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St. James City Civic gathers for breakfast

January 31, 2013
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Pine Island Eagle

A large crowd gathered at the St. James City Civic Association Saturday to enjoy breakfast, shop the rummage and vendor sale, and look at Beck Boats while talking to the owners.

St. James City Civic Association President Sharon Astle said Saturday would not have been possible without the tremendous volunteers. She said there were 10 volunteers working in the kitchen Saturday morning and about 25 volunteers for the rummage sale.

"There is a lot of heart in this organization and it comes from the volunteers," she said.

Article Photos

Clara McKnight and her son Bob stand next to the Beck Boat that was named in honor of his mother. The boat was on display during the Big Breakfast, Beck Rally, Rummage and Vendor Sale Saturday morning at the St. James Civic Association.

Although there was a constant line for those who wanted breakfast, a large draw was also outside, as individuals had the chance to see seven Beck Boats, all different in design.

Navy Capt. Jack Orzalli said one of the boats came as far away as Punta Gorda to be a part of the Beck Rally.

"It's bigger than I expected," he said about the turnout Saturday morning.

Orzalli, who owns two Beck Boats of his own, goes out on the water at least two or three times a week.

"I go out in the evening for an hour and a half and I usually catch something," he said.

Orzalli travels about half a mile from his home in Matlacha where he catches trout, ladyfish and sometimes redfish.

As individuals gathered around the Beck Boats, they asked questions, as well as shared stories of a Beck Boat they used to own or currently have.

Bob McKnight, a resident of Matlacha, had a Beck Boat at the event Saturday. He said after he paid $500 to purchase it, he fixed it up from stem to stern because it was filled with water and leaves.

Once the 1984 boat - one of the last ones made - was completed he named it after his mother Miss Clara.

McKnight became interested in the Beck Boat because he loves the sound it makes out on the water.

"I like the whole romantic feel of the Beck Boat," he said.

About once or twice a month, McKnight takes the boat out on the water. He said he sometimes cruises with others who own a Beck Boat as well.

McKnight thought the event attracted a good crowd Saturday.

"This is a big turnout for St. James," he said.

David Martin also had his 1980 Beck Boat on display at the event. He said he purchased one after Michael Gordon, a friend of his, introduced him to the Beck Boat.

Martin said he located an old broken down Beck Boat that needed some restoration, which was seven years ago. His boat has an 11-horse power Honda engine, which he said seems to work really well.

Martin said the Beck Boat's exhaust, which is one of its issues, is designed different in everyone's boat. By having his exhaust go off the side of his boat, riders are not breathing it in while they are sitting in the boat.

Although he is not much of a fisherman, Martin said he likes to take the boat out at least once a month, which usually includes his grandchildren. He said he mainly stays in shallow water when out on the Beck Boat.

"It's a great shallow water boat," Martin said.

One of the draws to the boats Saturday were the steering sticks, which are located near the rear of the boat. Martin said since the Beck Boats were originally used for trout fishing, the steering sticks were easily used to keep the boat in a large circle while fishing.

"They just idle," he said of its speed.

Martin's Beck Boat also has a steering wheel for the days that it becomes hot out on the water.

"You can steer up front on the hot days because it gets hot in the back," he said.

Gordon, who was not able to bring his Beck Boat to the rally Saturday morning, has two boats. He said when he first moved to Matlacha he was intrigued by the Beck Boat.

"I wanted a boat that was built in this area," Gordon said.

Once he found one at Woody's he purchased it and began restoring the boat.

Gordon said the Beck Boat is taken out on the water once every other week at night as he cruises around the island. He mainly uses the boat for recreational cruising.



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