The story starts around 1950 when I was 7 years old. My uncle, Louis Schlager, owned a 28 foot Chris Craft three cockpit runabout, which I think was build around 1929. Rumor had it that it had been previously owned by a movie star. The boat was kept in Hull Massachusetts where I spent my summers from age 5 to age 20.
|1929 Chris Craft 28' three cockpit runabout|
|The boat was named the Murray Wolf after his son|
Fast forward a few years to the late 50s. Louis' wife, Frances, was my mother's older sister and my mother and Frances were very close. As a result, we spent gobs of time with them in Newton and Hull. I became close to my uncle and began fishing with him along the banks of the Charles River in Millis Mass. We fished for carp in the spring and fall. It was great fun and Louis was an interesting man.
Around 1958, when I was 15, Louis bought a brand new 1958 Old Town Lapstrake 20 with a 50 HP Johnson outboard motor. As I recall, this boat was actually 18 feet long with a very wide 9 foot beam, which pounded on the slightest wave. Louis wanted to fish the waters off Boston Light and Nantasket Beach with his many fishing buddies. I went with him to purchase the boat and during that journey Louis made me an offer I could not refuse. If I would take him fishing on weekends and clean the boat, I could use it during the week and he would pay for the gas. WOW! The 50 HP was replaced the following year with a 75 Johnson. Top speed was 23 MPH and she cruised easily at 18. She was named the "Beverly K."
|A slightly smaller version of the Lapstrake 20. I think this is a 16|
Enter Lester Glawson and the Randy Boatshu. I met Lester soon after Louis acquired the Old Town. My recollection is that Lester had captained Louis' 28' Chris Craft and that is how they knew each other. Lester, a retired executive from Commonwealth Edison of Massachusetts, was the captain of the 50 foot Randy Boastshu that regularly tied up at the A Street Pier.
|50 foot Wheeler Promenade Deck Cockpit Motor Yacht, Circa 1957|
Sistership of the Randy Boatshu
Lester was an old salt who new the local waters (Boston Harbor, Massachusetts Bay and Cape Cod Bay). I learned a great deal about boating from Lester and became good friends with he and his wife Annie.
Fast story. In September of 1960 I helped Lester ride out Hurricane Donna. That adventure involved bringing the 50 from Boston Harbor Marina in 6 to 8 foot waves to the pier at Paragon Park on the Weir River. That pier was a perfect hurricane hole.
I graduated High School in 1961 and at the end of the summer I was offered a permanent berth on the 65 as first mate. I declined the job and returned to school. I suspect that I would not be the owner of Guided Discovery if I had gone south with them that winter. 1961 also proved to be the end of my boating for some time to come.
In 1972 I moved to Chicago to join the Pat Ryan & Associates. Little did I know it at the time but I would go on to have a 38 year career and spend the rest of my working life with that company and its later iterations (Aon and The Warranty Group). I retired in April of 2010.
From 1972 to 1984 my interest (actually avocation) was flying. That adventure started innocently with a conversation on the elevator with my neighbor as we descended from the 47th floor of McClurg Court Center. He mentioned that he had been flying that morning and I said that was something I always wanted to try and he said he was a flying instructor. By the time we reached the ground floor I had committed to an introductory lesson.
I got my private license in 1973 and my instrument ticket a year later. During my flying career I flew Cessnas (150, 172, 177), a Mooney (m64e), a Beechcraft M35, a 1965 Beechcraft Debonair C33 (owned for 3 years 1977-1980), a Rockwell 112TC, a Piper Cherokee Arrow Piper and finally a 1969 Beechcraft V35A (owned for 2 years 1982-1984). I ultimately racked up over 1,300 hours including 300 hours of actual instrument time and flew all over the United States. To this day I credit my knowledge of weather and navigation to the years that I flew.
|My actual 1965 Beechcraft Debonair N885T (repainted)|
225 Continental engine capable of 185 MPH
|1969 Beechcraft Bonanza (sistership)|
285 HP Continental engine capable of 200 MPH
Lesley's Toy: My first boat was a 1977 38 foot Hatteras Flybridge Double Cabin (FBDC) bought shortly after the airplane was sold. I owned her from 1984 to 1986 and used her to cruise Lake Michigan including a two week trip to Mackinac Island in 1983. The boat was berthed in Michigan City. A divorce ended this short boating segment.
|1977 38 Hattera Flybridge Double Cabin|
This is almost exactly what I owned.
