Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Boats and the Lights That Guide Them



Some of the most beautiful and iconic pleasure boats in the world have a lot of Blue Water Area history to them.

At the age of 13 years old Christopher Columbus Smith built his first boat in the city of Algonac. By 1881, his skiffs had been reknown across the Great Lakes, so him and his brother Frank went into building boats full time. In 1922, Smith and his family formed the Chris Smith and Son Boat Company, producing fast and economically priced runabouts for the general public. During World War II the company, now known as Chris Craft, the company 12,000 military vessels such as patrol boats, utility launches, and rescue vessels for the United States Navy and Army.

Following World War II, the American economy started to grow immensely. Families had more money to spend on fun things.  Boats were high on a lot of people's lists and the company's vessels, from the finest mahogany, their boats were considered to be the best available. Though Chris Craft built custom vessels for superstars such as Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, even their lower-priced boats were known for their high quality by using woods like mahogany and teak as well as having many luxury items most other boats did not come with.

Within ten years Chris Craft became virtually synonymous with pleasure boating, offering 159 different models and became the sales leader in many categories of small civilian powerboats.


This Saturday, you can see plenty of those models plus many more on display at the Blue Water Antique & Classic Boat Show being held at Port Huron's River St. Marina. Along with the many classic, wooden boats made in Michigan as well as other interesting buoyant beauties to marvel at there will be free antique boat rides from 11 am until 2 pm, a marketplace, shore fun, entertainment and children’s events.


Before GPS and all the other navigational available at a watercraft's reach these days, lighthouses played an integral role in guiding the way along the coast. While many lighthouses now have private owners, they still operate as beacons along the shores as well as functional historical sites overseen by the US Coast Guard. One of those is the Port Sanilac Lighthouse. The octagonal shaped structure, built in 1886, stands 59 feet tall and has been opened for tours only once. Until this Saturday, September 10th, that is because the public is invited to the Port Sanilac Lighthouse Open House and Tour to celebrate it's 130th birthday from 10am-6pm. This rare opportunity gives visitors a chance the original 1886 classical lighthouse Fresnel Lens that has sat on top of the tower one last time as the the US Coast Guard will be replacing it with a new LED light in the following weeks.

If you'd like to visit more than one lighthouse this weekend, you can also take the boat taxi ride in to take the Harbor Beach lighthouse tour from 10am-1pm on Saturday or climb the 94 steps to the top of the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse in Port Huron Friday through Sunday between 11am and 5pm.

Other Blue Water Area events this weekend include The Port Huron Hobo Fest on Friday and Saturday, The Fall Craft Show in St Clair, Algonac's Annual Car Show and the Great Lakes Tattoo Expo at the Blue Water Convention Center in Port Huron.

Find out more about the many things happening around the area at our events page.

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