Minnesota Classic Boating Season Kicks Off At Historic Moonlite Bay

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Mike Sufka and happy crew on board “Torpedo” a beautiful 1939 19′ Chris-Craft Custom Barrelback.

THE 2021 MINNESOTA CLASSIC BOATING SEASON KICKS OFF at the historic Moonlite Bay Family Restaurant & Bar in Crosslake, MN. The event, which is officially named the 2021 Whitefish Chain Classic Boat Show was held on Saturday, with a sold out entry list of over 60 classic boats.

Dane Anderson captured this nice shot of the Moonlite Bay docks filled to capacity with classic boats on Saturday afternoon.

And thankfully for us, Bill Terry (event organizer) invited Dane Anderson who attended the show with camera in hand to cover the festivities. The recent upgrades to the facility make this a perfect venue for a classic boat show, and a number of other large events planned throughout the summer.

“Crispin” is a rare pre-war 1940 Chris-Craft 25′ Sportsman owned by Bob & Charlotte Shadduck.

So we thought it would be fun to share some history of Moonlite Bay while you scroll through Dane’s photos from the boat show. As many of our regular viewers know, Minnesota lake country is full of history, like the historic Bar Harbor Supper Club on Gull Lake, MN that hosted the ACBS International show in 2015.

From the Moonlite Bay website: It was 1933, Prohibition was over and it was time to have some fun in Crosslake. Carl Holt built and opened the original dance hall and a few rental cabins known as the Moonlite Bay Resort.

Moonlite has seen many changes over the years and it has all gone up in smoke a couple times, but the spirit of Moonlite Bay never seemed to change. We have always been and continue to be a place for good times and fun by the lake.

A classic boat show in Minnesota wouldn’t be complete without a Larson Falls Flyer. This perfect example of a made in Minnesota Larson is owned by Roger Ocel. It’s a 1957 14′ Falls Flyer powered by a 1957 Evinrude 35HP outboard. Notice how Dane waits for the Larson burgee to fly straight before snapping the shot.

With 70 boat slips and snowmobile trails coming from 4 different directions, getting here is never a problem. We are more than just a restaurant & bar. We love the community that we are in, whether it’s the Ice Tee Open to benefit Camp Knutson, the Evening for Education that helps to support Crosslake Community School, the Lions Club Fishing Contest, planning Winterfest weekend or working with the PAL foundation on the Whitefish Warrior run, we always seem to find a fun way to support the “Beauty spot of Minnesota”.

Our friend and classic fiberglass boat extraordinaire Del VanEmmerik never fails to impress us with one of his rare fiberglass boats, perfectly restored as always.

Del’s latest creation is a super rare 1966 Space Craft Corporation 23’6″ Runabout powered by a 302 Ford V8.

And the best part about Del’s unusual fiberglass restorations is that they perform as well as they look.

So when you’re ready to break away from it all and blow off a little steam, make it Moonlite Bay, a place where good friends meet and old friends reunite. The place to be since ’33.

It’s always a treat to see a nicely restored Chris-Craft Kit Boat, a reminder that in the 1950s you could order a kit boat from Chris-Craft and build it in your garage. Kristy-Craft is a 1954 17 footer owned by Ricky & Christy Hammer – powered by a Ford 223 Inline Six. Very cool.

The Thompson Thomboy model is always popular at these local boat shows, bringing back memories of when these boats were a common sight on the lakes of northern Minnesota & Wisconsin. Tim Searles brought his 1961 17′ Thomboy powered by a big Mercury 800 outboard.

“Good Like This” is clean 1962 17′ Dorsett Catalina presented by Andy & Anna Luikens.

Mr. Dean Wilson taking a well deserved break in the Minnesota sunshine after completing his Homemade Rushton Opus 1 Launch. She glides quietly through the water powered by a 5Kw electric motor. The diversity of boats in Minnesota is always great to see.

There’s something special about spotting a beautiful woman at the helm of a classic Riva (I can still say that, right?). This is Melanie Underbrink in “Tormento” a 1970 21′ Riva Ariston.

Another shot of “Tormento” the Riva Ariston on display at the dock. Fine Italian design & craftsmanship right there.

Charlie & Melanie Underbrink also brought out their very cool 1929 30′ Ditchburn Triple named “Tencendur”. This rare Canadian built boat is powered by an equally rare 680 Cubic Inch Kermath Sea Raider engine.

Any time you get to see a classic Lyman Utility at a boat show is a good day. This one is a 1971 23 footer owned by Mike & Sara Derus.

Our cover boat today is a exceptional 1946 Chris-Craft U22 Utility with a sedan top. “MaMo Nikkan” is presented by McKenzie & Kyle Kulseth. (I would love to know what that name stands for? – Texx)

Our friend, sponsor and all-around-nice-guy Dave Bortner (from Freedom Boat Service) was at the Moonlite Bay show with “AnnRita” a 1940 24′ Garwood Overnighter powered by a 300HP Crusader. You can check it out at www.freedomboatservice.com

A few months ago we ran a story about classic Larson Cabin Boats, with the objective of locating any remaining Cabin Boats for the record. On Saturday Dane spotted this one which has had some optional extras added by the owner. Dane noted that this boat was owned by a leather working cowboy and he has covered the boat in decorated leather (among other things).

Thankfully this Cabin Boat still has it’s unique design features developed by Larson back in the day.

Blake Ernst makes a few laps for the crowd in his Glen-L 10’2″ Super Spartan Hydroplane powered by a vintage 1956 Mercury Mark 25 outboard engine.

