CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – You can’t have the Charleston Sternwheel Regatta, without Sternwheelers! Boats from all over lined the Kanawha River to join in on the fun after a 14-year hiatus.
13 News had a chance to meet and talk with some owners of the beautiful boats. Steven Folmar is the owner of the “Lady Carmina.” He came all the way from Glendale, West Virginia and it took him about 3 days to arrive in Charleston. Folmar has owned the Lady Carmina for 10 years, and it was his first time with his boat here in Charleston. He says he was ready to enjoy the comradery and the other boats and all of the festivities and the live entertainment. Looking forward to it all.”
First-time boat owners Steve and Gina Cox also showed out to the Regatta to showcase their new piece. They own the “Franky D.” They say about a year ago they were at an event that is similar to the Regatta as spectators and just fell in love with the idea of owning a Sternwheeler. They checked out their beloved Franky D, and the rest is history.
They say it’s been a fun journey getting to make the boat their own and becoming a part of the Sternwheeler community. “None of them are the same. They all run differently and have different engines. They operate different, insides are different. Décor is different, all of the women have their own way of decorating things. And the men have their own way of building the engines and making them go faster and it’s kind of a whole family event,” says Gina Cox.
And of course, avid boat lovers joined in on the fun, too! Angie and Butch Leport have owned their Sternwheeler, “Le Port Explorer,” for about five years. Although they don’t live on the boat, the boat is big enough with its 2 bedroom, full kitchen and bathroom. When they first bought their boat it was named “Port Explorer,” so they decided to add the “Le” part of it to make it more them.
Construction for the Le Port Explorer began in 2004, and it was launched in 2010. The Leports say it’s really special being a part of such a tight-knit group. “The sternwheel community is very tight-knit. If you’re broke down someone’s going to help you. Someone’s going to come to your aid. Actually, we’re all family. We feel like family. We are a tight-knit bunch,” said Butch Leport.
And of course, our own Meteorologist Bryan Hughes owns and lives on his Sternwheeler, the “Katie H.” He tells us a little bit about the history of his boat and why the Regatta means so much to him in an interview below.