2017-08-17 / Front Page

Boat Show Celebrates 40 Years

Rare Beauties: Restored Antique Wooden Vessels Gleam in Summer Sun at Les Cheneaux
By Kevin R. Hess

Garfield, a 1932 33-foot Baby Garwood, was the 2016 Best in
Show and a featured boat of the 2017 “Best of 40.” Garfield is
owned by William Parfet of Bay Harbor and was one of the crowd
favorites as scores of people took out their phones and cameras to
preserve their memories of this beautiful boat. Garfield was
awarded first place in the Feature Boat category.Garfield, a 1932 33-foot Baby Garwood, was the 2016 Best in Show and a featured boat of the 2017 “Best of 40.” Garfield is owned by William Parfet of Bay Harbor and was one of the crowd favorites as scores of people took out their phones and cameras to preserve their memories of this beautiful boat. Garfield was awarded first place in the Feature Boat category.Some 7,200 spectators and about 130 boats from 19 classes descended upon Hessel Marina for the 40th annual Les Cheneaux Islands Antique Wooden Boat Show and Festival of the Arts Saturday, August 12. One-hundred sixty boats were registered for the show, but a light morning rain may have kept some away. Skies quickly cleared, and the sun shone brightly, reflecting off the waters and the many beautiful antique boats that were on hand to celebrate the “Best of 40.” In addition to the boat show, the 41st annual Festival of Arts saw many vendors offering various pieces of art, including handcrafted woodwork, blown glass, photography, paintings, homemade soaps, syrups, and jams.


Hornet, 2014 Best in Show winner and one of the featured boats of 2017, displays its Scripps V-12 engine for spectators to see. Many owners had their engines on display, especially those known for speed. Jay Stingel, a resident of Nashville and Mackinac Island, is the owner of Hornet, a sleek, 1932 28-foot Gar Wood runabout. Hornet earned first place in the runabout 25-foot and over class. Stork, a 1908 17-foot Brooks boat owned by Mr. Stingel and his wife Janet, earned second place in the launch class. Hornet, 2014 Best in Show winner and one of the featured boats of 2017, displays its Scripps V-12 engine for spectators to see. Many owners had their engines on display, especially those known for speed. Jay Stingel, a resident of Nashville and Mackinac Island, is the owner of Hornet, a sleek, 1932 28-foot Gar Wood runabout. Hornet earned first place in the runabout 25-foot and over class. Stork, a 1908 17-foot Brooks boat owned by Mr. Stingel and his wife Janet, earned second place in the launch class. The marina was filled with boats ranging from canoes to yachts, along with tents on the lawn selling merchandise, live entertainment from Lise White and Friends, and a variety of food vendors offering tastes of barbecue, whitefish, and kettle corn. Spectators all around took out their phones and cameras to capture photographs of many unique boats on display. Many past Best in Show winners were invited back to take part in the special anniversary celebration. Among the featured boats was Breezing Thru, owned by Charles “Chuck” Letts Jr., one of the co-founders of the show. Years ago, after Breezing Thru won several awards at a large boat show in Clayton, New York, Mr. Letts and his friend, the late Ken Horsburgh, talked about the possibility of hosting a similar show in Les Cheneaux. They knew that there were many antique wooden boats in the area and thought that the community would enjoy, and also benefit from, the show. Forty years later, the success of the show has proven them right.


Among the boats on display was this 36’8”, 18,425-pound motor lifeboat likely used by the Coast Guard between the 1920s and 1960s. It is being restored by Mertaugh Boat Works. The restoration will likely be complete in 2019 and then it will be featured in the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point. Among the boats on display was this 36’8”, 18,425-pound motor lifeboat likely used by the Coast Guard between the 1920s and 1960s. It is being restored by Mertaugh Boat Works. The restoration will likely be complete in 2019 and then it will be featured in the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point. “We certainly didn’t expect the show to turn into what it has today,” said Mr. Letts. “In retrospect, it’s not surprising because people have a special affinity for their boats. Antique cars are similar, but I think there is something different about boats.”

Tom Flood (left) and friend Jack Beatley relax in the cockpit of Wuzz-a-Fuzz, owned by Mr. Flood and his wife Mary, during the 40th Annual Les Cheneaux Islands Antique Wooden Boat Show Saturday, August 12, at Hessel Marina. Wuzz-a-Fuzz is a 1947 31-foot Hacker that the Floods have owned since 2001.Breezing Thru, a 1930, 26-foot Hacker-Craft speedboat, was a significant part of Mr. Letts’ childhood. His father, Charles Letts Sr., purchased the boat when Mr. Letts was just three years old. When Mr. Letts’ had left home to serve in the Navy during World War II, his father had sold the boat, much to the disappointment of his son. After more than 20 years, Mr. Letts tracked down the boat in a junkyard in Connecticut, purchased it, brought it back to Cedarville, and began its restoration. It was restored by Tassier Boat Works, and took four years to complete. Mr. Letts has owned it ever since and hopes one day to pass it down to his sons. A photograph of Breezing Thru was the inspiration for the boat show poster created by local artists John and Diana Grenier. Mr. and Mrs. Grenier were on hand to sign the posters. Breezing Thru earned a second place feature boat award, while Garfield, a 1932 33-foot Gar Wood owned by William Parfet of Bay Harbor, was awarded first place feature boat. Garfield was last year’s Best in Show winner.


