Mt. Dora Swim In

Mt. Dora, Florida March 24-26, 2000

Mt. Dora, just north of Orlando, holds an Antique Boat Show each year. The year 2000 was the third time that the Amphicars joined in the fun. 11 cars made it for the weekend and entertained the large crowd.

We stayed at The Dreamspinner Bed and Breakfast in Eustis, Florida. What a wonderful place! Jeano really knows how to take care of her guests.

Following is a great account of the weekend from Joel Stewart who attended the event:

Mount Dora is a beautiful, idyllic spot in Lake County, Florida, covered with hills, colonial homes, oak trees, and reminiscent of northern towns, while still bearing the unmistakable signature of Florida -- palm trees, bougainvillea and year-round greenery. Lake Mount Dora is big enough to challenge any Amphicar and connects conveniently to other lakes through a system of canals and natural waterways. We arrived at the Swim-In, to find beautiful weather - not a cloud in the sky. Tired from hauling the trailer and our long trip, we headed anxiously for the ramp and splashed in. The water was clean, and we felt exhilarated as we dragged our fingers over the side of our red '64 Amphicar. Back on land, the festivities were in full swing centering around an antique boat show, with sleek, varnished speedboats of the classic period, now only visible in old films on Turner Classic Movies. Approximately 50-100 boats were on display. Odd relics such as calliopes and antique quadrupeds were putting about here and there. Two gorgeous seaplanes were present as well - one beautiful, multicolored, which looked like a rainbow, was casually parked on the beach in front of the Mount Dora Yacht Club, and the other, a traditional Cessna 172, also on floats, was anchored a stone's throw from the town dock. Ultralights appeared in the sky at mid-day, playfully diving and skimming the smooth surface of the quiet waters. The festival was crowded with thousands of people milling about, looking at the exhibits, the boats, the planes, and of course the Amphicars. Absent were water skiers, perhaps due to the presence of an alligator, which came swimming curiously close by, and which remained undaunted by the tumultuous crowds of northern tourists who flocked to see a real, live specimen for the first time. The alligator remained on view adjacent to the Amphi parking area for more than an hour, and titillated the tourists, while reminding all to swim in protected areas only. As water started to rise above the floorboards, due to a faulty door handle, one had to suppress all thoughts about the possibility of sinking and falling prey to hungry reptiles. Fortunately the ancient pump kept us afloat until we returned the shore.. The town of Mount Dora, nestled incongruously amidst the red-neck country folk (no offense to Dave Derer) and orange groves, is a well kept secret. A chic community of antique lovers, quaint shops, gourmet food, and beautiful homes, it boasts an antique railroad. Mount Dora is a class act, and its proximity to Orlando makes it an ideal vacation destination, with or without an Amphicar. Several members sought shade in a tented beer-hall, imbibing spirits and exchanging stories of missing drain plugs. David Monier, local dentist-turned-Amphicar-lover, was our host, and I can't say enough good words about the excellent organization and planning that went on. From the moment of arrival, Dave greeted us with a smile and a hearty "Welcome aboard." The town fathers had agreed to have a parade for the Amphis about mid-day on Saturday, and we rode single file, first on the land, and then in the lake. All colors of Amphis represented. Dieter's car made a sensation, with its super paint job and custom interior. Lacking any trim, Dieter has created a modern-day version of the car, which retains the original bodylines created by its great inventor, but at a reduced cost. Dieter used a handsome gray carpet) to cover the floor and sides of the interior, and black, after-market Model-T pedals, strikingly coordinated with shiny, white knobs (both from Home Depot), lending an eclectic touch which is just right for a 21st Century Amphi. Dan Borgman's unusual Amphi is a fisherman's dream. Modified to resemble a fishing boat, the front window opens; to let the breeze and spray pass through the cockpit, and there is a deck, with an automatic anchor. A high fisherman's seat is installed in the rear, where Dan and his guests can remain perched for hours at a time, casting bait and tackle in the fishy waters. David Monier scored a 10 with his Amphi dinner party at a local restaurant. Known as Gray's on 3rd Avenue, the entire establishment was reserved just for Amphicar owners and their guests. The cuisine was stylish, and included a wide menu of innovative dishes, such as New Orleans style chicken with honey and walnuts served on a bed of French Toast; hot and spicy Puttanesca, with fresh seafood, spinach and ripe tomatoes; and a vegetarian dish of beans and vegetables fiery hot to tickle the palate. Hugh Gordon arranged for all the guests to receive a valuable gift, original Amphicar advertising (the foldout with a picture of a blue Amphi heading toward a beach). In addition, there were door prizes for those with lucky numbers. Following dinner on Saturday night, there was a moonlight Amphi-cruise, an enchanting moment, accented by the sparkling nav-lights of so many Amphis, playfully dancing amidst the silvery moonbeams. The Mount Dora lighthouse beamed its powerful light on the dark, mysterious waters, marking a safe return for the merrymakers. On Sunday many of the Amphis reappeared at the site. The high cloud cover gave a welcome relief from the strong sun of the previous day. Several newspaper reporters, fascinated with the Amphis, promised wide coverage, and articles subsequently appeared in the local Mount Dora paper, the Orlando Sentinel (Lake County Edition), and a regional weekly. The article and some pictures can be seen on The Amphis also earned a 30 second spot on the local TV channel. Great friendships were struck, and club members and their entourage exchanged valuable information. Dave the Wave and his octogenarian dad, Charles the Surf, were in the water more often than not. I highly recommend the Mount Dora experience to all of you, and hope to see you soon in Celina.

Joel Stewart
(Proprietor of Fort Lauderdale Amphicar)