- Overall length: 38' 4'
- Beam: 13' 7
- Displacement: 33,000 lbs
- Engines: Twin 300 HP gasoline
- Fuel capacity: 300 gallons.
- Water capacity: 150 gallons
- Holding Tank: 35 gallons
- Heads: 1
- Cabins: 2 (V-Bert and Aft Master)
- Sleeps: 6 (using the convertible sofa)
- Cruise speed 15 MPH
- Top Speed: 18 MPH
- Fuel Consumption at Cruise: 30 GPH
- Efficiency at Cruise: .5 GPM
- Equipment: Dual stations, Radar, VHF, Full flybridge enclosure, 8KW generator
Fast story: I took delivery in late June 1984 and soon after departed Chicago on a beautiful day with my wife (Gracie) and daughter (Lesley, age 1) for our in Michigan City's Trail Creek. About 5 miles out we encountered flies and as we proceeded southeast the flies got worse (as in the whole boat was covered with them). They were biting and we were forced to abandon the flybridge for the lower station in the salon. Unfortunately we had left the cabin door open the cabin was full of flies. We had a difficult 45 mile trip. About 5 miles from Michigan City the flies mysteriously disappeared. My thought was if this was typical of Lake Michigan then boating was not going to be much fun. Fortunately, it never happened again.
Soon after getting the 38 Hatteras I purchased a 10 ft Zodiac 310 inflatable with a Sears 9.9 HP. This particular model had wooden floorboards along with an inflatable keel. When deflated fit in a carrying bag. This allowed me to store it in the cabin when we were away from the boat. The 9.9 Sears outboard was also small enough to lift onto the boat. The Zodiac could be assembled and inflated in about 20 minutes. Alone, the little boat would cruise at close to 20 MPH. It was a blast and like all the dingies to follow became my favorite toy.
|Not the exact boat but very close. Mine was orange.|
Fast forward to 1996. Diana and I moved into a townhome at 1030 W. Wrightwood. We were exactly one mile from the lake and Wrightwood Avenue ended at Diversey Harbor. I decided it would be fun to have a 25 foot runabout at Diversey Harbor and put my name on the waiting list. Three years passed and I did not have a slip. So I called the Chicago Park District and asked when I might get one. The lady said "never." After a little discussion I learned that the only way to get into Diversey Harbor was from the Transfer List, which meant you had to have a slip at another Chicago harbor in order to transfer. So I agreed to take a slip in either Belmont or Montrose Harbor. A few months went by and in early May I got a call saying they had a 35 foot slip in Montrose. They gave me 24 hours to decide. I called my good friend Jim and asked if he wanted to go partners with me on a boat. He said yes and asked how big a boat could be put in the slip. I though this was the equivalent of who is burried in Grant's tomb but called the Park District for the official word. Thirty seven feet they said. I quick conversation with Jim and we were ready to go.
We decided to buy a 35 to 37 foot boat, set a budget of $50,000 each and started searching. We looked at a number of boats including a 1993 Sea Ray 440 Sundancer (for $210,000). Notwithstanding the fact that it would not fit in the slip, Jim went and bought it without consulting with me. Hello! We are over budget and over sized. No problem. Jim goes to the Park District and just like that we have a 45 foot slip in Diversey Harbor. We named her "Magic."
Explanatory Note: The Park District waived the 2 foot limit as our slip was on an extra wide fairway that led to the launch ramp.
|Our 1993 Sea Ray 440 Sundancer named Magic in Charlevoix, MI|
- Overall length: 51'
- Beam: 13' 11'
- Displacement: 25,000 lbs
- Engines: Twin Cummins 300 HP diesels
- Fuel capacity: 400 gallons.
