Les Cheneaux, is Gary Cunningham’s 1940 Chris-Craft 22’ Sedan.

This remarkable mahogany power boat was built in Algonac, Michigan and commissioned at the Mertaugh Chris-Craft dealership in Hessel, Michigan in the spring of 1940. Mertaugh’s is the world’s oldest Chris-Craft dealership (having been established in 1925) and is still in business. They are the primary sponsor for the Classic and Antique Wooden Boat Show and Festival of the Arts in August of each year.  This is the largest wooden boat show in the world – hundreds of wooden boats enter every year – and thousands of attendants make the annual trip to scenic Hessel, Michigan.

Les Cheneaux has been completely restored from the keel up, including a new 3M-5200 no soak bottom with new chines, keel, stem, frames, knees, frame tie, Okoume inner bottom, solid African outer bottom, new mahogany hull sides – all attached with 3M-5200; new linoleum flooring, show quality paint and varnish, modern classic gauges, restored steering wheel, new chrome, new German Hartz canvas top, new headliner, green leather upholstery, cabin top cover, and matching green custom twin axle trailer.

Virtually all of the restoration work has been done at the Macatawa Bay Boat Works in Saugatuck, Michigan. Jonathon Reus and his team at MBBW have made Les Cheneaux better than original with all new book-matched mahogany decks and top sides. 
Photography credit for pictures in this post also goes to Jonathon Reus.

Plans are to show Les Cheneaux only three times this year;

And for the rest of the story – which often is the most interesting – Gary shared more of the background on Les Cheneaux.

The second owners of the boat did the most of the restoration work, also at MBBW, with Jon Reus in charge. A few of those older pictures are attached for your review. They then re-christened the boat Diva and used her in Saugatuck for about five or six years.

They then sold her to a guy in Connecticut who re-christened her again, this time as TRE Hugger.  TRE Hugger had been sitting in a damp basement for six years.

What is truly remarkable about this story is that I was looking for a C-C sedan after having completed a barrelback project with Jon Reus. I randomly found TRE Hugger for sale on the internet and asked Jon what he thought about the boat. Well, as it turned out, he knew everything about the boat and between the two of us we figured out a way to purchase her and bring her back to Michigan.

Jon personally travelled out to Connecticut on my behalf to inspect the boat and finish the negotiations for the acquisition. He then hauled her back to Michigan and is now completing the work necessary to not only put her in showroom condition, but also get all the paperwork and registrations correct to regain her original registration numbers here in Michigan. Both Jon and I are very proud of Les Cheneaux and take a great deal of pleasure in the fact that we have preserved such a remarkable boat.


Thanks, Gary Cunningham, for sharing the story of Les Cheneaux.

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