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The guide boat tradition carries on

INLET - Few local products are as nationally recognizable as the Adirondack guide boat and regional craftsman are trying a new take on the multi-generational tradition.

"People are still trying to design computer models to create boats that will compete with a guide boat," owner of Adirondack Guide Boats Steve Caldack said. "They are easily carried into remote locations and can handle almost any conditions."

For 30 years Caldack - who began his career as a sculptor - has been building and selling high-end guide boats.

"When someone looks at a guide boat, they realize what they are subliminally looking at - how all the curves and lines come together to create the whole," he said.

Caldack said that unlike many other general boat producers, his orders remain strong in a recession economy.

"Orders are up over 20 percent from last year," Caldack said. "There are a lot of stupid boats out there whose only purpose is to burn gas. With a guide boat you don't even need to own lake-side property to have water access."

Adirondack Guide Boats offers packages ranging in price from $3,000 to $14,000 depending on style, size and material.

"We may be on the high end, but people realize that the operating cost is a fraction of a boat with an engine," he said.

In Long Lake, a local craftsman has put his own twist on the tradition.

"I call my boats Adirondack good boats, which is a play on the guide boat monicker," owner of Adirondack Good Boats Mason Smith said recently. "The problem with guide boats is that they are unstable, so I decided to make something that is more user friendly."

For 25 years, Smith has hand-crafted and sold his good boats to customers around the globe. He is currently constructing his 68th boat.

Smith said that the good boat has proven itself on many differing water bodies from oceans to small lakes.

He believes that the local boat building tradition may have a strong future.

"Boat building is a local tradition," Smith said. "I think that a dedicated young person could do very well in this business."

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