- Water capacity: 100 gallons
- Holding Tank: 20 gallons
- Heads: 1
- Cabins: 1 (V-berth)
- Sleeps: 4
- Cruise speed 25 MPH
- Top Speed: 28 MPH
- Fuel Consumption at Cruise: 27 GPH
- Efficiency at Cruise: .90 GPM
- Equipment: Radar, 2 GPS and Chartplotter, VHF, Full camper enclosure, 8KW generator
The 48 Sundancer was my idea. The boat had been introduced in 2005 and I thought we might pick up a used one. I called Jim and asked him if he wanted to upgrade. The answer was "Yes!"
So on a wintery day in February I took Diana to Skipper Buds to look at a new 48 on the showroom floor. She fell in love with the boat and requested that we buy it ourselves. Oops. That's a lot of money. Jim agreed to end the partnership, sold me his interest in the 440 and we bought the 48. Oops. The 48 was almost too tall to fit under the bridge at Diversey. (Note: Diversey is west of Lake Shore Drive and the bridge under the harbor entrance does not open). No problem. I made a slip in Belmont Harbor an unwritten condition of the sale and Skipper Buds used their influence to get me into Belmont. Oops. the 48 had an overall length of 51' feet. This proved to be a big problem in two ways even though the Park District had waived the 2 foot limit. We were next to a very wide sailboat (less than 3 feet of clearance) and the anchor obstructed the dock creating a hazard if you were not paying attention. The Harbor Manager required that the anchor be lowered to the dock (a pain) and I told Diana that it was not a case of if we would hit the sailboat it was merely how many times. Well we never hit the sailboat and wound up making many good friends in Belmont. We loved it there (and it was only 2 miles from the our townhome).
|Sea Ray Stock Photo|
|The 48 docked on H-dock the day after we bought her|
|2006 48 Sea Ray Sundancer off Streeterville in Chicago|
Note the full camper enclosure
- Overall length: 51'
- Beam: 14' 8'
- Displacement: 34,000 lbs empty
- Engines: Twin Cummins QSC 540 HP diesels
- Fuel capacity: 400 gallons.
- Water capacity: 100 gallons
- Holding Tank: 60 gallons
- Heads: 2
- Cabins: 2 (V-berth master and aft stateroom)
- Sleeps: 6 (using convertible salon settee)
- Cruise speed 30 MPH
- Top Speed: 33 MPH
- Fuel Consumption at Cruise: 44 GPH
- Efficiency at Cruise: .70 GPM
- Equipment: Radar, 2 GPS and Chartplotter, AIS, Fishfinder, Sirius Satellite Weather, VHF, Full camper enclosure, Onan 11.5 KW generator, Satellite TV, Hydraulic Swim Platform
We cruised Lake Michigan from 2006 to 2010 when, in October, we departed for our one and a half year 6,150 mile Great Loop adventure. See blog articles for further details.
Time for another dingy. In 2007, I purchased a Caribe DL11 RIB (Rigid Inflatable) with a 30 HP Tohatsu engine. We named it Kodi's (which got misspelled by the signmaker as"Kodies."). The decision to purchase this particular rig was based on the 800 pound weight capacity of the hydraulic swim platform. Boat and motor weighed in at exactly 800 pounds and fit perfectly on the platform. I knew it would work when I saw it on a 2005 48. Cost in 2007 was about $13,000. This boat had a top speed of 30 MPH with myself aboard and would still plane and hold 24 with Diana and Kodi. However, getting the boat on plane required shifting weight around. Note: She would not get up on plane with 3 or 4 adults on board.
Kodi loved the Caribe and we used it extensively on Lake Michigan The hydraulic platform made launching and retrieving very easy. We could be in or out of the water less than 5 minutes.. We used the Caribe extensively on our Great Loop adventure. It proved our principal mode of transport to restaurants, stores and food markets along the water.
|Caribe DL11 on the hydraulic swim platform|
Commentary of the 63's tender (aka the dingy): The AB DLX 13 with a 60 HP Yamaha was one of options available to us when building the 63, We chose it as it was the biggest one that the boat deck and davit could handle. It too is named Kodi's but this time spelled correctly. The AB rig has exceeded my expectations.
|Stock photo of AB DLX 13 underway|
|The AB DLX 13 can carry five passengers|
|Guided Discovery (photo by Billy Back)|
Note the tender on the boat deck
You can also read about her in the October issue of Passagemaker Magazine.