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Thread: The Grebes of the 50's and 60's

  1. #1
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    Default The Grebes of the 50's and 60's

    Here's a research project on Grebe boats. I worked as a teenager at Henry C. Grebe & Co. on the North branch of the Chicago river, across from Riverview Amusement park in the 50's and 60s, and would like to enlist your help. Wondered if there were any members or owners that might provide any information.

    These were among the finest crafted yachts in the business and among the most seaworthy. As a poor kid in the city, I had no understanding of what life might become, however thanks to a wonderful sea dog of a Dad, founder of a Sea Scout ship, pushed into leadership positions beyond my capabilities, the teachers of Lane Tech and prof of NIU, Grebe's leadership, Maggie, Tom Leonard, Corey Berg-Olsen and others, I could stand in the wheelhouse of 18 of these fine vessels, chauffeur owner's wives shopping, learn to love the beautiful ladies we built, imagine a future, and be a part of history. What an opportunity and an absolute blessing!

    Now trying to give back a bit to those interested, trying to find most all of those 18, actually 16 now as one was destroyed by fire a couple of years ago and one by Hurricane Hugo. Thanks to Ted Hoheisel of Elegante' in Seattle and anonymous Master Mariners, who have allowed me aboard to see those that exist preserved today, that we had a piece of, (if only in the white lead plugging of the hull planks and varnish for plugs in the decks, graduating to the transom, where every error showed, then to the fancy (can't think of a better word) rope work on stanchions and lines) in the 50's and 60's.

    Thanks in advance for your assistance. Hope to post a couple of pictures shortly that heretofor haven't been seen.
    Don

  2. #2
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    Default Re: The Grebes of the 50's and 60's

    Hope you get some leads on these Don. Kathy

  3. #3
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    Default Re: The Grebes of the 50's and 60's

    I was engineer on a 65 footer named Full Moon. She is I, believe a 1954 and was chartering in Baltimore.She was indeed a heavily built vessel. Gone North now, I think. I still see the former owner, he is a good friend.
    Last edited by Bob Adams; 06-19-2014 at 05:56 AM.
    Ratus ratus bilgeous snipeous!

    You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
    Mahatma Gandhi

  4. #4
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    Default Re: The Grebes of the 50's and 60's

    Fine boats,... Looking forward to seeing pictures.. Thanks!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: The Grebes of the 50's and 60's

    Quote Originally Posted by CONLEEDA View Post
    Hope you get some leads on these Don. Kathy
    We're getting some responses, and tracking some of those I worked on. What a kick!
    D

  6. #6
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    Default Re: The Grebes of the 50's and 60's

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Adams View Post
    I was engineer on a 65 footer named Full Moon. She is I, believe a 1954 and was chartering in Baltimore.She was indeed a heavily built vessel. Gone North now, I think. I still see the former owner, he is a good friend.
    I read in a police blotter report recently that a 65 was reposessed by a finance company. Then contacted the harbor in Boston, and was told that they thought it was Full Moon. Still following up.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: The Grebes of the 50's and 60's

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Kusterer View Post
    I read in a police blotter report recently that a 65 was reposessed by a finance company. Then contacted the harbor in Boston, and was told that they thought it was Full Moon. Still following up.
    That's her. She was in Boston.
    Ratus ratus bilgeous snipeous!

    You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
    Mahatma Gandhi

  8. #8
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    Default Re: The Grebes of the 50's and 60's

    Just won an Ebay auction for this ad. I have an original Corey Berg-Olsen autographed picture of the Millie Jean, Note the other boats on this one. Still looking to locate all of them. 54' Amalia D, awaiting up to date word. 65' Bonte, Now I believe Lady Hornblower, a charter vessel, harbored in Marina Del Rey CA, 47' Conleeda, and 73' Neval. which I think is Rumblefish, another charter vessel in Seattle. Would appreciate any and all information.
    Best,
    Don




  9. #9
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    Default Re: The Grebes of the 50's and 60's

    Visited Chicago this week, and the first boat I worked on from start to finish, Lady Grebe formerly a spec 47, Rushmere, now Lady Grebe, available for charter from one of Chicago's classic boating families 3rd generation. Thanks Bob, for your trust, and your hospitality. Apparently my jpg files are too large, we'll have to skinny them down. You can look at her if you wish @

    http://www.cruisechicago.com/our_fleet/lady_grebe/

    D

  10. #10
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    Default Re: The Grebes of the 50's and 60's

    Just returned from Manitowoc and the Wisconsin Great Lakes Boat building museum. This is a must visit place if you are interested in history, boats, submarines or anything nautical. My interest at first was Grebe, and I was amazed by the amount of other information available. The Grebe yard apparently donated all of the records and a lot of memorabilia when it closed in the 90's. I was able to obtain and am awaiting copies of designs from several boats along with the original orders. Will post what I can for those interested. There are lightweight wooden molds for stanchions, Ensign and bowsprit flag staffs, and some of the chrome plated, brass and bronze fittings on the Grebe cruisers and earlier Minesweepers, as those parts were not at the time mass produced and each piece had to be cast and finished individually, imagine that with today's knowledge, and it was only 60 years ago. I was awed by the craftsmanship of the molds themselves.

