by Ronald Lane member of the Pacific Northwest chapter
Hacker-Fermann Naval Architects Co. of Detroit Michigan advertised plans for a “New 55-foot Bridge Deck Cruiser” which allowed customers options of equipment and furnishings. On December 11, 1925 Mr. Ivan Kirlin signed a contract with the Defoe Boat and Motor Works Co. of Bay City Michigan to build the new motor yacht. Kirlin already owned a smaller yacht named Bo-Peep thus, the new yacht to be Bo-Peep II.
Bo-Peep II (hull 109) was the second of four of the 55′ Cruisers built by Defoe. Documented Bo-Peep II in July 7, 1926; and still is USCG Documented today. She possibly has other sister ships, but only four known were documented with hull numbers and names.
Kirlin sold her in August 1946. The Bo Peep II relocated to Florida and then Texas as the owners changed. In 1951 Mr. Louis Bonner bought the Bo-Peep II, she cruised to other yacht clubs and destinations around the US coast of the Gulf of Mexico, participated in USCG Search and Rescue missions and deep sea fishing trips in the gulf.
My wife was in her teens when her father bought the Bo-Peep II. She remembers the enclosure of the wheelhouse. Her mother did not like all the clutter of charts and navigation gear around the helm in the forward end of the saloon. She also wanted more room for entertaining. Accommodating her mother, Bonner enclosed the existing flying bridge helm and removed the saloon helm station. He re-powered and converted from gasoline to diesel; upgraded the original 32-volt DC generator to a 240-volt AC; added air conditioning and other equipment. Mr. Bonner continued the rest of his life updating the equipment.
In 1989 Gene (my wife) became the owner as she did not want the estate to sell the yacht. Bo-Peep II needed re-fastening and other repairs. The shipwright recommended using the new WestSystem® Epoxy to strengthen the repairs. The bottom planking was removed; epoxy coated, re-installed sealing over the fasteners using epoxy. The epoxy with high strength filler replaced the oakum caulking.
In 1997 the boat was loaded on a truck less wheelhouse and moved from Houston to Seattle. The old wheelhouse was discarded. A new one was built using the same architectural style as the deck house.
In 2000, rot was found in the keel. The survey revealed there were no issues where the 1989 epoxy procedure was done and the silicone bronze fasteners appeared brand new. The conclusion was if the 1989 repair held old marginal wood that well, it should really hold new wood. The decision was made to replace the keel, thus triggering the “wooden boat dilemma”—where do you stop? Results: all new stem, keel, floor timbers, planks, and transom made with epoxy coated Mahogany and Angelique using the same dimensions as the originals.
Changes have been made with upgrades required for modern day cruising, she still has her original compass with binnacle, clock, barometer, and 12’tender and most of all the style John Hacker created.
I hope we are still around to see her 100th Birthday in 2026. We have to “go to the beach”, but the Bo-Peep II will be cruising on and on with her dry bilge and winning more awards!