Hessel, Michigan – Good Friends – A 25′ Sportsman & Pizza – Does It Get Any Better?


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Our friends the Watson family on “Marion E” (without their daughter Marion E who is away at school)

SADLY WE FINALLY HAD TO LEAVE MUSKOKA – HAPPILY WE STOPPED IN HESSEL for a late lunch with our dear friends the Watson family. Yesterday we were en route to Minnesota from Muskoka in Ontario, Canada and driving right by Hessel, located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the beautiful Les Cheneaux Islands.

Earlier on Tuesday we sent Alex an e-mail to see if he was at the cabin and luckily for us – he was. We noted that we were on a tight travel schedule, but simply couldn’t pass through without calling (or better yet, stopping by for a short visit and maybe a boat ride).

Alex responded by saying “Texx – Let us know what time you will be here, we will order up some take-away and go for a quick pizza cruise.”  And it worked out perfectly. “Marion E” one of their two Chris-Craft 25′ Sportsmans was in the water, gassed up and ready to go by the time we arrived late in the afternoon.

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“Marion E” their 1949 Chris-Craft 25′ Sportsman is ready, willing and able at the family dock.

We climbed aboard with Alex, Sarah, Sandy and Salter and set a course for nearby Cedarville.

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Salter – Alex & Sarah’s youngest son is learning to properly handle the big SP-25 under the watchful eye of his father. Alex also learned his considerable boating skills on a SP-25 when he was a young boy growing up in Hessel.

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Salter carefully brings the boat into the marina at Cedarville for the pizza pick up. He did a great job and was very focused.

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“Marion E” resting at the dock in Cedarville – an interesting contrast to the modern boats.

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History is everywhere in the Les Cheneaux Islands.

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Fired UP! Pizza in Cedarville. Best pizza in the area by far.

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With the pizza and special snacks in hand, we head back across the street to return to “Marion E” at the dock – a five minute walk.

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Sandy (their oldest son) helps load the food on “Marion E” in preparation for the Pizza Cruise.

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A minor celebration ensues as we cast off for Hessel with a boat-load of pizza!

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The Captain (in this case Alex) is the first to be served by Salter.

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Sandy takes his turn at the helm of “Marion E” for the nice ride home.

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As always the scenery around the Les Cheneaux Islands is spectacular. Thanks to fellow Woody Boater Jeff Rogers we learned that this is a rare 1925 Great Lakes Boat Company wooden boat.

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And of course the architecture in the Les Cheneaux Islands is magnificent – just like the more than 200 wooden boats in the area.

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The Chris-Craft U-22, the workhorse of the islands.

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Salter discovered that the SP-25 step provides a perfect place to stow your pizza until later.

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The traditional crib docks throughout the islands are great to see and add character.

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We return back to the cabin and “Marion E” is back in her slip for a rest. The post-war Chris-Craft SP-25 is the perfect boat for this area.

Hessel Grocery

Historic Hessel Grocery, across from the Hessel Marina at the end of Main Street.

Every aspect of Hessel, Michigan is unique. What you see is what you get in Hessel. We always enjoy spending time in Hessel with Alex and his family, and Tuesday was one of those memorable visits. This is how the classic boat community comes together, and what makes it so special.

Thanks Alex.


27 replies
  1. WoodyGal
    WoodyGal says:

    A pizza cruise! How perfect is that? Surely you built a fire, or two and stopped by The Islander?

  2. Alex
    Alex says:

    Best part about this, Texx, was the sponteneity. This fun outing happened with no needed preparation and no fuss. “Sure, stop by.”

    That’s incidentally what Matt did when he visited here. A quick trip up from Torch Lake with, maybe, 2 hours’ notice.

    We’ll leave the light on for you.

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      That is why it is so critically important to have two or three of each kind of boat. When someone calls on short notice, odds are you will have at least one in the water and running.

    • Greg Lewandowski
      Greg Lewandowski says:

      Thanks for showing our Canadian friend some “Pure Michigan” hospitality!

  3. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Also, is it just me, or does it seem like Sandy has been shortchanged with regard to Woodyboater coverage over the years? Marion and her namesake boat are often featured, and Salter made the safety issues with the XK steering wheel famously known world wide. I think we need a feature on Sandy and his boat(s).

  4. Grant Stanfield
    Grant Stanfield says:

    When I traveled to Hessel last summer I made it a point to scout out Alex on the show docks, and was so glad I did…

    His friendliness, enthusiasm and hospitality are very true, and I’m sure the entire Watson family share in these wonderful traits!

    Here’s one of the members of the Watson Fleet: The Majestic…she gave me goosebumps!

  5. Kentucky Wonder
    Kentucky Wonder says:

    Alex is a wonderful host and historian of the Les Cheneaux Islands. Anne, standing at right in this photo summer 2014, and I got a magical tour of the area in the Marion E. No ethanol in the boat fuel, but the Oberon from Bell’s Brewery seemed to keep Alex going….

  6. Kentucky Wonder
    Kentucky Wonder says:

    If the U22 is the Ford F150 of the Islands, then I would suggest that Alex’s 25 Sportsmans are the King Ranch F250 models – brawny trucks that look good and are very comfortable….

  7. Kentucky Wonder
    Kentucky Wonder says:

    Here is Eau! Canada parked at the same docks as the Marion E while getting pizza at Fired Up! Good restaurant recommendation from Mr. Watson. We also stopped by the Great Lakes Boat Building School, but they were taking time off to enjoy the day. We will get the full tour next time.

  8. Kentucky Wonder
    Kentucky Wonder says:

    Of course, the weather CAN change through the day in the Les Cheneaux Islands….my youngest nephew decided to forego the view in an effort to stay warm during a cool, cloudy morning in The Channels….

  9. Kentucky Wonder
    Kentucky Wonder says:

    This place was for sale last summer…not sure what the current status is. Also not sure if the boat is included. Can say for sure that if the funds and time were available, Kentucky Wonder’s family would be spending lots of time in The Channels!

    • Kentucky Wonder
      Kentucky Wonder says:

      We were having engine trouble last year, and the Mertaughs at Classic and Antique Boats came down to the marina, helped us pull the Greavette out, get it to the shop, worked on it, and had us back in the water in less than an hour. Our boat runs SO MUCH BETTER since their small adjustment. Thanks, guys!!!!

  10. Dick Dow
    Dick Dow says:

    Alex, I hate to bring this up, but as a member of the OCYC I must: Your steering wheel has a crack in it! 😉

    It looks like a great afternoon was had by all – I’ll get out there some day!

  11. Reddog.
    Reddog. says:

    So far no one has seemed to mention the (15th ?) Picture with ARLA ll in the foreground. Whats up with the blue and white boat sunk in the background?

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      I was wondering if anyone would notice that blue & white boat listing in the background. Maybe they just filled it with fuel?

      • floyd r turbo
        floyd r turbo says:

        I saw it but thought its just fiberglass, if it sinks, no harm no fowl. All those new f/g owners keep saying f/glass is maintenance free, just hose it off.

  12. Kharizma
    Kharizma says:

    Great of you guys to always promote the nice, family side of Alex. Perhaps you should stop by the Islander one night so you can see the REAL Alex!! Makes me sick……..

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