The Dippy


Apr 26, 2016

Barry Kentner

My passion for boats began before I realized it for what it was. When I was only two years old, a neighbour had to don waders and run through a very deep pond to pull me out of a baby bathtub.

In 1937 oval shaped enamel bathtubs were an essential. No nursery was complete without one. The one I dragged to the fringe of this pond on a construction site was blue, and in my ignorance I merely got in, sat down and somehow pushed off into the “wherever”.  I did not realize I had no oars or paddle, nor did I care. I was literally care free! It was the beginning of a love relationship.

Photo:  Andy Adams

I’ve owned many boats over the years, but there’s nothing to compare to your first boat….especially if it’s a Dippy.

If you have never heard of the Disappearing Propeller Boat, it was a fisherman’s dream. Six metres, length over all (give or take) and canoe stern, with a rope controlled rudder outside the stern. It was powered by a single cylinder marine motor manufactured by the St. Lawrence Company. This “one lunger” was attached to a hinged shaft that, should you hit a dead head, a skeg mounted forward of the propeller would kick the “prop” up into an aluminum hub that was at the operators feet. The shaft also connected to a perfectly placed handle so the operator could lift the “prop” at will. Wonderful for gliding through shallow water to a beach.

The motor produced a perfect trolling speed, and the steering rope which ran along both gunwales gave excellent maneuvering. You could literally spin it 360 degrees!

My Dippy was built in 1944, by Greavette Boatworks of Gravenhurst Ontario. According to the company web page, it was one of nearly four hundred produced by the factory during the 1930’s, and 40’s.

The web site tells us only that in the 1930’s, founder Tom Greavette acquired the rights to produce the Disappearing Propeller Boat.

In the summer of 2015, I met a man from St. Clair Michigan, who has one of these magnificent small craft. He told me his was made in 1923!

Presumably they were built first in the U.S.

Who cares…really…the Disappearing Propeller Boat may be disappearing….but there are still a few afloat and they will live forever in memory. There is absolutely nothing like your first boat…especially if it was a Dippy.

Submitted by CY Reader Rev. C.J. Barry Kentner of Dresden, ON.

Submit your boating story anytime to Terri Hodgson, Online Editor, Canadian Yachting.


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