At left: Phyllis De- Looff, a longtime Les Cheneaux resident and Boat Show organizer, enjoyed the show from the perspective of a spectator, not having any responsibility at the show for the first time in years. She stops here to check out the 100-year-old Chief Mackinac, once owned by her late brother, Ray Ackerman. She was the chairperson of the boat show committee from 1980-1989. She now lives in Pickerington, Ohio, but still summers in Hessel. “I absolutely love it here,” said Mrs. DeLooff. At left: Phyllis De- Looff, a longtime Les Cheneaux resident and Boat Show organizer, enjoyed the show from the perspective of a spectator, not having any responsibility at the show for the first time in years. She stops here to check out the 100-year-old Chief Mackinac, once owned by her late brother, Ray Ackerman. She was the chairperson of the boat show committee from 1980-1989. She now lives in Pickerington, Ohio, but still summers in Hessel. “I absolutely love it here,” said Mrs. DeLooff. 
Island Queen, 1919 26’ boat, owned by the Dupre Brothers of Goat Island, won the Water Wonderland Chapter/ACBS Most Original Award. The boat’s make and model are unknown, but its history, explained to a judge by Jeff Dupre, was intriguing enough to earn an award. Judges based their decisions on many factors, but the history and stories behind them were of particular interest. Island Queen, 1919 26’ boat, owned by the Dupre Brothers of Goat Island, won the Water Wonderland Chapter/ACBS Most Original Award. The boat’s make and model are unknown, but its history, explained to a judge by Jeff Dupre, was intriguing enough to earn an award. Judges based their decisions on many factors, but the history and stories behind them were of particular interest. Another of the returning boats was Chief Mackinac, Best in Show winner from 2004 and 2008. Chief Mackinac is a custom 1917 Consolidated Speedway 32-foot launch owned by John and Becky Allen of Gull Lake, Minnesota. Chief Mackinac turned 100 years old this year, and has spent 87 of those 100 years in the Les Cheneaux Islands. The boat was owned by the Seiberling family for more than 30 years, and then traded into Mertaugh Boat Works before being sold to the late Ray Ackerman. After Mr. Ackerman suffered a stroke, the boat sat in storage for almost 40 years before it was repurchased and preserved by Dan and his brother, the late Tom Mertaugh in the early 1990s. The Allens purchased the boat in 2004 and have brought it back to Hessel several times, winning Best of Show twice and a host of other awards. This year, the boat was awarded first place in the launch class.


At left: Coastie the Safety Boat was one of the many boats taking part in the 40th annual Les Cheneaux Islands Antique Wooden Boat Show. Coastie was patrolling the area, entertaining children and cooling people off with some water. Elise Roberts of Fenton (left) and Danielle Gabriel of Metamora stop to pose for a photograph with Coastie. Elise’s grandmother, Linda Roberts, attended the first boat show in 1978 and had not returned until this year. “The show is great, and I always wanted to get back up here. It was on our bucket list,” she said. At left: Coastie the Safety Boat was one of the many boats taking part in the 40th annual Les Cheneaux Islands Antique Wooden Boat Show. Coastie was patrolling the area, entertaining children and cooling people off with some water. Elise Roberts of Fenton (left) and Danielle Gabriel of Metamora stop to pose for a photograph with Coastie. Elise’s grandmother, Linda Roberts, attended the first boat show in 1978 and had not returned until this year. “The show is great, and I always wanted to get back up here. It was on our bucket list,” she said. 
Enticer, a 1935 85-foot Trumpy Yacht, was one of 130 boats on display during the “Best of 40” Antique Wooden Boat Show in Hessel. The Cruiser class was just one of 19 classes of boats on display at the show. Enticer, a 1935 85-foot Trumpy Yacht, was one of 130 boats on display during the “Best of 40” Antique Wooden Boat Show in Hessel. The Cruiser class was just one of 19 classes of boats on display at the show. This year’s Best in Show winner was one of its other returning boats, the Antoinette V, which also won the award in 2013. It joins Chief Mackinac, and S.L. Puffin (1979 and 1981) as the rare two-time winners of the award. Antoinette V is a 1929 26’ Kramer/Hacker owned by John and Amy Zea of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. It was designed by John Hacker and built by the Kramer boat company. Antoinette V was built for Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak, who had a series of boats all named Antoinette. The Antoinette V was built to be a special racer, but it was used most often for relaxation. Mr. Cermak owned it from 1929 until his death in 1933.

