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"There is nothing-
absolutely nothing-
half so much worth doing
as simply messing
about in boats."

The Wind in the Willows
by Kenneth Grahame

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Adirondack Guide-Boat Secret Waterguide-boat lines drawing by Steve Kaulback

Love at first sight . . .
I saw my first guide-boat in 1989. The boat was built by Steve Kaulback of The Adirondack Guide-Boat boatshop for Bernie Calkins and I immediately fell in love with guide-boats and the work of Steve Kaulback. Here was a design that was both elegant and utilitarian, and a work of art yet a hard working boat. I was not alone in thinking the boat was a work of art, Bernie often displayed the boat in the lobby of his office building. As beautiful as the boat was, it was meant to be used and over the next few years I continued to run into Bernie and his boat at local messabouts. I also had the pleasure of meeting the designer/builder, Steve Kaulback, at the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival. I was so taken with the boat that on more than one occasion I told Bernie to call me if he ever considered selling the boat. After several years I lost track of Bernie and his boat, however my love affair with guide-boats went on.
I read about guide-boats and studied examples of them whenever the opportunity presented itself. Ever so slowly the hook was set deeper and deeper. In June 2001, I was working a booth at the WoodenBoat Show and right across the aisle was Steve Kaulback building one of his guide-boats. It had been years since I last saw Steve and it was fun to renew our acquaintance and see how his boatshop had prospered. The Adirondack Guide-Boat boatshop had grown from a one man operation to one employing a number of craftsmen and Steve now had a partner to handle the business end of things. One thing had not changed with all this growth and that was the beauty and craftsmanship of the boats. Often times the memory of something becomes larger than life, however these boats were as wonderful as I remembered.
About a week or so after the WoodenBoat Show a classified ad in Messing About In Boats magazine caught my eye. The ad was short and to the point; "15' Adirondack Guide Boat, '84, Steve Kaulback blt, mint cond. BO. Anthony Calkins, Bethesda, MD, (301) 254-...., leave message.". Could this be my secret love? To be honest I did not remember the owner's name, however the boat's location fit so I called the number more out of curiosity than any desire to add a fifth boat to my fleet. When Tony returned my call I attempted to determine if this was my long lost guide-boat. Well it could be, replied Tony, the boat was my father's and he often took it to boat gatherings. Tony's father, Bernie Calkins, had passed away and Tony was in the middle of settling his father's affairs. I knew the question that could determine if this was the same boat, so I asked it. "Did your father ever display the boat in the lobby of his office building?" "Oh yes, many times", came the answer. Tony and I talked for awhile and later I visited him to look at the boat. It was as lovely as ever and I couldn't get it out of my mind. Of course as I said earlier, I was not in the market for a boat. That being said, these things are not always within our control. Both my wife, Mary, and Tony felt that fate had brought us together and that I was destined to be the new owner of this guide-boat. Within a few weeks there was a meeting of the minds and Secret Water now occupies a prime spot in my boat shed.

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