Tom Bush has lived on Lake Hopatcong his entire life. At 58 years old Tom has memories of the lake that many others have only heard about. Tom could easily be considered a rowboat expert, building the same style rowboats we grew up around.
Tom grew up in the Woodport section of the lake in a house on Prospect Street. He graduated from Jefferson high school in 1972, married his wife Amy and remained on the lake to raise his own child, a daughter, Alex age 23. In fact, Tom has spent his entire life working and residing in the same area of the lake .
In 1957, Tom’s dad owned a large area of property near Flash Marina and the Warehouse Grille restaurant. Throughout the winter months he made rowboats he designed and in the summer months rented the boats out to visitors and fishermen on the lake.
“They were a livery style wooden rowboat and all winter he worked on the boats and then in the summer the business would start up. Although I didn’t help much building the boats as a kid, I was surrounded by the entire process,” said Tom.
As a teen, Tom worked in different marinas. He raced hydroplane boats for 10 years up and down the east coast and Canada. In 1982 he won the nationals in NY and that same day got married. His boat was named Constant Pressure and went on to win many more competitions with its new owners.
After Tom’s father passed away, Tom stored away his tools and jig he used to design and construct his rowboats. In 2006 when Tom retired from co-owning a marina he decided to build his father’s rowboats. He doesn’t rent out the boats anymore. He has jazzed them up a bit and now sells them to individual interested in owning a custom rowboat.
“The boats are traditionally built and designed for Lake Hopatcong livery style. I use mahogany plywood, mahogany rails, and walnut inserts. They are constructed using all west system epoxy and silicone bronze fasteners” said Tom.
His rowboats sell for $4,000 and are 14 feet long. Tom also designed another jig-which is a form needed to construct each boat. Tom uses this jig to make replicas of the actual rowboats rented at (Dick) Dows. These boats are two feet longer than Tom’s father’s design and sell for $6,500.
With all the “going green” and concern for chemical free weeding methods, Tom recently purchased a 10 foot, long flat deck Weedoo boat with two electric stern drives and a conveyor designed to pull weeds out of the lake. This type of boat has been used in oil spill clean-ups.The size and style of the boat makes it easier to get close to shore lines, docks and in tight areas. Tom charges $100 per hour and estimates a 50 foot lake front shore line frontage may total approximately $300. Tom also uses a mechanical cutter, allowing him to cut weeds four to five feet deep at the same time the weedoo is working.
Tom’s rowboats can be seen and purchased on the website www.adirondeckrowing.com. To contact Tom Bush, call 973-229-7519.