Opening Day Of The 2015 Seattle Boating Season – With A Mountain Fresh Taste

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Al & Sandi McEwan (and crew) in their Greavette Streamliner “Jezebel” – searching for a bottle opener on Opening Day in Seattle. Conor Musgrave Photo

HERE AT WOODY BOATER WE ADMIRE CREATIVITY. Both Matt & I work in industries (our day jobs) that require us be creative on a daily basis, and encourage our colleagues and clients to also be creative. Some days it’s tough. Some days it’s easy. But in our case, if we stop being creative in our professional lives, we are out of business – period.

We also believe that some days the classic boating hobby could use an injection of creativity on many levels – in order to grow (or move forward). And we are hopefully doing our part to help with that.

So when we see people using their creativity to find new ways of promoting the hobby we all love, we applaud those people. Regardless of what they are promoting, what they are presenting, or what they are planning – big or small – it’s refreshing to see (and often infectious).

As a hobby – How do we present something that’s suppose to be old and timeless – as new and innovative? or attractive to future generations?

Today’s story is a perfect example of classic boaters getting together and being creative – in this case to celebrate the Opening Day of the Seattle Boating Season. – Texx


Classic boats and the Rainier Brewing Company both have legendary status in the Pacific Northwest. So why not blend the two together to celebrate a 100 year-old tradition in Seattle?

The Rainier Brewing Company (1884–1999) was a Seattle, Washington, company that brewed Rainier Beer, a popular brand in the Pacific Northwest. Although Rainier was founded in 1884, the Seattle site had been brewing beer since 1878. The beer is no longer brewed in Seattle, nor is the company owned locally. In the late 1990s, the company was sold to Stroh’s, then to Pabst Brewing Company, though Miller contract brews most of Pabst’s beers. The brewery was closed by Pabst in 1999 and sold.


During the 1970s, Rainier ran a number of memorable television ads in the Pacific Northwest, largely conceived by Seattle designer Terry Heckler, assisted by several of his staff, especially Ed Leimbacher, writer/producer for Rainier print, radio and TV for a dozen years. Sound man Joe Hadlock of Bear Creek Studio joined the cohorts of Heckler Bowker for 14 years of creating noise and music for these advertisements.

Some of these surrealist advertisements noted by Seattle Magazine included the Running of the MFRs (Mountain Fresh Rainiers – a parody of Running of the Bulls featuring bottles with legs), frogs that croaked “Rainier Beer” (a motif appropriated many years later by Budweiser). – Full history on Wikipedia.

This is where fellow Woody Boater Ron Stevenson takes over the story.

Opening Day of the Seattle Boating Season! At Last!

Shhh…. We actually can boat all year long, it just depends how many layers you want to wear and the fact you can get wet from above rather than from boat spray. An umbrella aboard your runabout is standard equipment here. But no rain this year, sunny skies, like almost summer!

Opening Day is done every year by the Seattle Yacht Club (SYC), and it even has its own sub-category on their SYC web-site.

Opening Days history is about 100 years old, it goes back so far, no one knows for sure! It does have a different theme each year, this years theme was “Myths & Monsters”.


Yacht clubs and various local boating groups then decorate what their idea of a “Myth or a Monster” – or both is or was. They enter in about 25 different classes to compete for Trophies at the very official Awards Ceremony held at 1800 hours in front of the club house. And after that are the kudos, “atta boys”, etc. and of course someone may buy you an adult beverage!

Our Pacific Northwest Chapter ACBS members thought long and hard, for many months – due to the fact that the Seattle Yacht Club Opening Day Trio made their video presentation of the theme to us last fall. We struggled this year to find some way to decorate for this. Mind you, no one even wants blue tape on their varnish, let alone some kind of decoration affixed to their mahogany!

So after much deliberation and many cold (mountain fresh beers) later, an idea finally comes together through the alcohol-fueled fuzzy reality. OK, patience here, this is a bit of a stretch, I know, I know.

As noted above – Many years ago (the ’70’s) our famed local Rainier Beer company had a great series of ads, including one ad campaign called “The Running of the Rainiers” – (a parody of Pamploma Spain’s famous annual “Running of the Bulls” event, only featuring human-sized bottles with legs). Even Matt Smith thought they were some of the best ads ever, he actually had the account after that ad agency was done.

Rainier girls

Rainier Girls – Here’s Brenda Chrystie and Barbara Bro in the Rainier T-shirts, and trying the bottle openers that Curt Erickson made. (photo by Warren Olson Chapter President)

So here we have a great Seattle Myth, and if I am not myths-taken, this should fit right in, right? Hah! So we got the great idea doing, our energetic Opening Day Chairman Steve Snider contacts the Rainier Beer company (no longer a Seattle company, now owned by PBR) and…. Viola! Or Violins! Or whatever it is, they have the Rainiers! I mean they still do appearances with larger than life Rainier bottles with people inside running around all silly like. All in good fun and all in the name of advertising! A Noble Cause, right Sir Matt?

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Rainier bottles (with real people inside) are loaded into the lead cruiser and we’re off to the party! – Conor Musgrave Photo

OK, Steve and committee members get all the details worked out. We have our Friday night dinner at the Center for Wooden Boats at the south end of Lake Union. There’s a great dinner, wine, and beer… oops, no Rainier but Mac & Jack’s African Amber.

