The Lyman Obsession

By: Larry Asam

Volume 18, Issue 10, October 2023

One evening a few years ago, a gentleman from Saranac Lake walked down to the Village Docks in Clayton, NY. The only boats that were tied up to the docks were Lymans – five of them! He looked around and said, “What is it about Lymans???”

I posed that very question to several “Lyman friends.” Here are their thoughts:

Randy Fletcher – President of the Thousand Island Chapter ACBS (Antique and Classic Boat Society) and Heidi Szonn, Treasurer TI Chapter ACBS. They reside on Washington Island, Clayton, NY. When Randy was considering purchasing a big Lyman, Heidi wasn’t impressed. She thought they just looked too wide. Until she took a ride and said, “this is a nice boat . . . ”

And that is the short answer.

Randy and Heidi's 1967 26' Lyman Cruisette, Serenity. [Photo by Larry Asam]

Greg Tuke – Thousand Island Park.
Greg loves his 23’ Lyman, named Sweet Sound. He says, “she is functional, safe, and has a dash of elegance . . .”

Greg's 1957 23' Lyman, Sweet Sound. [Photo by Larry Asam]

Steve Pond – Retired Lake Champlain Ferry Captain and former President of Lake Champlain ACBS.

Steve’s family had a 16' Lyman outboard when he was growing up. They trailered it everywhere. When his wife, Betsy, mentioned getting a boat, a Lyman was his first choice. The 26' Lyman Sleeper was the perfect choice to handle the large open waters of Lake Champlain.

“They are such nice riding boats.”
Steve's 1967 26' Lyman Sleeper, Besianna. [Photo by Larry Asam]

Gene Porter – Former President of ACBS with a long history in the Thousand Islands.

“What is it about Lymans? Above all, they are practical, comfortable boats, true to their all-weather fishing boat origins on Lake Erie. Lapstrake boats, particularly painted ones, have long been of limited interest to the dedicated aficionados of 20s and 30s speedboats. But Lyman's lapstrake construction makes them marginally lighter and more seaworthy than their aristocratic brethren. Furthermore, it is a lot easier for DIY owners to achieve a good paint job than a good varnish job, making Lymans much more affordable.”
Gene Porter's 1959 23' Lyman Sleeper, True North. [Photo by Larry Asam]

Dick Greene – Full Time resident Thousand Island Park.

Back in the early 60's, Dick and a friend took his family’s Lyman up the Rideau Canal, down the Ottawa River, and back to the St. Lawrence. As they were crossing Lake St. Frances, just west of Montreal, they got caught in a big wind. Waves were crashing over the bow as they reached for their life jackets. In the end, the 18’ Lyman came through the storm without any problems. That made Dick a “believer.” He still uses his family’s Lyman regularly on the River.

Dick and Erin Greene in their 18' Lyman outboard near Thousand Islands Park. [Photo by Larry Asam]

Jim Geiger – Round Island.

Jim’s father was a fishing guide out of Henderson Harbor, NY, on Lake Ontario. He fished from a Lyman, as did many of the other guides back then, including Dave McCrea, the former owner of Jack Pot II and a close family friend of the Geiger’s. For Jim, the Lyman connection runs deep, he only wanted a Lyman for his primary boat, and that boat is Jack Pot II.

Jim Geiger's 30' Lyman Jack Pot II. [Photo by Larry Asam]

Judy Grosvenor – Former Treasurer Lake Champlain ACBS and Guy Cote her partner in Life and Lymans.

Lymans are in Judy’s DNA. She was born about ten miles from the Lyman factory in Sandusky, OH. Judy and Guy trailered their 16’ Lyman, Molly, all over the northeast, including several trips to the coast of Maine. They loved every minute with her. Guy says Molly is "a great, great boat! Well worth the effort to maintain!” He spends countless hours each year cleaning the bilge, prepping, painting, and varnishing to keep her in show condition.

Judy and Guy's 16' Lyman, Molly. [Photo by Larry Asam]

Rick Rasmussen – Murray Island

Rick Rasmussen grew up on Grenell Island, looking at Dr. Coats’ 19’ Lyman, Cherbie. He marveled at the way Cherbie’s bow sliced through the water. That image is stuck on his mental “hard drive.” Now Rasmussen is on Cherbie’s registration.

Rick Rasmussen in his 19' 1957 Lyman Cherbie. [Photo by Larry Asam]

Kym Asam – Grenell Island.

Kym came to love Lymans via indoctrination. She married a Lyman guy . . . She also wanted a maneuverable and reliable boat. Her 1962 18’ Lyman outboard, Laura B, met those requirements. Now Laura B is part of a happy Lyman family!

Kym Asam and Luna in Laura B an 18' Lyman outboard. [Photo by Larry Asam]

Our memories are full of the wonderful wooden boats built over the years, but for many in the Thousand Islands during the 1950’s and 60’s, Lymans made sense. Along with all the attributes mentioned above, they also have a certain utilitarian beauty that is still pleasing to the eye today. And for me, getting into my 1958 Lyman is like putting on a favorite old flannel shirt – it just feels good.

Larry Asam's 1958 23' Lyman Orion with Rick Rasmussen at the helm. [Photo by Larry Asam]

By Larry Asam

We first met this impressive photographer in Meet Larry Asam the Photographer.  His photographs have been published several times in the past, but the article gave us a opportunity to meet the professional photographer and see just a "tip of his work." Then in June 2023, Larry gave us a lesson on  "Photographing Loons" and in September, '23, he provided a essay in Thousand Islands Life, Blind Bay and CBP's Proposal.  Thank you Larry for these and this editor hopes for many more to come.

All photographs by Larry Asam, ©2023

Posted in: Volume 18, Issue 10, October 2023, Photos, Sports, Essay

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