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Jim Holler, curiosity locked in, was content at first to watch. This was about two years ago, when a new kid showed up with a wooden motorboat that needed work, lots of it, at the Antique and Classic Boat Society, which makes its home in an old foundry occupied by the Buffalo Maritime Center on Arthur Street.

Holler, now 92, is a well-loved elder within the legion of gray-haired guys in jeans and T-shirts with sawdust on their hands who seem to always be there, building or restoring wooden boats. One by one, during Adam Curcio’s first days at the center, they quietly moved toward his 18-foot vessel, a Grady-White Hatteras, and gave him a stark analysis.

If saving the 57-year-old wooden boat was his dream, it was a dream in trouble. There was rot eating up the keel and the wood surrounding it. Some told him the boat might need cutting back, which they saw as better than losing the whole thing. Others shook their heads and wondered if the best move was simply thinking about another boat. Read on.