    In addition to being able to research much, learned a lot about the shipbuilding of the area at the museum, and toured the only remaining copy of one of the submarines that was built in Manitowoc during WWII. There were 28 built there and floated down the Chicago River, the Illinois and the Mississippi on a custom built drydock, as the St. Lawrence was 15-20 years away in the future. Burger models, early Great Lakes steamers, and there is the only remaining Great Lakes coal fired steamer, The SS Badger, still taking cars and passengers from Manitowoc, 1.5 hours N of Milwaukee, to Ludington MI, a 4 hour trip, April to October.

    Have been visiting Upper WI and the UP of Michigan for 60 years, and haven't had this much fun in 3 days. Would love to have a model of one of the boats I worked on, but now in my early 70's and no interest from my kids, am reconsidering. It is super to now have "every day a Saturday". Recently disengaged for the most part from my full time duties in the medical business, taking some time to figure out my next career step. Note: Saturday hours are now billable. <GGG>

  11. #11
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    Default Re: The Grebes of the 50's and 60's

    Don, it's amazing how much info you've been able to track on these old Grebe's. How exciting this trip must have been for you. I've been in Florida for the past week and seeing the superyachts docked in the Intercoastal along A1A between Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale and at Pier 66 makes our beloved wooden boats look like toys in comparison.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: The Grebes of the 50's and 60's

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Kusterer View Post
    Visited Chicago this week, and the first boat I worked on from start to finish, Lady Grebe formerly a spec 47, Rushmere, now Lady Grebe, available for charter from one of Chicago's classic boating families 3rd generation. Thanks Bob, for your trust, and your hospitality. Apparently my jpg files are too large, we'll have to skinny them down. You can look at her if you wish @

    http://www.cruisechicago.com/our_fleet/lady_grebe/

    D


    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

    The power of the web: Anyone can post anything on the web
    The weakness of the web: Anyone can post anything on the web.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: The Grebes of the 50's and 60's

    Thanks for the post off the site Nick. The interesting thing about the hull plate, is that despite the fact that this was originally about a $120,000 boat in the 50's, the hull numbers were hand stamped (not engraved) into the brass with a steel die, and sometimes it wasn't done as well as others, hand done is not always perfect, but gives each piece character. I can relate, as some of the plugs I put into her teak decks weren't perfect either and one can see both the larger black varnish lines around them (when they had to be done over if not aligned or chipped off perfectly) , as well as a once in a while, an oversize by 1/16" plug on a long piece of teak, as the edge of the hole was damaged, and we couldn't tear out a 12' piece of teak. I can remember the "heavy chewing" more like a gnawing effect, leaving not much left, the first time. <GGG>
    Don
    Last edited by Don Kusterer; 09-06-2014 at 09:54 AM.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: The Grebes of the 50's and 60's

    Kathy,
    Try this link on for size, then go to the Burger boat and Palmer Johnson sites and take a look at what the new designs look like. We are no slouches for design here, along with the gold one reputed locally to belong to Val Kilmer, there was another under construction with 2 large holes in the bow looking like bow thruster possibilities @ Palmer Johnson. Imagine the length with those. Burger was building an ocean going research vessel, after completing a sister sightseeing ship for the company that owns the Lady Grebe in Chicago. Not sure that this belongs on the Wooden Boat site, but beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and the beautiful wooden ladies of the 50's and 60's can never be replaced. I only hope that there are some caring people to keep these ladies alive. The one in the link below is a Palmer Johnson150'

    http://fox11online.com/2014/07/22/palmer-johnson-launches-new-yacht/
    http://www.burgerboat.com/ http://www.palmerjohnson.com/

    I was surprised to find the Fincantieri name on the sign of the old Manitowoc Marine, but am 5 years behind the times, and they are building Coast Guard and Navy vessels again in a partnership with Lockheed Martin. Obviously I have not been following Great Lakes Shipbuilding.
    Last edited by Don Kusterer; 09-06-2014 at 10:02 AM.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: The Grebes of the 50's and 60's

    Millie Jean, off Burnham harbor Chicago on Sea trials 1959
    Attached Images Attached Images

  16. #16
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    Default Re: The Grebes of the 50's and 60's

    I found this link. Is this the Millie Jean?
    http://www.bewildered.com/CrewedCharter.htm

  17. #17
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    Default Re: The Grebes of the 50's and 60's

    Millie Jean now Vagabond D' Azur M.V. "Vagabond D'Azur"

  18. #18
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    Default Re: The Grebes of the 50's and 60's

    I know Ted quite well and as he had Elegante and lived aboard for so many years, have also had the pleasure of coming aboard and riding on her on several occasions. These are wonderful boats, commodious and comfortable and a real pleasure to see and use.
    One of the most enduring qualities of an old wooden boat is the smell it imparts to your clothing.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: The Grebes of the 50's and 60's

    Amalia D is my newest boat and also my first wooden oneFB_IMG_1522243613164.jpg

  20. #20
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    Default Re: The Grebes of the 50's and 60's

    Wow. Beautiful boat. Built same year as the Conleeda in 1958. Don K. will enjoy seeing this as he was one of the builders of the Grebe's in 1958. Kathy

  21. #21
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    Default Re: The Grebes of the 50's and 60's

    One that docks on the river at the Canal Street Marina in Chicago is named the "Robert Allen" owned by a club of folks. I can put you in touch if you would like.
    Ken

    kbowen314@earthlink.net

  22. #22
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    Default Re: The Grebes of the 50's and 60's

    I know the Amalia D - it was in my family. Would love to share my information and know where she is currently.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: The Grebes of the 50's and 60's

    I know this the boat and the background

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