Our fellow Woody Boaters up in the Pacific Northwest region of Washington State are an amazing group of people, with an equally amazing amount of knowledge and talent when it comes to every aspect of the antique & classic boating hobby… From vintage hydroplanes and raceboats, to classic wooden cruisers, to runabouts & utilities, to vintage marine engines and pretty much everything else in the hobby. They are passionate about their boats, their hobby and the rich boating history of the area.
So when it comes time to gather together socially, “they do it their way.” The Pacific Northwest Chapter ACBS has a tradition of gathering together each December to celebrate the holidays in a special way… either at an area boat house or aboard a classic boat. This year (last Wednesday night) over 40 people from the chapter celebrated the annual holiday gathering in grand style aboard the classic motor yacht M.V. Olympus near Seattle, Washington.
Chapter President and restorer Robert DaPron commented – “Tonight we enjoyed dinner & drinks aboard the M.V. Olympus and were also treated to a tour of the impressive 1929 fantail motor yacht. The 92′ yacht is absolutely pristine – with runabout quality in its finish. Her owner Diane VanDerbeek of Seattle keeps and maintains the yacht which, when not cruising or being privately chartered, is kept in a custom boathouse and has a full time captain that takes care of the boat. A perfect way to celebrate our annual holiday gathering with our fellow classic boaters” – Robert DaPron
Here’s the interesting history behind this beautiful 80 year-old classic motor yacht courtesy of the Classic Yacht Association.
The yacht was launched on May 14, 1929 at the New York Yacht, Launch and Engine Company yard in Morris Heights, New York. At the time of her launching, her original name is “Junaluska” in honor of the beautiful lake in North Carolina contained within the vast land holdings where her first owner spent his childhood summers.
George Callendine Heck, who commissioned the yacht to be the largest ever built by the yard, was a partner in a Wall Street investment firm. During the glamorous 1920’s, Mr. Heck intended to use the yacht to commute from his two estates on Long Island to Wall Street, asking for her low profile design in order to avoid having the bridges opened during his commute to work.
The M.V. Olympus, a 1929 – 92′ fantail motor yacht, was built on the Hudson River by New York Yacht, Launch & Engine Co., she served several owners on the East Coast before being brought out to California by silent movie star Anita Stewart. Like many large vessels, she served in the military during World War II, when her beautiful brightwork was painted navy gray and she patrolled the Northwest coastal waters.
After the war she was acquired by the State of Washington Department of Fisheries for the stated purpose of serving as a fisheries patrol vessel, but was in fact used as a yacht by Governor Mon Walgren. He re-christened the yacht “Olympus” in a ceremony held at the Rosario mansion on Orcas Island.
During the State’s ownership, President Harry S. Truman and other political dignitaries were aboard many times. The yachting expenditures were carefully hidden in the Fisheries Department budget until some agressive investigative reporting brought to the public’s attention that over $100,000 had been spent refurbishing the yacht. Walgren lost his bid for re-election, and the new governor immediately ordered the yacht sold. From that point forward the M.V. Olympus has been privately owned and operated in Washington State.
The maintenance of this historical vessel and researching her colorful history are top priorities for her owner Diane VanDerbeek of Seattle. M.V. Olympus is available for charters in the Pacific Northwest – For more information you can go to their website by Clicking Here or visit www.yachtolympus.com – It’s worth checking out the website to explore how beautifully restored this boat is, here’s another link (Click Here) to see the different areas of the boat via an interactive map including the premium guest accommodations on board.
Diane VanDerbeek (the owner of M.V. Olympus) even found the original tender to the M.V. Olympus, the Junaluska, which is a 16′ motor launch, which underwent a major restoration and was returned to the M.V. Olympus after being separated for 61 years. Junaluska was also originally built by NY Launch & Engine Co. in 1929-30 and features a Lycoming 4-cylinder gas engine. The launch was restored by our friend and premium restorer Alan Thomle of Stanwood, WA, 2003.
M.V. Olympus photos for this story were provided courtesy of NWClassicYacht’s Photostream/Flickr – Captain Rick Etsell photos.
A fascinating wooden boat with quite a history – Thanks to fellow Woody Boater Robert DaPron for sharing this story with us today.