by Don Swierenga member of the Water Wonderland chapter
For decades our primary vessel has been their 1968 Century Resorter “Woodie” with its 390cu.in. Ford V-8 engine. “The dual exhaust of Lake Mac creates a wonderful sound. We plan to never get rid of the boat as it is our connection to special memories of yesteryear,”
But my wife Cheryl calls the exhaust sound noisy and the ride bouncy. She says, The experience during the journey is as important to me as the destination itself. Using one of our sailboats allows us to hear the birds above, the water lapping against the hull below, and enjoy being in the moment. I like it quiet.
I say the problem is, The wind is not always up and we can’t make our intended destination, So how do we get the experience of your desire and still have some control over getting there?
The conundrum remained for years during which time we continued to attend boat shows and visit restoration shops. In the process we discovered vessels new to us made in the late 1890’s to early 1900’s termed launches. Some were steam powered, some gas. We learned the Electric Launch Company (ELCO) had 55 such battery operated vessels in the 1893 Chicago Exposition. Ah ha! History revisited and new possibilities for us!
I poured over old Motor Boat and Yachting issues from 1905-1915 compliments of our local Joint Archives. Those historical pictures and write ups were exciting. They enabled a vicarious trip back in time and lent a solution for our conundrum. If the heyday of quiet and leisurely mahogany launches as a hull type was popular in the 1890’s – 1910, then why not make our own in 2015 which would be beautiful to us?
Over the coming months I kept my eyes open to find an eye-appealing, proven hull design which was made of fiberglass for easy maintenance. The power source could be an outboard or inboard electric motor. The priority was on being quiet. Once obtained, then we would have all visible surfaces clad with varnished African mahogany for beauty. Get some very comfortable chairs and cushions for several hours of leisure travel. Add a windlass forward for easy anchor retrieval following picnic lunches.
Oh were we were clueless how long the project would take! The unkno