Today we have a great story from fellow Woody Boater Wes Yandt in Spokane, Washington. If you have ever attended a classic boat show in the eastern Washington or northern Idaho area in the last few years, you have no doubt met Wes Yandt and his father Ron. Or if you are planning to attend the big ACBS International event in Coeur d’Alene this September, you will find Wes & Ron hard at work with the host Inland Empire Chapter ACBS.
The venue for the ACBS International show is the spectacular Coeur d’Alene Resort, which is where Yandt Boat Works was originally located. Wes is also the Editor of the Inland Empire Chapter newsletter.
Keeping the tradition of Yandt Boats alive, a few years ago Wes & Ron found and restored a 1963 Yandt 21′ Utility, hauled it down to Lake Tahoe for the 2011 Concours and were awarded a 1st Place in the Utility Class – Quite an achievement for an amateur restoration.
The late Jim McGoldrick wrote a great story on the history of Yandt Boat Works which first appeared in The Real Runabouts Volume VII – Here’s an excerpt: Yandt Boat Works of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho was a small family operation that was started in 1910 by Robert Yandt (Sr.) who was born in Germany in 1882 and who migrated to Minnesota at the age of eight. He grew up there and helped build strip boats until 1907 when he moved to Potlatch, Idaho to work in the lumber mill and then on to Coeur d’Alene as a machine setter for the Blackwell Lumber Company.
By 1910 however, he was devoting most of his time to building boats of all descriptions that were in heavy demand in the young and blooming inland northwest community. From 1919 to the late 1930’s the company was also heavily involved in designing & building speedboats, and racing them.
Yandt’s major thrust, however, was that of building fast runabouts for individuals and for the water taxi trade. Many of the summer residents at Lake Coeur d’Alene had no roads to their choice vacation spots and almost all of the people and supplies moved by boat from the Coeur d’Alene city dock which was the head of ground transportation. Mail and groceries also were delivered by boat. You can Click Here to see Jim’s entire article, which is great!
To serve the people of Lake Coeur d’Alene in the early days, entrepreneur Glen Powell created a “water taxi” company which utilized custom built Yandt boats. People also loved taking speed boat rides on the lake. As the story goes, beginning in 1934 Yandt Boat Works was also a Gar Wood Dealer, and Glen Powell was impressed by the unique styling of the Gar Wood Streamliner with it roomy interior, thinking it would be perfect for selling speed boat rides to his customers. He asked Bob Yandt (Wes Yandt’s Uncle) to build him a purpose built speedboat similar to the stylish Gar Wood Streamliner, and “Skippy Jr” was born.
The Chrysler Crown powered “Skippy Jr” was a big hit back in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s providing popular speed boat rides (Taxi rides) on Lake Coeur d’Alene. When Wes & Ron decided to restore “The Uncle Bob” Wes scoured the Internet, old books, old magazine articles, etc for any vintage photos of Yandt Boat Works and their boats, to learn more about his family connection to his Great Uncle and the company. The photos in today’s story are just a few that Wes was able to locate, but during his search he began to notice photos of “Skippy Jr” Glen Powell’s storied Taxi boat.
However, one photo in particular stuck in his mind, this one (below) of a group of sailors on board “Skippy Jr”. In the early 1940’s sailors stationed up the road in nearby Sandpoint loved to go for speed boat rides during their R&R breaks.
And it appears that particular photo with the sailors on board “Skippy Jr” also inspired someone to create a post card of the area back in the 1940’s.
Matt decided to put his remarkable Photoshop skills to work to prove that the original black & white photo was probably used to create the rendering for the vintage post card. What do you think?
Now – this is where it starts to get crazy. When Ron Yandt visited the 1987 Coeur d’Alene Boat Show he came across a rare Yandt triple forward cockpit and snapped this photo of the boat with his wife Jane along side. I am not sure if Ron knew at the time that this was the original “Skippy Jr” or not. The boat was from the Seattle area and used on Lake Washington.
Fast forward to the summer of 2012 when one day they received a call from the boat’s owner to let them know he was considering selling the boat dues to health problems. Last fall Ron & Wes made a trip to Seattle to have a look at the boat, and it appeared that it needed some work and they decided to think about it for while, almost a year. According to the owner, the Yandt triple was used regularly on Lake Washington (near Seattle) up until 10 years ago, and was even in the water last year. Wes noted that at some point noted restorer Dave Lobb may have worked on the boat in the late 80’s or early 90’s (which is a good thing) when Dave’s shop Northwest Classic Boats was located in the Seattle area. It appeared to still have the original Chrysler Crown 6 and original 1938 V-drive.
After a year of thinking about the boat, Ron & Wes made the decision to buy “Skippy Jr” and bring her back to Spokane near where she was born in 1938. In order to preserve “Skippy Jr” to her original form, it always bothered Wes that he could not find any photos of the boat’s bow, or the original hardware arrangement, etc that was installed in 1938. And we all know how important it is to secure any type of original photographs before moving forward with the preservation work.
Here is what Wes said in his e-mail to us yesterday…
Matt / Texx – Just had to share this “Holy Cow” moment with you guys.
Someone figure out the odds for me. I can’t fathom it.
What are the odds of finding a 75 year old photograph for sale on eBay of your rare one-of-a-kind 75 year old boat, by a guy that has no idea what, where, or when it was taken?
We recently purchased another project boat (I really thought that we were smarter than this but…..). The boat is a 1938 Yandt 23′ Triple Forward Runabout with a Chrysler M2 V-Drive. It was built by my great uncle Bob Yandt on the shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene on the same ground that the world famous Coeur d’Alene resort sits today.
Steamboat Captain Glen Powell commissioned the boat for use on the lake as a water taxi. He used it as such for 6 years or so and then sold it to the locally famous Capt John Finney, who used it as a taxi and also as a mail boat.
My family and I learned this boat was in Seattle and for sale last year. We finally got up the nerve to take the plunge about a month ago. The boat is a knock off of the 1937 22′ Garwood Streamliner that Bob Yandt sold to one of his other customers. We have got it home now and are in the process of assessing its needs.
I have about a half dozen photos that I’ve collected over the years of the boat that have proven to be very valuable in determining how the boat originally was configured and what the deck hardware looked like. I did not however have any good photos of the boat from the front.
I was surfing eBay looking for info on old Gar Woods and found this listing yesterday. The guy that was listing it did not know anything about the photo other than the boat looked like an old Gar Wood and that the man in the boat was Glen Powell (must be written on the back of the photo). There is no question that this is our boat and I am sure that this photograph will end up helping solve some of the mysteries. For example the boat is currently configured with a plastic fuel tank under that forward deck. It looked suspicious to me that they would have put the fuel tank there originally but in the photo you can see a rag sticking out of what looks like the filler just forward of the bow light.
I can’t wait to get the photo so that I can really study it and would love to know how this guy ended up with the photo.
If this fate is any indication of how our project is going to go, I can’t wait to get started! – Wes Yandt
Now that’s a great story Wes, thanks for sharing it with us today. Proof again that you just never know what you will find if you look hard enough, or scour eBay. Congratulations on your new boat and good luck moving forward.