A stylish 2006 Comitti 25′ Port A Fino owned by Dave & Lynn Thomson.

Miinesota is also Skiff Craft country and there were four of them at this year’s event. Here is “Stuffed Keel” a 1987 26′ Skiff Craft owned by Lindsay Balmer.

And what would a classic boat show be without a quintessential Chris-Craft U-22 Utility? “Sue Baby 2” is an early-ish 1946 U-22 owned by Joe Ruttger. Interesting to note that of the more than 60 classic boats registered for this year’s show, 19 were manufactured by Chris-Craft.

Special thanks to the Moonlite Bay Family Restaurant & Bar for hosting this great event and to Dane Anderson for sharing his great photos. – Texx

20 replies
  1. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Looks like a fabulous event!!

    Great to see Texx back in the editors chair!

    Thanks Dane for the wonderful pictures!

  2. Matt
    Matt says:

    its so refreshing to have a great story to publish like this. Texx and Dane do a fantastic job. No dogs, no toilet seats, no misspelled words. ahhhhhhhhh wonderful

  3. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Wow, what a way to start the week. A wonderful show with a great variety of fabulous boats and the story by our old friend Texx. Bortner must be doing the boat show circuit with that beautiful Garwood as he has it registered for Algonac next weekend. Looking forward to seeing the boat and our other old friend Dave.

  4. Clay at Cross Lake
    Clay at Cross Lake says:

    Thanks to Bill Terry and crew for all the work of hosting this great show and for picking such a perfect day. We thoroughly enjoyed the day, the amazing boats, and the fun people. Great coverage Texx and Dane!

  5. Wolfgang
    Wolfgang says:

    We had a great show and cruise Friday and Saturday at Presque Isle Harbor and Grand Lake this past weekend also. Very surprised a the number of public visitors at the show on Saturday. It just goes to show how people want to get out and back to normal. A really nice dinner was served Friday night at the historic Presque Isle Lodge with a big turnout of skippers and families.

  6. Mike Sufka
    Mike Sufka says:

    Great show put on by the Moonlight Bay crew and the weather was wonderful. Fun day indeed.

  7. McKenzie Kulseth
    McKenzie Kulseth says:

    The name MaMo Nikkan is Potowatami Indian for Good Friend. The boat was my father, Rich Stage’s boat who began the restoration about 1.5 years before becoming sick. He passed away about 5 months before the finished restoration, but I think he would be proud of his baby for being in its first boat show and stunning the crowd. The boat spent most of its life in Ohio before my dad brought it to Indiana. Now it will reside on the Whitefish Chain for hopefully many many years.

    • Ron in Seattle
      Ron in Seattle says:

      McKenzie, great story about your dad…
      He made his appearance with his boat on Father’s Day.
      Thanks for sharing!

      Thanks Texx!

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Thanks so much for chiming in to explain the wonderful boat name and story McKenzie. “MaMo Nikkan” looks spectacular. – Texx

  8. BT
    BT says:

    For the record, the Larson Cabin Boat which is owned by the leather working cowboy – Mike Bray – was fully tooled with the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Star Spangle Banner printed on the top of the cabin. The rest of the boat was full of patriotic decor. The boat was so popular that it beat out some super high quality boats for the Peoples Choice award! It was Mike’s first boat show ever.

  9. david g Thomson
    david g Thomson says:

    The venue at Moonl Lite Bay has always been sensational, full of fun, and has retained its beautiful scenery. With the newly constructed addition that has recently been added and was used for Friday night’s Skippers Dinner, Moony proved yet again what a special place it holds for the Whitefish Chain of Lakes and Minnesota! Bill and Sally are the absolute best and their efforts have continued to draw so many of us to this wonderful event. Thank you for caring!

  10. Jimmy
    Jimmy says:

    What’s the origin of the sedan top on that U22? Looks taller and different than the optional top that was offered some years on the U22, which was the same design as the optional 25’ Sportsman Sedan top.

    • JimF
      JimF says:

      I had a similar top on my 1935 18′ Deluxe Utility. It was offered in the accessory catalog for $90. I can’t seem to load a picture but it was featured on Woodyboater. Search on the bottom of this site.

      Alice K II

  11. Chad
    Chad says:

    Thanks Dane and Texx, beautiful shots!

    Love Del’s new Space Craft. I bet that 302 sounds awesome.

  12. Tim Searles
    Tim Searles says:

    What a great day! Thanks to all the volunteers and staff that made this event so easy and fun to be part of. Special thanks to BT and Sally for their organizing efforts.
    This is a must for the return in 2022. Well done!

  13. Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U P)
    Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U P) says:

    What a great way to start the week! It is good to see beautiful boats and happy people out and about. Looks like people were sampling the spirits from Moonlite bay. I especially liked the young girl looking at Crispin with the long neck bottle in her hand. Its good to see young people enjoying our hobby. Another woody boater bucket list destination. nThanks Texx and Dane.

    • Reddog
      Reddog says:

      As Garth Brooks sings “long neck bottle, let go my hand”. M. Kulseth sorry to hear of your father passing away. That model of sportsman is really sharp . Would love have one someday. Nice pictures complete with information . Thanks

  14. Philip Andrew
    Philip Andrew says:

    Texx, Dave B, Dane – you’re back! So great to see these pictures of a real boat show. Dave in his signature plaid shorts, Texx telling the story of Danes pictures. Welcome back fellas. Boy we’ve sure missed boat stories like this. Thanks for sharing. How cool is that 66 Space Craft. Love it.

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