Re: Yacht Helene

From: Keith Steffke
Location: "Downriver"
Remote Name:
Date: 06.28.05
Time: 04:27:28 PM


Hi, Rob: The 106 foot yacht "Helene" is one of the last, classic steel-hulled yachts from the 1920's "commuter yacht" era, still left on the lakes. Built in 1927 by the DeFoe Boat and Motor works in Bay City, she was constructed as a "temporary" vessel until a larger one could be built for the owner, Charles F. Sorenson - general manager of the Ford Motor Company. The Deane family, owners of both Nicholsons Marine Terminals and Shamrock Chartering, usually keep the vessel in Lake St. Clair during the sailing season. On January 1st, of this year she expereienced a fire while in Lay-up at their Ecorse yard that completely destroyed the pilothouse. My father, Walter J. Froehlich of E & W Cabinets in Romulus, and I were hired to restore the pilothouse to its original condition. Working from original plans that we were able to find, and producing our own working drawings from the bruned-out remains, we were able to put elevations together to replicate the original structure. The exterior woodwork is teak salvaged from a U.S. Navy vessel and the structural members are of straight grained (flawless!) Douglass Fir. The Deane's and Capt. Bill Graham (her master) are taking this opportunity to upgrade the electrical systems and other odd items that need to be done. As master woodworkers and marine historians we have really enjoyed this challenge! We hope to be done with her by the end of July so that she will be able to salvage some of the sailing season....Hope this helps & Regards, Keith

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