What do Richard Gere, Martha Stewart, Ralph Lauren, Mayor Bloomberg and the Royal Family of Morocco have in common?
They have all bought aluminum rowboats from local resident Jack Stewart .
"They don't make aluminum boats in Europe," Stewart explained. "This is the only country where you can buy them. The manufacture grew out of the World War II war industry."
Stewart has been selling rowboats for 28 years.
"If it's an aluminum boat in southern New York State, I probably sold it at one time or another, he said. I've sold boats at 5:30 a.m. and 11 o'clock at night, using a flashlight."
Stewart said he has sold boats to people from China, Russia, Korea and Poland.
"Sometimes on the weekend, it's like U.N. Day out here," he said, referring to his yard. It can be a problem sometimes when people don't speak English, but we manage."
The advantage of an aluminum boat, said Stewart, is that "they last forever." He said that boats come in a choice of size from 12 to 16 feet long. There are also different manufacturers and Stewart will get a boat inspected and delivered to a site, usually one of the local reservoirs. Used boats cost around $400, new ones can cost up to $1,500.
Many of Stewarts customers have several boats so they can fish from different points or various reservoirs. Stewart himself has 18. He said he once had a customer with eight boats who asked him not to call his house because his wife thought he had only one.
There are approximately 11,000 boats stashed on the shores of the 21 southern New York reservoirs. A permit is required to enter reservoir land. It is free and available online. Boating for pleasure is prohibited so to be on the water you must have a fishing license and a rod.
"Fishing in these reservoirs is the best kept secret. It's fun, it's beautiful and it's practically free, Stewart said. Your only investment is the license, the rod and the boat."
Stewart has sold so many boats its hard for him to recall each sale. However, there are some that stand out.
"I shipped one to a missionary in New Guinea who delivers Bibles and medical supplies in an area where there are still cannibals, he said. "And then there was the guy who bought a boat so he could go into a remote cave and practice his guitar."
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