They next morning, the members gather for breakfast and briefing about how the skit will play out: the beers on some boats, being “chased” by people with openers, just like Mickey Rooney and his crew did it back in 1970’s Rainier TV ads.

on deck

This year Karl & Lois Hoffman led the parade with their great 1941 34′ Chris-Craft Sedan “Blue Jay” – Thanks Karl & Lois!

The staging area for this big event is huge. Imagine about two hundred boats milling around waiting for their turn in the two-and-a-half hour parade. We are S or “Spirit” class boats. Note all the boats in the background on temporary log booms attending the parade. Boats start tying up and anchoring out on the Wednesday before the Saturday parade. (Your author spent the time this year watching the whole event from the sidelines, seeing the morning crew races, and the whole 2 ½ hour parade.)

Hokey Pokey

Here are Curt & Marsha Erickson in “Hokey Pokey” a 1948 24′ Hacker. Along with Sam and Trish Bass from Atlanta, Georgia.

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“Chris-Craft II” belongs to Bob and Chris Braaf, they brought their boat up from Colorado to work and play here for a year or two. Chris is the daughter of THE Chris Smith, and the granddaughter of founder of Chris-Craft – Christopher Smith. They are getting her Dad out here this summer for the Chris-Craft Rendezvous at Port Orchard in July. – Elizabeth Gregory photo.


Warren & Tracey Olson in their 1955 19′ Chris-Craft Capri. Frank Gonzales waving to us, with Kristen Drew next to him.

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Brian Franchini and friends in his cool Correct Craft, with bottle opener in-hand, slow-chasing the beers. – Elizabeth Gregory photo.

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Brian’s son Cole Franchini with his buddies joined in the fun with their jet boat. – Elizabeth Gregory photo.


Dick & Kathy Dow on board “Sindbad”. Note the summer weather attire on “Island Time” in the background! – Ron

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John Flaherty & friends soaking up the Seattle sunshine in a Racing Runabout. – Elizabeth Gregory photo.

And LOOK! Rainiers! Where’s that bottle opener when you need it? The herd of classic boats begin to gather with the lead boat, bottle openers in hand. It’s funny how the boats seem to gather around the boat with all the beer – like some strange force is attracting them closer…

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Conor Musgrave photo.

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Conor Musgrave photo.

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Conor Musgrave photo.

OK, Parade well done! With the wonderful participation of the members and the outstanding generosity of PBR and Rainier beer; we’ve got a trophy guaranteed right?

Well, I can tell you that sitting on the sidelines watching the parade, the “Cruising of the Rainiers” won the highest and loudest level of audience recognition… But, alas, we think we were a bit too commercial for the class we entered, can you imagine that? No award, but lots and lots of “Atta Boys & Girls”, kudos, karma, etc. and adult beverages!

The most important part was that everyone had a great time, and everyone is looking forward to more boat rides with the boating season being Officially Open!

Special thanks to Elizabeth Gregory and Connor Musgrave for sharing their photos with us today. Again, thanks to PBR and Rainier for their contribution, we very much appreciate their help, and we love the T-shirts!

Oh, and did I mention that next year, the ACBS Quarterly meeting will include, yes, Opening Day in Seattle!

Regards – Ron Stevenson

13 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    OK, where do we find some big inflatable old Stroh’s bottles for the Algonac show? BTW, I love Blue Jay!

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Greg – Maybe we can borrow the Rainier bottles and re-brand them with a wrap for the Algonac show. Is there any risk of being hijacked by the Jobbie Nooner crowd?

    • Steve A
      Steve A says:

      Greg, I love the idea. The other thing that would be fun would be to organize an impromptu wooden boat parade up thru ‘the gauntlet’ during the raft off!

  2. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    This looks like a lot of fun!

    Can’t believe you didn’t win an award.

    Does Maui have an ACBS chapter?

  3. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Don’t you just hate when you spend all afternoon looking for a bottle opener, just to find out the bottles were twists offs?

  4. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    …Great event…Remember being there years ago when ACBS Board met there. I think we were quacking ducks. Curt & Marsha did a great job organizing that one. Good to see Trish & Sam Bass in the pics…they were in a another long ago event planned by Ericksons.. Curt & Marsha, incidentially came all the way to Tavares this year. Nice too to see Chrisann & Bob Braff there with their boat trailered all the way from Colorado….So much fun…so little time…

  5. Brian Flaherty
    Brian Flaherty says:

    We were there with our ’69 Cavalier Ski Boat, pulling our usual stunt with a swimmer in a tube holding a homemade giant Rainer bottle!! But we were the last boat in the club’s fleet so I don’t think the professional photographer was able to get any shots or our shinanigans.. I am also proud to say that my 2-1/2 year old participated in his first ever opening day parade!! He’s only missed the same number of parades as his 31 year old father, 2!!
    Here is a pic from our voyage to the staging area, to the left is our “Rainer” beer, center is the swimmer, and to the right is the little munchkin!!

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Thanks Brian – Looks like everyone had a great day in Seattle. I quickly reviewed photographer Conor Musgrave’s photo gallery a few days after the event and think he got a few shots of you and your crew. Unfortunately we did not have access to all the photos at press time. You can check out Conor’s gallery here:

  6. reddog
    reddog says:

    Ron thanks for providing all the pictures and a short little comment about each, lots of nice boats out west. It sure looks like everyone had a fun time.

  7. Brian Flaherty
    Brian Flaherty says:

    Here is a photo from Conor Musgrave, that really captures the essence of the second generation Flaherty crew and the crazy “Red boat” antics!!! I don’t think we’ve ever had such a clear shot of our swimmer in the tube!

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