The Zeas purchased the boat in 1994, began restoring it in 2006, finishing in 2010. Doug Morin of Morin Boats in Bay City led the restoration efforts. Mr. Zea told The St. Ignace News that he considers the Hessel show one of the best for wooden boats in the country. The boat was also awarded first place in the racer class.


Jerry Wygant of Forest Gems was part of the Festival of Arts during the Antique Wooden Boat Show in Hessel. Mr. Wygant creates custom wooden jewelry. Here, he talks to a customer about the designs of his wooden bracelets. Jerry Wygant of Forest Gems was part of the Festival of Arts during the Antique Wooden Boat Show in Hessel. Mr. Wygant creates custom wooden jewelry. Here, he talks to a customer about the designs of his wooden bracelets. The show often features owners who travel to many of the same types of shows every summer. Bill and Karen Ballard, Steve Shoop, Greg Ranney, and Michele Verhey are part of a group of friends from several states who travel to different boat shows together. They’ve been doing this for 10 years.

“We’re basically on a new lake every day during the summer,” said Mr. Shoop. “When you grow up on the lake, you just can’t get away from it.”

Mr. Shoop is from Minneapolis, and is the owner of Miss Minneapolis IV, a 1948 22-foot Hacker-Craft. His boat was awarded first place in the Utility, 21-24-foot class. Mr. and Mrs. Ballard, from Traverse City, own Karen Ann, a 1954 19’6” Century. They say they enjoy all of the activity on the water.

While the show attracts boaters and boat enthusiasts from all over, it also attracts non-boaters who find the antique boats and the show atmosphere fascinating. David and Julie Vaughn and Bob and Kay Pagels just met the morning of the show at their hotel in St. Ignace and decided to enjoy the show together. Both couples had already planned to attend separately, but said it was more fun enjoying it with others.

Many spectators enjoyed a channel cruise offered by Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry through the Les Cheneaux Islands. The cruise lasted approximately one and a half hours. Star Line also offered ferry service to the show from Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island. A youth tent offered activities for youth ages 12 and younger, and was led by volunteers from the Maritime Museum. Activities included sailboat kits, sand art, games, crafts, and puzzles. More than 100 youth visited the tent.

“It was a beautiful day and a great show,” said Barb Smith, one of the show’s organizers.


View Finder, a 2016 18-foot homebuilt Down Easter owned by David Hurd, shows off its sparkling blue color and relaxing vibe with a table and wine glasses set up aboard. View Finder, a 2016 18-foot homebuilt Down Easter owned by David Hurd, shows off its sparkling blue color and relaxing vibe with a table and wine glasses set up aboard. Tom Flood (left) and friend Jack Beatley relax in the cockpit of Wuzz-a-Fuzz, owned by Mr. Flood and
his wife Mary, during the 40th Annual Les Cheneaux Islands Antique Wooden Boat Show Saturday, August
12, at Hessel Marina. Wuzz-a-Fuzz is a 1947 31-foot Hacker that the Floods have owned since 2001.Tom Flood (left) and friend Jack Beatley relax in the cockpit of Wuzz-a-Fuzz, owned by Mr. Flood and his wife Mary, during the 40th Annual Les Cheneaux Islands Antique Wooden Boat Show Saturday, August 12, at Hessel Marina. Wuzz-a-Fuzz is a 1947 31-foot Hacker that the Floods have owned since 2001.

At left: Kurt and Sue Swanson stand next to a Schwinn Stingray bicycle Mr. Swanson made entirely out of wood. He entered this bike, along with two others, as part of a piece called “The Race,” in the 2015 Art- Prize 7 in Grand Rapids, earning him a top-20 finish in one of the largest art competitions in the world. Mr. Swanson is the owner of Always August Designs, designing custom handcrafted wood furniture for homes and businesses. The Swansons were in Hessel as part of the Les Cheneaux Islands Antique Wooden Boat Show and Festival of the Arts. At left: Kurt and Sue Swanson stand next to a Schwinn Stingray bicycle Mr. Swanson made entirely out of wood. He entered this bike, along with two others, as part of a piece called “The Race,” in the 2015 Art- Prize 7 in Grand Rapids, earning him a top-20 finish in one of the largest art competitions in the world. Mr. Swanson is the owner of Always August Designs, designing custom handcrafted wood furniture for homes and businesses. The Swansons were in Hessel as part of the Les Cheneaux Islands Antique Wooden Boat Show and Festival of the Arts.

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