to walk through some of the historic Taylor Wine Company headquarters dating back to the 19th century. When you enter the museum, be sure to peruse the Gift Shop for a great selection of items to take home and enjoy, and if you look close, you will be able to check out a few of Marc’s boating-themed stained glass pieces too. FLBM is also a new member of the North American Reciprocal Museum Association, an organization featured in our blog from earlier this Spring.